When I first taught writing I fell into a classroom fully fitted out for the teaching of writing. It had desks, paper, pen, a chalkboard (yes--real chalk!), and a set of grammar books.
What did I need to turn that classroom into a haven for aspiring writers?
-Computers? Not at all. Some of the greatest writing in the world was accomplished using pens dipped in ink.
-Inspirational mobiles and posters? They are nice additions, but writing is an internal journey. It's best to shut out the world, not use it as a distraction.
-Background music? This is nice, but not required.
The best thing I did for my class was to retire the grammar books to a shelf on the side of the classroom and leave them there. Instead, I had students do the one thing that truly makes writers. I had them write for at least fifteen minutes two to three times each week. This taught them to think on paper. It's a valuable skill--much more valuable than planning around writing. The more time they spent writing, the more they discovered their own internal methods of organization and expression. They developed their own voices.
This is what writers really do. They write. They write a lot. Grammar can be applied in context, after the ideas have been put down on paper.
Pens? Man, you must be just a young upstart. I remember quills!
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