Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sharing Your Writing With Your Students

I have the simplest thing to share with you today. Literally. The easiest, simplest idea.

Here's the thing... I love to read, and I love to write. I try to tell my students that; I try to share my literary passions with them. Then one day, I wondered: Do I really share anything significant? I tell them that I love to read and write... but how do I show them? 

I had a brilliant professor in college that stressed that our students should see us actively reading and writing.  We should share those experiences with them. Her words really resonated with me, but the reality of my day is that I shuffle seven intense 45-minute classes each day, and we have so much to do in that very, very little time frame. How/when could I possibly take time to read and write for pleasure at school?

My current classroom is no exception, either. I struggled with this when I taught first grade as well. And third grade. I daresay any teacher would see the dilemma here.

Then one day I realized, Maybe I don't have to necessarily write a lot to make it meaningful for my students...

So I made my own piece of oversized notebook paper with butcher paper, laminated it, and began what I simply called "An Unfinished Poem." On the first day, I wrote only two lines, and I just left it like that, unfinished. My students spotted it immediately. "Mrs. Tally, what's that?" So I told them, "I'm writing a poem for you! We'll read it before you leave today."

And we did just that. We had our class, but before they left, they took turns reading my unfinished poem aloud to me. It became a regular part of our schedule each day, but it took only a few moments just before they walked out the door. Then I started noticing that most of them would check the poem first when they walked into my classroom. They wanted to know what I had written, if I had added anything new. And they reread the entire thing every day.

So I took advantage of those repeated readings! I made sure I incorporated some of the spelling patterns and sight words I was teaching throughout my classes. You can imagine what a proud moment we all had when a student noticed those in the poem! :)
Every few days I added a line or two until I finally ran out of space and time, due to our end-of-year testing. As I wrapped it up, I had to revise the title a bit, which was a great way to reinforce the function of that prefix un.
That's all! We have had so much fun with this, and I have loved sharing even this little morsel of writing with my students. It's amazing how motivated they were to read this every day, just because they knew it was something I had written for them. 

Give it a try! See what happens. You never know; your writing may be just what your students need to help them discover a love of reading.