I guess I’d suggest different strategies…

Beginning with (1) Write about what you care about — if kids can say what they want to say about the world, their world, whatever it is, they are more likely to do it. Which leads to (1a) suspend all subject judgment — don t worry if it’s violent, weird, amoral, crazy — not right now. Let them write.

Then (2) remove the structural barriers — let them dictate. Nothing changes the entry into writing faster than eliminating pencils, pens, even traditional keyboards. If they want to type on their phones, that is good. If they want to dictate to phone or computer (both Windows and Google Apps make this easy), that is even better. The words begin to flow.

Now, (3) forget words like “paragraph” and “well crafted” until kids are writing. Stop enforcing rules. Let words come. And (3a) expose them to rule-shattering text, from Kerouac to Joyce to DosPassos. Let them be free. You’ll have plenty of time to talk about audience later.

And finally (4) get them to write for each other, or for people they care about. Do not ask them to write for you.

  • Ira Socol

Author, Dreamer, Educator: A life in service - NYPD, EMS, disabilities/UDL specialist, tech and innovation leader for education. Co-author of Timeless Learning

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