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 Patricia Gallagan on November 29, 2015 at 2:06pm

Even though I have only been able to use the slides three days a week, my students really love them! I have read many responses to the prompts and each one is great! Some of my students have even done additional research based on something they read from the slide. Even my most reluctant writers can find something to write about from the slide of the day. I have to be quick to put the slide up, too, because I get queries immediately! I highly recommend this product, even if you cannot work it in to your daily schedule. It is wonderful!

Comment by Cathy Veldhuizen on October 25, 2015 at 2:34pm

I have been using Writer's Notebooks in my classroom for 10+ years.  The Sacred Writing Time slides have become an interesting and informational addition as we begin our Literacy Block each day.  

Several of my writers have really become "Quote Researchers" and enjoy discussing the importance and power given in a limited amount of words.

Choice & Voice....writers deserve both!

Comment by Nadine Mihalicz on September 23, 2015 at 8:27am

This is EXACTLY what I have been searching for!  My students need to broaden their worldview, vocabularies and writing experiences.  Sacred writing time does all of this!  I especially love that students are given choice!!

Comment by Amie Reed on June 7, 2015 at 1:37pm

I just finished up my second year using Sacred Writing Time with my 8th grade students. During my first year of implementation, I jumped all-in with 10 minutes daily. Last year, I went down to 5 or 6 minutes. First of all, the students love the slides. I always have students ask to see the slides from the weekend or if I was absent and they didn't see it. I also have students who really enjoy the various BINGO challenges. I have purchased a variety of stickers they can earn, and that motivates even 8th grade students. This past year I  added in a weekly sharing day (Friday). I would rotate through a variety of sharing options (selected partners, random partners, small groups, whole class). I found that this sharing element really added to the overall experience of the writing notebooks. 

This year I'm hoping to do more where they go back into their notebooks for editing and revision, selecting entries for inspiration for future pieces. Even if I don't get that fully implemented this year, I still feel that writing notebooks is a valuable use of class time. My students are having thoughts, and putting those thoughts on the paper. The act of writing, in itself, is so valuable - even more so when the topics and structure is driven by the students!

Comment by Dorlicia Young on May 19, 2015 at 11:36am

I have been a fan of Sacred Writing Time for about two years, but didn't use faithfully until this past semester!  I am the Creative Writing Teacher at my school (elective with no curriculum).  I started this as a way to get the students calmed down at the end of the day and buy me some time before we got started in the afternoons.  I gave them 10 minutes and some "writing music" and it was MAGIC.  Even my most reluctant student would come in ready to write and would write the entire time!  Then after the timer went off, they would ask for more time to write!!  They look forward to this time.  I have actually had students that have filled up their jounrnal and needed a second journal!  Mind you, this is only a one semester class!!  I don't use the slides every day, but the concept of Sacred Writing Time has been the best idea for me to implement and the fact that the students are building writing endurance for the future is GREAT!  Thanks for this concept and everything else that you and your wife have done!  This has been the best for someone with no Writing Curriculum!  By the way I teach a Sixth grade CW class along with 6, 7, and 8 grade AVID students.  Thank again!!

Comment by Lynette Coker on May 18, 2015 at 3:38pm

I have been using Sacred Writing Time (SWT) for the past two years in my classes.  They are beneficial and an important part of my classroom - I was struggling with how to let others know how important it is. Until I read a letter one of my sixth-graders wrote to an incoming sixth-grader (a little assignment I have them do at the end of each year).  He really summed up what I wanted to say and why I think SWT is so vital to the students.  "In Mrs. Coker's class, we do a lot of writing.  Sometimes you get to write your own ideas, and sometimes you'll write for assignments.  Sacred writing Time is one of the most fun parts of the class, because you can just let your thoughts become words on paper.   Your homework every day is to have an idea for SWT, but if you get writer's block, Mrs. Coker puts a PowerPoint up on the board that will have some fun facts and quotes to spark you imagination."  I would say that sums it up!  Thank you for all you do!   

Comment by Nikki Hughson on May 18, 2015 at 8:45am

I use SWT with my grade 3/4 students for lots of reasons:

* its a short writing time, so kids who are apprehensive about writing, love it 

* it gives us different ideas about what writing might look like besides a narrative or research project

* kids love the fun facts & the pics that they can relate too

* the word of the day interests those who are ready to digest it

* its fun!

My students ask for free writing time when they are finished other work because they love writing so much.

Thanks, Corbett & Dena Harrison.

N Hughson

ON, Canada

Comment by Julia Brewer on May 17, 2015 at 11:11pm

We've been using SWT in our homeschool co-op for two years now.  Last year we started by giving each student a black faux-leather journal to give our writer's notebook that "sacred" feel.   Those notebooks are now tattered and well worn -- binding loose, pages crammed with jokes, drawings, lists, poems, half written stories, odd characters and quotes -- thoughts explored and ideas stored.   Our students see themselves as  writers, in part, because of these books, which hold inside the potential for hundred stories -- their stories.    This year we used the slides and they are a favorite part of writing class.    I love the discussions and laughter over the slides, and when we have the time, we all enjoy hearing snippets from the notebooks after writing time.  It's always intriguing when the same concept gets adopted by several students but applied in a totally unique way by each one.   I think this is also part of the power of the sacred writing time:  it provides students with a sense of being part of writing community and yet helps them recognize they have a unique voice within that community.

Comment by Joan E. Mueller on May 17, 2015 at 5:24pm

I love SWT. I teach 7th grade in a Lutheran grade school in WI. I started using SWT everyday this year. It greets the children in the morning. I love hearing their comments and then later reading about their commentary of the "Day". Some of them started making up their own "Day", and I will definitely be incorporating that into a lesson plan next year, or maybe even this year. Our last day is this Thursday and having them invent a day on Thursday morning would be a great way to send them off and then use their days to greet the new 7th graders next year. 

Now peaking their interest every day aside, it is the free-base writing that is the most valuable. I believe that not only do I get a peak at their 'secret' lives, but I also get a genuine look at their writing skills and can build my lessons off of their needs.  I know that they have became much more careful about commas and all the "things we should all know how to do" conventions just because I gently corrected them as I read them. It is in these pieces that I truly hear their voices. 

I did learn that is was essential for me to set aside 15 minutes of quiet writing time as our first academic endeavour of the day. When I simply said that a writing prompt was due by the end of the day and encouraged them to do it before the bell rang or in their study time it did not work. I got much better responses when I designated time for the writing. I should have listened to you in the first place. 

We started using your Vocabulary Collecting Activities this year too. One of the students said, "We should do something with the 'Vocabulary Word of the Day'.  I had the perfect activity because of your Vocabulary Collecting Lessons. It went over so well, because it was perceived to be one of the students ideas.  So one of your fantastic ideas led to another. 

Thank you for sharing your fantastic work. 

Comment by Monica Stein on May 17, 2015 at 3:53pm

This is my 3rd year using SWT with great success.  Most of my students value the opportunity for uninterrupted writing time.  Reading the slide aloud to them before they begin to write, will often spark a lively discussion about either the trivial fact of the day or the quote.  I did have to laugh on May 7th (National Teacher Day) when I asked my students if they could name something in school that seemed incessant (the vocabulary word of the day) and a student in each class smiled and named Sacred Writing Time.  

I have noticed that my students have an easier time coming up with topics and have much better voice in their writing because they write about something they care about.  Writers block is virtually non-existent in my classroom.  

Sacred Writing Time works because students write every day for a short period of time.  They write about a topic of their choice.  They can use these short writing pieces to develop something longer and complete during Writer's Workshop. They are able to write about something different every day if they choose or continue a piece of writing for several days running. 

I plan on continuing Sacred Writing Time next year and including some of the slides my students developed this year.



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