In our last post, we discussed celebrating both student writing effort and achievement. Writing can be a huge challenge not just for struggling writers but even for those who love writing in general. Having to start from scratch and staring at a blank page (or even an empty screen) can be very debilitating.
The terror of the blank page
- How do I begin?
- What will I say?
- How much do I care about a given issue?
- How will I ensure that what I’ve written is interesting/useful for others to read?
- What if others don’t like it?
- What if I don’t know enough about this topic?
- How would I strengthen my arguments or the viewpoints I share?
- How will I know that it’s good enough?
- How much effort do I need to pour into this?
- Should I plan my writing and how will I do that?
- What if I am drawing a blank?
These and many more questions plague the writer. But there is value in students learning and pushing through these hard questions in their writing journey. Being a complex activity, writing must be practised over time and in varied ways if ‘one is to develop a sophisticated level of competence’.
Getting out of the student’s way
How do we, as teachers, see our role in our students’ learning journeys?
Much as we may want to control many of the elements in the classroom, we are also challenged to get out of our students’ way. As Kathy Cote’ Rogers, a middle school teacher explains in 6 Aha! Moments on a learning journey: What’s your moment?, “my expertise may still be key to setting the stage for successful learning experiences, but that doesn’t mean that I have to control every aspect of the learning.”
Showcase high-quality work
As teachers, we would do well to ensure that we help students develop a portfolio of high-quality work that serves as irrefutable evidence that they are capable of writing. Such a portfolio would help students feel valued for their intellect, which in turn, would make them more willing to engage further and keep working on their writing.
Additionally, digital portfolios have been taking off in schools. It not only provides an opportunity to show growth of learning over time but allows the student to showcase their best work. A student’s digital portfolio can also bring some benefit long after their time in school.
If you are keen to explore building a digital footprint for your students, have a look through George Couros’s Resources on Blogs as Digital Portfolios. An educator, leadership consultant and author of “The Innovator’s Mindset”, George has put together resources on digital portfolios – what questions to ask before you implement, who owns the portfolio, reasons to do this and more.
Ways to get student writing published
In the spirit of celebrating student writing as well as finding new ways and places to get student writing published, here are a number of resources that may help you get your students’ writing out into the world.
1. The National Council of Teachers of English’s Student Writing Awards
Devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and the language arts at all levels of education, the NCTE currently lists three school-based programmes.
2. The Write Life’s article offering 32 free writing contests
Founded by Alexis Grant in 2013, this resource was developed as a go-to resource for writers. Their article, 32 free writing contests: legitimate competitions with cash prizes was updated in May 2019 and includes contests for fiction/non fiction writing as well as poetry.
3. Jeanne Wolz’s 50+ ideas for publishing student writing
A former teacher who has gone on to develop digital resources to help teachers work smarter and advocate better, Jeanne published a compelling set of resources in her article,50+ ideas for publishing student writing.
4. Poets & Writers – Writing Contests, Grants and Awards
Aimed at fostering the professional development of poets and writers, this nonprofit organisation in the US serves creative writers. They maintain a database of various creative writing contests including poetry, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels and more.
5. New York Times- The Learning Network’s 70+ places to publish teenage writing
The Learning Network provides resources for bringing the world into the classroom. Out of the classroom and into the world: 70-plus places to publish teenage writing and art was written by Katherine Schulten and updated in July 2019.
6. TeachThought’s article on tools to publish student work
Founded in 2012, TeachThought is dedicated to innovation in K-12 education. Their article, 44 diverse tools to publish student work shares 11 categories of digital tools to publish student work as well as a detailed infographic on the 44 tools for publishing student work.
7. Winning Writer’s resources and contests for students and educators
Winning Writers finds and creates quality resources for poets and writers. They maintain a long list of resources and contests for students.
8. Freelance Writing – writing contests
There are multiple categories including short stories and teen writing.
Let’s publish more student writing. Can you write a story that is exactly 100 words? Challenge accepted. Join us at www.storyathon.com
If you are aware of any other resources we could add to this list, please contact Rowena Morais at firstname.lastname@example.org
* resources current as at February 2020.