The Writing Experiences of Room 3: "I Didn't like Writing but I Do Now!"
Statkus, Philippa, Practically Primary
Many children have negative feelings about writing, and I believe that one reason for this is an overemphasis on the form and process of writing. This overemphasis all too often results in the fun of learning to write being lost.
Room 3 and Writing
At the beginning of this term, my Room 3 children used the Three Stars and a Wish formula to evaluate their learning and the classroom experiences. For twenty of the twenty-four children, these evaluations showed 'writing' or 'daily writing' as a star (a positive). I was delighted that their attitudes towards writing seemed to be improving.
When I asked the children why they liked writing so much, I received the following enthusiastic responses:
* It is fun.
* I'm good at it.
* I didn't used to be good at writing but I am now.
* You can write what you want.
* I can write about trucks and then draw them for the story.
* I can write about what I want to write about, not just what I did on the weekend or stuff like that.
* I didn't like writing but I do now.
Writing Experiences that Motivate
It is important to point out that this class is enthusiastic about most things; however, they are notably keen at writing time. If I am to ever forget about or delay daily writing, I am soon reminded that it needs to be done.
In Room 3, the following features of the classroom writing experiences work to sustain the students' enthusiasm.
Daily Journal Writing
During daily journal writing, the children write for a set time on topics that they have chosen themselves. On completion, they edit their own work and some students then share their writing with the class.
No one is ever forced to share as it is my belief that, for some students, the sharing of their writing with others is an uncomfortable experience, and they don't want their personal thoughts and feelings to be heard by everyone. For these children, sharing is encouraged at other times of the day and within other learning experiences. For example, they might be asked to share what they have written in a science report or a Society and Environment investigation.
I have had children reveal their deepest fears and dreams in their writing, knowing that, as the teacher and sole audience for their writing, I will not be judgemental and that their secrets are safe. If children can feel safe, trust the reader, and have no need to fear ridicule, then writing can be a wonderful outlet for them.
To begin daily writing, the children are asked to share topic ideas. Consequently, those children who do not yet know what to write about have the opportunity to make use of others' suggestions, while the rest of the students can use their chosen topic.
Idea Wall There is section of a classroom wall dedicated to writing ideas. Children who have ideas that they wish to share are encouraged to write them on a post-it note and stick this on the wall. Additionally, the Idea Wall includes pictures from magazines (or hand drawn pictures) that can be used as a source for character development in writing.
Punctuation, grammar and spelling is obviously important to good writing; however, for children to enjoy writing, they must be given the opportunity to express themselves, to not have their creativity stifled in the initial stages of writing. In Room 3, the children are given time to simply write--and it is only after ideas are expressed that they are required to examine and 'fix up' their work. They do this using a different coloured pen or pencil to show where changes need to be made.
Writing experiences were tedious for me when I was at school. Without fail, an excursion, a visitor to the school, or something happening in the classroom, resulted in my class having to recount it in writing. …