Last week, my seventh graders typed expository paragraphs out in the computer lab. We just started a Media Literacy unit from Springboard. Honestly, I was dreading the product. Expository writing can be as dry as the hills. But one of my goals this year was to model writing more in front of my students. I really don’t mind doing it, but I usually use student models from previous years. Kids would much rather read about Joey sneaking out of the house or getting his first deer than reading what their teacher has to say. They also love to shout out, “Hey, that’s my cousin!” I do teach in a small town. But I’ve found that when I show them my example, even though they often look like they are watching paint dry while I read it out loud to them, something very weird has been happening. It has been making them write better. I know this because I’ve been teaching writing for twelve years now; my intuition knows these things.
All of the writing experts say that one of the most powerful things that you can do as a writing teacher is to write in front of your kids as well as regularly sharing your writing with them. We are the experts, the best writers in the room. And it’s true. I watch my seventh graders imitating my sentence structure or trying some specific examples that make them more vulnerable. As a result, today, they wrote some really cool expository paragraphs. And I was so proud of them. Every day is not like today, so I relish those days when I go home and feel like we really moved some mountains together.