Lately I keep finding myself thinking about all the little things that one can notice if one pays attention. I think these little things often show up in the classroom, in the hall, at practice, before school, after school, on a blog, you know, all those places where your students “learn.” And with these little things and these places in mind, I think it’s important to take note and acknowledge the ways students learn and showcase their knowledge.
All of this thinking/observing stems from watching my kids write in class. You know the looks I’m talking about. Focused, eyes fixed to the screen, typing nonstop until the bell rings with a sigh of relief. Worried, glancing around, typing intermittently until the bell rings with a sigh of relief. (The examples could continue and vary by each individual student.) Writing can be hard as we all know, as our students know. And yet I’m always amazed at the many ways in which my students write and the amazing things that they write. Specifically, after completing our “Self-Discovery” unit with Siddhartha, many of my students truly connected with the unit’s material and themes even though they claimed that they were too young to write well on any topic related to self-discovery. (And through their writing they quickly realized that even in their short lives, there were universal themes that are timeless that we can relate to even today!)
I remember one time in graduate school (gee, I talk like it was forever ago now, ha!) we had a discussion about “writer’s block” and whether or not it exists or not. Many of my peers adamantly declared that there was no such thing, whereas I felt there was as I had experienced it a time or two — and no, I’m not just talking about multi-tasking while writing and delaying the process!
Anyway, while watching my students write and monitoring their computer work, I have noticed many ways in which they creatively get motivated to write. I’ve noticed that some “doodle” on the computer through Paint or DyKnow (just as they would on the corners of their papers or notebooks) and then jump back into typing feverishly typing away. I’ve noticed some like to have “power songs” on their iTunes playlist that they listen to as well. Thus, no matter what technique, paper or pencil versus computer/technology, kids still create autonomy of their work, of their learning space, that helps them find their voice to put down and broadcast.
And with that, I remember coming across a quote though I’m not sure where it came from. Nevertheless, I thought it was interesting and made me think about writing in general:
“Writing is good. Thinking is better. Cleverness is good. Patience is better.”
I want my students to be good writers, but I think they become great writers by critically thinking…and though as writers we can craft the “perfect” essay, we can always sit back, think, and realize that writing is a process. That’s part of the beauty of it. In my opinion, to be great writers, we have to be able to watch and learn.