Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Day My Students Became Writers

August: "Write a body paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting evidence and an analysis of the evidence."
These students need more help-- did they forget everything over the summer?
Conference, feedback.
September: "Here is a topic sentence. Let's select evidence together. Now, let's analyze the evidence."
More papers, more grading, more hoping, more helping.
Conference, feedback.
October: "Let's write a thesis, then write multiple body paragraphs to support the thesis using different topic sentences, and analyze evidence about our topic to be credible to our reader."
There is not enough coffee in the world for this.
Conference, feedback.
November: "Your writing is getting stronger. Let's switch from explanatory to argument writing."
We make claims, counterclaims, and argue our views based on evidence.
Conference, feedback.
December: "Now, let's write narratives. Yes, like fiction."
We write three different genres of fictional narratives and imagine and wonder and create.
Conference, feedback.
January: "Nonfiction writing can be funny and creative, too. Write an explanatory monologue."
We laugh, we cringe, we celebrate the genre.
Conference, feedback.
February: "What's the difference between argument writing and explanatory writing? Let's write one example of each."
We explore and wonder and master the genres.
Conference, feedback.
March: "Research a topic and write an informational article for an audience of teenagers."
We consider our audience, we read, we write.
Except this time, they write.
I pause. I survey the room and realize that somewhere between explanatory, narrative, and argument writing, my students became writers.
They are lost in the process and the focus in the classroom is energizing.
There is the student in the back who could barely write a paragraph in August; now, his outline is so long he has to cut sections out to make the writing more logical.
There is the student by the bookcase who put her head down every day and refused to write; now, her fingers fly across the keyboard as she tries to make her hands catch up with her brain.
Conference, feedback:
"I'm so proud of you and the writing happening in this room," I say, and mean it.