Writing has two main elements: meaning and technique. The challenge with teaching writing is to teach the technique in the context of meaning-making. While you could probably design a curriculum that took writing step by step in terms of technique, that curriculum would only work on a minority of students who can tolerate such things. For the rest, the fact that the focus is on technique at the expense of meaning would be alienating.

There are two qualities a writing teacher should have (which every teacher should have): be an accepting person and have an imagination. Frequently when we are working with other people's texts, we don't really think up a lot of possibilities for the text. Where could this personal narrative go? What could this freewrite turn into? What else? What else? What else?

Being accepting means that you do not judge students' meaning negatively. You try to understand it and you may try to help students explore the implications of their meaning, but you do not reject a person, particularly a student, based on what he or she writes.

Being imaginative means that you can figure out a lot of possible directions for the next step of the text. Or at the very least, having the understanding that when a child writes something unusual, that is a characteristic worthy of praise. All too often imaginative kids shut down when faced with someone who is not supportive of unusual forms of work.

Here is a document about Nancie Atwell's Reading and Writing Workshop. Atwell encourages students to use many of the same writing processes that professional writers use.



You can find many writing possibilities in the index on the right (or in the index on the home page), including Alternatives to Standard Writing Genres.

Inspiration to write:

Years ago I was helping a writer who had pretty serious writer's block. I got her to agree to write one page a day and drop it off at my house. She was, of course, allowed to do more than one page but she had to do at least one page each day. At the end of thirty days of doing this, I handed her a folder that had ninety pages in it and she was surprised to see just how much she had written in a month.

That was back in the typewriter days. Now there is an app for that:
http://www.onepageperday.com/

Having students write one page on any topic of their choice without any kind of internal censorship or worries about quality can help them to become fluent writers. This resource can support that process.

Research Articles on Teaching Writing (for Junior Block and Other Interested Folk)

New Tools for Teaching Writing


The Influence of Classroom Blogging on Elementary Student Writing



Discussion Post

Ed 371
Pick two or three questions embedded in the Atwell text and respond to those.

Ed 314/316
Are you inspired? To do what?