A Place for Product

Yesterday I had the good fortune to spend the day with our staff developer as she worked with third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers to share reading and writing strategies and ideas.  She was sharing with us some work we could do to support children as they head into our state test.  Some strategies that might help students on the parts where they seem to have trouble.The work was fascinating.  It certainly didn’t feel like test prep!  She had students building academic vocabulary, watching multiple videos, brainstorming ideas, sorting and ranking details to match those ideas, and even watching the videos to determine authors’ techniques and goals.  Then she surprised me.  In each session, she spent some time talking with teachers about a writing product.  Yes, a product.  We are focused on the writing process, so, to be honest, I haven’t encouraged teachers to spend too much time on the final product.  I usually suggest that they revise, edit, celebrate, and move on to the next bend or unit.  More writing develops better writers, right?

“Have students add beautiful artwork to their current writing pieces!” she exclaimed. She suggested that maybe teachers work with the art teacher and have her come and teach some lessons during the publishing phase. She suggested that these beautiful books end up on our walls, in the school library, or even displayed in the town’s public library! And she suggested that we make sure to share them with parents. When we questioned her more about this focus on product, she talked about the need for kids and parents to see writing as something beautiful, something tangible. This is a way for people to see our work, celebrate it, share it, and develop a better understanding of what we are doing in the area of writing. I need to reflect on the place of product in our writing work.

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9 thoughts on “A Place for Product

  1. I find the challenge to be producing something that is product worthy, if that makes sense. Not just rushing to have something to publish, but something that is worth being a product. I agree that we have to expand our repertoire regarding the notion of ‘publish’ in order to do this.

    1. I think that’s the issue. Maybe we need to find a way to do some really well done products at times and at other times be happy doing a quick publish with a gallery walk. My concern is often one of how we are spending time and why.

  2. Erika,
    Love the two different posts from Mary E’s work in your building. That’s the #1 takeaway always for me with #TCRWP – the work has so many layers that we can work and IMPROVE all the time! Love this thinking about product. Mary never said it had to be perfect. But thinking about why and how we share pride in our work product!

    How do we value our writing? What’s the evidence?

    1. For me, this idea that we can always make it better is such a powerful one, and Mary is always helping us reach a bit higher, a bit further. I’m glad you read both pieces.

  3. Thanks for sharing this thought. I’m navigating a space now that’s process heavy, so the pointer to product may be just what the doctor ordered — mixing metaphors: a useful anchor to steady a rolling ship.

  4. I’m not sure. I tend to be “process heavy” as well. I really have to rethink my view on product. I do think there is a place for it, but I want to make sure it stays in its place! Keep that ship rolling!

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