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Joy Write Question 5

The series of posts for “Joy Write” refer to the title of the text our new Summer Institute participants are reading. This is a fabulous book that examines writing instruction, published in 2017 by Ralph Fletcher. Our SI participants are going to comment on the questions, but any reader is welcome to contribute (whether you have read the book or not).

 

From Chapter 4:

How does playing with writing factor into your teaching?

In what ways can you add more play into your writing classroom?

Do you ever play with your own writing?

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hello all –
    I think as Jen and I plan our summer portion, we will be adding some deliberate moments of “play” and I hope you are brave enough to step out of your comfort zone and at least give it a try! I’m so excited for our time together and feel like this is what the Institute is all about. Thinking and experiencing and reflecting on our strengths, while looking to new approaches!

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    June 11, 2019
  2. Tammy #

    It is unfortunate that with my 12th graders I think the play is all gone. They are so regimented in their writing process to simply answer the prompt, they commit themselves to high stake tests such as the AP Literature and Composition Exam that require an answer to the prompt or submit an essay answering the Common Essay Prompts for college admission applications, etc. I know I personally will play with my writing in my own unique way and I believe this is a worthy endeavor for all skilled writers to make their writing come alive. This year in the midst of a focus on writing for high stakes testing and applications I will encourage students to “play.” What that will look like I am unsure, but I know first and foremost I will be the model writing with them and for them and showing my ability to play and dabble with the paintbrush creating shades of meaning and language that is impactful and effective. We focused a lot on the anecdote or lead with our college essay writing and this would be a great place to dabble as the emphasis has always been to captivate your reader in the first few words of your essay. My words to them in early September are always, “Since college admissions experts read thousands upon thousands of essays, skill at making your essay memorable is key to writing a strong college essay and being accepted to the college of your choice.” Think this would be a great place to play!

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    May 18, 2019
    • Jason #

      It is interesting, too, Tammy that you bring this issue up of the resistance to play in writing. I have a hard time getting students to even play with generic conventions. For example, I spend the first part of the semester in my first-year writing classes trying to get students to unlearn five-paragraph essay structures, conclusions that restate the main point, and hamburger paragraph writing (among other formulaic writing structures). I understand why these get taught since so many teachers are teaching these formulas for writing tests and assessments.

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      May 18, 2019
  3. Meg #

    I will confess to being a rule follower, so I don’t think in terms of playing with my writing – I tend to be purpose-driven when I write, having no rules and being creative is out of my comfort zone,

    While I try to find ways to keep my students engaged in writing, a wouldn’t describe it as play. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how other might do this.

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    May 17, 2019
  4. janiceewing #

    I think that “playing with writing” can be interpreted and applied in broad ways. For example, writing a piece in one genre and then trying to express the same topic in another genre can be a form of play — not if it’s a forced exercise, but to get a feel for how it works best for the writer and the readers. I’ve done this myself, and with grad students and it can get writers to “play” with genres they don’t usually explore.

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    May 17, 2019
  5. Mark Schmidt #

    I’m a fish out of water on this one. I have been a content teacher for so long, I am going to have to really think about the ideas Fletcher proposed in this section. The concept seems easy enough to apply to writing, I just have little experience with it. Does anyone have any experience with making games out of writing?

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    May 17, 2019
    • Meg #

      I am looking for suggestions as well, this is the section I struggled with the most. I am glad to see that I am not the only “fish out of water” in this.

      Like

      May 17, 2019
    • Tammy #

      Hi Mark,

      Feel like a fish out of water here too. Will have to really think about how to implement the thought of play into writing with my mature, serious minded, GPA driven, college bound seniors in my English (Honors) and/or AP Literature and Composition classes. Think they might look at me strange if I invite an element of play into their writing at this stage in their school careers. Open-minded and looking for options to apply the element of “writerly play,” as opposed to conventional writing, Fletcher encourages and deems as necessary to be an effective writer. Our best work is produced from passion and play- to leap for joy and dance!!!

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      May 18, 2019
  6. Dan #

    My students love to explore and play with writing in the classroom, but admittedly, I focus so much on full processed pieces, and I don’t provide a lot of opportunity for just writing for writing’s sake (I’m working on it!).

    I liked the idea of lifting it, turning it, shaking it, tasting/smelling it, dropping it, etc. to get the students to fully understand the moves that they could make when trying to spark or elaborate on an idea that they have. Also, students may latch on to the idea of “play” rather than “forced” writing. The name alone seems way more fun than what some kids are used to.

    When I write with the students, I definitely “play” with my writing. I work on the same piece, usually, during each class, so I’m constantly manipulating it, changing things around, adding to it, etc. It’s all a part of the process.

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    May 17, 2019
  7. Sandy Shacklady-White #

    As for my own play in writing, I do a lot of research and writing for my job. I do play with it in small ways- use of structure, semantics, syntax, varied word choice, and yet be succinct enough. I would love to play some more in my own personal writing; it just doesn’t happen enough and I am hopeful this course will force me to ‘play’ as I have always wanted to write for others as well as myself. Time….

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    May 17, 2019
  8. Right now I live in two writing worlds- I play around in my personal writing from things I write in my journals, to blog posts, to instragram captions. In my professional writing for grad classes I turn into that student who wants it to be perfectly in line with that the professor wants and I don’t take any risks. I’d like to find a way to play more in this second type of writing, but I’m not quite sure how to go about it.

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    May 17, 2019
  9. Jason #

    Nope. Play does not factor into my writing nor my teaching of writing.

    I am open to learning strategies to incorporate play into learning and writing in meaningful ways. Fletcher notes that, “Play in writing is not just a nice idea—it’s essential” (30). I wonder what that looks like in practice though. He provides the Letter to Santa Claus and My Mom’s Jiggly Tummy as examples, but how does play happen within the writing process and within writing pedagogy?

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    May 16, 2019
  10. Abigail #

    I’ve been able to give the students in my creative writing class lots of opportunities to play. I like the challenge of finding places for my English class students to also play with writing. But admittedly, it is a challenge when we typically expect them to write about literature or learn the way to score well on writing portions of standardized tests. They do thrive as writers when they feel like there is room for play without all the rules and formats. They take risks! As a writer, I play around mostly with poetry. Poetry seems like the perfect place to offer students a chance to play with words and rules, and I am eager to explore ways to find play zones in other modes of writing.

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    May 16, 2019
    • Sandy Shacklady-White #

      I agree with you. There is a fine line between the need to address the aspects of the rubrics with the students so that they understand the expectations and thus, perform well on whatever assessments given & have proof you taught the student & they have learned it, with allowing time to simply play in writing. As a special ed teacher, I had IEP goals to address and often hose goals were on grammar and mechanics. Or the basic paragraph writing with some kids learning how to write the dreaded ‘5 paragraph essay’ by end of grade 8 so they are ready for high school….there’s that next year teacher issue and worry of being attached by high school colleagues…

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      May 17, 2019
  11. Kelly S. #

    I love playing with writing in creative ways, mostly through art. Like Sam, my students also thoroughly enjoy our poetry unit. They’re thrilled to break grammar rules and leave out periods and capitalization!

    I went to a really fun training on Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) and have since incorporated a lot of the ideas into my teaching over the years. One aspect of WBT that I have yet to explore is the playful writing. WBT has so many awesome ideas, like using hand motions to signal punctuation and using Legos to build sentences. I’d love to explore that further and incorporate it in the future.

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    May 15, 2019
    • Mark Schmidt #

      So I binge watched you tube videos about WBT after reading your post. Definitely highlighted the difference between secondary and elementary teaching! It’s funny though because I have been using some similar techniques. For example, if a student or students are off task, I have them repeat a practised phrase… Every second of class is like a precious drop of golden liquid that must not be wasted… Even though its a bit of a joke to them, it actually works to redirect their focus and attention.

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      May 17, 2019
  12. I definitely like to play in my own writing. Sometimes it’s playing around with grammar (breaking all the rules) when I’m writing poetry or pulling in new ideas that make my writing more unique.

    I try to allow some creative journal prompts to allow them to think in different ways, but I think my classroom could benefit from some more opportunities for creative play.

    Like

    May 15, 2019

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