Writing Workshop in ELA9

Posted on May 21, 2016



It has been a tough spring. The death of former student/GSA President, Saje Nieto, in February and the the death of my mom, Vera Eddy, in March has made it nearly impossible for me to write. ANY energy I have had for writing has been put into writing and revising a professional article that was due the day after Mom died. Final revisions were done this week, and it was a struggle, but it has been submitted.

However, there has been LOTS of amazing writing going on around me. This spring, AHS embarked on an all-school Interdisciplinary Unit based on Land Ethic. In ninth grade English, we learned about Charles Darwin’s struggles to publish On the Origin of Species through a beautiful and captivating film, Creation, (Jon Amiel, 2010) then we looked at the culture wars over evolution in the play, Inherit the Wind. While we studied literature in class, we also tried some Field Notes outdoors–following Darwin’s example of learning from observing nature. We also learned about Aldo Leopold’s concept of Land Ethic and read some of A Sand County Almanac. Then, we started writing.

We’ve been working on a piece of writing–the ONLY one this year–which is untouched by standardization pressures. The students have chosen the genres they want to write and the audience they want to write for, and they are writing a piece that is inspired and influenced by things they’ve learned by studying several examples of the genre. Though not required to write about Land Ethic, students have reflected on their use of their field notes in their written pieces as well as the Land Ethic conveyed by the piece and/or the characters in it–as we have with each text we’ve encountered this trimester. In this way, I have preserved creative control over the writing for students.

Yesterday was the due date, and everyone was hard at work, putting on the final touches and preparing to submit their work. I’m preparing a website where we’ll publish all the pieces online, but in the meantime, I want to take this moment to celebrate the 100% ENGAGEMENT in the learning process on view in the photos below. When students have voice and choice in their writing, they are fully engaged. This is why I love Writing Workshop. I hope that soon, it will once again be the bread and butter of all ELA classes rather than the tiny taste of dessert after a huge meal of standardized testing.

Maples are writing fairy tales, short stories, scrapbooks, poetry, illustrated children’s books, plays, and musicals! I am looking forward to grading these projects! Go Maples!


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I hope that this blog signals my return to weekly posts. I’m glad to be back.

Update: Read Student Projects Here. Enjoy!