During the first week of school, I will often ask students if they did any writing over the summer. Almost universally, they will tell me “no.”
But I know this just isn’t the case. Most students write all the time; they just don’t know it!
Here’s a nice way to get students back into the writing zone, and help them shift into an academic mindset.
Step 1: Ask the question: Did you do any writing over the summer?
They’ll say they haven’t done any. But I’ll bet they’ve written thank you notes, or posted something on Twitter, or emailed a friend, or sent a text message! Students might not thinking of this as proper “writing,” but when a student writes a tweet, he or she is using many of the important writing skills we teach in the classroom. The student is organizing an idea in her head and explaining it. She’s thinking about her audience. She’s considering the proper format. This is what writers do, regardless of the task.
Step 2: Talk about the writing you (the teacher) did over the summer, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem: a list, a form, a lesson plan, a message online.
It’s important that students see YOU as a writer, just as they see themselves as writers!
Step 3: Here’s where you can introduce the shift to academic writing. “The writing you did over the summer is great practice for what we’ll be doing at school this year. Here at school we’ll be doing academic writing…”
Let them ease back into it. Remind them that they ARE writers already, and this year, they are going to get better and better at it.