I just recently read a post by Kristina Peterson called Writing: When Experience Molds Your Teaching – the What, the Why and the How. In it, she talks about how a writing experience from when she was in high school affected her as a writer and how now it inspires her teaching.
It caused me to think back to my own schooling, pondering what writing projects inspired me. I remember a magazine project from fifth grade. We were asked to choose a topic for our magazine and then we had to design advertisements, write two informational articles, two fictional stories and other various things to include. I chose the topic of babysitting, calling my magazine “Cry Baby.” I loved that project – still have it in my bookshelf downstairs.
In seventh grade, my LA teacher had us create autobiographical books that contained 7-10 stories about our lives. I remember writing a piece about a great friendship I had at the time, a piece about how I was so boy crazy and a heart warming article about the grandfather I never knew. That too I still have and love to look at every once in a while.
These are the projects that we remember – the ones we put our hearts and souls into, worked hard on and were interested in. And that’s what we need to continue to do in our classrooms.
I remember earlier this year, I assigned an math ebook project to some of my students: just told them what I expected, showed them examples on Big Universe and let them work on it. They produced great work and love showing it to others. I was most impressed by their motivation and engagement in the project. They practically begged me to work on it each day.
That’s the kind of work I want to do more of. That’s the type of engagement I want for my students. I want to inspire them to write. Maybe I will revive the projects I once did as a students and rework them for my own class. In some ways, it can all boil down to audience and purpose and if those two things are well defined and real, then our budding writers can truly be inspired!
What writing projects do you assign to your students that inspire them to write?