Building a Culture of Writing, Part 1

Our mantra for reading is read, read, read, think, think, think. I often remind students that reading without thinking is like eating without tasting (inspired by Francis Bacon). Our mantra for writing is write, write, write, imagine, imagine, imagine. Imagination is central to the writing process.

Before students can write, write, write, we need to build a culture of writing in our classrooms. Consider launching writing workshop as you would launch an important event. "Let the games begin.” We turn up the volume and play the Olympic Games theme song.* Make this moment as majestic as possible, really play it up. Preach: "We are going to have an amazing year as writers."

Following the song, each student is presented with his/her writing notebook. Shop for quality—many students will pour their souls into their writing notebook. And purchase extras as many students will need a second. The night’s homework is to personalize the front and back covers. Children love placing their personal touch on their notebooks.

Stitched, soft cover notebooks seem to work best.

Next, show students how to setup their notebook pages. Here’s how I typically lay it out:
I have students glue a small copy of this page onto the inside front cover of their writing notebook. Some notebooks have fancy little boxes for you to check off the day of the week. Student’s write “H” for any writing done at home and a “S” for writing done at school. Teach students to give themselves an assignment for their next writing session.

Stay tuned for Building a Culture of Writing, Part 2 where we talk about stamina checks.

Here is part 2. :-)

* Credit for launching writing workshop with this idea goes to Lucy Calkins and her wonderful curriculum materials. Search online for “Olympics Fanfare and Theme” to download or stream the audio.