I enjoy writing, and I think students can learn to like writing if we give them ample opportunity and lots of kinds of writing. The National Writing Project believes
Writing is essential to communication, learning, and citizenship. It is the currency of the new workplace and global economy. Writing helps us convey ideas, solve problems, and understand our changing world. Writing is a bridge to the future.
One of NWP’s 30 Ideas for Teaching Writing is to use the shared events of students’ lives. I’m a bird lover. There are so many feathered creatures everywhere and you don’t need money to look at them. Birds offer children insight into nature and an appreciation for their surroundings. Pigeon Watch, a project of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a great opportunity for urban kids to learn about birds, ornithology, science, research, gathering and analyzing data, and more. It also is a fun way to engage students in writing with a purpose.
People everywhere are learning about city birds, watching birds for science, and improving their neighborhood habitat for birds. PigeonWatch FAQ
Here’s what happened at my school. A pigeon nest appeared in the alley outside my classroom, built with twigs by two industrious pigeons, a blue-bar and a pied. Next thing you know, there are two eggs. Two first graders dutifully recorded their observations daily on our Pigeon Watch chart, getting practice writing what they observed. We put together a binder of pigeon information and discovered that about 18 days after the eggs are laid, the chicks hatch. Sure enough, there are now two yellow chicks in the nest. The adult pair took turns sitting on the eggs, rotating turns like clockwork. They still take turns sitting on and with the chicks these last few days. The first graders will be writing up a report of their observations and presenting it to their classmates. It will even be published in our school newspaper.
Writing and sharing their work with their peers promotes self-esteem, and gives these students a chance to strengthen their developing reading and writing fluency.
Graphic from Commons Wikipedia Strutting Pigeon