Making sense of this writing cycle can be tough, especially when you’ve been sold a bill of goods about those 5-steps. Students and teachers, when trying to move toward a more authentic writing process often struggle to forget those 5-steps because they lack a model for a real cycle. So I’ve been working to put together a set of books — picturebooks , specifically— that offers a model for this more real writing cycle. The stories I’ve collected offer ways into the various moments in the cycle, show characters experiencing the same kinds of thinking and struggles that writers — whether students or teachers — face.
The stories we tell — or fail to tell — our children say a lot about who we think we are
What does all this have to do with George Washington chopping down a cherry tree? Because how (and if) we tell Washington’s story is an indication of what we — which is a naturally limited and contested ‘we’ at any given historical moment — think about ourselves in that historical moment. I’m currently editing a manuscript about my research on the early dissemination of Washington’s story, so I thought I’d share some of my explorations here.
The manuscript began as project for class called The History of American Reading Instruction. For the final class project, I ended up looking for every instance of the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree that I could find. And between the UT Library’s extensive collection and Google Books, I found a lot. I also found, as I read these stories, that they reflected exactly those cultural and societal shifts that Nila Banton Smith had outlined in the text on the history of reading instruction, appropriately titled, American Reading Instruction. The stories moved from Nationalistic/Moralistic, toward Intelligent Citizenship, through Cultural Asset to Scientific Investigation (see below for a more detailed chart).