I still remember my master teacher John as he screamed at me after my students had all left for lunch. It was my first year as a teacher, and I had a class of energetic 7th graders I was responsible for guiding through Language Arts and Social Studies. John had stopped by to help me with some writing strategies to use with my class, and discovered that I had kept several students in at lunch for their discipline problems. Their punishment? I was making them write an essay explaining what they did wrong.
"Are you trying to make them hate writing?!" he yelled at me. "You're basically telling them that writing is a punishment when you do this!" I immediately got his point, and was embarrassed about how obvious this should have been. "You need to help kids understand that writing is fun, something they should want to do as a way to express themselves, not a task or chore," he said.
Needless to say, that was the last time I made one of my students write as a form of penance for their actions. From that point on, I tried to make writing a fun activity, using lively class debates, brainstorming sessions, and even role playing to get the kids excited and energized about the writing activity we were about to undertake. As every teacher knows, it didn't always work, and convincing students that writing is fun was never easy that year, or any of the other years I taught.
You know what would have made writing really fun for my students? Booktrack Classroom. Yes, obviously that sounds self-serving since I work for Booktrack, but it's true. My students, as most middle school students do, loved music. They were constantly asking for music to be played whenever possible. Silent reading actually morphed into music reading, as the class preferred to have background music on while they read.
Group projects went more smoothly when the students could have music in the class as they worked together on various presentations. We even played music sometimes during class writing assignments. I am certain they would have loved Booktrack Classroom and the ability to actually ADD music to their writing. This would have instantly prevented any of the groans and sighs that inevitably filled the classroom whenever I announced the next writing project.
I joined Booktrack because the company is passionate about education and making reading and writing more fun for students. We are obviously very proud that our platform improves reading comprehension and helps kids become better, more engaged readers as the recent study from the University of Auckland showed. But you know what I love about Booktrack Classroom the most? Students love it. And if students love it, then it's going make that difficult task of teaching kids to love to write all the more easier – something every teacher should love.
I wish Booktrack had been around when I was teaching.
Jason Hovey is a former elementary and middle school teacher and K-8 technology coordinator. After teaching, he was General Manager for Yahoo!'s Kids and Education businesses and worked at several startups focused on kids, families, and games. He currently works as Booktrack's Vice President of Business Development and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and three daughters, all of whom still thankfully love to read and write.