Last week, my wonderful wife Piper, told me she noticed how happy I am when I write. As I reflected on that and agreed, it also dawned on me that yes, I love to write. Not only that, but I get to CHOOSE what I write!
Many times, as adults we get to choose what we do. From the food we eat, to the cars we drive, the jobs we have, the clothing we wear and especially what we READ and WRITE! This is something I believe we take for granted. Imagine how many times per day, WE get to choose, but students do NOT. It’s crazy. While our amazing teachers are doing so many wonderful things throughout the day: planning, instructing, counseling, listening, managing, nurturing, and much more, shouldn’t they change, grow and evolve too? Education is a two-way street and I believe it is time that students are given a a ticket on the toll road to travel.
Why don’t we include, invite and allow students more of this same opportunity in school? After all, it is their education last time I checked. It really is time to drop down the compliance walls of regimented and factory schooling. Not tomorrow, or after the Standardized tests next week, but the time is now.
I’m always amazed to see student writing in classrooms, as it varies so much. Not only by grade level, but; style, pedagogy, mood, depth of knowledge on teaching writing and other variables come in to play as well.
Some teachers like to completely control the entire process. 100% direct teaching, but with minimal modeling. Others, do some nice modeling, invite a bit of student voice, but don’t go through the process. Then there is the group that just wings it: no clue, just open a Teachers Edition and go for it.
Hold on cowboy, it’s not all doom and gloom! Lately, there has been a small revolution of epic writing across the campus I call home. Some teachers are deeply interested in Student Voice, and Student Choice. Two of my EduHeroes, Rebecca Coda and Rick Jetter (Co-authors of Let Them Speak ) would be so proud. First, teachers may select the genre that follows their grade level or District curriculum, then, nice, clear step by step instruction, modeling, and scaffolding where needed. Now comes the fun part; Student Choice on WHAT to write and Student VOICE on rubric development. This is when the magic happens. When students have a say in what they are going to put time, effort and grit in, we will always get a better return on the process and end product.
Regardless if you are using an adopted curriculum or EduProtocols, Lucy Calkings, Six Traits, Writing by Design, Write Now or others, students must have voice in rubric building and topics. Why? Because they deserve it. They need it. They yearn for it. We ask them to conform for six to eight hours per day, five days a week. Students thrive on variety, movement, choice, voice, and experiences, so it is up to us to give them what they deserve.
Keep in mind, we are asking students across the world to change, grow, conform, and “do” our way. It is time Now that we put a little WD-40 on that rusty, compliance combo lock and open it up. Show you trust them. Give them the opportunity to flub up. Be the teacher that has built such stellar relationships with your whole class that they will do ANYTHING for you. In return, give them a little voice AND choice.
Follow these great Leaders in writing, reading and literature! Pernille Ripp, Jennifer Wolfe, Annick Rauch, CameronCarter, Travis Crowder, Kristen Nan, Sarah Johnson, Tamara Letter, Jeff Zoul and MaryHoward to name a few.
Who do you model your writing after? Which EduWriters should we watch for to learn from?
Voice and Choice. We get it every day. Why don’t our students get this luxury?