If there is such thing as a library police, I'm probably on their most wanted list. I've had issues with overdue library books my entire life. Normally I'm quite the rule-follower, so who knows why I can't manage to get my books back on time. And yes, I know you can renew them on-line, but I consider the large amount of salary that I've contributed to the Mid-Continent Library system to be a donation that helps stock the shelves with more marvelous books. I've been holding on to my latest read, A Writer's Coach by Jack Hart, because I've had so many lightbulb moments that I want to share with you. Though his target audience is adult writers, much of what Hart writes applies to teachers of every grade.
For many years, I was a very product-driven writing teacher, but now I know that learning occurs in the process of writing. I found myself nodding my head in agreement when Hart wrote, "The secret to writing well is in the process, not the finished product. You get better not by sitting down at the keyboard and trying to match the finished work of good writers, but by changing the way you work." (This does not mean that Mentor Text are invaluable. Mentor Texts help us help students analyze the craft of experts so that they can find their own voice!) He recommends several ways to "change" the way you approach a writing task:
1. Think first, writer later: Taking time to organize your thoughts pays off later
2. Talk it out: In Hart's own words "Nothing clarifies the mind like a little conversation." (Writing is a social process. More on this to come...)
3. Shrink Your Subject: I really believe that most of problems that occur in the writing process are eliminated when we help students narrow their topic.
4. Doodle: Proof that you're never to old to draw pictures to help generate writing ideas!
5. Write a theme statement: What is the piece mostly about?
Now, I'm off to the library. I've got a book to return and I'm planning to check out a few "just for fun" books to read over the Christmas break. I'll be back and blogging just after the new year begins, but until then I'll see you on Facebook. If you haven't visited yet, I hope you'll stop by. It's a fun place to get to know other teachers who love writing just as much as you!