Wednesday, September 17, 2014


As an ELA teacher and a lover of writing, I feel I am strongest at writing instruction.  It is where my passion shines through, and I can tell that I am inspiring kids to write better--at least some of them anyway.  But at the same time, I constantly grapple with my methods for teaching writing.  I look at that long, long list of Common Core standards and am completely overwhelmed with the plethora of concepts I am expected to teach in a year--introductions with thesis statements, conclusions, transitions, evidence, logical reasoning, event sequencing--lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!  My mind actually boggles, but I give it the old college try!  I spent an entire summer organizing my curriculum by types of writing so that we could study the elements and effective traits of each through various units.  I methodically checked off how I was reaching each standard so, at the very least, my students were being exposed to the concepts.  I felt like I saw a good deal of success doing it this way last year.  My students improved their scores on the end-of-year writing prompt and were able to name most of the traits of narrative, informational, and argumentative writing.  Yay!

But then, these nagging thoughts came to mind--isn't writing supposed to be fun?  Isn't that why I love it?  Are all these standards stopping my students from discovering a passion for the written word?  Is there a place in education for writing, just for writing's sake?  This really came to the forefront of my mind after reading my classmate's blog, Teaching and Reaching in the Middle where she talks about blogging and whether or not she is doing it correctly.  According to some, blogging should be complex with links and analyses of outside sources.  It is not meant to be a journal.  But what if I want to write a journal?  What if there are people out there who do want to read about my random thoughts on teaching?  What if this type of writing it exactly what I love?  Does it really matter that I am not doing it exactly right?

I look forward to writing this blog, even with the mountain of grading on my desk and the blank spots on my plan book that need filling.  In fact, I often use this blog to procrastinate making handouts and filling out addresses on my save the dates, and I don't know if that same enjoyment would be there if I was required to do what I am "supposed" to.  Am I let off the hook because I'm an adult with 20+ years of education under her belt, or is this a sign that perhaps we should be loosening the reins and letting our students write for fun?


  1. I was just thinking about this! It's inspiring to go to workshops and hear about all the "fun" writing going on in class -- and then another thing to try to make it fit in with the "not-so-fun" parts of writing.

    I even struggle with making time for narrative writing. That's the part that's least used for most testing (and least used in the "real world), so it's challenging to make a place for it in my curriculum. I almost feel guilty having students write memoirs when I know we "should" be working on how to support our claims with evidence and warrants.

  2. Bailey, I admire your drive and dedication to become the best writing teacher you can be! I'd love to be a fly on the wall in your classroom :)

  3. Thank you, Danielle P.! It is easy to be dedicated when you are so passionate about it!

    Danielle B.--I agree. I do a couple short units of narrative because it is on the CCSS, but then the focus switches to informational and argumentative. However, I do feel that narrative has a place in education. Storytelling is something so innate in all of us that using narrative writing in the classroom gives students the chance to try something new--to work on sentence structure, word choice, or to simply play with language--all of which are skills that are also useful in other types of writing and in the real world.