As this week begins, I have my second book being launched on Amazon.com (Moore’s Common Core Teacher Guide to Peter and the Starcatchers ) with my third book out next week. One of my colleagues asked, “So, when did you become a writer?” Honest enough question, so I politely answered, “Well, about 5 years ago, I started professionally blogging. I guess one thing led to another.”
But that’s not when I became a writer.
As long as I can remember, I have been a writer. When I was 4 or 5 I can remember writing letters to my relatives. Silly things that a 4 or 5 year thinks about, but complete letters just the same. For many years my Uncle John and Aunt Mable kept one of my letters framed in their kitchen. (or maybe it just appeared there when I came to visit…) Point is that I loved the connection between spoken words and written words. It fascinated me.
As I entered school, however, I remember thinking many times, “Why do I have to write this?” Perhaps it was a prompt or a journal. The fact came to be that I no longer enjoyed writing. I moaned at the words, “Now, get out your journals and answer the prompt on the board.” uuggg!
In Kelly Gallagher’s book, Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and What You Can Do About It, she talks about how teachers actually cause students to turn away from reading for fun. That because with too many reports and projects, students begins to think of books as work. I think the same is true with writing. I think many assignments are busy work and some students, maybe many students, begin to think of writing as work. Students begin to dread writing because it is some boring task. Something that has nothing to do with their real life. Something like, “Now, get out your journals and answer the prompt on the board.” How many students, like me, at that point turned away from wanting to write? How many became disenchanted with the ability to communicate with something other than words?
As most teachers end this year and look forward to beginning the next, think about your writing assignments. Do they encourage students to love to write and improve their craft or do they become a form of drudgery?