Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've been slacking on this blog, and I blame it on a late-winter slump.

My students finished the nature watching and writing part of the unit, and I changed the culminating assignment from poetry to... a choice of writing and submitting a Diary of a Wimpy Kid style diary entry to our local newspaper or writing and submitting (where?  still working on it) a poem.  In either case, they must use poetry elements or literary techniques, such as alliteration, simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, etc.

Students are typing their work on notebook computers in our classroom.  Word processing is always an adventure with 6th and 7th graders!  Despite their claims of being familiar with computers (i.e. IM or games), they need a lot of word processing practice.

I admit that writing with these students who already "struggle" with reading and writing is like pulling teeth.  And I really don't want to be a dentist, but I feel compelled by their reluctance to MAKE THEM write MORE, not less.  I want them to stop using AVOIDANCE to cope with their insecurity or lack of knowledge or lack of skill or whatever, and just PRACTICE.  QUANTITY OVER QUALITY, because quality eventually shows up after MUCH quantity.  So our next unit is the memoir.  We'll read some together, such as Jerry Spinelli's Knots in my Yo-yo String, Walter Dean Myers' Bad Boy, and Esme Raji Codell's Sing a Song of Tuna Fish.

Yes, those readings will lead to student memoir writing, but I need a stronger hook.  They've already done illustrated writings, so I need something else... not sure what...


Jennifer said...

how about a picture walk? ask students to bring in pictures from important, memorable, or defining experience in life. have students write briefly to tell the experience in PRESENT TENSE (as if it is happening right now!-- or you could do past, whatever). then, for fun, do a gallery walk with the mini-memoirs posted up next to the pictures.

i'm sure that's something my students would enjoy and they HATE writing. so i should probably do that. haha.

look, now i'm giving YOU advice, instead of just asking for help, yay!

Jennifer said...

there's also a few pretty cool ideas on i just looked at the list of lessons and the ctrl+f for "autobiography"

roller coaster teacher said...

Thanks for tips! Jen, you're awesome :)

Tricia Grissom said...

I don't know if you can get away with it, but I always read Anne Lamott's chapter on Shitty First Drafts to my students.

They really respond to the idea that most writing is pretty crappy when it first comes out. I wouldn't want the language to get you in trouble with your admin, though. But "Shitty" is the only questionable word, and her advice just resonates with my students.

Everything you're doing sounds so creative and interesting. Would that you had been my middle school instructor!

roller coaster teacher said...

THanks, Tricia! I talk about Lamott's chapter often, LOL! Except I censor and say "CRAPPY" first drafts, haha! I don't know if students believe me yet. The book Art and Fear emphasizes over and over QUANTITY, using sculptures and other art forms as examples, but same principle applies to writing.