by Miss Yellow
Writing. As a teacher I spend a lot of time thinking about writing. It seems to be a giant topic for discussion and wonder amongst teachers every school year. How do we teach writing? We investigate writing during professional development sessions, it is embedded in our school development plans, we spend countless dollars on resource materials, and it drives the work in our professional learning communities. It can feel like one of the great mysteries of teaching. How do we really and truly inspire students to write?
I always have many questions when it comes to teaching writing. How do I hook them into the process? How can we break the infamous writer’s block? How do they learn to express their ideas clearly and vividly? How should they organize their writing? And the list goes on. But what I have realized over time is that at the core I think students need to see themselves as writers. How do they do this? Ironically by writing. Writing something they feel good about because they created it, own it and it came truly from them. It is their voice and theirs alone, unedited and untouched by others. I believe by building a history of successes, and in this case writing successes, students begin to see themselves in a different light. They start to see they are capable, they can create artifacts that reflect who they are, and they have a voice that matters.
So much of not being able to write is fear. Even though I love to write I am fearful every time I sit down to write a blog post. What if it isn’t “right”? What if I have nothing to say? What if someone doesn’t like it? What if I sound like I don’t know anything? Writing when others may see it makes me feel exposed and vulnerable. I would guess many of my students feel the same. However a great realization I had today was although writing these blog posts isn’t easy at all, it is now easier. In this I have gained so much more empathy, understanding and perspective toward my students and their evolution as writers.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk captures the human phenomena that pairs writing and creativity with pressure and fear. Can we reframe “the relationship between humans and the creative mystery”. Can we use these ideas to cultivate opportunities for students to positively experience writing?
The beauty of teaching and learning in such dynamic times is that we are surrounded by rich online resources that provide endless possibilities for writing. Now when we want to write we have choice, flexibility and access. I think we need to help students find an outlet for writing that excites them and build their successes from there. I don’t think the venue or the genre or style matters if it means we get children hooked on writing. If they discover they can express themselves by tweeting or creating comics or writing from photos in Flickr then we are on the road to something special.
Online tools have broken the traditional molds of where, when and how we write. These tools give us platforms to express, respond, collaborate, debate, challenge, question, publish, and discuss. We can now so easily connect with other people through our writing. Suddenly there are engaging, exciting and dynamic opportunities that are rich with inspiration and creativity.
I stumble across many amazing tools for writing on Twitter and on other educators’ blogs. Tools that make me want to jump in and get creative, and ones that I really hope will inspire students to write. Perhaps inspire them to take another step and experience another writing success. I have been bookmarking these tools in my Delicious and Instapaper accounts. I thought I would create a Delicious stack to share with you and I encourage you to add to it. Let’s pool these links together and inspire our students to write!
It is an amazing time to be a learner and it is an amazing time to begin to see yourself as a writer.
Please share your favourite writing tools and resources in the Inspire Writing Delicious stack or leave them in the comment box and I will add them for you. How do you inspire your students to write?