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*Each week, I have a post entitled “Thursday Thoughts.” This is where I take time to explore the deeper parts of life like creativity and God and stuff. Enjoy!

This week’s Thursday Thoughts post is inspired by my class I took for professional development. It is about the reading-writing-language connection and is designed specifically for middle school/high school foreign language teachers. It’s called a “mini-institute!” Cute, right? It’s what I did all last week and I was very into it! I’m a little nerdy and an idealist and love love love learning, so this was an ideal situation for me.

This class was mainly on writing and got me to think about what I believe about writing. There can be something so freeing about writing. It is a channel in which one communicates and makes connections. There is so much to be learned by writing and about writing. I think it is a tool and a process to be studied and appreciated.

I’m still trying to organize all that I learned during my class, but I shall share one concept that I find totally interesting and potentially perspective changing as has been the case for me.

Rhoda Maxwell has done extensive work on examining the different kinds of writing, their function, and how that benefits students. He identified 3 levels: Level 1, 2, 3. Easy right? Here is a little graphic organizer to help explain:

Level 1                        Informal

writing for self, teacher, or peer group

note-taking, journaling, lists, brainstorming, etc.

graded for content only or not graded at all

Level 2 More formal

reports, multiple drafts, blogs

evaluated for content and mechanics

Level 3 Formal and polished; error-free

Books, research papers, final drafts

Turns out level 1 writing is totally legitimate. It is important to have LOTS of practice in this informal, low-stakes level 1 writing before you can successfully move on to revising, or level 2 writing. It’s important to let your guard down and little and just write things for your own memory. Writing things, even as trivial as a shopping list, helps get your ideas out and forces you to think and begin to organize. Now if we applied this kind of thinking to the classroom and provided lots of opportunities in level 1 writing, students may be able to better learn how to think critically, better organize their thoughts, and write in the level 2.  So cool! Or maybe not cool at all…I think I am a nerd in disguise.

This class got me to thinking more about my own writing. As the best kind of teacher/mentor is the kind that has already done/is doing the tasks she asks of students, we did a lot of our own level 1 writing during our weeklong class. A few months ago, I would not have considered myself a writer whatsoever. I do write. I can write. But I am not a writer. True, I’m not a professional writer and don’t have any real aspirations for monetary compensation which makes me an amateur. As my fiancé has said on many occasions…One of the definitions of amateur is doing something for love. You do it for love of the activity and are not motivated by the prospect of money. Yes, I am an amateur writer. Yes, I am a writer.

Why do I now boldly say that I am a writer and did not a few months ago? A few months ago, I got to this point where I was tired of thinking “I wish I was more creative” and “I could be so creative if only I was in a certain mood.” I was presented with a program on exploring creativity called the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I have had an interesting time moving through it. Currently, it is shelved but its impact on my perspective has stayed.  Through this approach, I have been intentionally getting to know my “inner artist.” A couple of weeks ago in the guest post on creativity, Emily brought forward the line people (and sometimes I) have used: “I’m not an artist.” or “I’m not creative.” As she so eloquently put it, since we are created by God in His image and likeness, each of us is creative. We are able to “transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, and create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations because God does.” We are creative.

This means we can do things like writing and we have the capacity to do them well…eventually, if not right away. I’m finding that my mindset has often discouraged me from letting my own voice speak. I take in a lot of information (like reading) during my day, but sometimes I don’t let my own voice out. What do I think about this or that? Writing, I am finding, is a fantastic tool to just be bold and try something creative. I created words on a page that were not previously there. I formed ideas. I told a story. Whatever. It doesn’t matter if it is good right away.

In the last few months, my prayer has become “Lord, I’ll take care of the quantity if you take care of the quality. Father who created everything, I will try and put myself out there and I beg that you make my efforts worth something.”

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