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I’ve been thinking about the difference between pushing and nudging lately. Last summer I listened to Katie Ray and Matt Glover talk about nudging primary students as writers. At first I didn’t think much about the term. However, it has marinated inside of me and is now part of the fabric of my understanding of writing workshop.

I think about nudging students. Actually, I’m not sure that’s true. In reality, I think about not shoving writers. I think about the difference between manipulating young writers into doing what I want them to do and gently prodding them to consider new options to add to their writing repertoire. It’s a fine line.

As I’ve been sharing conferences and minilessons here on Two Writing Teachers, I’ve struggled with how to share the heart of the teaching. It would be easy to misconstrue it and make it rote, contrite, and writing centered (instead of writer focused).

I’m coming to realize nudging is a state of mind. Or maybe a state of heart. It is about believing young writers have the ability to make their own choices. It’s extending freedom to make the decisions that make sense for their purposes.  At the same time it’s about offering a gentle tug when it’s time for them to try something new as a writer. Mostly, though, it’s about honoring the young writers in our classrooms.



Ruth Ayres View All

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

5 thoughts on “Nudging Leave a comment

  1. The way you said, “I think about the difference between manipulating young writers into doing what I want them to do and gently prodding them to consider new options to add to their writing repertoire,” has really made me think about my work with teachers and students. When I have my own agenda I stop listening. I’m thinking of ways to jump in with my own great ideas. 😉 I really believe the heart and soul of WW is to really listen. Listen without judgement, without presuppositions, just listen with an open heart and open mind. It’s so simple, but not so easy!


  2. Heart comes through loud and clear in all of your words! If people are taking what you and Stacy suggest and allowing it to become rote or routine, it is not for lack of you communicating.


  3. I find myself contemplating this tight rope walk daily in writing workshop with my kindergarten students. I sometimes think that if I just listen to what they are saying about their writing or their story or their thinking that there is brilliance in their own 5 or 6 year old thinking that I could never “give them”…it is theirs. This first occurred to me when one of my kiddos wrote a small moment about trying on a dress for the first time and spinning in it because it was, “good at twirling”. As an adult, that kind of thinking is lost to me, but is was brilliant in her small moment. Is was a real ah-ha to me.


  4. I love the word “nudge.” I think it is the “heart” interpretation of Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development” – teachers who nurture caring relationships with their students will nudge them to higher levels of learning. Thank you for this incredible website/blog – I just discovered it and have been reading it voraciously for about a week now. A wonderful resource for writers of all ages!


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