ICYMI: The TWT Independent Writing Blog Series

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In case you missed it…all of last week we’ve been running a blog series devoted to fostering independent writing across grade levels, across the school year, and even during the summer!  Here’s what each day in the series looked like:

On Monday, Beth wrote a post on Independent Writing in the Early Grades (K-2) :

We all strive to teach kids to be independent writers. Nobody sets out saying, “I want my students to be totally dependent on me, incapable of doing anything on their own.” At least, nobody I know, anyway! But teaching kids to carry on with independence and confidence, to work on their own writing projects with passion and enthusiasm is not easy. Sometimes around this time of year kids have perhaps grown to expect a certain amount of…well…support (hand-holding) during writing workshop. Habits have been formed, and they aren’t easy to break. If you find that your students tend to rely on you a bit more than you wish, then maybe you might make time for a unit of study on independent writing projects. (You can continue reading her post here.)

On Tuesday, Betsy contributed ideas about fostering independence in her post How Do You Pull Away: Let Go Of Their Hand:

Letting go can be hard. During an independent writing piece, we want to step in when we see students falling back on an old habit or jump in and praise when we see them doing something that was recently taught. It’s a fine line when laying the bridge of a scaffold that moves students toward the goal of independence, but letting go of the child’s hand is just what we need to do, especially in the primary grades. I say this because, if we don’t start early their dependence on us will strengthen and their confidence to do the writing on their own may be stifled. I’ve established a few rules for myself and some understandings that have helped me let go. I’ve also established a “what not to do” list of things I try to avoid when my expectations are to see independent work. (Yo can continue reading her post here.)

On Wednesday, Anna shared strategies to continue to build on student writing skills with her post Summer Writing Projects In The Upper Grades:

As Beth posted on Monday, we all have high hopes that our students will build independence through our writing workshops. Our teaching is designed to last not just through that day’s workshop, or even that month’s unit, or even that school year, but for our students’ entire writing lives. What a tall order that is! And what’s more, assessing whether our students genuinely carry our teaching with them as they leave our classrooms often feels near impossible. Enter summer writing projects. Imagine sending your students off with plans, resources, and tips to mentor themselves as they pour their hearts into writing projects of their own design.  It can be done! (You can continue reading her post here.)

On Thursday, Dana considered the work our students do in their notebooks with her post  Back up Work:

Recently, some teachers in our district discovered ‘secret notebooks.’  Students had notebooks hidden in their desks and backpacks.  These notebooks were brought from home and would mysteriously appear whenever kids felt they had a little down time:  after completing a quiz, while waiting for attendance to be taken, after completing the assigned writer’s notebook entry for the day.  In these notebooks, kids were writing Minecraft comics, drawing new superhero characters, or writing chapter after chapter of a Hunger Games-like novel.  These secret notebooks contained unbelievably creative writing, but they were obviously not for the teachers’ eyes.  What was going on? (You can continue reading her post here.)

On Friday, Stacey shared ideas about how we can help our students find wider audiences for their writing in her post 10 Ways To Get Students Published In The Real World:

Some students want to write more than what is required of them in writing workshop. Enter independent writing projects!  But how do you go from being another set of eyes on some additional writing a student does to helping a young writer student go public with their work?

Students need to have an audience for their writing that goes beyond their teacher and their classmates. It’s important for young writers to understand there’s a relationship between authors and readers. Want to inspire your students to write more? Put their writing out into the “real world.” This will help them find their voice as they interact with an audience beyond the school walls. (You can continue reading her post here.)

On Saturday, Tara concluded the series with a post about ending the school year through Multigenre Writing Projects To Celebrate A Year Of Writing Workshop:

The last quarter of the school year brings gifts all its own – it’s a time to celebrate all the investment that has been made during the first three quarters: our students have a sense of independence and ownership of their learning, and they are ready, willing and able to spread their wings and fly on their own…with a bit of guidance and encouragement. I save two genres for this particular time in the school year – digital writing experiments, and the multi-genre writing project. (You can continue reading her post here.)

We’d love to hear more of your thoughts on independent writing in a Two Writing Teachers community virtual get-together. Please join us on Monday, May 12th at 8:30 p.m. EDT for a Twitter Chat on independent writing. Please use the hashtag #TWTBlog. (Click here for more information.)
We hope to see you there!