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choice in process.

This trimester I have the pleasure of working in a ninth grade language arts class.  The first unit of study has been a deep look into narrative writing.  The challenge has been to write a memoir which reveals something about yourself, including scenes which span time, and include a common factor throughout each scene (ie:  a place or object).

I’ve been intentional about leading students to find a process which is personal and tailored to each individual’s needs.  What I’ve been reminded of is what a tall order this is.  It is such a delicate balance between giving enough advice and structure to support these young writers, while at the same time leaving enough choice in order for them to discover their personal preferences.

As I conferred with students yesterday, I was pleased to observer that they are, in fact, finding custom writing processes.  I was also shocked at the vast differences in the processes in the room.  Some did almost all the planning in their heads: thinking on the bus, in the shower, during passing periods, and in bed at night.  Others did extensive planning and writer’s notebook work.  One wrote numerous drafts.  Many had other people read and respond to their drafts (outside of class). 

Reflecting back, I believe they were able to do this because we spent so much time envisioning the draft.  Numerous quick writes were devoted to helping students find a topic.  Lots of conversation was encouraged around possible ideas.  Time to “try a scene” was spent to find a topic worthy of the time and attention needed to write a quality narrative.  When writers have a strong vision for their drafts, once the embark on writing, they are able to find a process that is comfortable and effective.

The more I study writers, the more I believe in the power of envisioning.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

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