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Why We Write

Why We Write Contributors: Rebecca Holohan and Adeeba Rana To help students feel comfortable with and excited about writing; to set the tone in a new classroom. Optional Free Write Topic: No free write on the first day; free writes will be explained at the end of this class.

Name Game and Discussions


If it’s the beginning of the school year, play the Name Game: Get everyone in a circle. Say your name and do a funny gesture with it—e.g., a jumping jack or a disco move. Ask the person to your right to say your name and do your gesture, and then add their own name and gesture. Continue all the way around this circle. For instance, let’s say I yell ‘Catherine!’ and do a jumping jack. The next person would then have to yell ‘Catherine,’ do my jumping jack, and then add a move of their own. So we’ll assume Stephen does a fist pump. Then Person 3 would have to yell ‘Catherine!’ while doing a jumping jack, yell ‘Stephen!’ while doing a fist pump, and then add a new move to the mix. And so on and so forth until we make it around the circle. Note: If you think the students might find the name game lame (older kids often do), then just have them introduce themselves and answer a funny question or two like, “If you could be any age, how old would you be and why?” (I love that question. Answers range from the hilarious—“I’d be 97, so I could say anything I wanted!”—to the very sad—“I wish I were still in the womb.”) Clearing the Air: An Honest Discussion After playing the name game with your students, lead a discussion about the experiences students have had with writing.

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Step One: Go around the room and ask students to list bad experiences they have had with writing. Allow them to vent about how frustrating it can be when teachers use writing as punishment, for example.

Step Two: Encourage students to think of times they have enjoyed writing—maybe writing a note to a

friend or coming up with a unique MySpace profile—and discuss those experiences. What makes these things fun? What makes us like writing?

Step Three: Explain that these workshops are designed to be fun writing they want to do. Be sure to

mention that you won’t be grading these particular assignments based on grammar or spelling; this helps them participate more freely.

Step Four: Make a list of topics together that the students are interested in writing about, and use this to guide you as you select lessons and readings later on.

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The Cure for IDK  

The Cure for IDK isn't a typical lesson book. It is frank, funny, and full of lessons that are simultaneously entertaining and challenging....