My greatest challenge as a student teacher was that I was passionate to teach writing with journaling, but I knew many students came from low socioeconomic households. My dedication was strong, as I was committed to showing students the satisfaction, pride, and confidence that would come with publishing their writing. As I began my student-teaching placement, I chose to focus on creating writer’s notebooks with my fifth-grade language-arts classroom. I wanted students to have a journal, but I didn’t want to ask students to buy more supplies. To overcome the challenge, I bought three packages of lined paper, and I used a stapler to bind together students’ work.
Planning My Lesson
My objective was to bring students through the writing process as I taught similes and metaphors, which I had covered previously with a slideshow I created, Defining Similes and Metaphors. I didn’t introduce the idea of publishing students’ writing right away, but giving publishing as a goal could have encouraged some students to stay organized. On the first day, I handed out writing prompts, with one prompt for each day of the week. Using books about journaling that I had found in my university library, including several Lucy Calkins books, I chose humorous, imaginative prompts to introduce students to creative writing. Personally I aspired to create a spark of inspiration in students who might not have normally participated in my lessons. With the writing prompts, I gave students topics that they could relate to, regardless of their socioeconomic status. I built on students’ prior knowledge to help all students access the lesson.
Teaching Students to Think of Themselves as Writers
On the third day of my lesson on the writing process, I asked students what they thought publishing meant. Several students responded that adults publish writing with books, such as the textbooks the students read in school. I showed students they could become published writers without becoming textbook authors. When I introduced the idea that students would publish writing that they had already begun, I sensed a growth in confidence. Several students were proud of what they had started, and having the goal of a finished product excited them.
Giving students a rubric to self-evaluate their work, I explained that they would expand on a response to a prompt with a three-paragraph essay. At the end of the week, when students finished their writing, almost the entire class showed an effort to write creatively, and many of the the students used the proper amount of similes and metaphors. Teaching with a small budget as a student teacher, I could only afford very basic writer’s notebooks, but students learned so much with a few simple supplies. As I carry this lesson into my future teaching experiences, I have learned that students can develop literacy skills with the simplest of supplies.