When the Magic Happens

Julie Vaillancourt – Literacy Specialist

I love my job.

As a Literacy Specialist, I have the pleasure of working alongside talented colleagues and witnessing the great learning happening in RVS schools.

I recall when I began teaching, 15 years ago, my writing instruction was limited to journal entries (for which I chose the prompts). I provided feedback on spelling, punctuation and usually added my favourite comment, “please add more detail”, on student submissions. I was not setting the stage for magic to happen. In fact, I probably did just the opposite. Dear students, if I could go back in time…

These days, I see this magic happen in several classes throughout RVS where teachers support students as they achieve their potential as writers. Mme Sally’s Grade 2 French Immersion class is one such example. Using the Units of Study from Lucy Calkins’s Writer’s Workshop, Mme Sally encourages her students become authors. By reading model texts of non-fiction, they discover the writing strategies that “real authors” use when writing non-fiction. Students conduct inquiries and choose what they want to become experts in. It is amazing to read the work of her students in which they share their varied expertise about Pokemon, Iqaluit, trains, Canada, etc. Throughout this process, students peer-edit and publish their works. The work is exhibited to students from other classes who are invited to leave comments.

There seems to be certain ingredients that are required to make this magic happen:

  • Providing choice in the topic engages students;
  • Providing scaffolded and differentiated instruction helps meet the needs of each learner; and,
  • Providing a purpose for writing for a real audience to give them an authentic communication experience.

When students want to skip recess to continue working on their writing pieces you know they are fully engaged. Bravo Mme Sally and your students!

For a glimpse into that magic, check out the videos below: