If you’re a writer, you know it isn’t easy. If you’re not a writer, you know it’s hard.
Donald Murray assured us that “Writing is hard fun.”
In our classrooms, as students learn and read, and wherever students are, they listen, watch, play, work and learn. They gather ideas and facts; they imagine “what ifs.” And teachers have a responsibility to extend all that learning by providing time for students to think and write, and think and write together. And writing for their personal expression in fact and fiction to share their ideas.
Writing clarifies our ideas; it frees our thoughts, contains our thoughts, and connects our thoughts in new ways. We get better at writing by reading a lot and writing a lot. We get better at writing by sharing our pieces — what we like, what we wonder, what we are confused about– for feedback from others.
Writers know this. Our students need to experience this, not in assignments, but in writing about what’s important to them, in fact or fiction. Journaling, blogging, writers workshop, genius hour: all are ways to incorporate choice in student writing.
We’ve got to let them develop their style, away from templates and outlines. Students need to experience using what they know– facts, experiences, imaginings– to form ideas into a story [fiction or not]. As students review their writing, they share with a friend and get feedback as they make a choice to abandon or to elaborate and revise. If they like their piece, they can edit and publish. Without these experiences, the feeling of satisfaction and joy — that hard fun — is not attained. We want students to live as writers, as authors on their own.
And with that experience, their messages become clear, in both their own and in their assignments.
Yes, I want my students think like authors– to make the choices in words and organization, in flow and structure, to build their factual or imaginary story and feel the message understood by others when they share during writing and later in publication.
I want them to learn through their process and publication that “Writing is hard fun.”
And just perhaps, they’ll compose such a story as…
Today’s doodling tune in honor of writers and writing, in all its forms.
Ideas flow and connect;
Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers
Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: Maps
Update: As I perused my Facebook feed, I discovered that Ralph Fletcher just made a similar plea, but, of course, he says it much better than I:
Greenbelt Writing: How Low-Stakes, Student-Centered Writing Supports Bold Learning
It’s a great read on Heinemann’s Medium blog.