I continued to sit and listen until I finally had to jump in.What they were describing is not writing unless you are calling the action of using a pencil to compose words on a page writing. Now don't get me wrong. My students do well on open-ended questions. I teach them a basic formula for answering this type of question that even my lowest of students can use with success.
When I expressed my opinion that what they were describing was not writing, I was met with confused faces. I honestly don't think they had ever thought about the true difference in the physical act and the craft. Unfortunately, the only "writing" that is given any credence is the writing that is done for standardized testing.
Not only was I irritated that they refused to listen, but I worried about the students who would never know the thrill of composing something that reaches others or helps them to explore who they are as people. What if students aren't given the opportunity to create something new and communicate it to others through their writing? Think about all of the ways that we write every day...mostly using a keyboard or touch screen. Students do it everyday through texting, messaging in games, blogging, Facebook, etc. Shouldn't they have the opportunity to learn how to amplify their voice through the written word at school?
This was still bothering me when my students and I returned to the classroom. So I asked them to explain through their blogs what writing is to them. It was not an assignment, just a request. I just wondered if my 10 year old students understood what teachers missed. Here are three examples of what I found:
I think we write so we can first of all learn. The only way we can learn certain things is by reading. Another reason we read and write is to express our feelings about different topics. Two more reasons that I think we write are to share our learned findings with other people and to explain how to do things. Everyone should write. ~LH
When I write I like to express what I think about the question or the answers I write down. Also, some grown ups don’t like to write anything even sometimes for work. Writing is fun to me because when you write you can express your feelings in it. That is why I like poetry. ~KADo my students understand the importance writing? Is it more than the physical act of picking up a pencil or pen and putting it to paper? You can tell from these three examples (I could have put many more) that they each understand not only what writing is but also why we write.
I recently read that one of the biggest downfalls of students today is their inability to communicate. One of the biggest ways that we can communicate with one another is to write.. compose, create, explore. So no matter what age group or content area, please encourage your students to write. So even if you feel uncomfortable as a writing teacher, I hope that the quote below will give you something to think about.
We write because my teacher said so. We write to prepare for standardized testing.We write to explore who we are, to connect to those in the world around us, and to create something new.