IF you are a writing teacher...How did you start your journey? Are you a hostage–you HAVE to teach writing? Or, are you a cheerleader for all who write? Do you write yourself, or “just teach it?” If you were given the choice tomorrow, would you gladly hand off the job of writing teacher to another “unlucky” faculty member, or would you shout, “No way am I giving this up!!” Do you (as author Gary Paulsen says) “read like a wolf eats,” because your muse is fed by reading good books, good writing? And, why are these questions important, anyway?? I guess I’m curious because I know the buy-in to writing that is necessary for the passion-driven tenacity to happen in students. I’ve seen fabulous writing teachers in K-12 schools who inspired students to take risks and write, who listened closely, encouraged their words, and took risks to share their own words. I’ve also seen teachers who shouldn’t have been there. If you are reading this blog, found this site through intentional or random searching, you are probably a writing teacher a middle grades student needs. Hoping so.
Stories challenge us to shift, change, flex our perspectives on the world. I have posted about my strong belief in “empathy” on this blog. Most recently I have come across the word “empathy” on more than one education site. It’s no mystery to me. Without empathy as a teacher, you will fool yourself into thinking you have really “reached” and taught your students. They listen best when they connect to you. They work hardest when they know you have their back. Stories–whether quick anecdotes, or labored-over memoir, can invite our students into our worlds, and us into theirs. The world seems upside down these days. Sharing stories seems a good way to make it feel less scary. Even after all these many years, my fondest memories of school are those of teachers whose lives outside of the classroom were shared with us with stories–and of those teachers who wanted to know about our lives outside of the brick and mortar buildings where we met five days a week. They seemed (or at least it felt like to me) to know me as a human as well as a student. That “human” factor of teaching is the empathetic factor. If we model it and find opportunities for students to practice, perhaps we might motivate, inspire, encourage students to enlarge their world views, as well. Building community is critical to teaching and to healthy classroom relationships. Stories can pave the way.
Oh My! So much makes sense…
My oldest brother is a talented bread maker–all things bread…pretzels, bagels, rolls, popovers, muffins, and of course,…bread. I have both envied and marveled at the process and products of his labors. I have also stood right next to him, observing, asking questions, prodding him for the secrets to his success. As a writer and teacher of writers, I can stand back from my thirst to know and learn his talents, and understand that what appears to be effortless truly is not; he has worked the better part of his life at becoming the master that he is. I see a parallel between his craft and the craft of writing. Time, dedication, practice, trust, risk-taking, imagination, intuition, and tenacity are elements common to the craft of artisinal bread making and to the craft of writing.
Do you have other “metaphors” for writing???
If you click on the link below you can view a booklet I made at http://simplebooklet.com. I introduce myself to you in this booklet and used this format so that you can see the possibilities for your students. It’s FREE and took me about 20 minutes. The only problem is the s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s of the slide crawl. I found that to speed it up I would need to upgrade. HOWEVER, I include it anyway–your school (or you!) may have resources to purchase an upgrade account, and if so, the possibilities are endless. Primary grade children could do this!
Simple. You’ll see one word at the top of the following screen.
You have sixty seconds to write about it.
Click go and the page will load with the cursor in place.
Don’t think. Just write.
When the 60 secs is up, you are taken to a screen to submit your quick write to an email or a website. This is great site for fluency–just getting words out of the head and on “paper”.—-How could you use this, teachers?
1–You could have this at a computer station as a center activity–students would visit, check out the one word that pops up, write and submit. If they have their own blogs, they can submit to themselves, or if they have their own email, submit to themselves. Their quick writes can be a kind of electronic writer’s notebook. Perhaps in that 60 second quick write they had their fires fueled to write deeper on a quick write topic.
2–If students have iPads–wow–what you can do with this site. You can start everyone off at the same time. If they all have blogs on your teaching website–they can submit their quick writes to: themselves, a peer writing partner, a peer writing group, or to you.
A great website for writing fluency–visit at http://www.OneWord.com.