I changed my mind today. We were prompted to write about our story about something that bugs us. I had decided a few days ago that I was going to write for my “WriteNow” once again about interpretive dance, and my bugs about social stigmas, and the arts being neglected, and how we waist space. However, today I realized, that I’ve already shared most of those stories. If you want to read about them here are a few post I’ve done: “I Challenge ID to Dance,” “The Lost Hallway,” “Equal“. I still care deeply about those topics, but I felt like I was retyping old news to a new source. Instead I wanted to act like I was just adding a post to my blog, and therefore, I want to write about something I haven’t yet shared.
Yesterday many innovation diploma students started and some even finished their WriteNows. For many students yesterday, they still had this bad connotation with the word “WriteNow”, and they were struggling to write because they felt the pressure of being graded. Margret shared a presentation in ID today about her experience with writing her WriteNow, and after our discussions today, I realized that I needed to pivot my topic. The current story I want to tell is about how we write at school.
Yesterday, I posted my reflection on writing for 100 days in a row, and I think that helped start this train of thought; “Writing is thinking. It allows you to know what you are thinking. If I have learned anything from blogging, it is how I found that even when I couldn’t think of anything to write about, there was still something to write about, because there is always something to think about. Writing captures thoughts; thoughts are stories; and stories bring ideas.” If writing is just a way to organize your thinking, why is it that some students hate WriteNow?
The old way we did WriteNow was all about using facts to answer the prompt that you were given. Your true opinion and personal writing style weren’t all that important as long as you knew how to write in the exact format that would get you an A. I hated WriteNow time last year as much as any other high schooler at MVPS, but I don’t hate writing. I just blogged for 100 days in a row, so what made that writing exciting and not feel like wasted time?
To be blunt, I don’t think students were ever taught from school how to enjoy writing. At school writing was always about learning the exact format you need to use in order to get a good grade. Writing was just about learning how to work the system. You could forget about wanting to express yourself, or trying something new in your writing, because you never knew what a teacher would think of it. Writing should be about expressing yourself though. In my opinion stuff like grammar and spelling are only important to the extent of people being able to understand what it is that you are trying to say. The more important thing is to get your story and your thoughts out there into the world for someone else to hear.
When I blog I’m not concerned about a grade. I don’t care if I’m not writing in a 5 paragraph essay format. No one complains about me not indenting each paragraph. And yet, when I blog I know for a fact that people are hearing my thoughts. With WriteNow sometimes I may never get any feedback, and when I do it usually is just about how well I followed a rubric. But when I blog, people comment and like my post within minutes sometimes, and the feedback is always based off of what they thought of my ideas and opinions. My posts have inspired conversations even in New Zealand, and it is because of what I write, not about how I write it. Most of my WriteNows were barely read by one teacher. Plus, some people have even commented that my grammar and writing skills have actually gotten better as I continue to blog, and it has nothing to do with being graded, because I’m not getting a grade. Even the WriteNow I’m writing this very instant had a rubric attached to the document which made me want to gag. I don’t want to think about a grade. I want to think my thoughts, and not feel pressured to change my writing based off of how someone else expects me to write. If I truly believe and care about what I write, that is what will benefit my later writing. This isn’t just my thoughts either. Most of the Disney Cohort all had similar opinions.
I want WriteNow’s to be a time where I can write about what I care about. I want to know that my thoughts won’t just be graded and then neglected forever. I want my writing to start conversations around the world. I want my writing to inspire me and others to go do something. I want the rest of the high school to feel passionate about writing. With this in mind, I had an idea.
Most of the ID members already blog, and soon the rest of the high school will also be encouraged to blog about their observations. Blogging is writing, and blogging is writing about your observations and then your opinions and thoughts on them. I want my WriteNows to feel like my blogs, so why can’t my posts be my entry for each week? What if we redesigned the way WriteNows were done so that it was really about the students’ opinions? Each week students would blog about their observations through out the week. Then at the end of the week, students would pick one of their entries to submit as their “WriteNow” for that week.
As I understand it, the purpose behind WriteNows is to get kids to practice writing and encourage thinking. As of now, WriteNows just put fear and dread into the hearts and minds of students. I’ve previously hated WriteNows, but this time our only prompt was to share our story about something that bugs us. We were encouraged to talk about our thoughts and opinions basically any way we wanted to. The only real requirement was that you had to write. I chose to just write my story like I would any other blog, and this is by far my most favorite WriteNow that I have ever written. I actually excited and enjoyed writing it. I want the rest of the high school to also enjoy writing, so why don’t we get rid of the stress of a rubric and writing in a specific format? Why can’t we just write? Why do the grades matter? Why does the format matter? Why does the topic matter? How might we make WriteNows feel like just another blog post?