Slice of Life: Choice Writing Time

Some folks out there might know I’ve been at work behind a writing initiative for my school district. The answer is yes! I have big and grand plans for what I think my colleagues and students and I can accomplish, if only we put faith in ourselves and align our instruction with our philosophical and moral compass. Which sounds lofty and wonderful. But that’s not why I’m writing today.

This year is about NOT asking much. This year is about little things that accomplish a lot. This year, the focus is on low-investment, high-reward tweaks and changes. This year, classroom teachers are only asked to do two things:

  • Post a copy of a school-wide Writer’s Creed (more on that in another post)
  • Spend 15 minutes a week letting kids write whatever and however they wish.

That’s all.


You and I may both be well aware that it might not end there. We might both realize that once students get a sense of freedom, of autonomy, of choice, of trusting themselves…they may not want to let it go. And we might both realize that once teachers get a sense of the power that comes from offering said freedom, autonomy and choice, THEY may not want to let it go.

…but you didn’t hear that from me.

Anyway, I’ve been in several classrooms now to introduce writing time, and it’s been a blast. I’ve gone in with my notebook as well, writing right alongside students and teachers. So today, for your reading pleasure, I bring you glimpses of the kiddos I inevitably see from class to class, the kinds of kids we find in every class when it comes to writing time. Cheers! Let’s make a toast to these loveys:

  • The sitters-and-thinkers
  • The lookers-at-their-neighborers
  • The write-a-bit-and-give-a-quiet-gigglers
  • The dogged starers at empty pages
  • The spend-half-their-time-finding-better-spots-to-sitters
  • The earnest pencil movers
  • The just-can’t-keep-it-to-themselvesers
  • The all-of-a-sudden-and-repeated-emergency-bladder-havers
  • The can-I-ask-you-if-this-is-right-ers

All of them. All of these friends – and more! – have a space at our writing table. I observe them from classroom to classroom, and I can’t help but feel love and excitement for what’s to come. As the year goes on, I cannot wait to see what they bring. Buckle up. It’ll be a fun ride.

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

10 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Choice Writing Time

  1. In a day, I feel like all of these kids–sitter, thinker, over-active bladder-haver, etc. Cheers to 15 minutes of writing freedom. Truly radical. I feel love and excitement for your new venture!

    1. Ha! I’m right with you. I definitely am LOTS of these kiddos from time to time. Guess it depends on what genre I’m writing to figure out which type of writer (or which stalling tactics) fit…

  2. 15 minutes a week is not asking too much from any classroom teacher and definitely not cut into anyone’s curriculum, but oh what benefits it will reap for all.

    1. I’d definitely agree! There are folks who haven’t bought in yet – aren’t there always? – but I’m hoping they’ll see the excitement and joy it brings others, and realize there might be something to it all.

  3. I love the energy and enthusiasm of your post. I’m also intrigued by your Writer’s Creed, and I’m definitely looking forward to hearing how this all unfolds in your district. Happy writing!

    1. Thank you! I’m just amazed by the energy and enthusiasm some of my colleagues have brought. They, and the students, astound me regularly. =))

  4. I’ve met all of these students! Today one of my students could not sit still . . . needed lots of direct questions to stretch out his ideas. Was on the move constantly . . . This post was encouraging. We all come to our thoughts in different ways at different paces.

  5. I just adore the work you’re doing this year, Lainie!

    I’ve seen my fair share of sitters-and-thinkers, lookers-at-their-neighborers, spend-half-their-time-finding-better-spots-to-sitters, dogged starers at empty pages, earnest pencil movers, just-can’t-keep-it-to-themselvesers, and — of course — the all-of-a-sudden-and-repeated-emergency-bladder-havers! I love the idea of the write-a-bit-and-give-a-quiet-gigglers. That’s kind of adorable!

    As for the can-I-ask-you-if-this-is-right-ers… I am pretty sure Amy’s next Tip for Tomorrow will address just this! (Maybe you can share it with your colleagues once it drops.)

    1. Thanks, Stacey! I’m beyond excited for my colleagues and students. It’s something I believe in really strongly, and it feels amazing to be a part of it.

      And yes, I LOVED the “Tip for Tomorrow” podcast. Already tagged a bunch of my colleagues! At some point, I’ll spend time diving in to perfectionism and how it rears its ugly head (and in SO many ways)…

    2. Thank you! I *did* share the podcast with my colleagues, as a matter of fact! And there is a LOT to be said on the “is-this-right”-ers. There’s a lot to unpack there, given that it comes from so many directions!

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