Deep into a lesson on writing a response to literature, one of my students called me over during the drafting stage. As she is a thinker and a solid writer, I prepared myself for a provocative question. Eager to engage in intelligent discourse, I leaned in to consider her question.
“When will we get to do real writing?” she asked with sincerity.
My response was one of shock and disbelief. “What do you mean by real writing,” I asked. She then went on to define “real writing” as an opportunity to write about topics that you’re interested in, not simply the ones a teacher assigns. “You know, creative writing,” she explained.
This question’s staying power caused me to reflect on my practices as a teacher. In my quest to prepare students for their future in high school, I had thrown out what they love most about writing – creativity and autonomy. I killed their motivation.
Through much contemplation, soul-searching and reading about the topic of creative writing, I resurrected the writing workshop in my classroom. Honestly, I am ashamed to admit I had let it die.
As a result, students have created blogs with a focus of their choosing. We (myself included) blog every other day, and one day in an eight day cycle will be devoted to writing. Already I have seen a change in motivation.
I love that my students make me think. It makes me a better teacher.