I really enjoy writing. But there are times where it just feels like work. Blogging is supposed to be fun, right? And it is--if it weren't, I wouldn't keep doing this.
It's a good reminder for me that students probably feel this way sometimes. We want them to write right now! But for some, the process of writing is...a process. Some students can just jot things down on the fly and they come out great. Others need to map the whole thing out ahead of time before putting pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard.)
I had a middle school English teacher (Hi, Mrs. Slegers!) who once encouraged us to keep a folder of "pieces of string." I don't know why she used that analogy. All the little snippets of writing that we would start--maybe without ever intending to finish them--were "pieces of string." Some of them were too short to save, but she said things like, "You never know when that little piece of string will come in handy."
So my blog has lots of pieces of string I've started. Some of these are pieces that I've been ruminating on for a long time, but haven't had the time to totally flesh out. Some are snippets that I dash off in a 10-minute burst of inspiration, and then on rereading, decide it's not ready to publish. Others are tangled bits that are so convoluted, I'll probably need to take a scissors to them, and maybe throw them out.
Right now I have pieces of string about:
- Why I hate letter grades
- My pet peeve of people using Jeremiah 29:11 as a graduation verse, taken totally out of context
- The importance of recess and breaks from school
- What's wrong with so much of the homework that teachers assign
- A piece I really like the title of ("Raising Standards and Other Ridiculousness") but can't seem to get it to untangle just yet
- My annoyance at people who think teaching is an "easy" job
- How teachers can use Twitter to develop their personal learning networks
(Any of these you'd like to see developed? Please comment--that might provide me just the inspiration I need to get to work on it!)
So maybe the biggest thing about getting students to write is to get them to write--and not just for finished pieces that are to be turned in. Maybe that's the biggest thing about getting grown-ups to write too.