I started a blog on Kidblog with my students and this post was originally posted on Dec 18, 2016. Since then one of my student's entered an essay and won. She had her essay published in an anthology. To say I am proud of her is an understatement.
Winning A Competition Was Not My Objective
As a way to kick off Reader's and Writer's Workshop in my 7th grade classroom I asked my students to write a poem to explain why they read. My students had mixed feeling about writing the poems, as poems are not their favorite genre to compose. Most of my students felt uncomfortable with writing poems because they felt that they were not poets. I read several books over the summer to prepare to implement a successful middle school Reader's and Writer's Workshop. The most powerful message I heard was that middle school students love choice. So to ensure my students would have choice and in order to combat their discomfort I decided to allowed my students to write any type of poem. They were so excited about having choice that they spent several minutes chatting to their peers about what type of poems they would write. Now, this was a special moment in my class for two reason Suddenly I was able to get a glimpse into what my students understood about poetry and they were talking about what types of poems they would write. We were officially in the planning phase. My 7th graders were excited and curious. That is a lethal combination for middle schoolers.
Another powerful message I heard as I explored how to implement Writer's Workshop in my classroom was to write right along my students. So I promised my students that I would write a poem about why I read right along with them. Finishing the poem was a weekend assignment and we all left the classroom on a mission. Something happens to me as a person when I promise someone something. Whatever I promise usually stays on my mind and the closer I get to the time I need to deliver my promise depending on what I need to do I may get a little nervous. As a teacher, I learned that when I promised my students that I would write the poem I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. There was a pressure that would not subside until I sat still enough to actually compose my poem. My students were an inspiration for me to write the poem as a result the poem came to me rather quickly. I wrote my poem out on paper and felt relieved once the last words were delivered.
Here is an Instagram post I wrote about it.
It Happens To The Best Of Us
On Monday I was excited to not only listen to my students read their poem, but also share mine. There was only one problem. I left my draft at home. I think out of 32 students 31 of them completed the assignment. Of all things that could happen I left my assignment at home. I felt like my students would not believe me if I told them I left my poem home. I'm pretty strict in my classroom about not showing up with assignments. I began to wonder how my students would react to me not having my poem. I began to panic and was actually relieved when I remembered I posted a copy on Instagram! My students poems were really nice and more over we enjoyed listening to each other's poems. My students enjoyed listening to my poem as much as I enjoyed listening to theirs. We went on to publish our poems to the Literature Graffiti wall, which is a place where I post student's work in the back of my classroom. I adapted my wall from a blogpost idea I found on Pinterest. Thank you katieknowskestutis.blogspot.com. I decided to publish the rest on our class Instagram There was something about the publishing phase that was missing.
Writing For A Larger Audience
After prayer one day my principal announced that Surayya Anne Jr., a local women's resource center, was hosting a Poetry Slam as a fundraiser. I immediately knew that I wanted to participate. Participating in the Poetry Slam would give me an opportunity to share my writing with an audience and not just store it in folder with the rest of my prose and poetry.
The Poetry Slam was exciting. It was held at Gyros by Ali. There were amazing poets there and I enjoyed the range of emotions the poets shared through their writing. Some of the poets wrote about lighter subjects like Kevin Durant's recent departure from Oklahoma's Thunder team. While other poets shared poems about death and religion. Each poem brought me closer to the remembrance that writing can be used for multiple purposes and one of the most important purposes of writing is to spread a message.
Performing my poem in front of an audience felt like a completion of the writing process. I had to read my poem from my journal because I never sought to memorize it. I made two mistakes because of nervousness and the lighting. Once I finished, I still felt a sense of completion. I was able to share a message that was important to me with my community members. A message that is near and dear to my heart and one that I hope would encourage others to embark on a journey and read. I won first place and I'm still shocked.
I now want my students to take their writing to the next level. We have all shared our writing with each other but we don't normally share our writing with an audience outside of our school. This brings me to the purpose of this blog. The Oklahoma Writing Project is hosting a writing contest. I encourage students to check out contest rules and contact me for further details. The Write to Win contest deadline is January 17, 2017 so don't delay.
I started a blog on Kidblog with my students and this post was originally posted on Dec 18, 2016. Since then one of my students entered her essay into the contest and won. Her prize for winning was the her essay was published in the 2017 Anthology of Winning Writing Students and Teachers of Oklahoma. To say I am proud of her is an understatement.