Recently I’m noticing more possibilities for lessons from the various books, magazines and journals I read that inform my teaching. Perhaps it’s just that I’m making better choices, but I am really reading more intentionally than ever before. How can that be? I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and read prolifically. I’ve taught reading skills and facilitated countless book groups. I belonged to a book group for several years.
So, I have a theory. Because I have been writing more regularly this year than ever before, I believe the writing is informing my reading. I know that there are numerous connections from reading to writing, but most of them focus on reading makes the better writer. I use mentor texts to teach students writing skills and to learn the lessons myself. Yet, as I write more, I am noticing so much more in the books I read. I wonder if some of the writing we do with students should now place some emphasis on increasing student awareness of entertaining new kinds of questions as they read?
Here are some examples:
Remember when you struggled to write the beginning of your (short story, memoir, personal essay)? What are some of the reasons you had for what you chose? Why do you think this author chose this lead?
What senses do you see this author using in the writing that you have used in your own writing? Which one do you like using the most? Why do you think that’s a favorite?
When you write a poem, what kind of lines seem to end up on the page first? What do you think this poet did in this particular poem? What did he leave out that you might include? How did the lines break? Do you remember thinking about your line breaks? What made sense to you?
What does the author do here to make a connection with the rest of the text? Is there a time you started with a personal story that helped you lead into a report? Do you enjoy authors who do that? Do you have another way that you’ve written when beginning an essay?
If we can move the writing student into examining their reading as they have examined their writing, we might see deeper reading. It could become totally circular, not just reading to writing. I realize there is already some of this back and forth connecting, but also that teachers could become more deliberate in their lessons about writing that leads to better reading. From Lucy Calkins’ Reading and Writing Project FAQ’s: There is a great deal of data suggesting that improvements in writing will have a payoff across the curriculum. This is the only reference I was able to find that appears to address directly what I am suggesting. Numerous other sites give specific ideas in using mentor texts to aid in writing improvement.