Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slice of Life - Gradually Sewing

This is a piece I wrote last month and seemed fitting to share tonight because tomorrow is my first day of school with students.

We started a project.  Her arms were flapping.  Her body wiggled.  Her arms would flap a bit more and her body would wiggle a bit more.  Her rate of speech was quick, “I don’t know what that means.”  She would become hesitant and be slow to do or try the next step.  She is an avid reader and reading was part of the project but even this step seemed to bring frustration.  In my head, I was feeling frustrated because she had sewn for 4H the two previous years and had successful experiences.  Yes, this project was harder but we weren't even at that point yet.

I put on my researcher hat and began uncovering a few reasons why we were at this point.  Even though she had sewn before, she hadn't sewn in a year.  I know how important practice and routines are; I would need to think about this.  Reading the layout for a pattern is like reading a map.  Once, I shared this correlation she seemed to understand the visual layout a bit better.  Vocabulary was a big hurdle.  I realized sewing has its own language, its nonfiction and she doesn't read nonfiction by choice.  When I started making these connections I reflected and realized I needed to do what I would do in the classroom. 

I needed to demonstrate, I needed to give her a guided demonstration, and then release her to try on her own.  I needed to use the gradual release model and make sure I reinforced her success.  Patience is needed when sewing and I needed to make sure I modeled this throughout the project.  We had a successful sewing outcome and are headed for the Ohio State Fair.  As we all start a new school year, we need to remember to take the time to gradually release the learning.  The time and patience we invest up front will last throughout the year, fostering success.

Thank you to Stacey and Ruth for hosting this weekly platform for sharing our writing.


  1. Amazing, isn't it, living in that intersection between mom and teacher. How great that you were able to step away and put on your researcher hat. And I bet you will think of the sewing lesson often as you teach this year!

  2. So many experience in life need to follow the gradual release model. It is so hard to remember this at the beginning of the year when memories of last year's students still fill our mind.

  3. After a day of inservice I'm feeling the gradual release myself as well.