by Lisa Bullard
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.