Saturday, August 17, 2013

5 Ways to Help Foster a Writing Identity

I would be lying if I said that Reading is my favorite subject.

I was recently told that I am a bibliophile, and yes, it is indeed true.  However...

I also love teaching Writing.  Reading and Writing are opposite sides of the same coin, so how could I not?

Looping from 2nd to 3rd grade this year has shown me the immense benefits of helping students create their writing identities.  We've accomplished this in some small ways:

1. When we talk about books we read in Reading, we also talk about how they are written in Writing.  We use the same books for different purposes in both Reader's and Writer's Workshops.  We read like writers and we read like readers.

We study stacks of books first before we write like those authors, or like that genre.  Good Writers Read First.

2. We learn about authors and we call them by their names.  We watch interviews with them.  We learn about their lives.  

Children often think that books are magically published in the heavens, and that writers get their ideas from the unicorns that frolic in their backyards.

Not entirely true.

Writers get their ideas from everywhere.  Every single day is a story in our class.

My students are asked to "put on their writers eyes" when they leave our room.  Ideas for books happen all around us!

3. I keep a writing notebook myself.  I know that teachers often see themselves as "readers."  But so few see themselves as "writers" too.  Showing students how I can make lists of ideas from my life is powerful for students to see.  Drafting writing and showing students how writing is actually a messy process is even more helpful.  Kids need to see that writing is not a "one and done" activity.  

4. The Writing Process is not sequential.

I admit that I am slightly sad when students enter my class and think that Revision is the step that happens after Drafting.  Augh!

Completely untrue.  Writers work through the different stages of the writing process in a recursive manner.  We go back and forth between the different steps of the process in a nonconsecutive way.

For example:
Many educators have a process like this posted in their rooms:
1. Brainstorming
2. Drafting
3. Revising
4. Editing
5. Publishing

But in reality, I think the process may look something like this:
1. Brainstorming
2. Drafting
3. Revising
4. Brainstorming
5. Editing
6. Drafting
7. Revising
8. Drafting
9. Revising
10. Brainstorming
11. Drafting

And so on.

We talk about this in third grade.  Students know that ideas for writing and the writing itself is not a pretty process wrapped up neatly with a bow.  

Recursive. Recursive.  Recursive.

5. Finally, one of the most important things my students have conveyed to me is their need to write in a book format.  

I've learned that students most easily write what they read.  And since many students easily identify with picture books, I made books available for students to create.

Even though we use writer's notebooks with lines, my students absolutely love to make books.  I staple 8 1/2 x 11 pages together in half and leave them in our Writing Center.  Kids may take a blank book any time.  

They write and write and write and illustrate and write.  We have series of books.  We have sequels.  We have fiction and nonfiction texts coming from our 3rd grade writers.

And the best part is that this is not at all directed by me.  This is above and beyond our Writer's Workshop minilessons.

This book was a collaboration of two authors and one illustrator.  They know that in the writing world, the author doesn't always talk to the illustrator before a book is published.
Students can sign up to share their authored work once/week in the Author's Chair.  We discuss their books and talk about where each author got their ideas.  We also ask the author, "Which ideas are you using from authors we have been studying?"  

We tweeted this cover to Marla Frazee and she responded!  

The first book to be shared during 2013-14 school year.  This writer's idea came from one of the Lunch Lady books by Krosoczka.

Then, these books go in our classroom library.

Do I sometimes have to talk to kids about being thoughtful with their books and not flying through 23 books in one day? Yes.  But this issue ends soon after we start sharing the "published" writing with our class.  Students begin to see what thoughtful, intentional book-making looks like.

Making books is inexpensive and has had a very powerful impact on the writing identities of my students.

No comments:

Post a Comment