The Next Page Entry 4: Writing with reckless abandon…

The Next Page Entry 4: Writing with reckless abandon…

notebook spiral journal-1859385_640

Okay, again, slight exaggeration.

But when I started viewing this school year through a different lens, I asked myself what else I wanted to do differently, what else I wanted to see happen in the classroom.

First answer: Writing.

I want my kids to write more. And I’m rarely going to narrow them down to what the teachers edition or, lord help me, scope and sequence dictates. Writers don’t think that way, if you ask me.

And so there we were on Day 1 and writing–even before the classroom redecoration, in fact. [My thinking: If we’d redecorated first, that would have been too easy a topic for them to reach for. I wanted to see how they responded to a few writing prompts or some self-selected subject.]

And yes I kind of blew them out of the water because a fresh new notebook [all of 18 cents apiece] sat on each student desk and we were writing before we even started the school day–school year, actually. I did give them a pep talk about writing, that it would be more difficult for some than others, that writing was like a muscle–that it needed daily exercise and practice. 

But here’s the catch:

*I* have to write as well. I hadn’t quite thought that through. Of course, I figured I would do a few journal jottings, but nope, all the good books tell me that I have to be the model for the students. In the case of Day 1, I treated the front whiteboard as my personal journal to illustrate how a writer’s mind can wander and, during Room 36 journal time, that is just fine.

I also suggested that they sketch out a cartoon-type character, someone with whom they can converse on paper. More on that later.

It would be tempting for me to skate a bit on the writing…but there is one set of eyes fixed on me. Beth. Beth Carson. 

She lets nothing get by her. No change from last year, in other words.

The Next Page Entry 3: Bulletin board renovation

The Next Page Entry 3: Bulletin board renovation

Before…

classroom walls decorated
Note: just for explanation purposes. This is *not* my classroom.

After…

nada! Blank walls. But not for long…


“Now, in groups of six, take down what I have up there.”

I loved it. First day of school and the walls are now bare. Thanks to the kids.

Really, what was I thinking? I’d slapped up stuff that was going to become background visual noise in a matter of a week, if not sooner. 

So I formed the groups and down everything came.

“Now, it’s time for your group to plan a theme of what you want up there. And we have an hour to finish.”

Gotta give kids constraints, I figure.

Soon, one wall featured a ‘land’ of video game characters one wall featured kids’ birthdays [which was one of the themes that had been taken down, but I preferred the kids’ ‘create your own bday poster’ approach], and another was solar system-based, but with a kid’s twist, with all kinds of traffic control and speed limit signs and Taco Bell and SPCA billboards [shrug], and garage sale posters.

And then one group just asked for a large sheet of blank, yellow butcher paper. 

“It’s for graffiti!” they told me. “Kids with a pen or pencil can write or draw what’s on their minds.”

Whoa…open-ended. I can learn plenty from these kids…