Ideas for Getting Students Involved in the 100 Days of Summer Writing

100 DAYS (2)

You can find everything you need for the 100 Days of Summer Writing right here — including the slidedeck, blog posts for teachers using the 100 Days instructions for students, instructions for teachers, a link for registration, and a link to our online community on Facebook! 


Shhhhh … I need to whisper this:

I don’t believe in summer assignments.

There. I said it. I am all for summer reading and  writing — but not as a mandate. Not as a product that will be quizzed the first week of school or given a grade in the gradebook.

No one wants “summer slide”, but I believe every one — students and teachers alike — need a  true break. We are all owed one.

And, in the same way I fret about choosing a whole-class text, I worry about making any one assignment that will be meaningful while also meeting every student exactly where they are without the input of a teacher. It’s a minefield.

My seventh graders getting ready for summer writing.

I prefer summer suggestions. Summer opportunities. A list of books you might want to read. A run-down of topics you could want to begin thinking about to prepare for the coming year.

But I do believe in summer reading. And summer writing. I believe in them because these are the things of life —  and if we’ve done our job during the school year, students should have some vague inkling to grab a book or pick up a pen at some point during their break.

So, where do the 100 Days of Summer Writing fit into this philosophy?

The kind of focused, mentor-text-inspired, muscle-building writing promoted by the 100 Days of Summer Writing is good for every single kind of student writer — the student who is hesitant to put pencil to paper at all; the competent writer with unoriginal ideas; the prolific student writer who can run with any idea and make the most of it.

While I wouldn’t ever assign all 100 Days for students, I think that if you give students a taste of the 100 Days many of them will run with this on their own. Here are some ways that you might pull students in to this work.

The Casual Approach: “Here’s this thing. Let’s look at a few as a class. Maybe do it if you feel like it this summer.”

Clearly, this is the super low-key option. But simply letting students know about this opportunity might motivate some of them to jump in and begin a summer writing practice!  Last week, I shared an intro lesson. You could use that or just pull up the entire 100 Days slidedeck and walk through a few of them as a group.

Talk up the reasons someone might want to join in; be totally nerdy about the joy of picking out a new notebook especially chosen for this task. Then, give students the link to the slides, walk away, and see what happens over the summer.

(I’ve heard some teachers and even departments are holding a raffle for students who choose to participate in the 100 Days in some way — winning a small prize in September!)

The Challenge: “Let’s see who wins!”

Even my students who hate writing the most can’t resist a challenge — the thrill of any competition lures them in.

Consider sharing the 100 Days with them, walking through a few of the daily notebook time inspirations, and then laying down the gauntlet: “Let’s see who completes the most days of writing over the summer. I’m going to compete, too. There will be a prize for any student who beats me!”

The Gentle Assignment: “Just do a few.”

Ask students to do a certain number of writing days over the summer — five? ten? Set the bar low so that the task doesn’t feel onerous. You could set them free on all 100 days, enabling them to choose the writing invitations that stir them most. Or, you could create your own, smaller slidedeck out of the 100 days, choosing the days that best fit your students.

If every student does five days of writing over the summer, that is certainly five more days than they might have otherwise done. And they will come to class in the fall with at least five tiny seeds that can grow into bigger writing projects over the course of the year. And I have a hunch that if you ask them to do five days, many students will get on a roll and do more.

Don’t Share Now — Save the 100 Days for Students Next Year!

Maybe this summer, the 100 Days of Summer Writing is just for you — for you to recharge your writing batteries, for you to return to something you used to love but haven’t found time for recently, for you to try your hand at being the student as preparation for being the teacher in the fall.

It’s okay to say, “This isn’t for my students … right now.” Do the 100 Days yourself. Feel what it’s like to be on the other side of the classroom. Dig into your notebook. Create models of thinking and writing that you can share with your students in the fall.

And then, when your new students arrive in September, you have 100 Days of notebook time already prepared for them! Share your models and invite them to begin a practice of daily writing. They’ll be primed for the 2019 edition of 100 Days of Summer Writing next summer!

How are you getting your students involved with the 100 Days? Are you taking a casual approach? Assigning a little bit? Focusing on your own writing muscles this summer in preparation for next year? Share in the comments below, on Facebook, or find me on Twitter @RebekahODell1.





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