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!


For Mother’s Day, I taught my kids to make these. I had to learn how myself first, and this is the result. Enjoy!


7 thoughts on “Confession

  1. You are the spirit that “loams about this place”? Fascinating. In which sense of the verb? (I didn’t even realise it was a verb until I checked the OED.)

    1. trans. To cover or plaster with loam. ? Obs.

    2. To dress with loam.

    3. Austral. intr. and trans. To search (a region) for gold by washing the loam from a hill’s base until the increasing number of gold grains leads to the lode.

    • Is it really a real verb? Fortunately, I never knew that.

      I had meant it, with as much pretentiousness as I could muster, to mean something like “floating/wandering/drifting around sad, empty landscapes in a melancholy fashion”. I like the sound of it, and the image of simple but treacherous ground that it contains.

      Now, given that it is really a verb, I might have to find a new, idiotic way of describing my persona!

  2. Now that I consider it, your intended effect could perhaps have been achieved by either “loom” or “roam”. And so, I’m curious; which was intended? Or were you intending a portmanteau of the two?

    • Whenever possible, I go with a made-up word. Or, if you prefer, a portmanteau! Possible I did mean to do that on purpose, but I really don’t remember. Anyway, I still prefer loam!

      (What would be the fun of being an Egotist and a Muse if I couldn’t be absurd?)

  3. Sometimes I wonder: is there something different about pre-collegiate education, some mysterious force behind teachers’ commands which students resist less and obey more? Halfway through high school, I had a teacher who told us to write various kinds of stories, and we did. They weren’t necessarily very good, but they *did* get written. I keep wondering what would happen if I tracked down Mr. Weier and asked him to give me more assignments…

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