For years I’ve started every class by asking students to Write into the Day. I compare it to the first moments of yoga when I sit cross-legged, close my eyes, clear my brain, and breath. Writing into the Day serves the same purpose. It’s our breathing onto a blank page so we can clear our heads and place ourselves into the mind-space for writing.
Our first couple times of doing this, students ask me, “What should I write?” Without trying to sound contrite, I respond, “Whatever you want. But you must write/draw/doodle something.”
Sometimes I offer a suggestion: “If nothing comes to mind immediately, write your ABCs in a font you wish existed in Word.” It’s the magic of meeting pencil with page that matters.
We only spend five minutes doing this focusing exercise, but I believe these five minutes are essential in establishing ourselves as writers within a writing community. For five glorious minutes, the room quiets, pencils/pens/crayons/markers scribe, and thoughts that once swarmed in our heads now exist in concrete manifestations.
Over the years, my students and I have written in multiple genres and for multiple purposes in these five minutes—writing that has included:
This year, I’m pairing Writing into the Day with Writing out of the Day. I believe giving time for students to reflect on their learning is the single, greatest gift I can give them as learners. It allows them to make a record of their progress. It allows them to see that each class session is an opportunity to grow. It’s a powerful time for e-VALUE-ation when the learner gets to find VALUE in their learning.
Ultimately, my goal in Writing into the Day and Writing out of the Day is to make writing an every day routine. It’s the routine that allows us to see how much value writing can bring into our lives.
About the Author
Brian Kissel is an Associate Professor of education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His focus is writing instruction. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hattie and three kiddos: Charlie, Ben, and Harriet.