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.