The facilitator, Kelly Gallagher (a major proponent of using mentor texts) put us through several activities demonstrating how we, as the "best writers", could (and should) model writing for our students. That's a message I've heard before: write alongside ours students. Students need to see the how writers (I'm still uncomfortable with that label) generate ideas, craft sentences and paragraphs, and make revision and editorial choices - it's the "show" part of "show and tell" so crucial to learning.
I've always liked the idea of writing alongside students. And I've "threatened" to do so a few times, doing an activity here and there with them. I've drafted a few paragraphs, demonstrated how I brainstorm to generate ideas, and have on occasion shared a draft, asking students to make suggestions about what I could do to clarify my ideas. I've even shared a couple of blog entries with them, but have been hesitant to encourage them to read them because I don't want them to feel obligated to "like" my entries.
I decided this summer would be a good time to give "writing alongside students" another try. I teach in a special program for first-year college students that began in June. Our summer assignment is to read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and write a response over the summer break. The purpose of the assignment is to introduce the theme of our learning community (African American perspectives), reduce "summer melt", to promote reading, and send students a message that we mean to work hard in our program.