being a teacher, Student-centered, writing

Student Feedback on Writing

On our last day of school I like to pull out the student questionnaires from the first day of school and have the students revisit them.  We laugh over some of the things we wrote, we share what we still believe our strengths are and then the students tell me what they still don’t like about school.  How often do we ask students that?

As we went around the circle one thing was made abundantly clear; writing was not a favorite subject.  Writing!  These students who have blogged more than 700 posts, blown me away with their superhero creations, and handed out heartfelt thank you letters to all of their teachers, they hated writing.  In the past, I would have shrugged and not thought further of it, “Oh well, I tried…”  But this year I asked them to tell me why and how I could fix it.  So here are some of the ideas my 5th graders gave me:

  • Let one of the daily journal prompts be a complete free write (easy!)
  • We use the 6 traits curriculum so every week focus on one specific skills also in their journals.  They can write about whatever they want but what we are looking to improve is that one skill.
  • Give them more time to delve deeper into their stories.
  • Have a culminating writing project (which we did this year) but make it free choice.
  • Once a week do a pop definition hunt of a word where students are not allowed to use computers.

As I look at this list I see two things; free choice and how easy all of this would be to implement.  So once again I remind myself to give the students time to speak, to add their voice to the curriculum, and then to actually follow through.  I am already excited to add some of this to my writing next year.

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