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Finding Our Writing Buddies

Sitting down beside a writer holds so much promise and knowing the interest and hobbies of the writer is as important as understanding the process and voice of the writer. The interest of the writer can help guide topics, teaching points, books and even authors they may enjoy reading as writing mentors.  Helping writers see the story possibilities in their lives can inspire stories that might have gone uncovered. It’s typical to hear me say “I can’t wait to read the story about…” as students share the events of their lives. There are so many stories hidden in our lives just aching to be told.

While I believe my knowing the interest of the writers in our room is a requisite for supporting their growth, it isn’t enough.  I am but one member of our classroom and I cannot pretend I am the ONLY source of support. We have 26 other opportunities for support in our classroom. Writers need a community of writers, a community where they can find similar interests, writing partners who will listen to their story, offer feedback, and who will celebrate little bits of growth because they know the work to be a writer.

In a previous post I shared what I believe to be the essentials of a writing community. In this post I want to share our “Mini-Me’s” and how they’re living inside our writing community.  

These “Mini-Me’s” are the first thing you see in our room. They say welcome, we are important, we are unique. Each doll began the same, but as I look at them now, no two are same. Each doll represents an individual student. As students share their “Mini-Me” the class listens, often hearing connections to their own lives, thinking about their friends and noting their interest as they gain new ideas for writing.

As students are learning about each other they are also building deeper friendships, learning who can support them in exploring a common interest and building a bank of ideas for offering feedback to their classmates.  Because our “Mini-Me’s” hang prominently in our classroom and we record our sharing on VoiceThread, they are interactive all year. Students can glance at them any time or revisit the VoiceThread to leave comments or to seek new ideas.

Here’s the beginning of this year’s VoiceThread and how these simple paper dolls are already strengthening our writing community of writers.

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11 thoughts on “Finding Our Writing Buddies Leave a comment

  1. This is so cool! I’m so glad you wrote more about the mini-me’s and the voice thread. I love what you’ve come up with and how you take such care to learn about each writer, helping them also learn about each other.


  2. This absolutely made my morning. Thank you so much for sharing this idea, Deb. It takes decorating the folder to a whole fun new place. 🙂


  3. I am intrigued. So if am I understanding it correctly your young students’ mini-me creations function as a heart map, yet even more personalized? I can see how for younger ones, making a whole mini-me self is a more concrete way for them to connect to their life stories. When I was in the classroom, I always had my students create self-portraits. We framed them and hung them to build community-changing them throughout the year. These are much more interactive.


    • Yes, these are similar to a heart map. the families enjoy making them and the kids LOVE sharing all about themselves too! I can’t wait until we get all the shares complete so we can begin our comments! The conversation thread around the mini me’s are priceless!
      I love the self portraits, I just love seeing the kids represented in their classroom!


  4. Wow! Please teach is more! I now have downloaded Voice Thread on my iPad and listened to Larry, who is darling, talk about his mini-me. I’d never even heard of Voice Thread. Now, I’m fascinated. How do kids listen to each other’s? How else do you use VT?


    • Stay tuned for more ideas and ways to use VT in writing! each student has an account and can play the VT as you did and based on the settings ANYONE can comment! VT is a great tool. I have written more about VoiceThread and how we use it in our classroom
      on my personal blog Primary Perspective.


  5. Deb, this is so smart! I love these little Mini-Me’s, and I love the connection you made to writing interests and writing community. The use of VoiceThread for sharing was smart as well! Do the kids comment on one another’s VoiceThread?

    Thanks for sharing this!


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