Saturday, December 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday Blog Posts

Thank you to Margaret Simon for starting DigiLit Sundays. Join us here!
This past Friday, I asked my students to blog (write) for five minutes...and ONLY five minutes. Like so many good ideas, I borrowed this from someone else. One Friday about a month ago, I noticed the post on Ruth Ayres' blog was tagged, Five Minute Friday. I clicked the link and found Kate Motaung's blog. I tried Five Minute Friday myself and enjoyed it. The idea stuck in my head until this week...I shared it with my students.
I wanted to make it meaningful for my sixth graders. While reflecting about including this in my plans, I thought back so many years ago to the summer I participated in the Northern Virginia Summer Writing Institute. While watching presentations from these talented and creative teachers, they would ask the participants to write. "For the next seven minutes, write..." Every time this happened, I FROZE. I can still remember hearing pencils scratching furiously on pages around me. I worried. I wondered, "How do they know what to write? I can't think. Where do I start?" Then I sighed and continued the barrage of anxiety, "I've wasted two minutes. I'll never get anything down on paper. I'm a terrible writer." I often faked my way through discussions on what we just wrote because the time sent me off on an anxiety-ridden journey. That was so many years ago. And it rarely, if ever, happens to me anymore. I wondered why? Why am I able to write on demand now? Why couldn't I do it then? One word...Practice. 
I've been writing so much since that summer. I've attended so many presentations, but most importantly, now I write WITH my students. Practice. Practice. Practice. It doesn't make perfect, but it gives me faith that the words will be there. They will come. I needed faith that in myself. THAT is what my students need. Faith that the words are in them! 
This Friday we talked a bit about what Five Minute Friday was and because it was the first time, I showed them a video to prep them before we wrote. The topic was, "Look for the Helpers". I borrowed that phrase from Mr. Rogers and showed a video that explained what he meant. 
After the video, I gave the students a minute to turn & talk. Next, the blogging started. I set the timer for five minutes. I blogged on the screen while my students were writing because I knew this would be hard for some students and I wanted them to have a model. 
After the timer sang, my instructions were to close computers and let's talk about this. I asked one question, "How was that process?" Some LOVED it! They finished in five minutes and it seemed easy because it was only five minutes. (I hadn't anticipated that and that response made me so happy!) Many students really didn't like it. Some reported hating it! Their reasons included: 
"I didn't know what to write." 
"I was confused."
"It took me four minutes to figure out what to write and then the timer went off."
"I want to write more." 
"I need to finish."
"It was hard!"
We talked about times in life when we will have to write on demand and we won't have all the time in the world to finish. I informed them that Five Minute Friday was here to stay...and I gave them permission to post or not post their writing for this week. Many posted their writing and included an explanation of Five Minute Friday.
I found their writing clear, succinct, thoughtful, sometimes funny, often personal and just plain good! Here are some examples. Stop by my class blog Crayons & Pencils, if you'd like to read more!
My Everyday Life
Francine's Life Blog Nolan's Sarcastic Blog

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