Purpose matters. It motivates and directs. I try to remember that. Perhaps the biggest challenge is not adhering to our purpose but figuring it out.
Our classroom blogging is writing for writing sake. It is 100% student driven. This writing, the kind that Ralph Fletcher calls “greenbelt” writing, may not be perfect. The audience is other kids. Not adults. This is by design. The purpose is joy based writing. that tell story, give information, and share ideas that matter to other kids.
Enter student blogging that is shared with the world and This year we have started a new student blog. Open to multiage writers afterschool. The topics are still chosen by students, but the content is now linked to the school’s website read by adults. And with that, my purpose as a teacher changes. I now must seriously address grammar and capitalization slip-ups. An area I typically have no problem overlooking in favor of content and the desire to inspire young writers write.
Today, I conferred with a 5th grader about her fiction piece. A potential series of posts called, To be continued… The title says a lot. It’s funny and full of suspense. I want to publish it, but first a little work around capitalization. She started capitalizing the word “I” but then stops. I assume this is an oversight, so I mention it as a simple editorial reminder. And with that, I get a lesson.
“You always capitalize I? I thought it was just the first one.”
Whoa! This student, one I’d lay money on getting an advanced score on any test. didn’t know to authentically use this straightforward writing rule. One I know she’s been taught every year.
What does this mean for me a writing teacher?
We must write a lot to learn the rules.
To write a lot, we must want to write.
To want to write, we must enjoy it.
To enjoy it, we need to feel good about what we write.
To feel good about what we write, choice in the subject and minimal critique are necessary.
But at some point, the rules of writing need to be upheld.
When is that time?
When the audience changes? Sooner?
I go back to what I hold in my core. Each child is at a different place along the writing road. It is my purpose to note where they are and anticipate the upcoming bend in the road.
Always a journey for the writer and the teacher.