Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrating Writing

What it Means to be a Young Writer~
Motivating young writers takes support and guidance. Teachers of young writers know the writing process is real work. All writers know the challenges of choosing a topic, crafting a story and finding just the right words to tell their story. Our young writers work through these challenges and more. Young writers are also challenged with fine motor, word control and stamina. The world is full of stories (especially if you six) but telling these stories in the voice of a young writer is real work, work that should be recognized and celebrated.
Watching young writers work through these challenges each day has illustrated the need for support and encouragement. This is work for our young writers, real work. If the labors of these writers goes unnoticed their motivation and willingness to work decreases. 
In our workshop, writers have writing mentors, they work to make their writing interesting, to use familiar crafting techniques, to choose interesting language and to write stories others will want to read. In our workshop this work is recognized and celebrated.

Young Author's Shelf
Supporting Young Writers~
When young writers feel proud of their writing work they share the story with the class. When the class sees and hears evidence of learning in the story it is published! Publishing in our room means the story is recorded in VoiceThread (VT) where classmates, families and friends can see the story and hear the voice of the author as they tell their story (see below). Visitors to VT can also share their feedback by leaving comments. Once the story is published on VT we then place the story on “The Young Authors Shelf" in our classroom. This form of publishing has motivated the writers to do the work of a writer.
Pause to reflect~
I have been listening to conversations and reading blogs that have given me pause and ask me to reflect on the practice of publishing student writing. I recently read A Push to Publish by Nikki Grimes and found myself rethinking our practice of publishing. Am I allowing my writers to publish work not ready to be published? The writing of my writer's is not polished, there are spelling errors, cross outs, and well, quiet honestly, it looks like the work of a first grader. Should it look different?  In my weeks of pondering these questions I have noticed a decline in drive and motivation in writing and in publishing.  

So,  what should published work be in a young workshop? 
I believe in the work young authors put into writing. I believe they need our recognition of their labor in writing. I believe our recognition and our celebrations (big or small) keep them moving to learn more and to work to tell their stories. Our comments and guidance tells our writers what they can do and how they can do it best!
Ruth Ayer's reminds us of the importance of celebrating writers on the journey of writing in here guest post- Celebrating Writers- Including You.

The small steps on the journey make the final step of publication possible for a writer. If we don’t celebrate the small steps often, we run out of stamina to make it to the final step. Ruth Ayers

Celebrating the Journey ~
I struggle with the idea of publishing student work often. It's always a question of what makes a piece worthy of being published. Should every word be spelled correctly? Should the work look polished? Will the young writers maintain their drive and motivation if each page needs to be rewritten and revised?
I do see the importance of thinking through the writing we send out to the world. We want to put our best writing out for others to read, but is this different for a young writer?
Maybe it is, in part it is. Young writers need our support as they work to learn to tell their stories to the world. It is a huge task for a young writer as they take the many risk necessary to tell their stories. 
Maybe the difference is in what we call publishing in the young workshop. Sending writing out into the world provides the needed support and motivation young writers need to continue. I will continue to celebrate and support the risk and efforts of my writers in their journey by recording the stories in VoiceThread and placing them on our Young Authors Shelf, but now we will simply call it what it is...

Celebrating the exciting language in~ When I got my Dog by CeCe

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Yay! Glad you have your post out in the world. I think your last line says it all, "but now we will simply call it what it is...~ CELEBRATING WRITING!" Students are motivated by publishing their pieces and sharing them with peers. Mostly, they love to hear the comments of friends after finishing a story. I try to get my students to always consider what makes this piece of writing better than their last piece of writing. What did they try that they haven't tried before? Writing is a journey. A journey that should be CELEBRATED.