I am a third grade teacher. I teach and love all subjects, but my passion for teaching writing is a deep-rooted one. Every year students who were deemed “non-writers” or ‘non- likers’ of writing shine in my room. I do believe that a teacher’s feelings and passion for a subject can impact a student’s reaction and success in the area. The average student believes that writing is boring and takes too much energy. In a typical math problem, you solve and you are done or for a reading assignment you read and provide an explanation of what you read. Writing comes with more structure, planning and end product results. There is a writing process to follow and a grand end product to be shared, that comes with the extended work put in as one labors through the dreaded writing process! When you are in a classroom and students echo loud groans of disappointment when you announce the end of an extended writing workshop, you know the love for writing is real. So…how do I get my kids to write? Well, I first share my love for writing, some of my personal writing pieces and habits that work for me. I believe that writers fall into one of these 5 stages of writing below.
Stage 5 – “The Naturals”
In the beginning I immediately gain the attention of the “Naturals.” They already have keen interest and a natural love for writing. They possess an urgent need to do well and have already emulated good writing practices. These are my leaders of writing who pave the way for the rest of the writers. I share their work with permission and I encourage them to keep pushing. This in turn attracts the eyes of the next group.
Stage 4 -“The On-the-Fencers”
The “On-the -fencers”- these are my students who are the easiest to transform. They ‘kinda-like to write,’ but believe it is too difficult, but just need that extra jolt. They benefit the most from shared examples from the ‘naturals.’ They appreciate the knowledge that they can have a similar love and appreciation for writing. They push themselves, as they are partnered with the ‘naturals’ and become challenged by the experiences. Very soon they build the stamina and use the same tools to develop their work. Before we know it they become ‘naturals’.
Stage 3 – “The Safes”
These are the students that are comfortable in their ‘safe space.’ They are okay writers and they believe it’s okay to remain that way. They usually use the least amount of next step tips possible, slowing attempting to move themselves, with minimal progress quite satisfying. This is the most difficult group to transform, since their work always to them seem okay. They have come to realize that the ‘Changers’ and the ‘Unnaturals’ require the most attention. As a result, I assign them to work with a ‘changer’ or a ‘non-liker.’ By doing this they are able to boost their confidence and take control of their own work.
Stage 2 – ‘The Changers”
The changers are the students who have come to believe that are not great writers. They were never given that extra push or just simply did not have the urge to make writing a priority. They were always satisfied with just getting by in writing, but there is room for change. Writing for them has to be proven to be fun and very interesting. They have to find a purpose to write. For these students I begin with basic writing activities or materials that will spark their interest. Some of these might include the use of writing games, acting it out activities, graphic organizers (helps student organize work), checklist and rubrics. These tools act as a guide to support these struggling writers. Upon realizing their potential, they eventually become very focused on improving their craft, with a newfound interest in writing.
Stage 1 – “The Non-Likers”
The “non-likers” have pretty much given up on writing, since it does not come naturally to them. This is a group that always says no! They are yet to see the reason to write and need the most convincing. But how can I convince someone who has given up? Well we celebrate! One might ask what are we are celebrating. Celebrate every moment of progress, no matter how minuscule. This is an opportunity to highlight qualities of writing that these students, without that extra encouragement would not see.
By no means does every student become a “natural,” but the increased level of interest in writing is evident in their positive attitudes and eagerness to write.