It’s been a few days since I’ve posted another blog entry, but I must say I haven’t forgotten about it. In fact, I’ve been mulling a lot about it since I last asked myself my over-riding question – How do we motivate students to write better – become better communicators and, I suppose, tied up in all of that, motivate them to write about things they know about and enjoy the process. I think that last part is almost instinctively vital for most teachers – we want kids to enjoy whatever we ask them to do. I mean, “You aren’t going out for recess, until you write for 2 minutes straight!!”, is a strong motivator, but what quality will we get from that type of motivation? Will we end up with engaging writers, who show a passion for their topic?
And so since the last posting I mulled. Actually looked the word up and one might say the first two meanings are appropriate! Mull is actually an island off the coast of Scotland and I actually was on an island for a part of the week on a family holiday. Lots of time to mull. And mulling is a term used to heat and spice wine, for example! Ah, a glass of wine! Might be better for me than the Diet Coke my friend is always warning me about. But the mulling I was doing had more to do with “to go over extensively in the mind; ponder or ruminate”.
Now there’s a good word – ruminate – actually has some roots in a cow chewing its cud, over and over again as it moves it from one stomach to another, (you knew cows had 4 stomach compartments, right?) Well, they do and I suppose that’s a good metaphor for the ideas I’ve been tossing around about motivating kids with their writing.
And then, like that proverbial light bulb, I got another flash! Do we ever teach kids how to ruminate over a topic? If we did what would that look like? When we give them a “QuickWrite” are we doing the writer and the topic justice? Should they be allowed to ruminate or ponder a topic for a bit? What kind of writing would I produce if someone walked into my office one morning and held up a stop-watch and said “Write for 2 minutes!” What would I produce?
So I guess the question for today is “How important is pre-planning, thinking about one’s topic, pondering, ruminating (if you will) to the whole writing process? How is that done? How does it begin? Practically speaking, what does that look like in a classroom of 30 learners, all of whom have different likes, dislikes and abilities. What’s a teacher to do? And is this stage one or some other stage.
What do you think?
Come write with me!