I observe my class of seventh graders struggling to complete their persuasive writing assessment. It is quiet enough to hear the ticking of the clock. To an unpracticed eye they are engaged and hard at work. Yet in reality one is more interested in reading student work posted on the wall, another is staring into space (waiting for inspiration or for the clock to run out?). One I caught writing on her ankle. When I said "Really?" her excuse was "I'm not texting!" Me: "No, you're not. You're not writing either."
The assessment was due last Friday. It is now Tuesday. They had three days in class. And the weekend. And last night. We offered a "reward" to the class withthe highest percent of on-time turn ins. They are still not done. Looking for anything to do but write. Sure, they have their topic, their power map (mostly), but they would rather be taking down chairs or rushing to close the door on the noise in the hall. Anything to avoid opening that vein and bleeding onto paper.
Is it frustrating? To no end. But I empathize. I too have been overwhelmed and avoiding writing.