When Rebekah and Allison originally pitched the idea of Moving Writers developing something to help teachers promote summer writing for their students, I was already knee-deep in a discussion with my AP Lang Voxer group about writers’ notebooks and how we can make them authentic for our students. One thing we all noticed pretty quickly was that WE don’t all keep consistent notebooks. Some of us write digitally, some of us simply don’t write enough, and some of us buy beautiful notebook after beautiful notebook but never find a way to develop a writing habit.
What if we took the writing challenge this summer, we wondered? What if we wrote for 100 days? What would we learn about helping our students develop a writing habit? What might we discover about ourselves as writers?
We all have slightly different questions or goals in mind, so I asked everybody to share a little bit about why they are committing to a summer of writing.
“Every year I ask my students to buy a notebook and cultivate it into a special place: a place for thoughts, for practice, for play. Some semesters I’m better at developing this habit than others. Some semesters their notebooks are used every day and my students cherish it with pride and sentiment. Other semesters half of the pages are ripped out and used for homework in a different class. After a recent, not-so-successful attempt at cultivating a class into writers, I realized the weakest link in the creation and commitment to our notebooks was not my students. It was me. I had never done what I was asking them to do. I do not have my own notebook, my own special place dedicated to just writing. So, it’s time to change that. I’m committing to 100 days of writing because I want to see what it’s like from behind the student desk. I want to see what it takes to grow as a writer and a thinker. I want to see what I need. Do I need prompts? Do I just need time and space? I am excited to see what comes of the 100 days and if I have any insight on helping my students become more committed to their writing and their notebooks.”
“Do you have projects that you keep starting, stopping, starting, and stopping again, always meaning to be consistent and follow through, but life gets in the way? My personal writing is just that. I focus so much on developing curriculum, writing feedback to students, and reading that I don’t routinely write. I frequently remind students that so much learning happens when we practice and reflect, but unfortunately I’ve fallen short. That’s why this writing challenge appeals to me. I’m committing to 100 days of writing because I want to improve, and I think it’s important to understand or have a shared experience with my students. I have never used writing notebooks with my instruction, but I’m committing to one for this summer project. I’m excited about the opportunity to write about a wide variety of topics, and I’m anxious (but eager) to work through writing struggles that my students face. This challenge provides me with an opportunity to share my writing and to receive feedback that can help me grow.”
“When I grow up . . . I have always been an avid reader and in junior high and high school, I wrote constantly and dreamt of “becoming” a writer someday. What I didn’t realize is that a writer is not some magical career goal – a writer is someone who writes. Although I have remained a voracious reader of YA, dystopian fiction, poetry, and just about everything else, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I began writing again. I realized how rewarding it is to write about my practice, both for the pleasure of sharing my ideas with colleagues and the growth that comes from reflecting on what I do. I look forward to exploring other types of writing, and I think a summer journal will be the perfect place to do that. I’ve just recently learned of the concept of flaneur, popularized by the poet Baudelaire in the 19th century, meaning someone who is wandering the streets, not with the intent of getting somewhere, but as an observer and philosopher. I relish the idea of approaching my journal writing with this spirit.”
“In the past few years I’ve found myself writing more and more about my teaching for this blog and for the Oakland Schools Literacy blog. It’s been transformative for my teaching, and I highly recommend teachers finding space and time to write about their practice. All of that writing, though, has a clear focus and often gets banged out at my computer late at night after my kids are asleep and the papers are graded. That’s not bad, but it’s a bit one-dimensional. No matter how much I love teaching–and I really, really, love it–it’s still my job. I have stopped doing any writing just for me. I think other writers might do the whole curl-up-on-the-couch-sipping-coffee-writing-dreamily thing. I don’t do that. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be A Writer. I was pretty sure I was the next Ann M. Martin (The Baby-sitters Club??? #goals). I want to know what happens when I carve out the time to write for myself and write for reasons completely unrelated to teaching.”
So….wanna join us?
What do you want to discover about writers’ notebooks or your own writing process this summer? Connect with us on Twitter and we can all hold each other accountable!
–Hattie @TeacherHattie, Liz @matheeli, Melissa @RHHS_MrsTucker, and Jori @jorikrulder