Day 45: The Writing Process

Me in front of the list the class created this afternoon.

Teaching Language Arts is fun and I am learning more each day. Though, not as much fun as teaching geography, but I am learning and growing to like it. The students this year are enthusiastic and excited about learning. I know much of it has to do with my attitude and comfort level in the classroom. I have always been open with my students about what I think, how I learn, and the kind of student I was in seventh grade. 1974-75 was a long time ago and school was very different. But, growing up has changed and there is far more pressure and much higher expectations on the students in my classroom than there was in the classrooms of John Foster Dulles Junior high School.

My students are beginning the process of writing a personal narrative and the topic is to write about a personal event or time when they learned an important lesson. We discussed the topic yesterday and I read a post from the blog. It was related to the Writer’s notebook entry on Tuesday and the Writer’s notebook question asked them to write a paragraph about something scary that included at least five prepositional phrases. I immediately thought about the zip line and my fear of heights. There response was they did not know what a prepositional phrase was and they froze. Sometimes my students are afraid to take risks for fear of being wrong, thus they fail to learn at all. I struggle with that idea. How do I get them over the hurdle of falling down? So I shared my experience of being afraid of heights and standing at the top of the climbing tower. Afraid to look down, afraid to climb down and afraid to jump off the edge and zip down the line at Camp Tesomas this summer.  So on Wednesday, I read Day 34: Flags aloud to class and I re-read Day 35: The Mile. It was the first time I had re-read the post since posting it this summer, there is something to be said for going back and re-reading and re-visiting your writing. Though, several months later is a bit extreme. I decided that there were writing errors that really needed to be fixed and repaired. So, I revised and edited Day 35: The Mile. I read Day 35: The Mile to my classes today and asked them afterwards to come up with ways writers can get their readers interested in their writing. They came up with an exhaustive list which included:

  • use bigger words
  • tell most exciting or dreadful events
  • use an attention getter or hook – a good one
  • make the person feel as if they were there
  • use good detail and be descriptive
  • use a twist in the story
  • give the reader a reason to keep reading – use suspense leave the reader wondering (not wandering)
  • add pictures
  • vary your sentence types: declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, imperative
  • vary your sentence length
  • use dialogue
  • stay on topic
  • explain the conflict
  • make it easy to relate

A pretty good list though we are in the beginning of the writing process just brainstorming on their topic. They will be starting and writing their first paragraph with an attention getter tomorrow on Friday in class, right before the Halloween weekend.

Reyes, one of the custodians, graciously snapped my photo this afternoon!

When we come back after Halloween on Monday, we will be in the throes of the drafting phase of writing. Eventually their drafts will be finished and I will need to coax them into revising their writing. It is difficult for them to be critical about their writing and they struggle with the revising process. I wanted to demonstrate to them that all good writers revise and rethink all of the time; even, almost four months later.

So, today on the 45th day of the school year with 127 more ahead, I demonstrated revising my own writing. It took time and I am certain that there is something I missed or read over without thinking what was actually written. If you have time go back to re-read and revisit the time at Camp Tesomas, please do and let me know what you think. Today, was a great day, and tomorrow will be possibly the best day ever.  Making the Days Count, one day at a time.

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