December 7th, 2010
Today’s Quick Tip comes from The Two Writing Teachers and their new book, Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice. Authors Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz are on a blog tour this week. Yesterday they stopped by A Year of Reading and today they are at Raising Readers and Writers. So head on over – this is your chance to ask questions from Ruth and Stacey about your writing workshop!
Dropping Everything to Write
The great art of writing is the art of making people real to themselves with words.
—Logan Pearsall Smith
During my fifth year in the classroom, I began to draw inspiration from Don Graves and Penny Kittle’s My Quick Writes notebook, which accompanies Inside Writing (2005). Originally designed for use with high school students, I began adapting some of the writing stems for my fourth graders during times when we had just a few moments to write because of an assembly or field trip disturbing the usual flow of our school day. I also began pulling “Stories in Hand Sparks,” from Jessica Sprague, for my kids to use in a quick-write-like session, which I called “rapid writes.” Essentially, I projected a bunch of sparks or quick write stems onto the projector screen and encouraged students to pick one. I picked one to write too, and then everyone went off and wrote rapidly about the topic they chose for ten minutes. At the end of ten minutes, everyone shared their writing with their writing partner or as a full-class share.
Getting students in the habit of writing about themselves for a short period during the school day gets them excited about the written word. Often students weren’t finished writing when time was over, so they’d finish their writing at home later that evening. Since students had freedom of topic choice during rapid write sessions, just as they do in writing workshop, they were heavily invested in their writing. Often pieces that were written during rapid write sessions turned out to be seeds for published pieces of writing.
Providing students with a semistructured, but short, time for writing outside of the writing workshop, instills a greater love of writing. Students come to see that their words matter and that writing matters since it’s valued at multiple points during the school day.
Challenge: Carve out fifteen minutes of the school day, at least once a week, where you provide your students with time to just write. Consider a list of topics students can write about so they spend most of the short time allocated to writing, rather than thinking about what they could write.
- Did you write alongside your students? How did this uninterrupted time for writing help you as a writer?
- What were your students’ reactions to this unstructured time for writing?
- How will you go about infusing this type of writing time into your daily or weekly schedule while still fitting in everything else you’re supposed to teach?