Freedom. Rigor.


Workshop day

Workshop day.

Providing choice doesn’t decrease rigor. 
Sometimes, outsiders think that because my students have a choice in their reading and their writing, our class is “easy.”

Today, I asked one of my Honors students what she thought of that.
She said, “You do get to choose your topic, but it’s not just kittens and rainbows all the time.  You actually have to use your brain and think about it, and come up with the best way to express what you’re thinking…it’s not that easy all the time.”

I mean, there are kittens and rainbows around my classroom (really), but she’s right.  Most of the time, we choose our content and we choose our topics, but we work very, very hard in here.

We produce multiple drafts through our whole-class workshop, and sometimes, students will revise five times until they’re happy with their final product.

livdraftingOur final workshops.
In these final weeks of school, my students have (almost) complete freedom when it comes to the final pieces they’ll bring to workshop.

They have to choose one of the genres we’ve practiced and decide which rubric works, but they can write about whatever they want.  I was nervous about giving them this freedom, since the last time I left them to their own brains, they floundered for awhile before finally producing a draft.

This time, they’re loving it.
While some students are writing narratives and reflective essays, most…are writing research papers.


Preliminary cat research.

Yes, most chose research.
One student in my fourth period class is writing an analysis on different types of cats, while another is writing an inform/explain piece about the Space Race.

A handful of students are writing new essays with recycled prompts.  Some are writing another lyric analysis, and others are revisiting the “I was a witness” prompt from earlier this year.

One student is using this assignment to workshop a “personal statement” that he’ll have to read in traffic court in a few weeks.

A few others are writing lengthy reviews of their favorite books to post on GoodReads.

We’re having fun with our writing again.
These last few weeks have been my favorite days of the year.  As much as I’m looking forward to summer adventures, I wish we had more time to write seventeen more pieces like this one. 




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