I’ve spent the last couple hours looking and reading various blog posts from Moving Writers. This a blog for educators, students, readers, writers, and anyone with a genuine interest in literature and the writing process. Created by two educators, Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell, the site has been publishing education information about language arts for going on five years now. There are seven or eight contributing writers to the blog site as well. The educational methods prescribed are anything but traditional and center heavily on student autonomy and the implementation of mentor texts. Besides those two main themes, there are a number of other presentation topics put forth by the site.
The advice on mentor texts was the biggest attraction for me. Just recently one of the contributing writers, Tricia Ebarvia, wrote a blog centered on how to get students to build a file of mentor texts. Keeping the mentor texts extremely short (page or less) and giving plenty of margin space to write in, students compile works of literature and categorize them to genre, style, form, inspirational, etc. I thought it was great, the files the students are creating are like a catch all creative corner. It’s helping to form who they are as readers and writers, and they are essentially compiling a quick reference or creative kick starter for their writing lives. I could see these personalized mentor text files being great references for students to not only pull writing topics from, but to help them stay current with who they are as a writer right now. It seems to help students not get totally lost in the writing process. It’s the safest of places for a writer to create and refer back to (fun and interesting too).
There are other mentor text blogs that are equally as good, such as a recent post from O’Dell about having students create a Christmas memory through the study of a Truman Capote story. It’s all step by step, but with implied play room in the language of the posts. It’s quite versatile, because you can take a look at one of their blog posts about a mentor text, and then use your own mentor text around the format they have prescribed. Occasionally, there will be posts detailing what a book is about, but typically the posts are teacher craft oriented and show steps and tips on how to teach students to write from mentor texts, not what the mentor text is about.
There are just a ton of good posts on the site including this one about how to avoid those trite book reports students have always been made to do. A fun blog about six alternative options to do a book report which gets the student thinking about literature at a more complex level.
The blog “Moving Writers” is really all about getting students to think about writing and reading in fresh ways. But it goes beyond the typical blog saying why it is important for students to become skilled writers, it shows educators how to do it. Some posts are more step by step instruction which is great for structure, but other posts encourage teachers to play inside an idea or practice. Either way, what they have created as an educational resource is to be highly valued by anyone looking to add life to their classroom.
Marchetti and O’Dell have recently co-authored a book entitled “writing with mentors.”