#Slice2013 - Day 22 of 31
Please note the word planned.
Today the netbook cart was already reserved by someone else. This rarely happens, so I've gotten in the habit of not reserving it. Oops.
Today I pulled the best examples of writing from our final drafts and, with permission, shared them with both classes. I asked my learners to listen carefully for what jumped out at them as examples of writing they thought worked well.
I read, they listened.
Then I asked, "So. What did you notice?"
They called out words, phrases, and structure points they liked. I wrote everything on my whiteboard. Then we categorized.
They noticed unique verbs, similes, metaphors, interesting introductions, truisms, organization styles, great descriptions, and specific details. They noticed the difference in writing that left the world of vague generalities to paint a specific picture purposefully crafted by the writer. They noticed that the writers included what was important, and nothing more. They noticed the writers wrote personal stories that mattered, and that these stories included some kind of struggle or conflict. They noticed emotions. They noticed everything (and more) that I hoped for. They are nine and ten years old. To me, this is astounding.
Then I asked them if they would like to revisit their drafts and look for places to revamp their writing.
I was not disappointed. They all wanted to look again.
So they did.
And one by one, I met with each of them.
I asked them, "So. What do you think your story is really all about?"
They told me their story -- not the written version, but the story from their heart. When they finished, I simply asked if they felt the story they told me was the story they wrote.
Often, they realized their writing had several details that took away from their purpose. Or that the story they really wanted to tell took up about one paragraph of rushed sentences, and the rest of their writing was extra information. I didn't tell them this. I just asked, "Does what you wrote match what you want your reader to experience? Does it tell the truth of the moment you are trying to explain?"
Once they decided what the answer was, we talked some more. They chose what to change, and off they went to make those changes.
I love asking questions and watching them think through what they want - to find their own answer. I love watching writers develop their craft. I love the fact that I get to talk with them and help them explore writing, and I don't need to give them anything, but an ear, a smile, and a few encouraging words.
Today didn't go as planned. But it went exactly as it needed to.
And that, dear readers, is an excellent thing, indeed.