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We’re writing a story in my Early Intermediate English Language Learner class.

When I did this with a similar class a few years ago, it started off as a fiasco because I didn’t have anywhere near the amount of needed scaffolds in place.  However, I recovered and developed a great unit (see Here’s My Entire ELL Beginners Seven-Week Unit On Writing A Story (Including Hand-outs & Links) and Here Are The Ten Downloadable Graphic Organizers I Use With ELL Beginners To Write A Story).

This year, I had been following that same instructional sequence, and it had been going well – teacher modeling with graphic organizers, followed by students using them one-at-a-time.

Then, because of my having to be out of the classroom for some days to work with some of our International Baccalaureate seniors and to lead professional development sessions for some of our teachers on ELL instructional strategies, it became clear this week that it was going to be very tight to be able to complete the stories by today, when our winter break begins.

What I should have done was stick with patient modeling and not worry about the artificial deadline of Winter Break.

I know that nothing good ever comes from short-circuiting modeling and trying to rush to “cover material.”

Unfortunately, after carefully modeling every step along the way,  I, instead, chose to “save time” and not model how students could bring all their pieces together into one coherent story.  I just explained how to do it.

Obvious results followed, and they were not pretty.

Fortunately, students were very gracious in accepting my apology for not teaching well.

Today, I made time to model creating the first paragraph of the story, and most were able to successfully re-do their own beginnings.

We’re ready to continue doing it the right way after we return from the break.

As the legendary community organizer Fred Ross, Sr. used to say:

Short-cuts usually end in detours, which lead to dead ends.

That’s true in community organizing, and it’s true in teaching…