Not all who wander are lost . . . J. R. Tolkien

Not all who wander are lost... a blog post by Write Now Right Now

But some of us are!  A sense of direction has never been a personal strength.  Living in Colorado certainly helps – directions can be towards the mountains or away from the mountains.  Yet, when it comes time to locate a new place, I use all the tools at my disposal.  Car destinations are plotted on mapquest, using both the map and the step by step directions.  When hiking, I stop at every posted sign, carefully following the arrows to complete the next turn! When using an old-fashioned paper map, I have to turn the map the direction I am facing to understand where I am and where I need to go.

Think about all the students in our classrooms who appear lost.  Unable to follow multi-step directions, we catch them looking around, desperately trying to figure out what to do next.  Our best intentions and direction-giving skills seem to all be in vain.

I have reflected on ways to best help these students.  What can we provide in our classrooms to keep these wanderers from being lost in daily routines and learning engagements?

  • Make students both plan and use their plans. We spend so much time planning writing tasks with our students and then watch them go to write with the plan smashed into the back oftheir desks.  Require students to have the plan on their desk and check-off each portion of the plan as they complete it in their writing.
  • Use the anchor charts we make. Any anchor chart that is created in class must be created by both the teacher and by each individual student.  The anchor chart is put into an easily accessible place for students and then students must be required to use it. This sentence is incomplete.  Use your 5 Requirements of a Sentence chart to find your mistake. Your paragraph is missing one component. Look at your Paragraph Flow Map and locate the missing piece.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for directions. When all the map tools fail, I stop and ask someone who looks like they will graciously answer my question.  Help students learn when and how to ask for help!

Happy Writing!