Saturday, June 9, 2012

Intentional Writing - Part 1

It is well known that getting students to write is one of the most difficult things a teacher needs to accomplish each year.  Common phrases heard range from, “I don’t know what to write!” and “Is that enough?”.  I’ve been there, and done that, but I do know that some of the best writing my students have completed have been small, focused, unexpected pieces.  In the past I’ve mentioned some favorite resources that I use during Writer's Workshop.  One that I like to use throughout the year is the Ralph Fletcher's writing series.  I’ll pick one of his books like, “How Writers Work: Finding a Process That Works for You” and read short bits out loud before we write.  We discuss each reading and what the focus or idea was about.  Then, all of us, including myself, go to our seats and silently write for about 15 minutes.  Sometimes students have a hard time starting, and if this happens I encourage them to brainstorm a list of ideas that they are experts at or draw a picture and write a caption.  Sometimes there are giggles, and silliness, but as soon as we get down to the business of writing, the pieces amaze me.  We usually share out at the end, and more times than not there is not enough time to share all pieces, but I try because students want and need to be heard.  This is the intentional writing piece, whether it’s for the class, their family, the school boards, or even a global penpal, it needs to have intention.  Your students need some type of buy in to the purpose of their pieces.   Ralph Fletcher’s book doesn’t talk about the mechanics of writing, but about thinking and acting like a writer.  It encourages students to make writing a habit...carry a journal, be observant, write about things you know, and choose someone to share it with.  The knowing that it will be shared takes your student’s writing pieces to a whole new level and gives them intention. You’ll be pleased with the results and want to share them with the world!


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