As school started backup again, I find that I keep asking myself why blogging is not working for my grade five students, like it had with the younger grades I taught last year.
A few questions or theories I have are;
*they are bored
*they do not want to write, too much activity in the computer lab
*they just want to get to their free time slot
*do they understand the value in their blog? Do they care?
*why are some liking it and why are some not into it?
*why do they write so little when their journals are full?
I started this year thinking I am going to start a writer’s workshop. Sounds simple, right? No, as I started reading and talking with other teachers I came to realize quite quickly that I was going to have to tackle it like I did when I created my reader’s workshop. Make it my own, find out what works for the kids, see what drives them, find out what challenges them, what bores them, and find out where I can fit it in the dayplan! The biggest challenge for me I have come to realize is letting go of teaching the processes of writing first, and having the students guide the workshop.
I have started reading Ian Wells andJanine Ried’s book, Anchor Lessons in Writing. I love how it uses books I normally use for reading activities and applies them to writing lessons. I found as out that my students love to be read to but they also loved to analyze what the author was doing or trying to do. My first read aloud using it as an author analysis was, “Love That Dog” by Sharon Creech.
For starters, I adore this book and I know it makes me cry every time I read that one part, you know the part if you have read it. What makes this book so amazing is that the students get to know Jack, the main character, and how he grows as a writer. They get to see how he hates to write and how he is embarrassed of his writing abilities. They get to see that just like them, Jack is afraid that what he writes is wrong or sounds silly.
They students were asked to take notes while I read, and I have to say their pages were full of observations and opinions. A few thought that it was a reading assignment and starting listing there inferences, questions, connections, etc…but I reminded them how reading writing is all connected. It was a great teachable moment, where the kids made that connection.
At the end of the book the kids only wanted to talk about how they saw Jack turn into a writer. They wanted to know why he thought he wasn’t a good writer. At times, they felt Jack’s teacher was too harsh on him. I asked why, when there was nothing in the book about what the teacher said only Jack’s responses. That got them wondering!
What I got out of this lesson was that the students got to see through another writer’s eyes, Jack’s. They all connected with him. Afterwards, I did a brainstorming activity knee to knee. Their writing assignment was to write about their New Year’s Resolutions. Looking back at the writing they did that week has shown me that finding the time and taking it means so much to their writing. I have now added more time to their journal writes, I remind them that their journal writes are not marked only read so why not explore and try something new in their writing.
I have seen more thought put into their writing since being back at school. I have talked to them about my field study and how much they are going to be involved in it, and they love the fact that they are helping me become a better teacher. I am feeling very excited about exploring writing with the class this term, and wondering how I can put their enthusiasm of writing on paper into their blogs.