Raw Material

            Writing can be a grounding force for girls. It can lead to self-discovery and increased self-reliance.  By its nature, writing holds a mirror to the mind and to the heart, helping girls find their creative and intellectual voices.  Engaging in the act of writing allows girls to communicate without the normal blocks and filters they use with others. A blank journal can turn into a trusted friend and a great listener.  An empty notebook can be a place to jot down ideas or reactions to events going on in the world.  Encourage your girl(s) to write.  


           “We LOVE Risa!!! I                                   have seen my daughter grow

 as a writer as a result of Risa’s

classes.  There is more joy in writing

and less fear.  Risa has been a gift to

  our family and a resource we are

      very grateful to have.”

                 Lisa R.


It isn’t often that parents or teachers carefully listen to children talk about a dream, a creative idea, or a hurt feeling. These pressing thoughts and experiences are the raw material of powerful writing. We educators must embrace our students' thought flow in and outside of instruction time, in order to reflect thier unique perspectives.


I revel in the words of my students, often typing as they story tell, all the while asking gentle questions to keep them moving forward with plots and inspirations.  When I read their phrases back to them, they’re positively hooked.


I encourage parents to jot down interesting things their children say. It’s great to make a collection of these bits and put them in a book.  The author will refer to a book like this over and over.  Another way to encourage writing is to compliment the original phrases

your child naturally utters. Do this and you'll begin to notice him/her paying closer attention to what comes out. 


I begin most of my classes with creative storytelling and free-verse poetry as I want my students to fall in love with their words and ideas. Only after students hear and develop their own voices do I cross the divide into a rule-filled world of expository writing.

   1       PLAYTODAY


              Engage your kids in imagination             games as much as possible.  Recently, my daughter and I played Three-Prop Writer's Improv as we waited for our restaurant food.  Here's how it's played: Come up with three unrelated objects - a zip-lock bag, a rubber duckie and a flower vase, for example.  Then ask your child(ren) to weave the items into a storyline. My daughter loved the game and wanted to play again and again.  People of all ages enjoy engaging their imaginations - it doesn't happen enough. We're hungry for it.  



Moms regularly ask for help with their boys.  More often than not, writing is something their male children hate to do.  How can I turn them around? First off, I know that boys are less inclined to use writing as a tool for expression than girls are.  Any inclination fades to nil when they’re prohibited from writing about what really matters to them.


When I indulge a male student in writing about things that truly pique his interest, there is so much life in our sessions together.  He may have gobs to say about the bloody injury of his soccer teammate and about bodily functions he finds delightfully gross.  He may know every intricacy of a favorite fantasy character.  These are subjects he'll write about.


If boys are going to find interest and safety in writing, they must be free to be themselves.  From here they can feel a connection to their written works and build their writing muscles with genuine interest.



Note: One of the most startling findings in national assessments of student achievement is how far behind boys are in reading and writing. Though the problem is even more severe among traditionally underserved minorities, this is a trend that cuts through racial, ethnic, and class divisions, and can even be seen in other countries.

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