I worry a lot about teaching writing because I want learning to happen without erasing any joy. I want ideas to flow. I want enthusiasm to reign. I want doubts to stay far away. I want little writers to build their skills in a space that is safe. I want the idea of writing to become (or remain) a purely positive experience. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s work. Even if we don’t have it all figured out.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out. Heck, I think I admit so frequently that I haven’t got a lot figured out that it might be time to really wonder about my credibility! BUT, I like to write about what I notice and sometimes it seems that there is enough great stuff happening right in front of me, that maybe I might have a thing or two to share. Lately, here’s what I have observed. We are growing writers. So far, it has been pretty organic. We aren’t bogged down in details and the “how to of it all” at this point.
We have jumped right in. We are immersing ourselves. We are beginning.
Here’s a peek into how:
There is daily time to read. Writers are readers. We need to give our reading writers time to fall into a story. There is so much learning happening when we let our students have time to read.
I read aloud often! Young writers need to be exposed to many, many read alouds. All different kinds of books shared with their classroom community. Picture books. Nonfiction picture books. Novels. Poetry. Writers definitely blossom in a room that celebrates stories.
I read books that are specifically about writing. Writers need to talk and learn about the process. Picture books invite them to learn from characters who are also figuring it out.
I provide time to reflect and to write about what writing means. My students acknowledge that the process takes some work.
Writing is honoured.
Why write? Let an 8 year old explain! pic.twitter.com/3KtcvKQYIx
— Carrie Gelson (@CarrieGelson) October 14, 2017
I often am reminded about how deeply children think about the writing process. I love how bravely my students write. It’s about ideas on a page. We don’t get obsessed about correct spelling or mistakes. We embrace our right to imagine and tell our stories.
I introduce students to authors – if in real life, all the better! Local author Bree Galbraith came and read her latest picture book to our classroom. Milo and Georgie got lots of love! And Bree fielded numerous questions in an engaging discussion about writing books, being a Mom, cat allergies, idea generating and favourite words.
After getting some input from the students about some future and in-process stories, Bree got some spontaneous hugs!
I loved listening in on the stories being shared. Bree gave beautiful space to each child who shared with her.
Our book is now signed!
I encourage students to write to everyone for all kinds of reasons
A Guest Teacher might be coming? How about some welcome letters?
Our engineer helped us out with a new Food Waste bin. We all wrote him thank you notes.
That visiting author? We miss her already and couldn’t wait to write her letters.
A writing centre and materials for writing are must haves. Ours is a shelf full of paper, notepapers, pens and coloured pencils. We also bring out felt tipped pens to write with so that we can love our mistakes instead of erasing them. We write during Writing Workshop but students also write when they have free time, during choices time and even during the lunch hour. Many are collaborative stories with multiple authors and illustrators.
I was just gifted a The Kind Book co-written by three girls. Each page has one word and an illustration. Check out the rainbow end pages! These kids know books and no detail is missed.
We can do this!
We are writers!