Write With Me Wednesdays: The Proposal

Here’s the plan:  for an undetermined stretch of Wednesdays (how long can I keep it going and do any of you care?) I’m going to try and share some element of my teaching that invites some writing on your part.  I’m going to start with a listing activity I call writing territories.  From those territories you’ll tell me ABOUT one of the words or phrases you’ve listed, or you’ll tell a STORY that comes from the territories.  From there we’ll work into some experiments trying all sorts of strategies for writing first sentences.  It’s an activity connected to the idea that some of our best teachers can be the texts that surround us.  I call these mentor texts.

William Torgerson Love on the Big Screen Torg Write With Me Wednesdays

Below you’ll find the video version of this blog post, and once I get to a spot where it makes sense to post a handout (perhaps to be used by a teacher in a classroom) I’ll make that available to you on my website at TheTorg.Com.

Next Wednesday Nov. 16th,  I’ll post the writing territories and invite you to post your responses to the prompts on your own blog.  Once you have that up, you can leave a comment to my blog post and link us up to your answers, perhaps with a brief summary or reflection of how the activity worked.  If don’t have a blog and want to set one up, I have a tutorial video here.  Of course all you have to do is ask Google, “How do I set up a WordPress blog?” and you’ll have more help than you know what to do with.

These Write With Me Wednesdays won’t be just me telling you how I teach.  I hope you’ll critique or otherwise add to how these activities might work for a variety of purposes.  I suspect those who might be willing to give this a try will be those who want to write, perhaps some bloggers I’ve met in the past year attending two Blogworld New Media Expo Conferences, and also teachers who teach writing and those who are looking to collaborate with other writers and teachers on the craft of their work.

What do you think?  Are you up for this?  Suggestions for my plan?

How can you get students interested in writing or research? Establish writing territories.

Writing Floats on a Sea of Conversation

—Dr. Samuel Watson

It used to be that I would often ask the writers who entered my classroom, “What do you want to write?”  Their most common response was, “I don’t know.”  The following prompts are meant to plant intellectual seeds that each writer might choose to grow.  During one of our first class sessions together, we make lists and talk about them.  Our conversation helps us add to our lists and we are all able to begin to think about what we might write.  I call our responses to these prompts “writing territories,” a phrase I first encountered in Nancie Atwell’s book In the Middle. She explains her own territories as “subjects I’ve written about or might like to, genres I’ve written in or would like to try, and audiences for whom I write….”(120).

Respond to these prompts and pause to discuss your answers.  What my fellow writer says might allow me to add to my list.

1. Make a list of topics you know something about.

2. List the main parts and/or roles in your life.  For example, I’m a teacher, a husband, a father, a runner, and much more.

3. Make a list of places you know well.

4. What is your major?  What do you hope to use it for?

5. Make a list of topics that you wish you knew more about.  Or, what are some classes you wish were offered and that you could take?

6. Do a sample schedule of your life.  Try out a school day, the weekend, summer, and a holiday.  At 8:00 a.m. you….  And then you…

7. List some political/social issues relevant to your life.

Following the creation of these lists, we can all choose to start writing:  tell us about one of these, use this list to begin a research project, or can you tell us a story that comes from one of these territories?

You can check out my You Tube channel for related videos:  http://www.youtube.com/user/Torgersw

You can get a PDF handout for this activity in the blue box on the lower right of my blog page.