I have to admit, as much as I love to write, trying to squeeze it into my school day for my kids, was just not working. I mean, yes, we wrote in a variety of subjects. And yes, we had our Writing block, but…something was missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. The principal requested that we have our kids write every day, nonfiction writing. Why? Because research shows… Okaaay, that wasn’t working for me either. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to write about nonfiction topics every day.
What to do? What to do? Hmmm…
About two weeks ago, I decided I was going to stop watching the clock, my schedule, the door(to see if my principal was entering my classroom for a walkthrough), and let my kids write, just write, for 5 minutes. Literally, 5 minutes. I set the timer, and let them go. They wrote in notebooks I had given them in August that I called Daily Writing Prompts. I did not make up the name, it’s everywhere. To be honest, I forgot I gave it to them.
Here’s how it works. I give them a prompt topic, for example, aliens have landed in our school parking lot, and they take it wherever they want. After 5 minutes, they switch books with other students, read, and write a comment. (We talked about what a good comment is) Then I choose three people who want to share their writing. I have stopped looking at the clock, my schedule, and the door, my kids can write! I guess my biggest thrill comes from hearing their interpretation of the prompt. Hearing from that kid who hardly speaks, but wants to share their writing. Loving the creativity and the spontaneity created by just letting them write.
What led to this post? Today I was running behind, between Read Aloud(“A Wrinkle in Time”), introducing a new story(not a big fan of anthologies), I was basically playing catch-up. I started to move along to the next thing, and they shouted, I am not making this up, “Mrs.M, we didn’t do our DWP!” (Our pet name for Daily Writing Prompt). They had already taken out their books and opened up to a clean page! Wow! And what’s funny is that Sunday, I was thinking of cutting it down to three days instead of five.
Well, just to make it a little easier, I reopened an account on PBworks. Now they can write online, save it in the assigned folders, and more than one student can comment easily. They will also be able to add to what they started. One of my students has turned his five minutes into a 3 page story, on his own, which he promised he will post on his blog. I’ve decided that I am going to let them share in suggesting topics for prompts, give them ownership of this activity.
I’m excited! I don’t know how long this will last. Maybe they will get tired of it. I’ll adjust as necessary. But for now, write on Room 8, write on!