Monday, April 21, 2008

"Just Write" writing

At school in Reader's Workshop, the reading teachers give the students a lot of instruction on choosing "just right" books - they have a "5 finger rule" and a few other tips for choosing a book that is at the "just right" reading level for each kid. Before they learned to choose "just right" books and thus become engaged with their reading, students would often grab any book, try to read it and become discouraged, bored, or disengaged for a variety of reasons.

Well, the same thing is happening with their writing. Instead of developing writing topics that are "just right" for writing, they are randomly choosing to write about things like "the dictionary," or "an apple." But they have so little engagement with these topics that their writing quickly falters. As I observed my students struggling with their writing in the past few weeks, it occured to me that the TOPICS they are choosing are not "just right" for them. That is, they aren't really truly "choosing" topics.

It breaks my heart to see students really trying to write, but struggling to stay engaged with their topic - so maybe this all seems obvious to you, my blog readers, but... this has come as an epiphany for me! I am going to develop some lessons for early in the workshop called "Just Write" writing.

I envision an anacronym that with rules for choosing topics - something like this:

A "Just Write" topic is a moment/idea that I

Want to write about,
Remember clear details about,
Imagine sensory details,
Takes a "small moment" of time, and
Engage myself with for a significant amount of time (through the editing & revising process).

Now - that isn't really kid friendly yet, but I keep having to reteach these same lessons over and over in my one-on-one conferences, that I thought I'd just write this down to capture the idea. Kind of like using my blog as a temporary "writer's notebook" to gather my idea in... since I happened to be online when the thought occurred.

So - consider this my rough draft... Any ideas for helping my anacronym be more kid-friendly or concise?


  1. I really like your W-R-I-T-E anacronym, especially the first three (I will remember these for my own writing!). I'm not clear, however, about the meaning for "T" in that it could mean you expect their writing project won't take them much time to complete, or that they'll be most effective if they condense their subject matter rather than writing about numerous things. Also, the "E" might be better understood by students if it said "Ensures my best effort through editing & revising processes." or "Edit and revise my writing to ensure my authentic "voice" is there." Something like that!
    (Saying "engage myself" is incorrect, I think. I was taught that "myself" has a limited use and needs a qualifier, such as "I, myself, find this to be true but you will have to check it out for your students!")

  2. . . . the more I read "engage myself" the better it looks. I'm curious now and will have to do some research on the uses of "myself" this week!



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