My mind wanted the serenity of summer and its clouds, but I kept thinking about the days of as a location to redirect where one hopes to go.
As a result, when we did Kelly Gallagher's One Topic = 18 Topics prompt from the first chapters of Write Like This, I chose Chitunga as a subject and realized that there are at least 18 topics to write about. Later, after I did the egg activity for teaching perspective, I realized there are even more topics, depending on whose point of view I wanted to wrestle with.
The critique of Gallagher is that one topic might freeze a writer to be overwhelmed with all the possibilities and that a more direct, succinct writing prompt would be better for reluctant writers. My work with ESL students, too, make me apprehensive of giving too much freedom. I began to think more critically of genres and how important it is that students have plenty of opportunities to compose in a wide variety of genres so they know what to do to hold their thoughts in place. Sometimes there is a poem. Maybe there's a short story, or an Op-Ed piece.
My argument refutes the whole language, open writer's workshop approach because it benefits students to spend several weeks exploring a particular writing genre. I wonder how often our schools offer instruction in the vast ways individuals write throughout the academic years. What do we do to kids when the only expected writing is a perennial research report and/or a piece of literary analysis? How much do we encourage youth to see the vast outlets for written expression and the patterns of genres - social glue - to participate in communities BEYOND school? To me, the best schools offer opportunities to explore the power of writing in multiple ways.
This blog is an example. It's a place to capture my free-for-all meandering, and it is read by some people. Still, it is a location to write through my thoughts, to write about the 'why' that matters (in reference to Huber's prompt), and to organize first ideas I have in my head.
What happens when we don't teach kids to write their ways to knowing? I think it is simple - they don't know what they think or how to think because they've been provided too few opportunities to learn how to do it.
For this reason, I continue to be an advocate for teaching students to read like writers - to find out what they know by asking them to compose. If we don't do this, we fail to teach them how to think.
I also noted that brainstorming is key and beneficial, but students, like me, also need lengths of time to actually write - this is the one thing none of us ever seem to have and what we need to find time for every day. It's a discipline that I feel is totally underserved in the ways we're expected to reach a new generation. This has to change.