I love our morning pages time! This is a nonthreatening way to engage all students in writing. Although at first, it might seem like it is for some. Morning pages is a time when students and teachers write each day for an uninterrupted 10 minutes.
When I introduce morning pages to my students I tell them we will all write for an uninterrupted ten minutes on a self-selected writing topic. Some students will jump straight in, while some will be puzzled and want to ask questions. They want me to tell them what to write, but I will say several times, “You can write about any topic.” Then I start the timer for 10 minutes. There is always a couple of students looking around, unsure of what to write. They may even try to talk to the person next to them, so I remind them that it is an uninterrupted time and we all should be writing. I resist the urge to keep replying to different questions. As the teacher, I want to make sure that all students are writing, but once I have given the instructions and responded to a few questions, I set the timer and start writing with my students. I model how serious our writing time is by focusing on my writing.
If after the first time we have tried morning pages, I see that some of the students are really struggling with coming up with a writing idea, before the next session, I will brainstorm with the class as many writing ideas as possible. I will record their ideas onto a large sheet of paper and keep that as an anchor chart that they can refer to during morning pages time. Students may suggest writing about places they have visited, special times, personal experiences, family, things they are thinking about, their emotions, etc.
Think of morning pages as a way for students to get their writing juices flowing! They can be done every morning before writing workshop time. They can be done at the start of the school day, or at the end of the school day. When I do this writing in the afternoon I call it Afternoon Pages. I would recommend a consistent time so that students see it as a daily activity.
In my opinion, student writers find it challenging to come up with good writing ideas. Writing morning pages is one way for them to gather a bank of ideas. Think of it this way, if students write for most of the school days in September, they could have potentially over 15 entries. Some of which could possibly develop into good writing ideas later on.
In a previous blog post, Preparing in July, I encouraged you to start taking pictures. Your collection of pictures can be used as another way to get your students’ creative juices flowing. On an Activboard/Promethean/Smart board show one of your pictures. If a student cannot think of a writing idea they can look at your picture for inspiration. We know that there will be days when some students will need a little help to get going! In the beginning a lot of the students may use the pictures as inspiration, but as time goes on they will begin to think of their own writing ideas.
Please feel free to add the two pictures in this post to your collection and
remember to keep taking pictures!
- When students write in their notebooks, I have them write only on the right hand side page of the notebook. If later on they want to go back and develop a previous idea, they can continue working on the idea on the left hand side page of the notebook. They can see the writing as a whole before they move to the next available blank right hand side page.
- I have my students write the date out in full so that they practice the correct spelling of the day, month, writing capital letters, and placing commas in the right places.
- I have my students start each morning page on a new page.