Walking on campus this past August, I made a commitment: my students will write EVERY DAY. Little did I realize how powerful this one commitment would be. Not just for them, but for me as a teacher.
Ask any teacher, there never seems to be enough time in the day to really teach every standard that is required. The answer: prioritize. I decided we would start the class period with writing. That way, it would always happen. Besides, I had some phenomenal ideas from my colleagues at the Area 3 Writing Project, the life-changing institute I was lucky enough to attend over the summer, and I was itching to implement all of it!
How I Organize
Each day has a new type of writing prompt. I set a timer and we stick to it, even if students don’t finish. The prompts range from short video clips (the students’ favorite) to different writing techniques. We will also read short articles, work on vocabulary or use the time to practice and review needed skills. However, often I tell students to ignore my prompt and write what they are feeling passionate about at that moment. After all, they are teenagers. Sometimes they just need a way to vent. Our daily writing has really become more of a writer’s workshop in only about 10-15 minutes a day.
During writing, I might circulate the room, but never read over any shoulders. That journal is theirs. Students can choose what is shared and what isn’t. It’s practice, and practice is messy.
What I’ve Noticed
For one, we are writing and sharing every day. YES! Our classroom is now an environment of writing. We are writers. At the beginning of the period I often hear, “What are we writing today?” Of course, their favorite part is sharing and listening to their classmates share.
On most Fridays, my students are asked to go back and choose a piece to revise and publish on their blog. The blogs are so much better than I’ve read in years past. I believe having a journal full of rich ideas gives them a place to start. Plus, they are in the habit of writing now. It just comes easier.
When my students write, I try to write, too. Well, try. That’s the one resolution I have going forward. I know how powerful and therapeutic daily writing can be for me. Time to practice what I preach.