I know that’s not the catchiest title. But it communicates the topic. (If you’ve got a better idea, I’m listening!)

The idea for this series came from a writing conference. At dinner one night, a group of writers asked me why I liked teaching writing to eight and nine year olds. I thought for a minute. Of course, I love the kids. It’s the year they develop a growing awareness of the world. When they hear of injustices both past and present, their righteous indignation gives me hope for our future. But that wasn’t really the question.

Why do I enjoy teaching them writing

Third grade is the year children learn almost everything they need to know about writing.

My response surprised them. They begged for examples. Stuffing my introverted aversion to holding court at dinner, I offered one. In the silence that followed, I prepared to back-pedal and apologize for insulting their intelligence. Finally, someone spoke:  “I didn’t know that.” Another admitted the same. Another said, “That makes so much sense.”

Then I heard the words that stuck with me most: “You need to write about that.”

If these ladies–all talented writers–found value in the lesson, maybe others would, too. Even good writers. 

I think good writers often don’t know what they know. They make choices in their writing instinctively. Teachers call this “craft”–the art of writing. The thing is, anyone can be taught craft. Even third graders.

But when good writers can name what they’re doing–known as metacognition in education–they have more control of their writing. When they’re stuck and can’t decide what comes next, they have a toolbox of possibilities to try out–different leads, elements of suspense, parts of a scene, sentence structures.

This series shares the lessons that make the most difference in the writing of 3rd graders. I hope they make a difference in your writing, too!