Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Encouraging a Reluctant Writer

Pudú and friend.

Came across this lovely blog post where a child who was a reluctant writer transforms into a versatile writer thanks to the blog her mum encouraged her to start.

Ana, my youngest daughter, is an artist. A creator. Since she was very little, she loved to make things. She is a collector of stuff. She sees possibility in every little thing that I attempt to throw away--old jars, empty boxes, buttons, and scraps of paper. In her eyes, everything can become something. Ana lives her life envisioning what she can make.

However, up until this year, Ana was also what I would consider a reluctant writer. She worked hard to avoid writing. Some years, during writing time, Ana would produce a few lines of text in an hour's time. She became quite skilled at avoiding writing.

One day, when Ana and I were chatting about blogs, I suggested she start a blog about the things she makes. I thought a blog like that would be great for others who liked to make things. Her eyes got wide and she said, "I can do that?" And off she went to become a writer.

Almost the minute I suggested it, Ana started her blog, Fun Things to Make. Within a few hours of that first conversation, Ana nagged at us until she had a blog, an avatar and a profile. Up until that point, she had no idea that she could write about the thing she loved best.

I watched Ana blog all summer. She blogged once or twice a week all summer and she wrote more in each post than she had written in the entire year. She came to care about her audience and she became fascinated in the world when she discovered the "stats" button on her blog. She checked her email for comments and found countries on the map that she had never heard of. I often found her thinking aloud about her readers, wondering if they would be interested in certain things she was making.

She learned to find copyright free images on Flickr and she learned to take her own photos that told a story. She learned to link and she began to read other kids' blogs. Last month, after discovering a great new store that sells unique crafts, she ran home to blog about it, knowing her readers would want to know about this great place, Wholly Craft. Later that day, she asked if she could do a video interview of the owner for her blog and emailed the owner telling her how much she loved her store and asking if she'd be willing to do an interview. Ana was thinking like a writer.

This year, Ana is in 5th grade and she is writing more than ever. She is writing poetry and narrative. She is adding music to her writing and collecting words she loves in the back of her notebook.

Ana learned so much from starting with something she was passionate about. Ana has a new confidence this year and I attribute so much of that to her blog. She knows herself in a way that she didn't before. She knows that she can work through challenges. She knows that she loves to make things but that the work that goes along with that is often hard. She knows that she can work through challenges and she knows that it will be worth it. Most importantly, she's found work that she loves and a community who cares about the work she does.

Watching Ana this summer has been a reminder to me about how important it is to give kids choice in their learning lives-to find what they love and to build on that. So much about this era of testing has compromised that one thing that is so important to a child's learning. If children are to find their passions, giving students choice and finding the things they love is key.
Read the entire post here.

Image Source : Lizette Greco

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