Whether it’s a small (yet so big) job like packing up, or a more challenging feat like resolving a conflict, we teach, prompt, provide tools, and prompt some more to nudge our youngest learners toward independence. In the final months of the school year, it’s difficult to not be in awe of what our once very needy writers can do. A glimpse into writing workshop will show kids navigating paper choices, referencing charts, tracking goals, persisting through tricky words, as they write, write, write.
Yes, there is so much independence to be celebrated at this time of year, as we get ready to send writers off into the world.
Perhaps the most important independence of all, though, — the kind of independence that transforms a kid who writes into a kid who is a writer — is the innate ability to see possibilities for writing everywhere, then to make decisions for how to bring the possibilities to life.
When something big happens in their lives, do kids make the memory last forever by recording a narrative? When kids learn how to make something new, do they think, Someone else would want to know how to do this, and craft a how-to book? Hoping to convince a community member, do kids rely on persuasive writing as a tool for making a change? Can kids think flexibly about a topic they want to write about, considering its power if written in different genres?
By now, kids have closely studied and can produce a variety of genres. But topic, in many cases of authentic writing, is chosen before genre. In fact, to a writer, choice of genre is as critical as choice of audience. So, writers need opportunities to choose all three: topics they are passionate about, genres they love, and a meaningful audience, and it is this time spent immersing in independent writing projects that we get to know writers best. Trusted with ownership of genre, kids make remarkable strides, are excited to write, and strengthen their identity as writers.