Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher

Joy Write: Cultivating High-Impact, Low-Stakes Writing 
by Ralph Fletcher
Published April 2017
103 pages

Goodreads Summary
Nothing helps writers grow like practice. But not just any kind of practice will do. You've got to bring the joy! In Joy Write, beloved writer and teacher Ralph Fletcher shows you how.
"A writer needs wide latitude so she can bring all her intelligence to the task," Ralph observes. "Assigning a particular format-a hamburger essay, for instance-would curtail this play, if not eliminate it entirely." That's why, instead of teacher-driven assignments, Joy Write shares the whys and the how of giving students time and autonomy for the playful, low-stakes writing that leads to surprising, high-level growth.

First Ralph makes the case for carving out classroom time for low-stakes writing, despite pressure to focus on persuasive essays and test prep. Then he shares five big ideas for choice-driven, authentic, informal writing-deeply engaging work that kids want to do. He also provides numerous suggestions for helping students build and flex their writing muscles, increase their stamina, and develop passion for expressing themselves with the written word.

"We don't teach students to write," Ralph Fletcher advises, "so much as create a safe space where they can teach themselves by doing." Trust Ralph and find out how to bring the joy to your writers.

My Thoughts
Do you feel like your students are uninspired in their writing?
Are they bored? Just going through the motions?
Then Joy Write might be just the book you need right now. As busy teachers, we can get so caught up in covering material, adhering to programs and assessing for standards that we may lose sight that writing should be fun! Students should have time to explore and play with language without fear of always being graded or critiqued. Can you imagine having to always write the way someone else wants you to and then having everything you write analyzed and judged?

This book is relatively short and very easy to read. Engaging stories are included to entertain and to serve as real world examples that connect to his writing ideas. 
The first few chapters set the stage. The author shares his experiences in classrooms and observations of what experiences breathe energy and life into writing workshop and what practices can negatively impact our workshops. 
The following eight chapters give examples of approaches and activities that teachers can easily implement that are engaging and motivating for students. I particularly liked the chapter on reluctant writers and how choice and low-stakes writing can provide the safety and motivation they need. 
I would highly recommend Joy Write for any teacher of writing.

See what others have to say about Joy Write.
Educating Alice

Listen to the Joy Write Podcast.

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