I tried to keep my exasperation at bay as I reached into Katie’s pajama drawer for another set of pajamas. You see, the first set I had chosen was too tight. The second set was too itchy. The third set was not pink, and everybody knows pajamas should be pink. As I tugged the fourth shirt over Katie’s curls I said, “You sure are having a lot of pajama problems tonight.” I chuckled and continued, “That sounds like a book, doesn’t it? The Big Pajama Problem.”
“Can we write it, Mommy?” Katie laughed.
We pulled on her pink pajama bottoms, grabbed some markers, and raced down to the kitchen to write our story. It soon became a family affair because we also needed an illustrator, of course.
There is something about this urgency to write that I look for in the classrooms I visit. I look for writing that is not done only during that time of day we call ‘writing workshop.’ I look for writing that beckons us throughout the day, pulling us back to our desks to jot a note, sketch a drawing, write a line or two. I look for classrooms that boldly announce: we must write.
In my grown-up life, this urgency manifests itself when I hop out of the shower with a blog post idea and quickly grab my phone while I’m still dripping wet to jot the idea in my Google Keep app for later. It is when I get teary-eyed in the car on my drive home from work as I mentally compose a Slice of Life Story that is a perfect illustration of Katie’s constant joyfulness. It is the feeling I have right now as I type this blog post, ignoring the fact that dinner needs to get cooked. It is an urgency to write.
We can we do to cultivate this sense of writing urgency in our classrooms?
Cherish the Writer’s Notebook
Make the writer’s notebook an integral part of your classroom. Demonstrate (often) how you use your own writer’s notebook to capture writing ideas. And when students share a story or a clever turn of phrase, respond with gusto, “Quick, go write that down! Go, go!”
Read OR Write
We often give our students the opportunity to read when they find themselves with a few extra minutes in class. Instead, try telling them they may read or write. This simple shift in language conveys an important message. It says, “You have stories to tell. Go! Write!”
Share our Stories
Share personal stories orally and often. Open your day with a quick share, “Does anyone have interesting writing ideas this morning?” Of course, make sure kids have their writer’s notebook in hand when you gather each day.
You can begin to transform your classroom into a place where a case of itchy pajamas turns into a urgent writing moment.
Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer