Setting the Stage for Summer: Write from the Start!

The co-authors of Two Writing Teachers are making summer writing plans, bringing closure to the school year, and preparing for some new beginnings in the fall.  So, from today until June 14th, we are turning Two Writing Teachers over to a group of guest bloggers.  We will be back next week with new content.  Enjoy!

 Setting the Stage for Summer: Write from the Start!

As the year draws to a close the goal of being a writer outside of school is put to the test. Summer activities (baseball, swimming, camps, vacations, etc.) present strong competition to all writers and even more so to our young writers. The key is to enable these writers to see how writing fits into what they’re doing and captures their stories for years to come. I have worked to help the writers in our community understand writing does not pause when school closes for the summer, but rather our writing community has given us what we need to be writers who write for ourselves and through writing we can capture the moments of our lives, hold on to them, and inspire others.

Our Community of Writers

We have grown as a community through our writing. We have learned to collect our stories and how sharing our voices connects us to the world. Through the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge we realized writing opportunities happen everyday and we can find time in each and every day to write. As a grade level of writers, we Skyped with @AmyLVPoemFarm. Here, we learned the nuances of poetry and the benefits of expanding our community to include the writers in the other first grade classes. Writers shared their heartfelt writing in open space through blogs, screencasting applications, and then taking yet another step as writers, they read their poems to parents and guests at the school art show.

I have watched the writers in our community become writers, not just for me and not just for school, but for themselves. I read L’s story about new glasses and how much they help him see far away, and even though they give him a headache, he still likes them. I’ve watched a writer inspire others by sharing the story of his life. Shortly after reading his post I read at least 4 similar posts. I have learned animal facts as A shared his new learning in a blog post.  I have witnessed the joy and excitement of students when they received comments on their blogs and replies to their tweets. I have witnessed each and every writer share their stories because their stories matter. Writers want to tell their stories, not because I asked them, and not for school requirements, but for themselves.

Setting the Stage for Writers 

My Summer Notebook

To help the kids experience other writers who collect and share stories we read Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes by Jeanette Winter. In this story Mr. Cornell was a painter, an illustrator and a collector of things. Mr. Cornell used these things and his art to create picture boxes to capture his memories and share the stories with others.

As we read this story the kids connected Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes to our writing notebooks. “Our notebooks are a place where we can capture memories just like Mr. Cornell.” This led to a passionate discussion of stories we could write, memories we could collect and how our notebooks would be a great place to write about all the fun things we do this summer.

Lois Ehlert’s Scraps gave us another example of how writing notebooks collect life’s moments. Lois Ehlert shares the story of growing up in a creative house where her parents were always creating. Lois tells us how, as a child she collected scraps from both her mother and father as they worked. Later in the book she allows us a peek into her work space where bright colors fill the space, writing tools and beautiful fabrics are all around.  Immediately kids recognized the scraps of material from Lois Ehlert’s books. These connections led to questions about collections in our notebooks.- “Can we put things in our notebooks?” The answer, “Of Course!” Instantly chatter broke out, “I can ask my mom for a picture of my dog…” “I am going to ask my mom if we can go to the bookstore so I can buy Scraps!”  “Mrs. Frazier what about my ticket to the Reds game?” It was clear the possibility of writing amidst the fun of summer was catching on!

Our third workshop kept the excitement level high and added endless opportunities to the writers.  We gathered on the carpet to explore the plethora of ideas on @AmyLVPoemFarm page, Sharing Our Notebooks. We saw notebooks by kids and adults, story ideas, illustrations, collections and even photographs in the notebooks.  As we read, we began to get ideas for our notebooks. I watched and listened as the writers were beginning to internalize there are no wrong answers when it comes to how a writer keeps a notebook. The notebooks and the writing in them are as varied as the writer.

Capturing Our Writing Life (outside of school)

After combing through the possibilities of notebook ideas, writers began to generate thoughts about their writing notebooks. I listened as writers anticipated writing beyond our classroom. One student shared how she was going to get note cards and punch a hole in them so she can put them on a ring as her notebook. Another student shared a journal from his mom he can use, and some students shared plans to write in their digital tablets. Next, the plan progressed to getting cool pens and maybe a stylus for writing. The excitement was palpable, writers were ready for writing. At this point I was simply in the way!

Stepping Back

So I stepped back and let the writers get to work. The chatter was about organizing notebooks, planning where they like to write and sharing writing over the summer. The room was abuzz and I was in the back watching the writers take flight. They were making plans not for me, not for school, but for themselves as writers.

As I shed a tear or two, I am thinking back to where we began our journey as writers. Random marks on paper, a few letters, and maybe words here and there. And now, I anticipate reading  blog posts as they share stories and inspire others as they live the life of a writer. I could not be prouder.

The stage is set…now the waiting!

Deb Frazier spends her days learning alongside amazing first graders in Hilliard, Ohio who are just as eager to learn as Deb. You can find Deb on her blog, Primary Perspective  or on twitter @Deb_Frazier or tweeting with her class @Frazier1st.