Writing Lesson of the Month Network

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Why does Sacred Writing Time (SWT) work?  

See this Sacred Writing Time slide full screen at my Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/450852612673146998/

If you use "Sacred Writing Time" with your own students, tell us why you think it works below.

--Corbett & Dena Harrison (http://corbettharrison.com)

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Comment by Kelly Crossan on May 17, 2015 at 3:23pm

This was my first year implementing SWT. I cannot imagine how I ever taught without it! Most of my students (7th grade) absolutely love it. I am so proud of their writing growth.  Their endurance for sustained writing is outstanding. I can really see how they have grown on our district writing assessments.  In the past, many students felt once they had written a page--- they were finished--- no matter what!! SWT has erased that cop-out so many had held.  I do believe an endurance must be developed, and a simple enjoyment of the freedom to write about what they choose to write.  

Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!!!

K. Crossan

Comment by jodi rosekat on May 17, 2015 at 2:17pm
I teach students with receptive and expressive language disabilities, so writing can be a real chore that many of them struggle to complete. However, with SWT slides and lessons, the short and focused lessons and ideas make writing much more accessible for them. Plus the topics are fun and relevant to them. Thank you for helping me show my students that they are capable writers.
Comment by Julie Fite on May 17, 2015 at 2:13pm
Before I started using the SWT slides, the kids sometimes sat for long periods of time trying to think. When you are dealing with younger grades especially, telling them to think of things to write about ahead of time does not work. Now, they read the slide and get started writing. Even when they do not write about anything pertaining to the slide it seems to trigger more productive writing than they had before. 

The other thing I love about the SWT slides is that the kids want to read them and have SWT. When it fits the schedule or is possible we try to "celebrate" what the slide is about. So on national jellybean day, everyone got a jellybean. On Dr. Seuss day, I read Green Eggs and Ham out loud. Then the kids wrote about their favorite Dr. Seuss book. Having the slide gives me a place to start to brainstorm ways to make class more meaningful and/or fun. Thank you for a great resource.
Comment by Julie Cypert on May 17, 2015 at 2:06pm

This is my 29th year teaching English. I started using Sacred Writing Slides this year when I moved to a 6 man school. I teach 7, 8, and 9th grade English with total of about 28 students. We have Sacred writing time first 10 minutes of class. Kids get those pencils moving and are silent. They look forward to the slides and if I am absent they ask to see the day they missed slide. We have MWA bi- weekly and the vocabulary part of slide are great source of voc building. This semester their exam is to pick a day on April calendar and research write and design their own sws. We will use them next April. They are already wanting to pick their date and start to figure their slides theme. The slides are talk of the high school hallway. Students I don't teach come in to read the slides daily. Thank you.

Comment by Elise Brewin on May 17, 2015 at 2:00pm

I am a new teacher, and am teaching 6th grade.  I had a lot of figuring out to do, and at the beginning of the year had remembered reading something about SWT, but didn't remember the details.   I went ahead and did it anyway, and did it wrong, but even done wrong it has been incredibly valuable.  Most of the students focus in, and really get to writing.  I didn't set it up properly, and didn't have the daily topic for most of the year, but the students got so much growth from this.  (They had the option to write what they want or write from a list of topics).  Several wrote long stories/short novels.  All of them love sharing.  I have learned so much about each student's voice, strengths and weaknesses, and it has helped me spot troubled students as well.  I am looking forward to seeing even more benefit from this next year when I do it correctly!  This site saved me this year (along with my mentor who told me about it), and I am so grateful.  Thank you!

Comment by Debbie Frank on May 17, 2015 at 1:52pm

I became aware of Sacred Writing about 6 years ago when I attended a Southern Colorado Writing Project course at CSU-Pueblo. I have used it in my classroom every since then. Often, students have difficulty deciding what to write about or how to begin. SWT allows the students' brains to jump start with a topic when they enter the classroom and then their pencils flow from that point on. As each day progresses, the students look forward to reading what, often silly, holidays appear and often launch their enthusiasm to create their own descriptive writing of what they believe should be a special event that day. I actually had one boy that decided to write an adventure  book about a character who traveled each day through SWT topics. The writings were often filled with humorous middle school antics and imagination! SWT also allows choice for students to write what they would like to write about and that is important, especially when a student needs to allow their voice to be heard. I have also paired SWT with the book "I'm in Charge of Celebrations" by Byrd Baylor for a yearlong book writing assignment. It turned out to be very successful. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the students and teachers.

Comment by Nellie McGrew on May 17, 2015 at 1:30pm

I have been teaching Language Arts for 4 years now, and this is my 2nd year teaching it to 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  I teach in a school that is home to students from many walks of life in one of the poorest, toughest, most dangerous cities in our country. I find that simply by using SWT slides every day as our 10-minute DO NOW, students are exposed to more quotes, famous people, excellent, everyday vocabulary words, and thought-provoking questions than I could introduce on my own.  I have enjoyed observing student discovery of which writing prompt is their favorite type and then mostly sticking to that type.  This is a remarkable sign of growth because it shows consistency, interest, and increased comprehension.  I also have loved using SWT because at the beginning of each year, my students are not usually able to write continuously for more than 1-2 minutes. Within a few months, they can write for 10 minutes without stopping!  This skill transfers into all other subject areas because they are expected to produce more complex writing as the year progresses.

Thank you so much for the hard work you have devoted to this product!  I recommend it to my fellow teachers!

Nellie McGrew

New Jersey

Comment by Jackie Bladow on May 17, 2015 at 1:20pm
I have not done Sacred Writing Time with my sixth graders this year, but I did last year. Last year, my students saw themselves as writers, generating ideas for themselves. This year, they write to finish assignments. It's a marked difference. I greatly preferred using Sacred Writing Time. It created a community of writers in my classroom. Next year, I am moving to a looping position where I will teach students across two years. Oh, the fun we will have growing their writing skills over a longer period of time. (I'll also have more time to teach Language Arts... Unfortunately, time was a deciding factor in this year's decision not to have SWT.)
Comment by Liisa Balzar on May 17, 2015 at 1:13pm

This is my second year teaching 5th grade after spending 6 years in 1st grade. In January, 2015, I started SWT. These 10 minutes have become a vital part of our day. I know this because during a recent week of standardized testing as we reviewed the wacky schedule, the first question I got was "But when are we going to do our SWT?!". I assured the class that we would move it to the afternoon and they were mollified. One student showed me her notebook where she has made her own "word splash" of all the words of the day. She was absent one day and the first thing she wanted to know when she walked in was what word she had missed the day before. Without a doubt, it is the quietest 10 minutes of our day as I see pencils dance around the room. 

The Bingo Cards are excellent for students who have trouble generating ideas. Everyone had them on their desk during the first couple months, but now I see fewer of them using the Bingo Cards as they write their own stories.

There is always room for improvement and I have several ideas about how to grow our writing next year.

I will create a "word of the day" center from your slides and challenge students to use the word, correctly, throughout the day.

We also need to carve out time for sharing next year. I look forward to leading off the year with SWT as we set up our routines.

I thank you, for everything.

Liisa Balzar


Comment by Laura Crymes on May 16, 2015 at 7:07pm

I was a new to 5th grade teacher this year. With this move (from Pre-k!!) I was not formally trained in any of my new content areas. I frantically searched the internet for ideas for writing, language, spelling, math, and science (these are the areas that I was to teach). The teachers that were there last year were learning a new curriculum in 4th grade, so they were too busy to mentor me. Fortunately, I found Corbett and Dena's website. I have LOVED these tiles and the Bingo Choice Cards. We are currently making our own tiles for a final language project (this idea Corbett shared recently) and my children LOVE it!!!

This year, I opened every day during our writing time with the slide of the day. These slides covered some many of our standards (quotations, parts of speech, dictionary skills, sentence types, referencing sources, using technology to produce a piece of work...) My children loved the routine and familiarity of using these slides. I believe that routines are important. These tiles not only provided routines for my students, but they (and the Bingo choice cards) provided a much needed path for me to follow in developing young writers. I can't thank you guys enough!!



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