In need of some Back To School inspiration? A little motivation? A little mojo for your flojo! (Don't ask about that last one, I thought I had a thing going...)
I recently previewed a copy of Pam Allyn's latest book Your Child's Writing Life and while it is written primarily for parents, it is just the ticket to start your teacher engines. Plus, there's a ton of great information and ideas about how to get your newest little friends totally jazzed about writing. (I'm talking about some ideas to sharpen up your current workshop, some tools to help you remember what's truly important when it comes to the teaching of writing - here's a hint: it's not all about passing The Test - plus some great titles you may want to add to your repertoire. Can you say "jackpot"?)
As I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think of my own writing life. I didn't always love to write. Back in my school days, we rarely wrote except to answer comprehension questions or respond to a very structured prompt. Some day remind me to tell you about the first time I was asked to truly WRITE something in high school. It may have involved some shoe throwing, a temper tantrum and Big Mama Mimi having to Lay Down The Law. But look at me now! Blogger, author, frequent user of the term "douche bag"! I mean, could Big Mama Mimi be any more proud? The point is, I did not know what it was like to truly experience the joy of writing the written word. Cut to my student teaching experience. The teacher had children freely creating and writing their own stories. About whatever they wanted. And I was all, "Where do the five paragraphs go? You mean these kids are totally free balling it? That's madness?!" And then I realized...it was genius.
A few years later, in my own classroom, there was no formal writing curriculum. Wait, there was no writing curriculum. So what did The Mimi do? The Mimi squeezed in a Writer's Workshop every day, closed the door and kept her mouth shut. We just went with it, writing what came to us and learning along the way. To this day, the freedom and love of writing I experienced with those kids are some of my greatest teaching memories. Ten years later, when I was still in the same classroom teaching Writer's Workshop, a former student from that year came back to visit me. He had been one of my most favorite (and most infamous) Naughty Boys. Seriously, boyfriend had some crazy frenetic energy! Except during writing- when we wrote he channeled all that energy into his work. Granted, his toes were usually tapping, bit he was definitely into it. During his visit, he gave me a CD filled with his own original rap music. He wrote the music, he wrote the words, he did it all himself. One track in particular was like a thank you letter to me for teaching him to love writing and tell his life in his own words.
Um, ARE YOU CRYING YET?!
I had this friend in my head and my heart as I read Pam's book. If you like my story, you'll love the stories that pepper Pam's book. She shares beautiful and touching moments from her own classroom as well as from the classrooms has visited around the country and around the globe.
A quote from Pam's book that's going on my cork board at home:
"Let us influence our children to fall so in love with words and stories and ideas that they can't help but want to put them somewhere, like little treasures."
Isn't this what we all want for our little friends? Isn't this what learning to write is all about? Isn't this so much more inspiring than focusing on some test as the end goal? And won't our friends be better writers, citizens of the world and, yes, better test takers, if we allow them the time and space to just write?
I'm lucky enough to be able to giveaway a copy of this fabulous book to one of you lovely readers. Ready for the rules?
* The giveaway begins today and runs through next Friday, August 19th.
* You can enter the giveaway as many times as your heart desires.
* To enter, simply respond in the comments section to one of these creative prompts pulled right from Pam's book:
Write about the safest place in the world to soothe scaredness.
Write about one of your favorite recipes, maybe with a description of the food.
What do you most want to change in the world? What is one thing you could do toward this?
Your entries don't have to be long, just long enough to flex those creative writing muscles! A sentence or two will do or you can really let her rip.
I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner to be fair.
On your marks, get set, WRITE!
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