A Story of Their Own

As teachers we get the wonderful job of taking children on the journey of becoming writers.  I loved watching children develop as writers; to see them gain confidence in their writing abilities was one of the many joys in my teaching experience. Through this journey young writers explore all the successes and challenges of what it means to be a writer.

Getting children to write a story of their own can at times be challenging.  In the past, I often struggled with getting students to write about their own topic and not simply copy or take my ideas. I didn’t know how to stop this from happening.  Then one year I finally took the time to investigate why this always occurred.  To my surprise, I realized that even though my students would begin their stories by mimicking my ideas, soon their stories would evolve into their own creations.  

For example, I would say, “Today I’m going to write about going to the zoo and then eating at the park.”  After I was done writing the students would have time for independent writing on any topic of their choosing.  I’d listen to students read me their writing and their words would eventually start to change from sounding like mine to becoming their own.  For instance, “I went to the zoo and then ate at the park and I was playing with my sister by the water.”  Or “I went to the zoo and then ate at the park and it started raining so we ran to the car.”  Or “I went to the zoo and I got lost.”  I began to realize that almost always there was more to their writing than what I had originally wrote in mine. Through observation, I concluded they were using my writing as a starting point.

So before you ask your students not to copy your own writing, perhaps take a moment to reflect on why they are repeating your words. 

Here are a few suggestions to encourage children to come up with their own topics:

  • Give children time--as the classroom year passes they will gain confidence in their ability to write

  • Allow children to share what they are planning to write before writing

  • Provide anchor charts with topic ideas

  • Model how to come up with a topic

  • Use mentor text to show how authors come up with topics

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009

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April 8, 2019

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