Choice in Deadlines

Some were asking me to “say more” about giving students choice regarding deadlines. Here are a couple ideas in order to empower students to have more choice in finding what works best for them as writers.

  • First and foremost, I have to say I believe in deadlines. Writers have deadlines. If Stacey and I didn’t set deadlines, our book wouldn’t be finished. Deadlines are an important part of a writer’s life. The choice lies in the mini-deadlines needed along the way in order to meet the big deadline at the end.
  • For middle and high school students, I give a deadline when the final writing project is due. I put this deadline on a calendar, along with other pertinent information: days off, afternoons I plan to stay after school, and extra curricular schedules. Then students filled out the calendar, indicating when they planned to begin drafting, begin revising, have a peer conference, and have an editing conference. This gave students an opportunity to think ahead. Some students planned to work heavily over the weekend, while others wanted to leave their weekends free of writing work. As students become older, it is important to provide opportunities for them to plan ahead.
  • In some primary classrooms, we have established a system where students turn in the work they would like to publish two days prior to the publishing day. In these writing workshops, the teacher sets a publishing day and students must have something ready to publish in advance. In Christi Overman’s second grade classroom, every other Friday was a publishing day. She had a basket labeled “I’m ready to publish,” where students put their writing along with a completed self-reflection. Then they moved their name tag from one side of a “I’m Ready to Publish” chart to the other side. This allowed Christi to know in a glance who was prepared to publish and who may need a gentle nudge before the deadline.

Do you have other ideas to extend choice in deadlines? I’d love to hear them!