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Why Would Writing Stop When School Ends?

After reading this post, I hope you will be inspired to join the Kids Writing Life Challenge, #KidsWritingLife

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“Mrs. Frazier, how many more days of Writing Workshop?”  Janie asked as we settled into writing.

Writing Workshop is a place where we learn to refine the craft and tools of writing, but students write throughout the school day, and many write from home. So why would writing stop when the school year ends?

In our workshop, we study the choices, intention, and purpose of authors. But, this question made it clear, Janie didn’t see herself as a writer who would write outside of the classroom. Despite the students who’ve burst in the door holding stories they’ve composed at home, it was evident they may not envision themselves writing during the summer. Summer is for swimming at the pool, vacations, camping, baseball, and all things NOT school.

I want to help my students internalize the purpose of writing, in hopes they’ll  continue to write beyond writing workshop and beyond school. I want the students to see how writing can connect us with others and preserve the stories of our lives.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.51.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.52.41 PMI know just the books to help me deliver this message.  The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert and Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes by Jeanette Winter. With an explicit explanation of why we are reading and what they should be looking for as I read, I will share the focus of the lesson with the students before the lesson.

I imagine it might sound like this:

“I am reading these two books over the next few days to help you see how the authors use writing in their lives.  Watch how they collect memories and listen to find out what they do with these memories.”  To bring the connection back to the students, “Imagine how you might collect special treasures in your life.  You might even think about stories you want to share about these treasures!”

Factors Leading to the Development of a Writing Identity
Factors Leading to the Development of a Writing Identity

It’s important for the students to see how the authors collect artifacts and stories as a way of sharing their lives.  The natural blending of collecting, making, and writing in these books demonstrates the strength and value of writing.  A writers’ purpose, design, and identity is buried deep in each and every word they write.  This ownership is necessary for developing a writing identity and joy in writing. This joy will lead writers to their intention in writing and as a result, writers will make time to write for life.


Walking across the bridge from school writing to a writing life:

  • Educate parents on the importance and value of writing in our everyday lives.  Teach parents the value of the writing process, developing a writing identity, and unpolished writing.
  • Promote intention in writing. Value the writing of notes, lists, signs, posters, letters, postcards, blogs, and even creations as worthy of sharing.
  • As a way to begin collecting our stories and increase parent awareness and participation, I will ask each student to bring in a notebook or a box.  As we collect ideas, artifacts, and stories, we will share our books and boxes to inspire fellow writers.
  • Kids Writing Life Challenge #KidsWritingLife.  My responsibility as the teacher of these writers doesn’t end when they walk out as second graders.  I will encourage students to stay connected and active in our writing community throughout the summer. I will host the first “Kids Writing Life Challenge.”  Each Monday of the summer, writers will blog about their newest treasure added to the notebook or box, a story, or even a creation. This isn’t just summer writing; it’s writing for life.  Having a weekly share opportunity will maintain our writing community and give students a place to collaborate and find inspiration.

Would you like to JOIN US?  Please invite your writers to take the Kids Writing Life Challenge and connect with other writers in this community using #KidsWritingLife! 

@MichelleHaseltine and I experienced the power of authentic audience in motivating and inspiring writers. 

“Janie, you have a lifetime of writing. Writing, collecting stories, and sharing with others is a gift of life, and it never ends.  Aren’t we lucky Janie?”


Read More

How Do We Develop a Writing Identity, by  @DanaMurphy68

First Graders Get Crafty, by @DanaMurphy68

Make Writing: A Book Review of  Angela Stockman’s book Make Writing, by  @MrsSokolowski



16 thoughts on “Why Would Writing Stop When School Ends? Leave a comment

  1. Love this post. I try to get my book club to share their summer reading on a blog, but it’s always a challenge. Great ideas, I’m requesting Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes, a new title for me.


  2. Great idea! Have you created directions or a flyer so parents will know how to support their children in this challenge?


      • Awesome! I am now following you! I am @AllisonCurranEC! I sent home blank calendars last summer for the students to record events so they could write narrative, information, or opinion pieces, but I had to wait until to September to read them! This would be much more motivating!


  3. This is inspiring me to write during the summer. Now I have to share more of that thinking with my students. I’m excited about the titles you shared too. I’m checking them out!


  4. Great post, Deb. I think it is a wonderful initiative to encourage your students to join in by sharing their writing on a blog during the holidays. I hope you get a lot of teachers and children joining in. I think it is especially important in the US with your lengthy summer holidays. It is important here in Australia too, though our summer holidays are for just six weeks. I made a list of suggestions for parents to encourage their children to keep writing over the holidays. I have made it available free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The suggestions are similar to yours, but don’t have the power or your Kids Writing Life Challenge, which is a wonderful initiative. I wish you success with it.


  5. Count me in! This will be a great way to help keep our writing community active during the summer. I love the idea of asking each student to bring in a notebook or box (only two weeks left to school, so I have to get moving on this). The Scraps Book I have and have not read this year, so a perfect chance to read another great book. Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes is new to me. I am also thinking Matchbox Diary could be another good read for this. Thanks for the inspiration!


    • Erika,
      First YAY! I will tell my kids to visit your kid’s blogs; your class is on our blog roll!
      Second, I need to get a copy of Matchbox Diary!
      I am working on this in 2 weeks time too!


  6. This is such an uplifting, powerful post and goes right to the heart of writing being life work, not school work. I adore both books you selected and you reminded me to pull them back out! The hashtag is an idea I’m going to run with too. Thank you for starting this conversation about summer writing!


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