19 Nov Writers (Should) Write to Make the World Better
The voting process changed in my city this year. Unfortunately a few precincts had to go to two locations to vote. Many notices of apologies were sent and the problem was clearly explained. The problem could not be fixed in time for voting so we were made aware of what we needed to do.
On voting day I was fully prepared to go to two locations and I planned accordingly knowing it would take me more time. I was not prepared for the scene I found. There was a line of adults verbally abusing the volunteers who were working the polls. The volunteers patiently explained the issue over and over. Each time they also provided an option for the voter to lodge a formal complaint to make a change for the next time. An entire station had been setup in both locations to allow voters to lodge their complaint in writing so this situation could be avoided in the future.
The additional time it took me to travel between and vote in two locations was nothing in comparison to the time that was wasted waiting for voters to endlessly complain about the situation. AsI listened to these people rant and rave, in both locations, what was incredible to me was that no one took the option to write their complaint so that a change could be made in the future. I could not help but think about the lessons I have been teaching in schools about opinion writing.
In the Calkins Units of Study in writing she introduces the concept of opinion writing in Kindergarten by encouraging young writers to:
It took all my strength to not break into a writer’s workshop focus lesson. It made me realize how important it is for us to instill this disposition in our students. Peter Johnston asserts that, “If nothing else, children should leave school with a sense that if they act, and act strategically, they can accomplish their goals.” The CCSS has put an emphasis on opinion writing. I love how TCRWP has introduced this concept to young writers. Opinion writing is an opportunity to make the world better. Students are making signs, writing speeches, performing songs and creating petitions. They can see the power of their ideas and their words to make a change. It is such a constructivist way for young writers to understand the concepts of purpose and audience. I think everyone would benefit from experiencing this unit of study – certainly the voters in my precinct. Maybe Robert Fulghum was right, “All we really needed to know…”