Monday, June 11, 2012

What Makes Writing Authentic?


Today we read and discussed what makes writing "Authentic" for our children.  We were given excerpts from two professional books:  Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher and Living Between the Lines by Lucy McCornick Calkins and Shelley Harwayne.  I learned two things from the articles that will change the way I teach writing in my classroom this year:  #1:  I will try to give my children more choice in what they want to write.  #2:  I would like my children to send more of their writing out into the world. Number one really hit home for me because I am a strong believer in students reading what interests them.  Then why wouldn't we let them choose to write about what they care about?  Gallagher points out that allowing students write about their interests gives them a feeling of ownership in their work thus creating a stronger work ethic and revision of the piece.  Which brings us to #2.  When students are ready to publish their work, so many times we laminate it and keep it in a classroom library, post it on a bulletin board, or put it in a portfolio that only the parents will see.  Why not create more authenticity by allowing the students to share their published work with the real world?  We brainstormed ways that students can write outside of the classroom.  Here's a fun list of where you can send your student's work:


  • someone who knows an answer to a burning question you have (a scholar, teacher, older student)
  • place student published work in waiting rooms in local businesses
  • write to school staff:  principal, office staff, school counselor, custodian, cafeteria workers
  • authors/illustrators
  • local business owners
  • school board
  • local, state, national government officials
  • past/future teachers
  • yourself
  • writing competitions (ex:  Scholastic Kids Are Authors)
  • other students in school/book buddies
  • students in other schools/other countries
  • school library (publish student books and let the librarian barcode them for student checkout)
  • artists
  • musicians/music industry
  • people in the future
  • student blog
  • classroom newsletter for parents published by students (Thanks Cook for this idea)
  • local newspapers/news channels
  • local college department heads or students
  • radio station
  • toy manufacturers
  • PTA/PTO
  • soldiers
  • celebrities/Disney characters
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Elves/Christmas letters (use older students to write to younger)
  • guest speakers
  • write to you as a teacher
  • record read-aloud stories for students in another grade level
  • write summaries of books and use inside book jackets in classroom library


And my personal favorite, which I'd like to try to implement:

  • hold public readings of student published writing the first Friday of each month
If you have any other ideas to add, please comment on this post :).

1 comment:

Elizabeth Shepherd said...

I LOVED your list! I was surprised that only one of the options allowed students to put their work out there online. I may have to do some side brainstorming in that department... :)