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May 12, 2011

You know that kid who refuses to write?  We all have them.  They challenge us day after day to strategize new methods of coaxing (read: forcing) them into writing something.  Anything.

My challenge this year was a kid we’ll call Chris.  He started out the year putting his head down during Writer’s Workshop.  Every. Single. Day.  It wasn’t an act of outright defiance, but more a sign of his apathy toward writing.

I tried everything to get him going.  He brought in a baseball card (he loves sports) to tape in his Writer’s Notebook as a catalyst for writing.  I convinced him that mayflies were really cool and he could write a story about them.  Other students encouraged him to make lists or “write the room”.  Still nothing.

Finally, I emailed his mom, a kindergarten teacher at another school, to ask for help from her.  Surely he had written something before, right?  Wrong.  She said this was a problem that she had always struggled with.

One day, it turned out that Chris’s dad couldn’t bring him to school and the family was running late, so Chris had to go to school with his mom until she could bring him over to his/my school on her planning.  This was the best thing that ever happened for Chris’s writing.

That morning, the students at the elementary school were required to compose answers to a school-wide writing prompt.  Since Chris’s mom is an amazing teacher, she forced him to respond along with her kindergardeners.  She then brought me his response and we taped it in his Writer’s Notebook.  With some gentle nudging, he eventually took that piece through the entire process and published it on our class blog, where he got compliments and encouragement from several strangers.

This taste of success ignited Chris’s interest in writing.  He now regularly asks me when we’re having Writer’s Workshop and complains about the fact that our schedule prevents us from having it every day.

This is where I think blogging has really transformed my classroom: students want to write.  They have an audience and a purpose.  Chris is just one of the many students who have changed their views of writing this year, and I believe that our class blog is to thank.

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