Monday, February 20, 2012

The Wonderful World of Writing

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Lately, I’ve been trying to teach my class to be better writers.

’Tis not always the easiest of feats, I must say; as I pondered over how I should best go about this a few weeks ago, I was struck by a gloriously wonderful epiphany.

I decided to invite the students into my thought processes as I wrote—to take a journey into my brain for a short visit...which I did. I started this all off by writing an un-descriptive, lame ‘paragraph’ of one to three sentences; from there I would model to my students how I would read this text aloud, reread it, and change the wording until it sounded the way I wanted it to, causing it drip from the tongue like honeysuckle nectar.

The first mini-selection I wrote on my own, but for the others I invited the students to offer up suggestions and we rewrote these—on ensuing days—together.

And now, I present you with the final versions of creative writing from my motley crew of fifth graders...

I didn’t want to go to school today. I was really tired.

When the alarm on my phone pierced the early morning darkness, I realized that I had no desire to go to school today. As I tried to pry my eyes open, it felt like my eyelids were glued in place. I felt completely exhausted; I wanted to stay in bed all day and do nothing but rest.

Last week, Mr. Z said that we couldn’t use pronouns. It was hard.

Last week, Mr. Z decided to challenge the class not to use pronouns for one whole hour. At first, I thought that this would be a piece of cake, but was I ever wrong! It was extremely hard and that hour felt like a million years. It got even worse when that loudmouth, *Joey, suggested that we pay one bonus buck for every pronoun we used in class! Man, that stunk for those people who used pronouns! Luckily though, Mr. Z said that he would pay all of us one bonus buck for every pronoun he used. It was awesome.

We read a story in class today. We made salsa. It tasted good.

We read a story in class today called Carlos and the Skunk. It was about a boy named Carlos who was trying to impress his friend, Gloria; however, it turned out terrible! Carlos tried to pick up a skunk by its tail that they had nicknamed two toes. As a result, Carlos got sprayed from head to shoes. I loved the story, because it was hilarious!

Carlos’ family had a fun tradition of making homemade salsa, and the recipe for the salsa was at the end of the story. Mr. Z surprised our class by bringing all of the ingredients (except garlic) to make this deliciously zesty recipe.

The fragrant odor of cilantro filled the classroom as we watched Mr. Z make the salsa. My mouth was watering. We had to read the story again with partners (if we wanted) with good expression while the next batch was being made. The whole time I was reading, I was thinking about the salsa and how good it would taste.

Finally, it was time. Mr. Z broke out the bags of chips; my taste buds were begging me to taste the salsa. Even though *Joey said that it was disgusting, to the rest of us it tasted like summer was already here.

It snowed. I like the snow. It’s pretty. I wish it snowed more than it has.

It was Sunday morning; I was nestled and snug in my soft, warm bed. When I opened my bleary eyes, I had to shield them from the brightness flooding my room. I groaned and rolled out of my bed feeling like a zombie emerging from its grave for the first time.

I slowly dragged myself over to the window and opened the blinds—seeing a Narnian world of whiteness. I could feel the icy coolness of the outside as I pressed my cheek against the frosty window. A warm fire seemed to burn deep within my soul. My eyes widened as I gazed at the snow, drifting from the heavens on gossamer angel wings, and settling on the roofs of the houses and yards in the neighborhood; it was like the sugary rooftops of gingerbread houses. It made me think of Christmas all over again.

*Name has been changed so as to protect the guilty.


Mindy said...

Okay - Wow!

What a brilliant idea and what great results! And by doing them together you've given them the platform to start dipping their toes into that stream of consciousness that good writers delve into, holding nothing back.

While they were all awesome, I have to admit I especially loved the description of the snowy day - "Narnian world of whiteness..." "gossamer angel wings..." even the description of "rolling out of bed like a zombie emerging..." had me visualizing that magical day.

Thanks for sharing.

Mamma has spoken said...

Oh how I love working with the writing process! Though I have to say there were many pronouns in the pronoun piece....

Tracy P. said...

What??? No garlic???

This is beautiful. I was recently lamenting that my own kids sometimes seem to lack enough guided practice before they get to the independent stage (i.e. homework). I think teachers feel pressured to get through the material, especially when testing consumes so much time. Good for you, taking time to do it together. I hope it pays off in some fantastically descriptive writing from your students!

Karen Peterson said...

What a great teaching activity. And those were so much fun to read.

Gerb said...

This is just the kind of thing I need to do. Thanks for the inspiration!

Lindzena said...

What a fun idea! I LOVE IT. Augh, if I ever end up in a situation like yours here... I am going to have to remember this. Brilliant.

Em S said...

What a great idea! These kids write better than me!

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