Do you ever wish your own parents had sent you to Mirowitz? I feel that way all the time, and especially when I walk around the building and see how our students are blossoming as learners. Our constructivist approach is just so different from the approach my childhood teachers used.
This week, I took a close look at their writing samples, and was so impressed by their skills, their imagination and their confidence as writers.
They have been taught to look for powerful moments and unforgettable scenes. They have learned to seed their stories with their feelings, affinities, fears and interests. They are learning to express themselves the way professional writers do.
Each year, our students expand their skills by writing many stories within three broad genre of writing: narrative, opinion and informational writing.
Kindergarteners are writing “How To” books for their informational writing. Second graders write “All About” books for theirs. Third graders are researching and writing about people who have been “in the shadows” to bring them into the light.
Fourth grade opinion writing takes the form of letters to their state elected officials about bills going through the Missouri legislature. They are preparing for a special fourth grade milestone when they lobby their legislators about local solutions to global issues such as animal cruelty, and local ones such as voting protocols. Fifth graders write persuasive essays about topics that matter to them: the value of volunteering, the importance of summer vacation, why you should recycle. And in middle school, student are defending a thesis about their literary analyses.
Many classes are currently writing poems for a competition by Kwame Alexander. Lines from their poetry may become part of the civil rights memorial center in Montgomery, Alabama.
Our students are learning to use writing to express themselves, to communicate, and to process information. Most of all, they are learning that their ideas have value, and deserve to be put on paper. Their confidence in expressing themselves in writing is a gift they will value the rest of their lives.