I have been thinking about writing lately.
Thinking, but not doing. I have a great many things that need writing: letters, emails, my thesis, this blog. Yet I cannot summon the will to write anything. Which rather defies the first purpose of this blog – to practice writing regularly.
But last Tuesday my students shamed me into writing.
We had been working on a “reasoning” worksheet using the book we are reading; Number the Stars. The students had to construct an argument proving that the main character, Annemarie, was courageous. The worksheet required a list of way that know things about a character, (description, actions, words, what other characters say/think, etc.,) a definition of courage, 3 example from the book (with page number!) that proved Annemarie’s courage, any example that might be used against our argument, and a final judgment.
Do you see where I was going with this worksheet?
The kids did not.
Worksheet completed, I had them each hold his in the air, touch his nose twice, turn around three times, and clap.
The simple worksheet had changed into everything that was needed to write a kick-ass 5-paragraph essay!
(NB: I did not say kick-ass. I said awesome.)
They groaned. They tried to reverse the magic by doing all those calisthenics backwards. No luck.
So we started the in-class essay on Tuesday. I asked for an introductory paragraph, one that would make ME, the intended audience, want to read it. We discussed opening sentences, how to grab interest, and how to clearly state the purpose of the essay. They had 25 minutes to write.
At the end of the 25 minutes, eight of them had written the entire thing. EIGHT. Out of 23. Wrote a 5-7 sentence per paragraph 5-paragraph essay.
And these were not slouchers, either. Most had 3 whole sides of paper covered. They had even thought to ask me how to cite page numbers, and then did it perfectly.
My ten-year-old students can write faster than I can.
And, their essays are pretty good. No incomplete sentences, and neat, if mechanical, transitions. The organization was mostly furnished by the worksheet, and they had the sense to stick to it.
I had to sit down and do a self-examination. Just because I don’t have a teacher prowling the edges of the room doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be writing. I am supposed to be writing more than my students! For example; I started this post last night, but took 45 minutes this morning to finish it.
What I do instead? Er, grade. Eat. Make paper roses. Lesson plan. Etc.
I will go look over my thesis now. Bye-bye!