Study group discussion: Of Primary Importance

December 18th, 2008

In the first chapter of her new book, Of Primary Importance, Ann Marie Corgill invites readers to “Step inside and breathe the writing workshop air with me.”

That is what a group of teachers from Riverside Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio, are doing for the next couple of months as they meet every other week to read and discuss the book.

Franki Sibberson, author of Beyond Leveled Books, is part of this study group. She and her fellow group members are going to post regular updates about their progress and discussions. The group met last week to set their schedule and to talk about questions they have as they begin to read.

We got together for our first meeting of our group that will be reading and discussing Ann Marie Corgill’s new book Of Primary Importance. We met last week to give ourselves a reading assignment before vacation and to focus in on the big questions that each of us hopes is answered during the course of the study group. Everyone in the group had a chance to preview the book and came ready with lots to think about.

We are a group of teachers who teach at Riverside Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio. There are 12 of us in the group, K-3 classroom teachers, principal, reading teachers, a math teacher and me. It is a great group and we are going to try to meet every other week for a few months starting in January.

We started the meeting looking at the book so we could decide how much we should read. Someone suggested that we read Chapters 1-5 because those chapters are all about the set-up and routines. It seemed like a lot to read, but then we remembered that we had almost a month to read and that it made sense to read that part of the book to start. So, we are reading from page 1-83 before we meet in mid-January.

Everyone had previewed the book so some of the talk was around how to use the book—some people hope to get an idea or two, others looked through it and want to follow many of her units to add some structure to their workshop. We are all hoping to get different things from our study group.

We brainstormed those questions that we hoped to have answered by the end of the study group. We shared the things that we hoped to learn. They included:

My kids love to write but where do I go next with them?
Is it better to teach forms of writing or to let kids have free choice?
How much editing makes sense? What should I edit? What should I let go?
What level of writing should I accept? What is a realistic expectation for primary kids?
Which authors and mentor texts work?
How important is the finished product?
How do I balance process with product?
Where does prompting fit in? How do you work to help kids get away from needing a prompt?
How do I keep kids’ interests when they are working on a piece over several days?
How do we keep kids engaged through the process?
How do I best manage the tiem?
What can I do with all of the kids who rush though the process and come to me saying, “I’m done.”
How do I help kids generate ideas? What prewriting work is best?
How can kids be more independent in the process?

So, these are the things we are thinking about as we begin our talk. We all left excited to read and think about our questions. We talked about mid-January being a long time to wait and we think we will probably have lots of informal conversations with each other before our next formal meeting.

We’ll post updates every time we meet—sharing our individual thinking and growth because of the book. We are excited to share our new learning.

Entry Filed under: Literacy

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kristine  |  December 18th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    How fabulous that your staff is tackling this text together. I look forward to reading your posts!

  • 2. Katie DiCesare  |  December 19th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  • 3. Fourth grade teacher  |  December 22nd, 2008 at 12:19 am

    I see you have a group of K-3 teachers. Don’t limit yourselves!! 🙂 I am a fourth grade teacher who participated in a similar book group with this book and found it very insightful!!! It has very valuable information for all grade levels!!! I can’t wait to see what you think about this book.

  • 4. Study group discussion: O&hellip  |  March 30th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    […] can read about previous group discussions here and here. I’ve always had a love hate relationship with teaching poetry. Right before […]

  • 5. Study group discussion: O&hellip  |  March 30th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    […] A group of teachers from Riverside Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio, have been reading and discussing Ann Marie Corgill’s book, Of Primary Importance since December. This month, two second-grade teachers share their reflections on the book. First, read about how the group started its work. […]

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