As so many of our teacher readers are starting back to school in the next few weeks, I thought it was an appropriate time to highlight a really great blog I’ve only recently learned about: Two Writing Teachers written by Ruth Ayres and Stacy Shubitz. I’ve reblogged one of their earlier posts, but I thought some of their recent entries were so helpful that I wanted to include them here as an “En la Clase” post.
Here at Vamos a Leer, our focus is teaching both Latin America and literacy. Our Book Reviews, Educator’s Guides, and ¡Mira, Look! posts all focus on books (with the hopes of encouraging reading) that engage with Latin American content. We haven’t posted quite as much about writing, an equally important part of literacy. As many teachers know, writing can be a difficult subject to teach. Writing isn’t always intuitive to our students, or even us for that matter. As someone who loves to write, I was surprised when it was one of the hardest things for me to figure out how to communicate to my students during my first year teaching. Writing is an art–so how do we teach it? I’ve heard many teachers say, “I’m not a good writer, so I don’t even try and teach my students.” It always hurts when I hear that.
At Two Writing Teachers they have some great resources about this exact topic. Recently, they’ve been writing about what I like to refer to as the ‘logistics’ of teaching and doing writing in the classroom. In the post Writing Supplies, Ayres discusses the connections between “procedures, routines and inspiration.” She writes, “Instead I was envisioning the possibilities for writing centers. I’ve come to believe when there is access to supplies, there is access to inspiration. When supplies and inspiration are available, stories, poems, and articles are not far behind.” She continues on to give some great suggestions for how supplies and organization can lead to more engaged writers in our classrooms. Definitely worth reading as we go back and begin setting up our classrooms and planning for a brand new year.
Another helpful post was written on Making Writer’s Notebooks Personal. Here Ayres discusses some of the more difficult aspects of using writer’s notebooks in an engaging and meaningful way in the classroom. I know I always struggled with how to make the most out of the writer’s notebook. She has some great suggestions. One of my favorites was “Keep a writer’s notebook for yourself.” How much more meaningful would it be to our students if they see us doing the same thing we’re asking them to do? And of course, as Ayres points out, “When we do it for ourselves, then we can begin to figure out the nuances. We know what makes us want to use our notebooks, and we can figure out how to use it throughout the process.”
I hope that you’ll find Two Writing Teachers as wonderful a resource as I did. To all of our teacher readers, good luck with the beginning of your school year! I hope that it is a year filled with exciting discoveries in both reading and writing for you and your students!