Slice of Life: When there’s not much to say

“A” handed me the Chromebook. “I don’t have anything to blog about today. I need inspiration.” She smiled. ” I think I’d rather read.”

Maybe next time, I told her.

My students get the option to blog every third day. So when they don’t jump on, I’m surprised, and I understand. That’s why I sit here.

Tonight’s post started with the feeling “A “had.  But if I expect to guide my students as writers, I had better find something worth a click and a peruse. My students are the reason I write when I’ve got nothing. They are my motivation. That’s why I sit here.

Last week I wrote alongside students. They watched as I started in my notebook. They watched and slowly opened their notebooks. I chose. They chose. And then we drafted.

Now we’re revising. Using the TCRWP checklist for narrative writing, I find that I have not stretched the heart of my story out. In fact, this important part consists of one word: embarrassed. That’s it. I come clean and checked the “Not Yet” box on the 4th-grade checklist.

Not yet. Now, what?

This weekend, I came up with three strategies to stretch, to figure out what I’m trying to say.

1. Write long about the idea
2. Flashback to a time before the big thing happened to look at what might have caused it
3. Daydream about what I wish had happened

Today, I tried out each scenario with my students. I wrote. They wrote. Again and again and again. Each strategy. We loved the idea of daydreaming.

Tomorrow, I’ll rewrite this part in front of my students. They’ll watch me struggle through it. Strategies matter, but the fact that I struggle in front of them is equally important. It’s messy and imperfect. Not up to standard, yet. It is a process I live through as they watch. I struggle. They struggle.

With this spirit,  I plan to write beyond this blog in other genres and formats.  Just as I ask my students to write, I will write. And be critiqued. Not with the 4th-grade checklist, but with adults who expect adult writing.  (Is there an adult checklist?)

I approach this new writing with not much to say. In fact, I’d rather read. But if I expect to guide my students, I had better find something.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.



29 thoughts on “Slice of Life: When there’s not much to say

  1. I like how you write alongside your students. I do that with my junior high and high schoolers, and it is some of the best experiences when we all write together. I like how you shared the next step too. I fail at that still. I need to keep going the next step and stop stopping myself at the draft stage.

    • I know what you mean. It’s beyond the draft stage that seems to be so mystical for my students. Revision just appears. The more I try to show how I revise the more I realize what they could do.

  2. The day dreaming piece is priceless – getting to the inner voice, the inner writer. Kelly Gallagher says that there is more value for students in seeing us struggle with writing than when it comes easy. The process is indeed messy, like life. Well-captured!

  3. I love the fact that you are putting yourself in their shoes, using your weakness to help them with their weakness and showing them how to build their strength by modelling how to build your own. ‘Modelling’ is to writers as ‘location’ is to real estate and you’re doing a fabulous job here. 🙂

  4. What I enjoy about this community is we get it. We understand the writer’s rut and we guide ourselves and our students through it. We accept it as part of the writing journey. Thanks for sharing your strategies.!

  5. I agree with Amy…we get it! I want to know more about what other writing you’ll do!! Exciting. Powerful. My favorite is your willingness to struggle in front of them. You are living the writerly life in front of them. YAY!

  6. The power of working through the hard parts while students observe will linger in their minds when they hit that bump in the road. You give them vision through your revision.

  7. Modeling your struggles makes you more real and credible. Keep up the great work, Julieanne! Your kids are lucky to have a teacher who is a writer (who is willing to admit when writing feels hard).

  8. I do my Tuesday blog drafts in front of my class, so they can see how I struggle to find words. Usually they sit and read mine, and then write their own. We learn together — the best way. Thanks for writing today!

  9. Very nice! I love the modeling with students – they need to see writing is not easy even for the teacher! The learning side by side is so important and I find it fun as well! Happy Writing!

  10. I think I’d rather read…been there, done that. Ok, maybe still doing it just a little. I love how you share the joys along with the hard parts. That is authentic writing.

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