Today’s 8th grade class was rather interesting. I began class by reading orally to them and then we did our writing into the day. I don’t have a lot of rules for my students when we do writing into the day. First, they must write the entire time. Second, I tell them they need to not worry about spelling, grammar, etc. Third, they can write about anything and not just the given topic for the day. Finally, they need to ignore the critic in their heads. My 8th graders generally write for 7-10 minutes per day. We then take time to share our writing. We share many different ways in class. Some days students just stay in their seats and share. Other days, we get into a circle on the floor and share. In addition, I sometimes have students share with two or three other students.
My focus for the first 9 weeks was to try and build a community of writers where students can trust one another when it comes to their writing. Today, something told me it must be working. After the students were given the allotted time to write, I decided to let the students just share from their seats. I figured since it was Monday the students wouldn’t be too motivated to share. After all, the topic was about experiences with public transportation. In both of my 8th grade sections we spent about 20 minutes sharing our writing. Yes, I write with my students too. Some teachers grade papers, I write with my students. My intentions for each class period was to simply take no more than five to seven minutes to share, not take 20 minutes. Let me tell you, it was worth it. I loved hearing the student’s tone in their writing and seeing their genuine excitement to share out loud. Furthermore, the gasps of disappointment when I didn’t call on a student first or right away. This did not leave me with a lot of time to discuss our next formal writing assignment. As a matter of fact, we got as far as discussing topics for the compare/contrast paper and that was it.
Most teachers or individuals would see my class time as being unproductive and what I did a waste of class time. I, however, feel it was one of my most successful class periods yet. Why? My students engaged themselves when it came to writing today and they were confident enough to share their writing with their classmates. They were excited about their writing. Productivity doesn’t have to be measured in quantity, but rather in the quality. Here’s to a productive day in anyone’s classroom!
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