Sunday, June 17, 2012

Writing Every Day

Writing is an essential skill. Learning to quickly and concisely put words on a page to convey a message, story, idea or procedure is required in almost all fields of work and endeavor.  It is essential that we help students develop writing with facility and skill.

In this age of multiple platforms, what is the best way to grow writing skill and interest in authentic, meaningful ways?

As I think about this and the fact that we'll have a ninety minute ELA (English Language Arts) block next year, I believe the answer lies in writing every day.

Godin's post and message, Talker's Block, leads my thinking in this area.  I am also led by The Daily Five structure which includes time for daily writing.  Now, I'm wondering about the daily menu of writing choices.

Best writing is motivated by a person's interests and passion. People enjoy writing about what they know and care about.  Writing also profits from specific focus lessons that teach grammar, craft and writing strategies--a time to learn about and practice the ways of writing that wonderful authors of many genres use.  Good writing also profits from the habit of writing often.

Hence, I'll begin the year with a menu for daily writing.  As I think about it now, I imagine the menu will include the following choices:
  • Writing in a paper journal, story book or notebook.
  • Writing on a personal blog (public or private--parents will be involved if it is public).
  • Writing on Google docs.
  • Writing in an ePortfolio.
  • Writing using KidPix.
  • Writing with friends.
  • Writing speeches and later video taping oneself reading the speech.
  • Writing using iPad apps.
  • Writing information and fictional dialogues and scripts with classmates (make a chart on a collaborative document and take turns add your name and writing your lines.)
  • Write cards, posters, signs, and more. 
The topic menu will vary too.  At times, I'll probably assign a focus area to practice, and at other times I'll probably leave it open for free writing from a large list of genres and topics.  Then there will be the times that our writing will be coordinated with a class topic or unit.

I'll set up the writing/tech center with a variety of tools, guiding posters and inviting spaces for writing, and I'll make time and venues available for students to share their writing.  

Our class has always spent a lot of time on writing, but it has been mainly associated with a shared topic and focus. Next year I will continue with the shared focus on our grade-level units: poetry/craft, personal narrative, fiction, reading response, essay and informational text, and I will also foster a daily habit of voice and choice when it comes to students' writing growth, development and interest.

Note: After completing this post, I found a nice article from Peter Reynolds that will support this effort.