Joy Writers

Yesterday my 6th graders designed their learning contract for Cycle 2 of our Greenbelt Writing project. Today every student in period 6-3 came in and got to work with no verbal prompting on their first writing piece–it was just rather breathtaking watching them work and make decisions as they composed. My 6-6 writers also got down to business and immersed themselves in the first writing pieces of this cycle.

We are mired in end of year craziness, and the pace is frenetic as I juggle all the end of year events with my 7th and 8th grade writers and their inquiry projects, many of whom are doing their very first research-based writing in their young lives (another post coming on that this week–there is joy in academic writing structures, too!). Even with smaller classes, juggling six classes of writers is sometimes akin to moving at the speed of light. But today as I walked about watching my 6th grade writers, I tried to really watch and listen.

It’s in these moments you pause and you suddenly really see what is happening before you, much like the unfurling of the trees and flowers as spring comes into full bloom, and the world suddenly seems lush and vibrant. You pause from the frenetic pace of the day to see young writers blossoming and growing in front of you, and I feel both awe and joy. Maybe this is not the kind of growth that shows up in what Georgia defines as a growth bubble, but it is growth, and you hope you’ve nurtured a young write in a way that will continue to bear fruit in years to come. I am thankful I can still feel the awe and the joy after 25 years of teaching.

I have quite a few of my students who are doing collaborative writing this week. A sampler of today’s writing pieces include Reader’s Theatre scripts, couplet poems, Gretchen Bernabei’s writing structure “Story of My Thinking,” and Gretchen Bernabei’s structure “Favorite Place.” I have students doing persuasive pieces; other students are doing writing pieces about people who have made a difference like Malala Yousafzai. They are writing about historical events they have chosen and care about like the Chernobyl, Holocaust, and September 11. They are writing personal narratives about lost parents; they are writing about favorite and special places like a hunting camp. They are writing about how to play baseball and crafting time travel stories. We still have challenges, but they are writing.

They are writing collaboratively, and they are writing alone.

They are writing, and they are writing with joy.

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