"Don't go in there yet!" my six year old son, Alex, warns me as I walk into the office, where he is cutting paper. He scurries into the living room to finish his project, then beckons, "Okay, come in now!"
This is what I find. A banner of papers taped together, with emoji looking hearts and happy faces. Then, signs and books he has created (I'm partial to the "I love mom" one). He reads me a book he made, The Hat Book. The first page says, "A red hat" with a picture of a red hat. The next page says "Family" and Alex leaps up to get a pen to revise his work and add the word "hat." He is so proud of what he has created.
This is why I'm a "Pantser" and cannot plan out Slices. I was thinking about writing something else entirely different tonight, until I walked down the stairs and had this experience with Alex. I am thinking about how my son loves to write for his own purposes. Imaginative and inventive, Alex often searches for paper to tell his stories or ideas. Often while playing, Alex uses writing in personally meaningful, motivating ways. The same boy will hide, moan and groan and procrastinate at homework time. I wonder how he would have fared in my kindergarten writing workshop, where I required students to write "personal narratives." I think Alex would have hated that and might have drawn an epic bad guy battle, like so many of my former students used to do, to my teacher-confusion. Now, as a mom, I see how my son uses story and writing to construct his play and how limiting it might have been to expect all students to approach writing the way I asked.
Earlier today, I wrote a grant proposal for our PTA. They are offering up to $150 for individual teachers. I've been wanting to develop a writing makerspace in my classroom after reading Angela Stockman's book Make Writing: 5 Teaching Strategies That Turn Writer's Workshop Into a Maker Space. The TWT Voxer group I am part of has discussed writing makerspaces too, and it feels like an innovative way to make writing workshop feel just like it did for my son tonight- a place to use writing to create your vision. A place where you can get up, move, use different tools and materials and make something that means something to you.
My grant proposal asks for a pegboard and a system to hang up pegs. In pictures from Angela Stockman's WNY Young Writer's Studio, you can see how a pegboard would be a perfect place to store all different kinds of materials used for creating.
|Picture from WNY Young Writer's Studio|
When I was a new-ish teacher, Multiple Intelligences was the buzzword. Writing makerspace would be a place that could tap into several different intelligences instead of just verbal/linguistic, which you would typically see in a regular writing workshop. With writing makerspace, you would make room for kids with visual/spatial intelligence, possibly musical/rhythmic, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Kids who might be reluctant writers could get to the writing through creating, which might be another doorway into the process.
I am still learning and envisioning how this all might look in my classroom and I don't know if I will be awarded the grant. But seeing my son's pride and excitement at what he created, how his words and pictures sent a powerful message of love to me, reassured me that it is a worthwhile goal to create a place for students to be able to "make writing."
(Side note: I was so touched by the comments on my post yesterday. I feel very fortunate to be a teacher-writer in this supportive and kind community of educators who write. It is a safe, welcoming place and the comments really meant a lot to me. So thank you! It was a better day.)