"There has been so much focus on literacy as reading over the last ten years that I often think we have forgotten, even abandoned, writing. We have forgotten that a person can read without writing, but he cannot write without reading.”
Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice, by Linda Rief
True Story: When I was in second-grade, my class took a trip to my elementary school’s lunchroom to write poems. I have no idea why we needed to go to the lunchroom for the activity, but it happens to be the setting of this story, so that’s that.
I wrote some “Roses are red” poem and handed it to my teacher. She read it aloud while I stood in front of her at attention, waiting patiently for her feedback. She lowered the poem and said enthusiastically:
“I love your rhymes! You’re a real poet!”
Fast forward a decade.
It’s 2008 and I’m studying creative writing, writing poems on my balcony at @uoftampa. I imagine it was precisely that magic moment in the lunchroom that created a writer in me.
Words and ideas and feedback matter. Writing matters.
For all sorts of professional, academic, and personal pursuits, writing really matters.
And although I know that writing can be a scary subject to tackle when you’re a teacher (and also very scary for many students😥), in order to “become” writers, we must write.
Here are a few tips for moving gently into consistent quality writing practice:
- Daily Journals: Have students free-write in journals at the same time each day (try in the morning or right after lunch). Make it clear that, at the beginning of the school year, you will not read them unless they choose to share them. After students grow more comfortable, set a day each week to collect them and leave specific feedback about their writing.
- Quick Writes: Give students a prompt and set the timer for 5 minutes; many (though not all) students feel less threatened by short windows, as they don’t feel pressure to write the next NYT bestselling novel.
- Write From a Text: Steal a line from a book or a poem and have students finish the story/poem. This gives students inspiration so they don’t get caught up on trying to select an idea to write about.
- Framed Paragraphs: Give students the first and last sentence of a paragraph and have them fill in the body. Or give them the first and last paragraph of a story, and have them write the body paragraphs.
What tips do you have to help motivate students to write in your traditional, virtual, or in-home classrooms?