I am trying to focus my classroom instruction on authentic student writing this year. I feel that if students feel that they have a real audience, then they will craft better writing. I have devised several ways to publish their writing.
I recently signed my class up for ePals. This is a program that matches classrooms from around the world. Your students e-mail other students their age. They can share their history, experiences, culture, etc. You can also set this program up so that you and the other classroom work on a project together. I want my students to not only establish a relationship with their ePal, but to talk about the literature that they are reading. I am hoping that it will broaden my students’ thinking. If this is something that you are interested in also pursuing, I would visit their site at http://www.epals.com
I am also going to use amazon.com to publish my students’ book reviews. They can post the reviews on books they have read under an account that I created. The website allows them to select under 13 as an option. When that is selected, the review shows up as “Kid’s Review” so I don’t have to worry about them adding their name or any personal information. I have just started this project, and will post my classroom experiences soon. The title of the post will be Amazon Book Reviews.
Another project that I am going to start next month with my students is a Holiday Letter. Every year, my husband and I seem to get letter after letter from family members telling us about their year. It really is a “year in review.” It seems to me that this is just another form of summary writing, which, let’s face it, most students struggle with. I am going to have my students write their own Holiday Letter and then mail it to family members that they don’t live with. I then plan to piggy-back this with summaries later on in the year.
I am also looking to incorporate dialog journals into my class. Another teacher in my district and I have started talking about ways to share our students’ writing with each other. So far, she sent my students some writing to assess. I am hoping that this will lead to a dialog journal of some sort. I haven’t completely worked out the logistics yet, but it is something that I am excited about.
I really think that all of these authentic writing projects will help my students refine and polish their writing. At least, that is my hope!