Many students first placed a poem on their wiki page and from there the writing explosion began.
We can not exactly explain what made the writing community powerful. Was it the technology component? Technology is a dominant form of communication for students and we wanted to use it, exploit to engage them and enhance their writing. Many students today are connected with technology and were we using technology to our advantage? Rather than paper pencil, students were publishing online, something they may not have done before. Was it is because there was an instant audience? Once a student published his/her work online, it instantly becomes available for everyone to read. Was it is because no topic was off limits? One week, we were all teaching about descriptive writing and as a result Harlo’s story The Blue Poo was created. Watch as Harlo tells his story:
We don’t know the exact answers to our questions. We know that we want our students to enjoy writing and the creativity that it offers. For many students, writing became a joyful process. As in the video, Harlo was able to write and read his story about the incident with his brother. Would he able to do so in a regular classroom setting? Would his teacher approve? At camp, Harlo was praised for his story, and students helped him develop it into a powerful descriptive story about blue poo.
Harlo’s brother, Ozzie responds to his brother’s story with a poem of his own.
Creativity was supported and embraced.
We didn’t want camp to reflect the demands and requirements of school. The students called us by our first names. They weren’t assigned to specific teachers rather they had the freedom to go between teachers, and the wiki allowed for that. Did the teacher’s openness create an environment where students felt free to explore and allow their writing to blossom?
According to the students, we probably took off the “academic” out of writing, but we wonder if indeed we were “academic” and they just didn’t realize it. We wonder if we told them they went through the actual writing process they would believe us?