January 17, 2018

Writer’s Workshop

 As we grow older, we’re able to identify what style of learning best suits our individual needs. For example, I thrived most when I was in a class where discussion was the main format. When asked to give a presentation or create a project, I got really into the work. When I had to take a multiple-choice test to demonstrate my understanding, well, let’s just say I didn’t thrive. Students in our classroom oftentimes have to take on the role of different type of learners. Some of us learn best by doing. Some of us learn best by watching. Some of us learn best by reading. Regardless of what specific learning style best suits our own needs, one thing is for certain; we learn a lot when we experience challenges. If it’s easy, then the amount of effort we end up exerting is miniscule. When we we’re challenged, we work harder. This year, we are learning how to become much stronger writers than ever before. It’s simultaneously been both an amazing and challenging experience.

After five full weeks of school, I’ve been extremely impressed with the amount of progress that’s made been in Writer’s Workshop. We are working hard on learning how to take a small moment of our life, from the most benign to the most exciting, and writing about it in great detail. Instead of writing about a vacation we took over the summer, we are learning how to take one small moment from that vacation and describe it in great detail. Writing is not an easy process, but through continual practice, sharing, editing, and conferencing, students are learning how to make their writing not only clear and concise, but also meaningful and authentic. While I’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed by the amount of requests for more opportunities to write “made up stories”, the plain truth is that in order to become successful and effective writers, we need to start with our own lives and experiences.

I have been thoroughly impressed with the range of topics that have been written about this year. As you prepare to come to school this week for parent-teacher conferences, you’ll be able to check out the range on our Writer’s Workshop bulletin board in the hallway outside of our classroom. The published stories represent small moment details that the students wrote about, then rewrote with more details and descriptions. I think you’ll be impressed.

As we continue to be challenged and experience growth, I’m looking forward to watching these young writers grow and grow even more.


Dan Barnard About Dan Barnard

Dan Barnard hails from the Green Mountain State of Vermont where he grew up skiing, biking, and exploring the nooks and crannies of the woods. He learned to drive on his parents' station wagons, learned to ski at Smugglers' Notch, and developed a love for traveling by participating in school trips to France and New York City. He worked in many jobs ranging from ski instructing to babysitting to an after-school program that helped him decide he wanted to be a teacher.

He enrolled in Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts and earned a BA in Humanities with a focus on history and a concentration in Elementary Education. After working for two years in a suburban Boston community as a fifth grade teacher, he decided to move west to discover the beauty and bounty of Oregon. He worked for four years as a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teacher in Mosier, Oregon. While working in Mosier he enrolled in graduate school at Portland State University and earned a MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University.