I'd like to share something I tried this week that was a super huge motivator for my student writers -- writing WITH them. I'm also linking up with the super amazing Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching. (Joanne and I bonded immediately over our shared love of the exclamation point!)
I have been doing Writing Circles with my two writing classes for the past four weeks. What are Writing Cirlces? Here's a quick tutorial or you can click on my Writing Circles link to the right:
- Put students into groups of about four writers.
- Each group chooses a topic to write about. (This week's topics ranged from "dogs" to "the future" to "memories.")
- Each student writes a draft on their group's topic. The genre they write in is the choice of each individual writer. Drafting takes about two days.
- Groups come back together to share their drafts and to receive feedback from their group members.
- Groups choose a new topic and the process repeats.
- After about four to six drafts, students each choose one of their drafts to revise and publish.
This week, I decided to join one of the Writing Circles in each of my 4th grade writing classes. (My two group's topics are "the future" and "end of the world." They could be seen as similar topics that only require one piece of writing from me, but I am writing a separate draft for each topic.)
As my student writers worked on their drafts, I wrote along with them. They got to see me go through the same processes and struggles that they go through. It gave value to what they are doing because they knew that if I was doing the writing as well, it was something to be taken seriously.
Then on the second day of drafting, I asked my students if I could have their help. I was having difficulty with developing the problem for my "end of the world" piece. I read the piece out loud to the class and asked students to volunteer ideas on what I could do next. Their ideas were AMAZING and gave me some inspiration for what I want to include in the rest of my story. My students? They felt their opinions and ideas were valued because they were helping the teacher. They felt a part of a real writing community.
Since I've been writing with my students, the quality and amount of writing has definitely increased in my classroom. It was so quiet one day, we could actually hear the heat come on in the room! The students are looking forward to Monday where they can share their drafts with their groups and hear the rest of my story. I'm looking forward to it too because I also feel like we have become a writing community in our tiny classroom.
How about you? Do you write with your students? How does your class build it's writing community?
I'm going to check out more motivating ideas at Joanne's blog. Hope to see you there and also back here tomorrow for my weekly A Peek at My Week linky party. :)
Have a great day!