If you haven’t had the chance to see Jeff Anderson in person, and hear him deliver the gospel of editing instruction, be prepared…he’s very tall. He’s also funny, charismatic, and passionate. He has an ability to take something very difficult and make it seem accessible, even to an old ball coach like me. Also, he got me to say, “AAAWWUBBIS.”
In my post a month back, I outlined how Jeff Anderson describes the first three parts of inviting students into the editing process.
- Invitation to Notice
- Invitation to Imitate
- Invitation to Celebrate
The next three parts are how we take what we’ve noticed and start putting those skills into practice.
Invitation to Collect
Those of us whose students spend most of their time in a notebook might have a dedicated section where we collect “sentence gems.” These are beautiful examples of sentence construction that we want to hold on to, and maybe one day, imitate. Anderson points out that he starts this practice with mentor texts that are “controlled.” In other words, he puts specific texts in front of the kids that contain sentences that he wants to help them find. Once they’ve got an idea about what it means to “collect beautiful sentences, he lets them loose to find sentences in, for instance, their self-selected reading. Mini-lessons are another place where we can examine well constructed sentences even if our lesson focus is somewhere else. Many times I’ve paused a mini-lesson to point out a beautifully constructed sentence or a familiar pattern even when it wasn’t a sentence that related to our lesson focus.
Invitation to Write
Putting our skills into practice is the step that might need the strongest shove forward. Whether we use sentence strips, foldables, or just a blank page in our notebooks, we have to sit in the chair and explore these moves in authentic ways. I think we can all agree that the true internalization of a writing move is most effectively solidified through our hands-on practice with that move. After that, its up to the writer to use those moves in places where it will increase the effectiveness of a piece.
Invitation to Combine
Anderson writes about how practice with combining sentences helps “develop students’ sentence sense.” This idea shows us that we can help students understand that they should be “thinking analytically about meaning.” Um…that sounds like effective and engaging instruction and it sounds like the highest level of thinking to me?
Anderson uses a sentence from Lois Lowry’s Gooney Bird Greene (2002) to help us understand that students might learn about combining sentences by working backwards.
Lowry’s sentence: When the class was quiet, Gooney Bird began her Monday story.
The class was quiet.
Gooney Bird began her story.
Gooney Bird’s story was a Monday story.
Anderson goes on to suggest how separate groups could work to combine and uncombine sentences alternately. Some teachers might see this as too elementary for our secondary classrooms, but I would argue that the writing my students produce tells me this type of practice is still very necessary.
If Anderson’s sentence wouldn’t present much of a challenge, take a look at this one from Nic Stone’s Odd One Out (2018):
She’s probably got Jupe by an inch or so height-wise, but completely opposite body type: slim, kind of willowy.
I think there is enough there to start a conversation about how sentences can be combined.
Now we can use…
- Invitation to Edit
- Extending the Invitation
- Open Invitation
Anderson’s methods speak to me in that they are intentional and specific. My growth in literacy instruction leans more towards writing instruction recently, and Anderson makes this type of instruction easy for me to understand. The greater my understanding, the better chance my students have of understanding, and growing, and exploring their place in this world.
Everyday, Charles Moore hides behind a narrow tree in his front yard waiting for his daughter to walk the three house distance from the bus stop. She sees him the whole time, but he pretends to jump out from behind the tree and scare her before they run giggling into the house. He’s interested to know if anyone else collects beautiful sentences and if so, what are they?