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Teaching Writing like Elementary School Fine Arts

Teaching Writing like Elementary School Fine Arts

(Tilden Park Berkeley, California circa 2012)

Words are a carousel of consciousness. Of being.

This year I am teaching middle school writing! I love writing, especially poetry! In talking with one of my fellow special education teachers I learned more about myself as a teacher. We were talking about how some of the students that we teach in 8th grade do not know how to write complete sentences. We were talking about IEP (Individualized Education Plan) goals and what we can do to support them. 

At my virtual school, our classes are recorded so that we can see how other teachers teach. Additionally, we moderate several classes for our colleagues. I have always loved visiting other teacher friends' classrooms.

Lately, I have noticed that many of the writing teachers are focused on sentence diagramming for our students who don't know how to write complete sentences. I remember having to do that in elementary school and hating it. It was totally busy work. I didn't say that to my colleague though. I am focused on the gems of her lesson to encourage her. 

She asked me about my classes. She is visiting my class as a moderator as well. I then realized when I explained why we are doing poetry the heart behind what I teach. I told her that I want my students to fall in love with writing. I just love poetry so much and want to share my love for poetry with my students. I told her that the primary goal is to encourage my students to express themselves through writing. I want to help my students to cultivate their voices. 

Like fine arts, if we threw a whole bunch of technique at our kiddos many would be afraid to write. However, if like teaching fine arts in elementary school, we say, it is all about expression, then one plays, experiments, and keeps growing. When you fall in love with a subject or topics, you want to learn more. You are motivated to learn more. You want to develop your craft. As such, that is why I teach writing like teaching fine arts. Yes, we all need to learn the rules to break the rules. But what if we didn't know the rules and expressed ourselves anyway(s)? 

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