“It is terribly important for kids to read and write for the reasons that people the world over read and write, which is to communicate, to delight, and to laugh.”
- Lucy Calkins
It is important to offer children authentic invitations to write. Research is clear…teachers who provide students with daily opportunities to write about topics they choose and offer them a plethora of options to share their writing (beyond the classroom teacher and classmates) promote engaged, proficient, and lifelong writers. With all the demands on time during any given school day, it is imperative that teachers do not view independent writing as a curriculum “add on”; rather, it must be seen as an integral part of classroom activities. By purposefully incorporating writing into the content areas, teachers can afford choice in writing experiences along with plentiful opportunities to share published work. Almost any writing invitation can be fashioned as fiction or non-fiction. For example:
- Letters to Authors
- Pen Pals
- Classroom Author’s Library
- Bulletin Boards
- School Newspaper
- International Dot Day
- National Day of Writing
- Writing Contests
- Grandparent’s Day
- Author’s Tea
- Valentines for Vets
- Classroom Blog
- Poetry Slam
Providing an opportunity for children to have authentic audiences to share their writing is the equivalent of giving them a literary gift and is a guaranteed way to enhance engagement in taking a piece through the writing process. It is important to provide opportunities for children to share throughout the writing process. To do so is to affirm and celebrate their authorship! From sharing prewriting and drafts to published works, writers need to hear from fellow writers. To be able to share writing beyond the teacher’s desk is highly motivating!
There are numerous options for sharing writing outside the classroom walls, but there are valuable literacy spaces which reside within the classroom, too.
Authentic Literacy Classroom Spaces:
Author’s Circle – A small group of writers (no more than 5) who come together for a brief period during the writer’s workshop time to give feedback to fellow writers for the purpose of revising and refining their piece prior to publication. Young writers need to hear from others to better understand writing moves that support or thwart meaning making.
Conference with Teacher – This is the heart of the writing workshop. It is a one-on-one opportunity for the student to show what they know about the writing process and the myriad strategies they have internalized along the way to develop their craft. The role of the teacher is one of facilitator.
Author’s Chair – A place where authors share their published work and receive positive feedback from an authentic peer audience. It is important that the feedback is specific and encouraging. It is important for students to be able to call on peers to solicit feedback. This preserves ownership of their authorship!
“A good (writing) teacher has been defined as one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.”
- Thomas J. Carruthers
Guest post by Debbie Linville
Biography: Dr. Linville has been teaching for over 30 years and her passion is enabling educators to promote the proficient, joyful reading and writing lives of children.