Instead of planning what writing units we’d work on after we finished our personal narratives and persuasive texts, I offered the kids a choice and, between 18 of them, they chose Stories, Poetry, Book Reviews, and Instructional Writing. The next two weeks went pretty smoothly as they spent time planning, drafting and revising their writing but then the Winter Concert loomed and our Food unit of Inquiry began. And suddenly we had a need for authentic writing to search for typical food around the world, writing recipes and scripts.
The previous personal writing choices had been put on hold as our focus shifted but they’re still available should they wish to pick up where they left off.
Collecting texts which naturally link to specific learning engagements with personal writing choices will ensure each student has a diverse collection of written work at the end of the year. (See IB PYP Language Scope & Sequence document confirming the objectives with a nod.)
In the past, I would have the genres laid out from start to finish but I was limiting the choices to ensure all kids were following the same guidelines, making my life easier. Or so I thought.
This year, after the first month where I followed my usual course of not walking the walk, I wanted to really let them loose and write because they had something to say, because there was a need. Not just because I had decided it should be done. And I’m seeing genuine dedication to their learning, a desire to tell a story connected to a recent read aloud or unit of inquiry concept, a means to teach others about a personal passion, or just a curious desire to try something new.
(I suppose you could say that the Food unit and concert caused them to follow guided writing genres again, but the need to find out about food around the world and learn how to cook were their choices, and not all kids chose to write and perform a play.)
Leaving it to chance is another way of saying that I’m trusting them and respecting their choices, safe in the knowledge that they want to write because they have something to say. Safe in the knowledge that exposure to a multitude of texts through reading and sharing passions and interests naturally leads to new discoveries and maximum exposure.
And now it’s nearly Christmas and they’re writing each other letters and cards and I didn’t plan anything!