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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Shifting Drivers

by Lisa Bullard

Take TurnsIf you go road tripping with enough different people, you discover another way that human beings sort themselves out: into the drivers of the world, and the passengers of the world.

The drivers are only completely happy when they have control of the steering wheel. But, on every trip, there comes a point where they tire out and lose their concentration.  Then it’s necessary to shift drivers. Even a short break can bring the original driver back to peak driving ability.

This is true of a writing road trip as well.  At some point, we tire out and lose our concentration.   When my students have been focusing on a longer writing session, I’ve discovered that temporarily “shifting drivers” works as a quick and effective break.

Here’s how it works. Ask students to shift their writing utensil to their non-dominant hand, and to try writing two or three sentences with that hand. Sometimes I use the board to model the “crazy ax murderer” results that my left hand produces when I shift drivers this way.

This gives students a chance to shake out their dominant hand, which has likely grown tired of gripping a pencil. It provides students a chance for a quick laugh over their attempts to write with their non-dominant hand. And I’ve read information that suggests that shifting hands this way re-engages the other side of our brain, which enlivens the writing process.

So when you’ve assigned a longer writing project, remember to follow the road signs in today’s photo at some point: First, STOP. Then, TAKE TURNS.  It’s a little trick to bring your students back to peak writing ability.


2 Responses to Shifting Drivers

  1. Joanne Toft July 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    I love it! Now wondering how I shift drivers with my keyboard. Thanks for a great tip for kids!

    • Lisa Bullard July 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

      Joanne, the best way I’ve found to “shift drivers” when you write with a computer (which I typically do) is to switch over to paper and pen for awhile. I’ve been amazed to find how writing by hand for a short time can wake up my brain–and it often serves to get me through a writing road block as well!

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