One of the best things about the new schedule at my school is the two-hour literacy block. Initially, it felt like a long stretch of time. I was still getting to know the students and trying to find the right books and writing assignments. Thus far, I have been fortunate. We have read some short stories, completed a novel and started reading a new book that they are enjoying. As a passionate reader, I am always thrilled when students connect with books.
In terms of the writing, I have enjoyed being able to connect with assignments to the reading is deep and meaningful ways. We have had extra time to develop peer editing and revision skills. Students have produced some quality work. We are putting the finishing touches on a publishable iBook version of our work. We have had one author's circle and plan to have another on Friday.
It is exciting to see them develop as writers, enjoying the process and the fruits of their labors. I am impressed with their results.
On Monday, we started blogging. They selected a name for their blog and a decided how they wanted it to look. "Now go home and write about yourself," I said. The students were excited by the openness of the "assignment."
Some students had a lot to say. Others needed some encouraging.
In class the next day, we talked about how to make the blogs more visually pleasing. "We can add pictures?," they asked. "How about a video so that people know what I'm talking about?" Sure, I said. It is your blog.
All year long we have been talking about voice. The writing reflects the author. In small ways, students have started to develop their own voice - including details about their interests. As yet, I am not sure they fully understand the impact that voice has in writing. But in looking at their initial blogging attempts, I am encouraged.
Blogging offers a unique opportunity to explore voice - not just in the words that a blogger selects or her tone or her style, but it the format, pictures and layout. Bloggers are saying to the world, "This is who I am." Along the journey, they come to understand themselves better.
Bloggers start out speaking with what Shakespeare called a "monstrous little voice." Over time, the voice gets louder and more sure.
Hearing the small voice of my new bloggers these last few days has been exciting. I can hardly wait to hear how it will grow for each of them.