I teach fourth grade. This year I am going to try, for the fifth year in a row, to show a group of ten year olds that their lives are full of small moments that can explode into gripping stories or compelling arguments in the writing they do. I am going to incorporate ideas from Study Driven by Katie Wood Ray to help me accomplish this goal.
Through noticing charts, my class will discover commonalities found within a stack of mentor texts contained within a specific or non-specific genre "unit of study." My hope is that if I can introduce a wide variety of genres to my students, the chance is greater that they will find one that they can connect with, and become dedicated to the sometimes arduous process known as the writing process. They won't mind building the endurance that is required to take a piece from idea to completion because they are writing about things they choose in a genre that they enjoy.
You hear people shouting from the mountain tops that blogging is a great digital tool to teach writing with, and I agree. But one big component of the Study Driven idea, and most successful writing curriculums, is that modeling with authentic texts really does matter.
You also hear that writing teachers should model what good writing looks like. Just like reading teachers should model what good reading looks like, and math teachers should model what good problem solving looks like (I will save that topic for later). Experts on writing instruction have been saying for years that you should write along side your students, and again I agree.
This is what this blog is for. For me to model a genre of writing. Blogging is a very public genre of writing. It is similar to a journal entry, but different in that it has an audience. Therefore to write authentically I have to put myself and my ideas out there. Kind of scary.
I have to remember that it won't be perfect sounding everyday. It is ok to make mistakes. It is ok that sometimes it will sound awkward and goofy. I have to convince my students that making these mistakes and braving this kind of failure are beneficial to their learning. Remaining in a safety zone and solving only problems you are really familiar with or good at will not promote brain growth.
One of my favorite quotes from @DaveGuymnan's book, If You Can't Fail It Doesn't Count is "…[trying something new] might be crippling to those of us not willing to go out on a limb, it is invigorating to those of us who do. We owe our evolution as an intelligent people to chutzpah." I predict that there will be many entries made into this blog that are lame. My audience will probably say sometimes, "This guy is trying too hard," or, "That was a pretty boring entry."
That is ok. It is part of the process.