Along with teaching writing, Darlene and I share another similar passion – quilting. Writing and quilting are more similar than they might first appear. Both begin with the end project in mind – whether it be a table runner or a paragraph. Writing and quilting are made up of many smaller pieces which must be put in just the right place. The quilt centers need to line up for the organization of the pattern to come together. In the same way, our writing organization needs to fit together to make sense. We wouldn’t put a topic sentence in the middle of our paragraph! To be successful, both require lots of time and lots of practice, as these two activities are more difficult than they may first appear. Quilting and writing are both unique and individual processes, yet they demand some common elements. Organization, attention to detail, and purposeful practice are necessary for successful quilting and writing. Both bring the creator a great sense of satisfaction when they are done well.
I have been working on a pinwheel quilt. I began by cutting out many, many triangles and sewing the two pieces together. After joining two more sets of triangles, I pieced those completed sections to each other. As I continued to piece, I noticed how much quicker and more accomplished my sewing became. Not only was I faster, my product was becoming better!
I took this reflection back to my classroom. Do I give my students the gift of time, allowing them to practice a skill until they become both faster and more accomplished? Do I think to myself, “We have done this 10 times before?” and not provide them the one more practice opportunity they may need. While I have the big picture in mind, have I also identified areas of struggle for my students? Do I allow my students to focus on each small piece they need to know in order to be successful?
I will be taking these days before Thanksgiving break to provide students with the additional practice they need. Whether it be gathering ideas, planning paragraphs, or increasing sentence fluency, we are going to pause and practice. It is my best hope that as a result of our practice, we will create a fabric of our own making that reflects success.