I had the opportunity to participate in a course offered through the Penn Literacy Network, “Forming & Reforming Reading, Writing, Talking Across the Curriculum.” This unique professional development opportunity allowed me to dive into evidence-based literacy instruction as well as reflect on what that looked like in my teaching environment.
I was introduced to the PLN Frameworks of The 5 Reading Writing Talking Processes and The 4 Lenses of Learning and applied these to my work as an elementary teacher/librarian working with students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Throughout the fall semester, I embedded the PLN frameworks into a fifth-grade research project that became known as “#havPassion” and focused on mentoring student passions through inquiry-driven research.
The complete project can be found at: bit.ly/havPLN1Project
As my elementary students engaged in passion-based inquiry projects, they connected with high school students completing a similar research project, forging a mentorship connection. Students collaborated to share their research and reflections. In addition to the upper level students mentoring their younger partners, the high school students sought mentor relationships with experts in their field of inquiry, passing that knowledge on to their elementary partners. Students learned with and from one another. Collaborative 2.0 tools helped both elementary and high school students share their research with real audiences beyond the walls of their classroom.
Building in opportunities for students to discover their own mentors and models for writing, connect with experts outside of the classroom, and make choices on how to best share their discoveries empowered students to engage in their written work with a more critical and reflective focus. When students have both purpose and audience for their writing endeavors, magic happens!