A Double Challenge in the March Writing

This year as the March challenge approaches I am caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

I am excited to write myself since I have fallen off in the last few months and so am working hard to get my writing back up to speed.

I am frustrated because I want my students to write as well this year.   My fourth grade classroom last year wrote just for ourselves and it was a great experience.  The daily writing practice was great for my students (and for me!)    My two classes this year are struggling with putting words to paper and the attitude I get from them is huge.  This task of writing is very difficult for many of my students who are working below grade level.

I am mad because of TESTing.   Since many of my students are performing below grade level it is the expectation that I stay on task with what will be on the test this spring.   ( We have a new state test and the difficultly level has gone way up making it even harder for my students of poverty to catch up.)

I am curious.   Can I take the March Challenge – a Slice of Life and push just a bit to have students get the benefit of daily writing but also be practicing skills and vocabulary that I must work with them on daily.   What if our slice of life in not so open but needs to include a metaphor, or simile?  What if I ask for one slice to be a non fiction article about something they know well in their life and one to be taking some moment in their life and changing it into realistic fiction?   Can I have them be writing short pieces that connect to themselves and the curriculum that I am being told I must do?

So begins the thinking about the double challenge –

One can I get them excited and wanting and willing to write daily.

Two can I tweak the open write to something that will link into the concepts in reading, writing and language skills that I must connect to but still leaving room for my students to make that personal connection that makes writing valuable to us.

The whirlwind has begun – ideas are welcome if you have thoughts on how I stay on the straight and narrow test prep path and still provide my students with the in depth writing I know a March writing challenge would provide please let me know.

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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2 Responses to A Double Challenge in the March Writing

  1. mayawoodall says:

    Where there is a will (like the one you have), there is a way. You answered your own question–embed a little of what you know they will see on the test (literary language, various sentence structures–shoot, even have them underline the pronouns). I think you know your way. I just wish I were ready to have my students slice and do all the stuff I have to do (writing project presentation at a conference, dept. head, mom, wife, etc.). You’ve done it before, and you can tweak it an do it again. Kudos to you for keeping on the path you know you should be on.

  2. Thank you so much for encouraging me to say yes to the challenge and see what happens! Here we go.

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