Am I a writer?
It’s important to convince students that they are writers because so many don’t think they are. From my research I’ve learned that many kids think that the writing they do in their spare time is not acceptable school writing. Upon closer inspection, the writing is exceptional. So, why don’t students think they can share their creations at school? Often, it’s simply because no one asked what these writers are writing. Ask. Find out!
1. Is this writing?
- K-2: Pictures, letter strings, labels and sentences all should be considered writing for the emergent writer. These early writers must be shown and assured that these first attempts are valued as real writing. I write in pictures, letter strings and sentences to show students that we consider all of the strategies writing. (For more ideas about drawing in preschool, K and 1, read Talking, Drawing, Writing: Lessons for Our Youngest Writers by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe.)
- 3+: With intermediate and middle school writers, make expressive writing valuable: notes, emails, texts, letters, diaries, song and rap writing, sketches, graphic novels, any personal writing. Share your writing: your daybook(s), poems, journals, stories, emails, text messages, college work, and art notebooks. The point is to start building a community that values all writing.
2. Are you a writer?
- Sure you are! In the lower grades, most kids agree. By about 4th grade, students don’t think so. To reinforce that they are, find out what your students are writing in their spare time. Invite them to share their personal projects and encourage them to continue. Introduce the daybook as one way of keeping track of their personal writing. Tell them that whenever they have ever a few minutes in school, you want them to continue their personal writing.
3. Is drawing writing?
- K-2: (1) Show writers how to use the whole page when making a picture. (2) Model how the picture helps you know what to write. (3) Show students how to label the pictures with the words that match the picture. (4) Model how to add details to their pictures after talking with someone about their picture.
- 3+: Introduce drawing as a prewriting strategy. Model how to use mental imaging and mind maps to get first thoughts on paper. Ask artists to show others how they use drawing to help them think and write.
4. What else can I write?
- Show students different kinds of writing they can do: poems, stories, letters, shape books, opinion pieces, true stories, reports, etc. Show books as models so the students can visualize what genres authors create. Tell your writers that they can try any whenever they have independent time and they will be studying genres in detail all year.
NEXT: Writing Workshop Routine