7 Things I Want the Writers in my Classroom to Know
I am uneasy referring to myself as a writer. I have writers I admire and I know there’s a vast divide between us, but I write. I enjoy writing; I write to improve my voice and my craft all in an effort to teach my students what it means to be a writer. As an educator, I know all my students ARE writers. I don’t qualify who is and who is not a writer by the quality of their writing. I am working to give myself this same level of acceptance as a writer.
In an earlier post, I shared what I learned about myself as a writer. In this post, I am envisioning how I will bring this learning into the classroom. Writing is an individual process, but I have learned all writers often experience similar hurdles.
Writers Write for Different Reasons
I have learned writers write for many reasons. Sometimes they have a story begging to be told. Other times they write to relax or sort out their thinking. Sometimes writers write for others; to complete an assignment, or to share ideas with others. The writers in our classroom need to know there are many reasons to write and all are important and as individual as the writer. In the classroom, we will share our reasons for writing and we will discuss the reasons others write. To expand our writing community and to learn more about why writers write, we will visit #whywrite on Twitter and share the many reasons authors write.
Writers Have Mixed Feelings
I have learned sometimes a writer’s ideas flow and other times they struggle to find ideas and words evade them. The young writers in our classroom need to know writers experience these struggles just as we will. In the classroom, we will connect to other writers through author’s notes, books, Twitter, blogs, videos, writing conferences and Skype where writers share their processes for writing and how they work through their challenges of finding ideas and the words to tell their story. These connections will expand our community of writers and allow students to see writers experience similar feelings. Author J.J. Krosoczcka shares his perseverance and struggles in becoming an author. Krosoczcka opens his writing process and the sometimes grueling work behind an illustration.
Writers Need Time and Models
I have learned writers need time and confidence to settle into writing and getting started can sometimes take more time than you expect. The writers in our classroom need to know part of settling into writing is having an idea and the confidence to begin. In the classroom we will learn through purposeful reading which provides models and encourages students as writers. We will spend time reading the writing of other first grade writers and popular picture books looking for commonalities in our writing and new ideas to use in our writing. Oliver Jeffer’s video allows writers to peek into his studio, the books he has written and his process in developing ideas and illustrations. Vera B. Williams shares how she finds ideas and the uncertainty she feels as she begins her stories. Students will be reassured to hear this author doesn’t always know what her story will be as she begins and Vera’s stories come from the stories of her life.
Writers Seek and Accept Feedback
I have learned feedback can be the most difficult and the most valuable part of writing. Writers in our classroom need to know how to seek and accept feedback and how to apply the feedback to their writing. In the workshop we will provide time at the opening and closing of workshop for sharing and discussing writing with other writers. The art of giving and accepting feedback will need diligent attention. In an effort to ensure the feedback given is supportive and moves past the superficial comments, we will create a feedback sheet as a class. This sheet will include what we should expect to see based on class minilessons.
Writers Use Notebooks
I have learned writers notice things others may overlook, writers are reflective. When writers are working on a piece of writing their thoughts drift to writing throughout the day. Writers in our classroom need to know writers find thoughts throughout the day and these thoughts are valuable and should be captured. In the classroom I will share my notebook and the notebooks of other writers. Writers will learn how writers use notebooks in the writing process. @AmyLV’s blog The Poem Farm- Sharing Notebooks is a model I will use to begin notebooks. I will design lessons on using notebooks. I will involve the family in the process of using a notebook to capture events, names, special memories. I will include parents and writers to help young writers see what it means to live the life of a writer.
Writing Can Surprise You!
I learned the pieces I struggled with the most were often pieces I found were enjoyed by my audience. I learned the idea I planned to write takes on a new meaning as my writing takes on a new focus, and by the time I am finished I have discovered new perspectives and ideas! Young writers need to know writing can surprise you! It’s difficult to follow your intended focus and sometimes you’re surprised by what you discover. In the classroom we will have times of “wandering writing.” A timed period of writing when we write to see where it leads. We will also learn strategies to write from a plan to learn how writers focus on a message.
I have learned writers learn to be brave and writers are always learning to be writers. I have learned writers find value in their messiest work. I have learned writing is a way of capturing your life. I have learned no matter your level or ability of writing each piece and each step warrants celebration. So, now I am wondering…how will you show your writers they are writers and their writing deserves celebration?