Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Dry Spell?

I think of the students who say "I don't have anything to write about." I coax, I cajole, I tell them to get busy. But it nags me, could it be true?

I'm having a dry spell myself. The crush of this past school year. The end-of -the -year burn. I feel like I just want to lie in a hammock. So what about my students? How would I know if they really don't have anything to write about?

I say things like "write that you don't have anything to write about." Not original. Pliny the Younger said as much. Most of the time they are just not trying, right? Or just out of practice.

Could that be with all the practice of Twittering and texting and updating their status? Have they worn themselves out? Have we asked for so much writing they are tapped dry?

At any rate and back to my own dearth, I recall Franklin's charge: "Either write things worth reading or do things worth writing about." This summer I am headed on a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad to do research on West African Culture in Africa.

And it's the rainy season!

Image credit: "'Dry' Season Road." By hoyasmeg. 19 Feb. 2009. Flickr. Used by permission of Creative Commons License: BY.


Susan Stephens said...

I think you really have to know your students as to whether they are avoiding the task of writing or if they really have run out of ideas to write about. I do a journal entry every morning. On Monday's, I have the kids write about their weekends. Usually Tuesday to Thursday I give them a writing prompt. I have a whole notebook full of them and sometimes I even let kids pick the prompt for the day. On Fridays, I have Free Write. That is the day that I find kids just sitting staring into space. At the beginning of the year each student created a list of topics for writing in the back of their notebook. I encourage them to look back at their list if they are stuck or tell them to write about their book they are writing. For the most part, they are then able to come up with something to write. I really wonder if we allowed students to have their own blogging pages would we still have those students who "don't have anything to write about". Is it the paper pencil that they are tired of doing or is it that they really don't know what else to write?

ceyo said...

You make an good point and raise good questions. I'd like to think that we could let students write when they wanted to but not sure we could trust that they all would. Much wouldn't get done in this world if we all waited for our muse or just do what we felt like doing. So although compulsory writing activities seem artificial, they are relevant if we give students reasons and support and time.