Inspiring writers to be curious, confident and independent

Presented by Tracy Vogel, 2nd grade teacher at Barton Creek Elementary

Central Texas Writing Project

Eanes Writing Institute

March 2015

Ms. Vogel's amazing 2nd graders and Ms. Vogel, as a young writer

My Writing Philosophy for my students:

  • First and foremost, have the COURAGE to write.
  • Write to express emotions, thoughts and feelings.
  • Know your ideas are important and know you are heard.
  • Be able to use writing to entertain, persuade and educate others.
  • Discover new ways to use writing to convey meaning.
  • Utilize what you know to publish writing pieces.
  • READ and recognize the importance of various styles and genres.
  • Notice voice and personality in writing and discover YOURS.
  • Write about what you know and what you love.
  • Readers are writers and writers are readers. Readers & Writers=Leaders!

Discovering: The Neglected Step in the Writing Process

What does discovering mean?

Idea time.

Creative time.

No rules.

No red pens.

No grammar, mechanics, or usage.

No spel chek. :)

Messy, messy, messy!

It’s very freeing.

To let your mind wander.

To spend time discovering.

Discovering…like when you were a child digging in the dirt in your back yard, or the sand at the beach. And then finding something you weren’t even looking for.


-Dr. Mira Reisberg (Mondays with Mandy and Mira)

INQUIRY: Will emphasizing the importance of self discovery in the writing process create more confident, capable writers?

I chose to conduct this inquiry with my class because I was looking for another tool to pull my reluctant writers out of their shells and foster a true love for writing. I wanted each student to feel true ownership in their pieces and feel the freedom to discover new things that are important to them as a writer. I wanted each student to expand their thinking and move away from reliance on teacher prompts.

For the most part, this inquiry worked well in my current classroom setting. The biggest challenge was finding time to allow my students to free write, when we had specific areas we had to focus on. My students loved free writing SO much that that is all they wanted to do, many even asking if they could take their journals to recess to write!(#teacherforthewin) It worked out that I allowed them to do this every day during Daily Five, Work on Writing.

IMG 6100



Reluctant Writer...

who me...write?



how much?

a page...?



how about-

blood and guts

or aliens


last night's DVD


i'm Done

can i go?

-Kellie Buis


Samples of Reluctant writer pieces at various stages of discovery

MORE Research...


"Good writers write about what they know and what they love."




"The first step is to give them time to discover what it is they want to say.

The next step is to give them time to figure out that they actually do have something to say.

And the final step is to spend an insane amount of time brainstorming ideas. (You know, like an entire month.)

Brainstorming stories, pictures, and thoughts without having to write them in complete sentences. Without having to spell every word correctly. Without making sure their handwriting fits perfectly on the lines and is in perfect print or cursive or whatever. Without the need to be perfect (all the time.)

Because, as adults, how would we react if everything new we were learning, had to be performed on the spot, for the first time, with perfection, every time?

We Would Hate It.

We Would Quit!

So my point?

There simply isn’t enough time dedicated to allowing kids to discover who they are as writers and what they want to say.

Wanna make them good writers? Give them the time to discover."

(From The Children's Book Academy, Dr. Mira Reisberg)


My quirky and inquisitive 2nd grade students

Dr. Stacy Foss, My partner in crime

Lisa Taylor, Inspiration for teaching reluctant writers

Christie Isom, Curriculum Guru

Laura Sites and Valerie Taylor, Oh-so patient and supportive Writing Institute pros