I've read quite a bit of research over the past few years about reluctant writers, especially with boys. In his book Boy Writers, Ralph Fletcher talks about creating environments in which boys are more apt to take part in the writing process. This has weighed on my mind for years (and even more so after giving birth to a baby boy) and as each year has come to a close I look at the boys in my room and ask myself, "Did I get them excited about writing this year?" "Are they going to second grade with tools they need in order to be able to write creatively with and without a prompt?" "Would that young man choose to sit down and write over playing with his toys, watching a movie or playing the latest video game?"
So, I asked my boys in my classroom. There are 10 little guys and here's what a few of them said: "Well, Mrs. G., is blogging a choice? 'Cause if it is, can I do that?" Another little guy said, "Sure! Only if I can write about how my star wars guys attack Phineas and Ferb." And one of my favorites, "Are you talking about writing at home when my sister is bugging me, or here at school? Mrs. G., if you're talking about home---that will get me away from my sister!" Yes, yes that might solve the war with your little sister--and would make a fabulous story! ;)
I sat and pondered their responses, and though there might only be 10 in my room, there are just as many in Writing Club as well. That tells me that there is some interest among the boys in the entire grade level. The next question is, why did 8 out of 10 students say, yes they would choose to write over playing video games? The most common factor with them was blogging. They are writing and learning about what makes great writing, by putting a toy (technology) in their little 7 year old hands.
I was working with a small group of students and kept an eye on three of my boys at computers with their blogs this past Friday. To my amazement I started overhearing statements such as, "Hey, look at what I just did! How did you get those letters that big? Where is the color button? Read what I just wrote about! Will you show me how to add a picture to mine like you did in yours?" As tears started welling up in my eyes I approached the boys and said, "You got it! I am SO proud of the three of you helping each other learn and am impressed that you are taking charge of your own learning." That was the best teacher feeling---especially on a Friday.
Is blogging a way to hook our boy writers? In my opinion----you got it! Will it work for every little guy? Probably not, but if they are given the tools and the opportunity to grow, you never know what they'll be capable of. As I've talked with other teachers I've heard the common statements such as, "I don't have time. When would I fit that in? I can't take on one more thing right now." My response has been, "Let' look at your schedule together and what your latest writing lesson looked like."
We'll get there---one reluctant writer at a time, and I'm starting with the 2 in my room that still aren't ready to write over playing video games. :)