Currently a department co-chair and co-director with the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project, Brian Kelley has taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grade for over twenty years.

[Podcast] Comfortable with Each Other

[Podcast] Comfortable with Each Other

As the second season of my classroom podcast begins, I have to give a nod of thanks to educator, writer, and pioneer Donald Graves. As a reader and re-reader of Graves, I continue to learn the value of listening to my students. Through listening to children, adolescents, and teenagers explain what they do when they compose a piece of writing, we become better teachers--or, at least, we create the conditions by which we can become better teachers.

In Season Two's first episode of The Classroom, I sat down with two 8th graders, Gillian and Paige, and simply asked them to tell me about their reading and writing life. It is September and I am still building my knowledge base of each of my new, young writers.

Early on in the podcast, Gill and Paige share their perceptions of themselves as writers. And, as it so often happens, a student will say something that sparks a deeper conversation...and deeper learning.

Both students tell me that they write outside of school, but Gill tells me that she and her friends wrote together outside of school.

Together.

Any scent of collaboration with writing strikes a note with me ever since I read the Carnegie Foundation's research report on the state of writing--Writing Next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. Collaboration proves to be among the most valuable strategies cited in the research.

And here are my students talking about collaborating over writing on their own.

As you listen to the podcast, consider the significance of what each girl states in her own way: we are all close friends, and we are comfortable with each other.

Encouragement moves writers. And there are more of them than there are of me in the classroom. Students can learn how to talk about writing in a supportive and helpful manner. They actually already have an instinct for it--of how it works and when it does not work.

[Podcast] A Writing Sanctuary

[Podcast] A Writing Sanctuary

The Process of Becoming

The Process of Becoming