Thursday, February 17, 2011

Creation: A Teacher's Tale of Writing

I love a good creation story. Let me share with one with you. I think it's a lovely tale of struggle and satisfaction, but I may be a tad biased.

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M1 doesn't like writing. That's a given. He never will. It's a fact of life, though, even for a kid who is heavily into science (great scientific discoveries must be published!). We've been working on the writing process lately. This means breaking it down into itty-bitty steps and trying to get something coherent out at the end. It's daunting. He knows the basics of a sentence - capital letter at the beginning, commas in lists, punctuation at the end. He's got a good grasp of grammar and sentence structure. He's a natural at spelling (and works wonders with his handy-dandy electronic dictionary for any word he can't figure out instantly). He can even tell you what's wrong with a sentence after it's been written... and fix it! But the idea of putting all this together to create a cohesive story has been a lot to wrap his head around. Because he hates book reports (retelling a story is something he can do in 2 minutes flat, so why write it down??) and inventing stories (either he has no ideas or 500 of them, and neither of those two mesh well with getting thoughts down on paper), we're working on narratives.

First, we had to get over the brainstorming hurdle. We'd done brainstorming before, so I simply said, "Brainstorm some ideas of a memory you'd like to share." He froze. He cried. I felt bad. We talked. And I finally worked out that he thought he had to pretty much come up with EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of his story on the spot!

Overthinking much? (Genetics may play a part here.)

I rephrased, "Come up with three or four BIG IDEAS of memories that you'd want to share."

He did.

"Now brainstorm three things to go with each idea, IF YOU CAN. If you can't, then we know that isn't the right topic for you. Just cross them out."

He did. And there was Evening, and there was Morning, the First Day.

The next day we chose the topic and wrote down a list of things that happened, step by step, without paying any attention to spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc. He just got to write down the memory. Then we made sure it answered all the important questions: WHO was involved, WHAT happened, WHERE it happened, WHY it happened, WHEN it happened, HOW it happened, and, because it's a narrative and I like to make him work with his emotions, HOW he felt about it all. He was thrilled to do this because it was easy; all he had to do was write down the facts! My boy likes facts.

And there was Evening, and there was Morning, the Second Day.

On the third day, I had him write down the topic sentence, i.e. What the story is all about. He turned it into two sentences and thought I'd be mad. MAD? MAD that he turned it into a baby paragraph?? HA!

I liked The Third Day.

On the Fourth Day, we restated the facts for the middle of his story, doing the editing as we went. In other words, he got to tell the story. Easy peasy.

I was going to have him write a closing sentence or two (the ones about how he felt) on Day Five, but he beat me to the punch and did it on Day Four. So Day Five was a rest. I felt Great Accomplishment, and so did he.

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Without further ado, M1's story:

My mom and I drove to the zoo to see the lion cubs. I felt cold because it was late fall. We went to see the lion cubs because it was their birthday. When we got there, they were already out. We watched them play with balls and lick frozen blood. The birthday was funny. I laughed a lot. I want to go again.

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My son amazes me.

3 comments:

Beth said...

Awwwww!! He's doing so good!! :)

Brilliant Creations said...

Love it! Especially the frozen blood part! :)

Mom on the Verge said...

And the people saw it and declared that it was good. YAYYY!

(Patience is key, Grasshopper... You have learned well.)