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I just finished this book a few minutes ago. The fact that I'm ignoring my hungry belly to write this post and tell you all about it speaks to how much you need to read it too.
Ralph Fletcher asks his readers to consider whether today's writing instruction is downloading into our writers a writing identity.
- Do they see themselves as writers?
- Do they write for their own purposes?
- Is it a joy and a privilege to pick up a pen and write to communicate, to think, to problem solve, to simply play?
When Fletcher describes the typical reluctant writer, I have to admit that I know this child, and he's in my classroom every year. He's likely in yours too.
So what do we do about this huge dilemma (because that's truly what it is). Fletcher challenges teachers to consider the benefits of low-stakes, informal writing. He refers to it as "greenbelt writing." (Buy his book and you'll find out why.) He's not asking us to abandon writing workshop, although in his ideal world, he'd challenge us to rethink what writing workshop looks like, but he is asking teachers to offer our students time throughout the day to simply play with writing, to make all the choices, with no strings attached.
Engagement, stamina, joy...these are just a few of the benefits Fletcher says our writers will receive from this kind of writing. Isn't this what we've been wanting for our writers all along?
Buy this book and read it before the new year begins. Your writers will be glad you did!