Today’s guest post by Jenifer Pastore (@jeniferpastore) inspires me. Putting together 100 Days of Summer Writing is kind of a lot of work. And Jenifer is doing it by herself. For her 3rd graders. Every time I see one of her slides, I want to stand up and cheer: all kids (and teachers) can do this!
Jenifer Pastore is third grade teacher in Northwest Arkansas. An avid reader who also loves to write, she is passionate about growing readers and writers. Her goal is to find THAT book for each child who hasn’t already found it himself.
I was down to the last days of school. I’d cleared the clutter, bared the boards, and boxed up the books for a long summer’s rest (minus the huge stack I’m taking home to read myself). My kids were chattering excitedly about the upcoming daily dose of Magic School Bus, longer recesses, math games, and bonus read alouds. I walked with a bit more bounce in my step, smiling at colleagues as I walked down the hall on those last, lingering, it’s-almost-summer days. Two more days to go.
But then, during that last weekend, an interesting idea about writing presented itself. A challenge of sorts. #100DOSW18.
I got this tiny little idea… that would be so fun for my students to keep a summer notebook so they can write every day like me! (I think this, momentarily forgetting that my students are so done, they have forgotten how to hold their pencils).
For the average writer, 100 Days of Summer Writing 2018 is already perfect and ready to go. But for 3rd graders, some of the texts and images are beyond their reach. If I wanted my kids to write this summer, then I needed to help provide some inspiration, images and ideas they could relate to, to get them started.
So, instead of sorting through the overflowing Need-to-Sort pile under my desk while Really Wild Animals and “Spin” cheerfully entertained, I was frantically reimagining and recreating this sure-to-be-amazing project for my students.
It was 12:45 on the last day when I introduced the Summer Notebooks. Literally two hours left of third grade. I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised when some of my students cheered about summer writing. They cheered! (I mean, it is summer).
I explained that this was an optional project. Although, I made sure they understood, just like the summer slide in reading, 75 days of not writing at all will definitely result in the loss of stamina and volume. I asked them to think ahead to the first day of 4th grade when their new teacher asks them to write. If they have gone 75 days with no pencil to paper, that first writing assignment could be painful. Torture even. However, if they had been writing all summer, the assignment would be a breeze- nothing to remember or relearn. Just a new topic.
When the bell finally chimed at 2:45, I had officially done all that I could possibly do to grow readers and writers in my classroom. Beyond the door to our classroom, it was up to them
I wondered if anyone would pick up that book or journal during the summer. My guess was no… summer would hit them in an hour or two and they wouldn’t even recall making the notebook. It made me a little sad to consider 75 days (I counted) of not reading or writing.
The first slide posted in Google Classroom and three more were ready to go. Only 71 more slides to create and assign.
I opened my mail and was greeted with the first comment. It was from Gowri at 7:15 a.m. (the slide hadn’t even posted yet!) There was a steady stream of messages among students throughout the day. By the time I left my building that afternoon, there were 91 comments and two shared journal entries. Later, Gowri, my early-riser, sent me her story at 10:35p.m., begging me for feedback.
Summer is now in full swing. I have a little more time on my hands so I’ve been able to get more creative with the slides and links. I’ve collected lots of funny and unusual pictures, keeping in mind the age, background knowledge, and interest of elementary students. I am also working to collect a variety of writing ideas beyond images for future slides. I am open to anything as long as it appeals to my kids: quotes,directions, lists, even the dreaded prompt (only fun ones though!)
For example, one slide invites students to retell a story they know but with the addition of a monster. On this particular slide I linked to a How-to-Draw-Monsters site.
Some of my favorite slides feature crazy images. Giraffes up in trees, a cat inside the bird’s cage, a flying dog… I can’t take credit for most of the ideas and pictures. All I’ve done is scour the internet for inspiration- things that will encourage my students to keep on writing. I am simply organizing them and making the slides inviting, giving them something to think about, and linking them to more learning that relates to the slide’s theme.
Today as I write this, it is Day Eight for my kiddos. Feedback on Facebook lets me know that others are enjoying these slides, too. So I am trying to keep up with the slides, creating a few at a time. I am also trying to keep up with my students, by responding to their messages each day, encouraging them to keep coming back
My students are not as busy in Classroom as they were the first few days, but that’s ok. Because just before I sat down to finish and revise this article, I got another notification from Gowri the Early Bird. She had responded to my edits, revised her story, and asked me to reread the latest version. It’s only 9:20p.m. She’s an hour early.
Growing writers… one child at a time.
How are the 100 Days of Summer Writing inspiring you and/or your students? Share in a comment below, on our Facebook group, or on Twitter! Better yet: write your own guest post reflection and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!