The Truth Hurts
I have to preface this post with a disclaimer: I teach 4th grade writing in the state of Texas and, like many others, am always thinking about how to improve our expository compositions. I realized this week though, after attending a writing workshop with Katherine Bomer, that I may have failed my students because of that initiative. We began introducing expository compositions (AKA essays) months ago thinking that we needed to get a head start on essays so that students were well-prepared for the state-mandated writing test in the spring. And, sadly, we've been rather disappointed with what they've produced. However it is no fault of theirs. We just haven't set them up for success. The really sad part is that WE KNEW BETTER! That darned test looming over our heads can get the better part of us at times.
I knew from the moment Katherine Bomer started speaking about writing that we hadn't allowed the students enough opportunity to simply write without all the "rules". That fact was further solidified when one of my students, after I shared that there were "no rules" for an "I wonder" piece, said, "I don't think I can write without any rules". Yikes!! That should be SO far from the truth. Yes, you can and SHOULD write without the rules of how long it should be, or how it should sound, or what type of format to use. Writing workshop should never be a time for teachers to sculpt little writing robots.
So we came back from this workshop with the great Katherine Bomer with plans to hone our focus, improve our stamina, and broaden our expectations in writing workshop. The results have been inspiring! And the best part is that it has taken very little from us, the teachers...
Enter: The Intense Writing workshop
Like I said, this intense writing workshop took little effort on my part. I simply had to set the stage for students. I wanted them to have an arsenal of tools and materials at their disposal so that they were prepared for writing intensely. These were things I gathered:
This is a day by day synopsis of how I got my students hooked on writing intensely:
And so it will continue...
I should have been working with students like this all year, taking a week every so often to have an intense writing workshop with no writing "rules". They have the potential to become true artists of the written word with the simple stroke of a pencil and just the write setting. And so we will continue in this manner every now and then. Next week we will take what we've done this week and apply it to an expository composition piece. I'm so interested to see what success this week brings my students! Please share your writing workshop successes!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- Collaborative Leader and Culture Changer!