Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Might Be a Writer

I keep "mission control" at the back of the classroom near a window.   The inside walls of my room are gray, so's the carpet.   Even the sky's been gray this week.   That's what made this writing opportunity just about perfect.

I was at my desk and some kids were nearby turning in papers and chatting.   At the exact moment I turned towards the window, a huge black bird swooped down from the gray sky, showing off a serious wingspan before landing just feet below.   My eyes widened at the sight, and I snapped my head around to see if anyone else had noticed. 

Yes.   I turned to see a male student with eyes as wide as mine.   "A bird!" he exclaimed.   Then he went to his bookbag and pulled out his second quarter two-sentence journal assignment.

At that moment I got another rush on top of the bird sighting.   I just saw one of my students become a writer.   He's been working at it for a while; his writing is improving exponentially.   I hadn't yet seen everything gel in a way that let me know that he could fly on his own.   

Swoop.   There it was!   

For second quarter, I gave my writers a list of 20 people, places and things to observe over the course of the nine weeks.   They were to "write hot" and not rely on memories alone.   (Yes, I know.   Some of my kids are going to fake every last one of those 20 two-sentence entries.   But some of them won't.   And magic will happen.)

Here's the list: 

four legged friend
mode of transportation
something unusual
something electric
child under 5
high school student
adult over 40
parking lot
inside a library or bookstore
grocery store
inside a closet or wardrobe
view through a window
inside a drawer

So what did he write?   
Here's E.S.'s two-sentence observational journal about a bird: 

"The black feathery beast glided from the roof.   
It realized there was no food and continued on its search." 

Here's the encore for tonight. Just because.

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