Thinking About Choice

One of the sessions I attended at the conference last week was June Yazel’s “The Power of Choice.” It has been rattling around in my mind since. June believes choice is the defining factor of writing workshop. I believe this too. Sometimes it seems as though we strip choice away from writing workshop. I’ll be the first to admit it is difficult to offer ample choice and still feel as though I’m doing “my job” as a writing teacher.

However our “jobs” as writing teachers is to provide students with the best opportunities to become more proficient writers. Choice is an integral part of the plan. Here are some of the choices (beyond topic choice) I’m hoping are part of writing workshop next school year.

  • Audience — Students write for many different audiences throughout the year.
  • Process — Students find what works best for themselves in each phase of the writing process. For instance, planning goes beyond a web, outline, or list.
  • Writing Supplies — Students use the paper and writing instrument that is most comfortable to them. If possible, they can type their drafts if this is their preference.
  • Work Places — I rarely write sitting straight-up in a chair at a desk. Others always write at a desk. Students ought to be able to chose the place they work best.
  • Publishing Opportunities — Students put their writing in the world outside of the classroom walls.
  • Genre — Students have the option to change genre if it makes sense in regards to their topic and audience.
  • Deadlines — As students get older the more imperative it becomes for them to set their own “mini-deadlines” in order to meet the looming deadline of a big project. Students need to learn their own needs for time to plan, draft, revise, and edit. This varies from writer to writer, therefore, they should have to option to make a plan for themselves.

What are some ways you are planning to expand the opportunity for choice in your writing workshop?