Throughout the summer, we’ll be bringing you stories from teachers who are participating in the 100 Days of Summer Writing! We hope that we can all find inspiration as we hear how this summer writing practice is changing the way teachers and students alike look at the writing process.
Our first guest post is from Melissa Wood-Glusac (@meliG4), a high school teacher in Thousand Oaks, California!
In my freshman English class we have been journaling all year in one form or another. Freewrites and mentors inspired us early on, in November we wrote NanoWrimo novels, and in April our pages turned to poetry. But something different happened last week when we opened the first two slides of #100DOSW18. I could feel it happening as I wrote about a woman one minute knitting on public transportation, and after witnessing a tragedy, taking a deer by the leash straight to the recruitment center to sign her aged self up for the Marines. Weird? Yes. Inspired? Maybe. Fun? Absolutely!
So what made this so different from the other journaling experiences? Freedom.
My very philosophical student, Ava, wrote about writing this notebook entry. About the way she didn’t have to think about it or know an answer, about the way she could just let her mind go wherever. I asked her if there was ever another time she felt that way, like with her friends maybe? She said no, and added that she really liked doing this. She reflected without even being asked, and in doing so she opened up a conversation we hadn’t had all year.
Suddenly students that never shared were unable to hold back. It’s like the little chart, “Media I Consume,” had sneezed on us and now we all had caught the fever!
Emma talked about listening to podcasts with her dad in the car, and how she didn’t really enjoy listening to the opinions so different from her own. Mathangi read the row about music and decided to write about a girl who tries to get into a band but doesn’t, but just like Mathangi, her character never gives up. Brenden admitted to following a stream of tangents to the realization that dictionaries might be robbing us of our air. And Brady bragged about writing two pages!
I’m not sure how much we as teachers can encourage this kind of variety, yet here it was on the first day. And each day since, students continue to surprise me. They actually admit to liking it, which in high school is not so cool. Maybe the family that fifth period has been since early in the year is partly to credit, but I think it’s more the magic that happens when writers write as actual writers who have choices, and not as student writers so often must.