The Sound of Pencils on the Page
Freewriting in a Junior High School Classroom
Keywords:Writing Apprehension, freewriting, Adolescents, reading and writing, teacher-as-writer
Many writers find that freewriting is crucial to their work, and it has been around long enough to be part of the common language within composition studies. Freewriting is defined as the sustained, often timed, approach to writing-without-stopping. What is “free” is the direction the writer may take and the freeing of ideas through writing. Despite the recognized benefits of freewriting, it has seldom been studied in secondary classrooms, and teachers may be reluctant to implement it on a regular basis. This article presents case studies to examine what, if any, benefits are found when daily freewriting is implemented. Two junior high school classrooms were studied for a semester. Data included student freewriting samples, interviews with students, pre and post surveys on students’ views of writing, and observational notes. In addition to the qualitative data, a collection of quantitative data (fluency rates and pre and post writing apprehension scores) created a mixed-method study. Findings include many benefits from regular freewriting. The classroom routine provided a sense of peace in a very busy day; freewriting helped develop confidence and comfort with writing; student writing quality showed flexibility in thought and style of writing depending on topic; and students engaged with course content. Several implications are made for teachers, including the importance of carefully establishing the routine and expectation that students will write during this time. In addition, teacher modeling of the freewriting showed a positive influence on the students’ writing experiences.
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