Today when giving my students a chance to share their writing with their tables, I said, “Writing can be like speaking. We speak to be heard. Sometimes we write to be read. You are welcome to share if you want to. Writing can also be something we do just for ourselves. If it’s something private, you don’t have to share.”
I didn’t know I was saying something profound when I said it, but I haven’t been able to put it out of my mind. I keep coming back to it.
How is speaking different than writing? Why is writing for oneself so powerful, even if no one was ever meant to read it? Why is the act of getting words out of one’s brain so important? What does it say about us when we write to be read? How does writing to be read form a social experience? Writing and speaking are both productive modes of communication. In that way, they are lumped together. However, it’s clear that their purposes, though they often overlap, can be quite distinct.
When I ask kids to share their writing, some of the kids share a gist of what they wrote, and others read word for word from their page. What does that mean, I know it means something, but what? Is it important? Is it confidence? Do the kids who share a gist of what they wrote conceal something about their writing when they do that? Are the kids who share their exact wording relying on their exact wording to get them through the social act of sharing? Or are those kids genuinely sharing the craft of their writing? Does it depend on the kid?