Sunday, July 30, 2017

Teachers Write 2017 - Tales from the Classroom #3

Hi! Hi! Hi! 

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Week three is complete! This upcoming week is my last full week of summer so I'm excited to make the most of the last week of Teachers Write. And I hope you are too! I'm excited to hear about your plans for the last week but first I have my own tale from the classroom to share this week!

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Yup! Me!
Okay, so as I'm prepping to write this I'm realizing I probably could have shared this tale from the classroom at the beginning of Teachers Write...but hopefully it's still something that might be helpful as you continue writing for yourself and as you head back into school and into writing with your students!

I wholeheartedly believe that the more we write, the more we think like writers. If anyone is going to improve their writing, then they first have to write. And again, the more we write, the more practice we have but also the more we have to work with as we go through the process. This quote from Don Graves himself captures exactly what I mean: 
I learned about free writing in high school when I was lucky enough that my high school English teacher taught with reading and writing workshop. We did free writing a lot. Since then, I free write to get started, when I'm drafting AND I especially free write to get unstuck. It's a useful tool to know how to use in different parts of the writing process and a place I like to start with students. 

Just like we reserve time for independent silent reading everyday, we can reserve time for writing everyday. Since I don't have my own classroom these days, I'm always excited to go into friends' classroom to introduce free writing. In the last two years, I've done free writing with second graders all the way through eighth graders. Below are the slides I use. I show a clip from Big Hero Six and talk about just because we want ideas to come...it doesn't mean it's going to happen. Then I show pictures I took as examples of how I pay attention to things I notice around me that give me ideas for something I could write about. 

And then we get to free writing! I share the rules: keep your hand moving, focus on ideas, let your ideas flow, and be brave. That be brave rule is super important because no matter how old you are, there could be a little voice in your head telling you you're writing isn't good enough. I model for the students. Together we shout out, "Bring it on, blank page!" And then I free write my heart out...as sloppy and illegible as it comes out, as rambly as it comes out, leaving spelling errors on the page so they know - truly - this is about IDEAS and not about perfect spelling and grammar and punctuation. (That comes later! I promise. That's what revising and editing is for.) And when the time is up, we all say, "I can write. I am a writer. The proof is on the page!" Finally, the students get to do it. Don't forget to cheese it up and make sure you get a hearty, "Bring it on, blank page!" One of my friends had a student who was so good at belting it out, he led the class every time! Feel free to use my slides. I have other resources up on here on my website too.


Free Write - Writer's Notebooks - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Here are some eighth graders free writing with their teacher. It's important for students to be able to choose whether they want to free write in a notebook or free write on their computers. Some teachers I work with choose to start all students with paper and pencil or all in a Google Doc and others give them a choice. It's up to you but I do think there is value in choice and in recognizing that ultimately we probably want kids to compose digitally. I vote for not limiting them to one mode or another but to helping them make a choice for themselves.

And at the end of the year I was invited to a Poetry Slam that one of our second grade classes hosted as a year-end celebration. If you look super closely, you'll see that their signs say, "We are poets, the proof is on the page!" You can believe my heart melted into a little cup of love when I saw this! 
 
If you haven't done a free write yourself in a while, I invite you to give it a try! Set a timer for a few minutes, it doesn't have to be long and get your fingers moving. Don't stop and think, just let the words come. And be sure to get your students writing the first day of school. Get them used to taking a blank page and making something out of nothing. Set the tone. If you really want them to believe they are writers, invite them to write. Teachers Write is all about walking the walk instead of talking the talk. Well, let's do the same in our classrooms. If we really want to help our students become better writers, let's walk the walk and make sure they write everyday. Because when we write everyday, we can become better at writing a whole lot easier than if we don't. I mean, it makes sense, right!?


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What can I say? I love writing. 
And I love hearing how YOUR writing is going!

My goal for this week was to add hit 38,000 words....but I got stuck. I added a lot of words but I got to a point where I hit a wall and decided I needed a break. I'm volunteering for 826CHI this week so I got to write all week with middle schools and it was awesome. My own writing has gotten better for sure and I did get to 31,000 words. I'm celebrating even though I didn't officially meet my goal. I'd like to get 40,000 by next week. I was hoping I could get to 50,000 by the end of Teachers Write but I think 40,000 is more realistic. We'll see how I do!

I hope you enjoy our last week of camp! 
I'm so glad you are still here and plugging along! 

Today, in the comments:
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-so-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-totally-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.


Happy writing all!
P. S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! You r-o-c-k!

Psst! Yes, you! One more thing...
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