We spent Labor Day weekend camping right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. Wandering through a bookstore in town, I picked up a book written by Enos Mills, a famous naturalist, writer and the “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park.” In his autobiography, he states that writing well requires three things: Enthusiasm, Interest and Good Research.
While hiking, I pondered these three words and how they link to the classroom. Words that were true for a naturalist 107 years ago are true for elementary students in 2016.
Enthusiasm! Quality writing will not occur unless we build enthusiasm in our students. Humans are enthusiastic about tasks in which they feel successful. We have been working on writing Junior and Varsity Team Complete sentences the first two weeks of school. As the students’ skills have grown, their enthusiasm has grown equally. Given a safe place to practice, students enjoy sharing their writing with their classmates and pushing themselves to be better writers.
Interest! Let’s be honest. As adults, we all have topics in which we have little interest. As we begin the school year, it is essential that we capture our students’ interest from the beginning of the school year. We are often asked why we begin the curriculum with Opinion Writing. The answer is simple – students want to share their interests with their class. As we start to learn the writing process, we begin with sharing our opinions on the best activities, places, pets, etc. Students know what they want to write about and have knowledge about that topic.
Good Research! The first key to teaching good research is for the teacher to be enthusiastic about the topic and the students to have an interest in the topic. We have begun this year learning about the planets and constellations, a very interesting topic for 4th graders! We began by taking very specific notes on each planet. There was a buzz of conversation as students located fascinating facts about the planets. Students were interested in the topic and our introduction to research was both interesting and easy to accomplish! http://www.writenow-rightnow.com/samples/
These three words are now posted in front of my desk. I hope to continually ask myself if this writing will generate enthusiasm, interest, and great research.