When I began my journey towards Writing Wednesdays, my educational goal seemed fairly simple: to develop a year’s worth of standards-aligned creative writing lessons that would challenge students to move beyond writing formulas in order to recognize the deliberation that goes into writing choices.
It became almost immediately obvious, however, that Writing Wednesdays went beyond targeting writing standards. By encouraging students to grapple with individual literary components of the writing process at length – genre, setting, conflict, organization – Writing Wednesdays were giving students the tools they needed to become more thoughtful readers as well. Within weeks, students were making significant progress in their analytical skills, moving beyond simply summarizing the literary elements employed by an author to instead exploring the effect of those elements on the reader’s understanding – one of the hardest skills to teach developing readers.
But even when we factor in the role of Writing Wednesdays on reading skills, the value of the approach remains understated. When I began integrating Writing Wednesdays into my regular instruction, I found that they can be used to support a wide-range of academic skills, including vocabulary acquisition – both technical and elevated – rhetorical analysis, visual literacy, and more. Today, for example, my students were completing the “Inspired by a True Story” lesson from our upcoming Writing Wednesday book, Artfulness. As part of the activity, my students engaged in the following non-writing skills:
- Dramatic interpretation
- Social media literacy
- Rhetorical analysis
- Visual literacy
And the above skills were in addition to the primary focus: narrative writing.
What began as a tool for stretching my students as writers has revealed itself to be a tool for targeting nearly limitless academic skills. And because the lessons are designed to be flexible, they can easily be adapted to suit whatever skills we seek to teach, stretching their utility in the classroom even further. And the best part? Students love them!
When I began my journey towards Writing Wednesdays, my educational goal seemed fairly simple. It turns out, I was wrong, but in all the right ways. As I work to finalize Artfulness for publication, I’m excited to see what new discoveries are out there, and look forward to hearing from other teachers about how Writing Wednesdays have worked for their students as well.