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A License to Write: Giving Ownership to the Writer

I am a writer and a teacher of writing. I have experienced the pivotal role ownership has on my writing and my willingness to write. As teachers of writing, we have the opportunity to give the students in our classrooms the license of ownership over their writing.

I am defining ownership as the writer’s freedom to choose the tool(s), space, process, and routines in how they work. Assigning how a writer works takes away the opportunity for the student to choose freely how they’ll work and limits or negates student ownership.

Students who are assigned to write following standardized procedures feel confined and have difficulty finding words and organizing thoughts. For some writers, it is nearly impossible to work creatively with prescribed boundaries. Unwittingly, teachers ask students to follow their directions and procedures every day in completing writing assignments.

Giving Students License


Ownership allows students to choose freely. Exposing students to choices through modeling allows writers to see the impact choice can have on their work. Designating time to reflect on the outcome is what ultimately empowers writers to make purposeful choices with independence and confidence giving ownership to the writer.

Predictable Schedule

Predictable schedules give students a consistent time to write daily. When students write regularly, they discern the importance of writing, as well as the influence it carries within their daily lives. Providing students with time to write each day places value on this routine, creating writers who will carry on with purpose and motivation.

Students as Leaders

Using student’s work as the beacon for teaching empowers students. When student’s curiosities and learning goals guide our conferences and lessons, our writers witness how the strategies can lift their work. Watching students write, listening to their talk, and reading what they write informs our teaching in powerful ways. When we use what we learn from these moments, we strengthen our students as writers. We create students who write with purpose and choice.

Allow Originality

A writing process helps a writer follow their creative instincts. When we present a variety of writing process strategies, our students can see multiple possibilities and how the strategies can support their work. Exposing the strategies, allowing students the opportunity to choose a process or a mix of a few gives students the licenses to write creatively with purpose and choice- free of confinement and prescribed borders.

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