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Rethinking the Writing Process


The illustration below clearly depicts what writing in my classroom used to look like. Seem familiar? After introducing a writing prompt to the whole class during a mini-lesson, students were left to fend for themselves--swimming upstream, up against the often confusing and tumultuous waters of early experiences with narrative writing. Writing periods left me feeling worn and exhausted as I moved from child to child answering and re-answering the same questions: “What do I do?" or “What should I do next?” and “Am I done with writing for today?” 

Being pulled in so many directions, I felt I was not given an opportunity to provide the genuine dialogue or feedback that is critical during this period of development for young writers. I also realized that the way I was deciding to structure this writing time was hindering my students’ independence and risk-taking. With this group of students, my forty-five minute writing periods clearly were not working. I needed to make a change...Welcome to my inquiry! 

Before I explain the changes I made to my writing periods, let me first introduce myself. My name is Christine. I am currently entering my third year of teaching at a public elementary school located in Kensington, Brooklyn. I teach in a 3rd and 4th grade self-contained classroom, which means that I have twelve students and I am the only teacher. I have two paraprofessionals assigned to particular students in my classroom. As is the case in many self-contained classrooms within New York City, my students’ unique learning needs require a wide range of planning, differentiation, supports, trial, error and creativity. With this in mind, providing my students with a “one-size-fits-all” writing model was doing them a disservice and not honoring the unique abilities that they each bring to their own learning.
The purpose of this inquiry is to share my story, along with its challenges and successes.Through my experience I will share the ways that I provided my students with a writing process to fit their unique writing and organizational needs.