Frequently Asked Questions about Writing Block - Go Back

What kinds of mini-lessons do you teach during the modeling time?

You plug in whatever you want students to know that will make them more effective communicators in written, and whatever you value as well. The power of modeling is in showing language. You'll want to consult your curriculum guide, standards document students what the practical use of the skills and strategies are that you're teaching them. Some of the things you'll teach will be: grammar, mechanics, usage, genres of writing, modes of writing, purposes, styles, voice, diction, developing ideas, organizing, and anything else that makes students more effective with the written word.

Will students write if I don't assign topics to them?

Yes! Believe it or not, students really will write best and most about what they know best and most about! You have to ween them from dependence upon those assigned topics. Donald Graves once said that if you always give students assigned topics you create a "writer's welfare" and your students will always expect a handout. I don't know how "politically correct" his statement is, but I think it's true-mostly from my own experience in the classroom.

It's especially important for the little ones to start out writing about their own experiences, just so they begin to understand that writing is just telling. That's such an important concept to convey!

What will I write about when I model each day?

The more ordinary your topic, the better! Don't try to create anything grand-no great American novels, nothing complex and sophisticated. Just write about the day-to-day events in your life-your children's antics, funny or interesting things your spouse does, your pets, your observations. If you write about ordinary things, then your students will realize that they have things to tell about their lives, too. Actually, if your writing is too exemplary, you might turn-off your children rather than encourage them!

When should I begin to publish students' writing?

Don't start too early! I think if you publish students' work too early if de-emphasizes the value of what should be published. Published work should be of a certain quality. It should be the piece of writing that a student recognizes as the gem among many that have been written. When students recognize that outstanding piece, they don't seem to mind hanging in there and going through the whole writing process-a process that can be quite laborious! In some classes the quality is apparent after a couple of months. In other classes, it's towards the end of the semester. It's all individual-class to class.

What exactly does publishing mean?

Publishing means refining a piece of writing to the final draft stage and displaying that for others to read. This might be done in the form of a book. Or, it might mean pinning the writing on the wall in the class. It could even mean submitting it to a magazine or newspaper that prints students' work. When students publish for others to see, the writing usually becomes better.

When students share, should they have published a piece?

No! Some of the greatest advantages to sharing time can be just discussing writing at different stages. What ideas are students pursuing? What words have they chosen to express themselves? How are they organizing their writing? Where did they get their ideas? Students need to learn to talk and think like writers.