Truth be told, in most aspects of my life, I am not a "take lots of chances" kind of person. Making this blog public was a big decision. Finally,the need to practice what I preach overpowered my reluctance to possibly offend someone. Yet, to be a writer, one must be a risk taker and must lay themselves out before others accepting critique, discussion as well as agreement.
On this National Day of Writing, I am reflecting on a powerful conversations this week with teachers who will lead this next generation of writers. We discussed Katie Wood Ray's vision of writing workshops as places where students make "things" that matter. Ray (2004, p.6) notes, "From the very first day of workshop, we fold up paper, staple it together so it looks like a book and then say to the five and six year olds in front of us, 'Come on everybody, let's make books.' It's this making of something that matters so much to them and drives their work across the year." (thanks Amanda for pulling out that quote) We talked about creating passion in workshops on all levels through writing across the curriculum (poems in history; songs in science) and encouraging the writing that occurs during free choice times (comic strips about Stone Fox; cards for friends; creating games).
We talked about demands to write good essays, complex informational texts, book critiques and more spurred by CCS as well as district mandates. At times, it feels like we do not have time to write about what is really meaningful and important to kids in ways that will inspire them to be writers. Our tone was quieter for a bit as we worried about how it might all "fit into our packed days," and then we realized that teachers MUST:
* find ways to empower kids to be excited about writing
* try out new genres
* encourage writing for personally meaningful reasons
* explore writing formats (comics, digitally, poems) even if they do not align with standards
* practice what they I preach
I guess I am becoming a bit of a risk taker these days as I "lay my thoughts and ideas out there" accepting critique, discussion as well as agreement. I guess I am, finally, becoming a writer! Donald Graves would be proud of me AND the teachers who will lead this next generation of writers to be effective essay writers on tests AND passionate about sharing their thoughts, ideas and stories with others in a global marketplace of writing!