Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle
“For 10 minues out of each 90 minute class, we read a book. Any book. A comic book, magazine, anything […] And when we wrote, it was about what we wanted to write about […] Mrs. Kittle emphasized embracing your own literacy; owning what you write, reading what you want.” pg 4
I really liked this idea of having students read a little at the beginning of class, something that they actually WANT to read. Students never really have time to read what they want because they are always focusing on what classes require them to read and respond to. Also, with writing, there is always a direct focus on what students need to write. “You need to write a response to this quote pertaining to the plot of To Kill a Mockinbird,” is one of the prompts I had in high school. I didn’t usually get to write what I wanted to write, apart from a relatively short unit in ninth grade on fiction. High school is about discovery and when we allow students to discover what they like to read and what they like to write, we are helping them discover themselves.
“I believe you can’t tell kids how to write; you have to show them what writers do. I believe you have to be a writer, no matter how stumbling and unformed that process is for you; it’s essential to your work as a teacher of writing.” pg 8
My belief is that you shouldn’t make students do an assignment that you have not done. This goes the same with reading a book; if you haven’t read it and understood it, how can you expect your students to? If you have not done any writing, how do you expect your students to be writers? By allowing your students to see the process of you writing, you are helping them to see that it doesn’t all come naturally. It is a process and it takes time.
“This is because I allow them to continue to revise all semester and they want to improve their grades, but also because as their skills improve they know how o make their writing better.” pg 15
I really wish my high school teachers did this, allowing their students to revise throughout the semester. I think there is always something that can be improved in a piece of writing and continuous revision helps the students with the writing process. If a student wants to keep working on a paper, I think the teacher should allow them to turn it in.
“Quick Writes” pg 29
The three rules to quickwriting are write the entire time, write quickly without letting the critic in your head censor you, and relax, have fun, play. During a writing unit, to help students discover their voice, I think quick writes at the beginning of class help set the tone for the rest of the period. It’s also important to model quick writing with your students. If you are giving students 10 minutes at the beginning of class to quick write, you better be quick writing, too. As Kittle says, “I write beside them to stay in touch with what I’m asking of my students and to practive my craft as their writing teacher.” pg 33
“Interest Journals” pg 47
I really really really love this idea! The interest journals are there purely for entertainment and they let the students experiment with different topics without making the students sign their name on the work.
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