- The right not to share.
- The right to change things and cross things out.
- The right to write anywhere.
- The right to a trusted audience.
- The right to get lost in your writing and not know where you’re going.
- The right to throw things away.
- The right to take time to think.
- The right to borrow from other writers.
- The right to experiment and break rules.
- The right to work electronically, draw or use a pen and paper.
Jeni Smith helped write these rights and you can listen to her talk in the video below:
Using the poster as a springboard, I asked the children in my class what their rights and responsibilities were in the writing classroom. Below, you can see what they came up with.
I have since placed them into a number of different categories which I find really interesting. The categories include: the role of the teacher, home writing, reader in the writer, what to write, how to write, sharing writing and ‘getting your writing reader-ready’.
The Rights Of The Child Writer
The role of the teacher:
- The right to have a writer-teacher.
- The right to be shown the ‘writing tricks‘ other authors use.
- The right to a pupil-conference where you receive genuine writing advice from a writer-teacher.
- The right to a home/school writing journal.
- The right to write anywhere.
- The right to take writing to and from home.
Reader in the writer:
- The right to magpie and borrow ideas from other writers.
What to write:
- The right to write about the things you care about and express yourself.
- The right to generate ideas in lots of different ways.
- The right to write in many different genres,
- The right to write Inspired by…poems.
- The right to write a poem that doesn’t rhyme.
- The right to write memoir.
- The right to write a gift for someone.
How to write:
- The right to use ‘planning grids’ or else get your ideas together.
- The right to move around the writing process – to write your own way.
- The right to make mistakes, cross things out and change your mind.
- The right to abandon personal writing projects.
- The right to take time to think, to be unsure and to write freely.
- The right to get lost in our writing and not know where you’re going.
- The right to experiment and take risks.
- The right to be shy.
- The right to give and receive ‘author talks’ from your peers.
- The right to a supportive audience.
Getting your writing ‘reader ready’:
- The right to circle unsure spellings whilst writing and deal with them later.
- The right to have time to revise and edit your piece.
- The right to work electronically and illustrate your manuscripts.
- The right to publish your favourite writing into the class book-stock and beyond.
- The right to make a few mistakes when you’re publishing.
My question now is – what would the rights be in your class?
I really love reading about writer-teacher Timothy Lensmire’s practice. He discusses his desire to create a writing community which allows for personal ownership and individual exploration of writing topics whilst at the same time promoting a sense of public participation and responsibility towards others. If that interests you too, I can recommend these two books:
- Lensmire, T. (1994) When Children Write: Critical Re-visions of the Writing Workshop New York: Teachers’ College Press
- Lensmire, T. (2000) Powerful writing, responsible teaching New York: Teachers’ College Press