Collaborative Classroom is honored to feature learning community instructor Megan Lanier, from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville, Florida for our Teacher Spotlight. Megan appreciates how Collaborative Literacy has taught her how to harness the power of the group and the partnership in her daily instruction.
Tell us briefly about your classroom and how long you’ve been implementing Collaborative Literacy.
This year, I taught a class of 23 students. In total, I have twelve 4th graders and eleven 5th graders. At P.K. Yonge, our student population reflects the demographic composition of the school-age population of the state. We have a lot of fun together! This is my second year implementing Making Meaning and Being a Writer in my own classroom.
What do you appreciate about Collaborative Literacy?
One thing that I love about Collaborative Literacy is how it allows all of my students (and me!) to come together around a central piece of text, lesson, or unit of study. One of my favorite units in the Making Meaning curriculum is a novel study of the book Tuck Everlasting. It is the greatest joy for me as a teacher to see my students bursting with things to discuss with their partners as I near the end of a chapter or section of the book. Collaborative Literacy offers kids the chance to hear from other kids, and I feel that that allows them to engage with and access material differently than if it were structured in any other way.
What have you noticed the students doing?
I’ve noticed how thoughtful my students have become throughout the year with their own responses and their responses to other students. I feel like I’ve seen them really try to understand each other’s thinking. Often, after asking a question, you can see the kids using their think-time before turning and sharing with their partner, and once discussing, using the discussion prompts to help structure their conversations to allow for better understanding of their own thinking and their partner’s.
How has this approach impacted your own teaching?
Collaborative Literacy has taught me the power of the group and the partnership. How, when we place the majority of the thinking back on the kids and the group, and use the structures that Making Meaning and Being a Writer provide, the kids can work together to grapple with deep and meaningful questions and conversations around complex text with the teacher as a guide. Overall, I am so thankful for these programs, how they have impacted me, and how they are continuing to shape me as a teacher!