Saturday, November 15, 2014

Celebrate This Week: On Discovering Your Own Writing Journey

Conferring with students this week about their NaNoWriMo stories, I am continually impressed with the progress they are making in their own writing journeys. One particular conference reinforced just how powerful having the time to figure things out is so crucial. Because of the extended nature of this project, the time has allowed this student to see how to move his story forward. He had a problem, and rather than coming to me and saying, "I don't know what to do!" he worked it out for himself. He didn't need hand-holding. He just needed time. I worry that we're dismissing too many young writers as incapable because we're not allowing them the benefit of time...

As Penny Kittle said at the MCTE conference a couple weeks ago:
We need to be looking at embracing all of our students as individuals and helping them on their own journeys instead of forcing everyone down the same pre-determined path.

So in that vein, I am celebrating all the ways my students are discovering their own learning journeys this week.  Here are some quotes from my students reflecting on their NaNoWriMo stories.

On discovering yourself as a writer:
"I have learned that I do best when I listen to music and try not to be a 'perfectionist.'" - Alex H.

"So far my story is going pretty well. Honestly, it feels good and strange saying that because I usually struggle with characterization. At the beginning I was contemplating my entire plot and storyline in a whole, but now I have most everything figured out. With that being said, since I just recently discovered my plot, I still have all of next week to write it, making the weeks following crucial and busy." - Erin R.

"I just write what comes to my mind and when the music speeds up, tension rises and when it slows down, tension falls." - Seth K. 

"I've learned that I actually have really good ideas in my mind that I didn't know I had." - Monse S.

On knowing your writing process:
"It can be lit ablaze with just a spark of imagination." - Jonah S. 

"I learned that my writing process is fairly simple. I just need time and concentration. Sometimes when I am stressed, ideas tend to come slower to me." - Hailey W.

On embracing excitement and uncertainty:
"My story idea in my head right now is what I've always wanted to write, my story blossomed before my eyes which I am pretty proud of myself for. I struggle with actually typing it though. I have everything in my head and then just spitting the words out can be pretty difficult. I get frustrated because I don't know how to word stuff or where to put what. I feel nervous going into next week, but I will make sure to make an improvement this weekend." - Alex H.

On realizing goals:
"10,000 words is not too many words as it may seem." - Jared M

On embracing independence:
"I don't really need help, plus I want to learn on my own sometimes." - Jacksen K.

Celebrate This Week was established by Ruth Ayres


  1. Self-reflection helps the writers grow. It must be very interesting to read their stories and hear their reflections.

  2. I love when people share student voices. So much wisdom in the honesty of our students. I really like this last comment from Jacksen. When students claim independence, it is wonderful to stand back and watch them go!

  3. Love this project so much! And what a great quote from the always-inspiring Penny Kittle. What would school look like if we respected that each student is on his or her own journey? If our job as the teacher was to coach, mentor, facilitate, and celebrate those journeys?

  4. Your standing back and allowing time and reflection is what we do try to do at my school, & even when they have individual topics, goals & time, the challenge almost is for the teacher to intuit when to step in. Teaching-complicated! The Kittle quote is so wise. Thanks for sharing these other wise words from students, too, Beth.