Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Long Time No Write

I've been really busy. I've been thinking about writing daily, but I just couldn't muster the creativity at the times that became available. My story about Rose has been on my mind and I have figured out where I want to go with her--but not today.

Today I'm going to share something I've been doing with my classes. It worked really well. Last week I borrowed the book, The Secret Knowledge of Grownups, from Kim. I love that book and had forgotten about it. A lot of my students have been getting bogged down in their writing because they always write about themselves and something they have done. Face it, there are only so many truly interesting Six Flags stories. On the one hand, I tell them to write about what they know, but on the other hand, most of what they know is pretty ordinary (not unlike myself).

The trick is to get them to turn on their imaginations using what they know as a springboard. This book is wonderful as a tool to get them to loosen up. The Secret Knowledge contains several sayings, or Rules as they are called in the book, that grownups tell children all the time, but it gives the "real" reason for the Rule. For example, we always tell children to eat their vegetables or we tell them not to bite their fingernails. Then, the book tells the kids the real reason we say such things to them, i.e., the fingernail pieces will grow like seeds and become fingers which then go on to cause problems. The book is hilarious and the kids love it. But I only share 2 or 3 rules with them--just enough for them to get the idea of what's going on. Then I pick another rule and they have to make up the "real" reason for the rule.

It is almost impossible to take this assignment seriously and they really have fun coming up with ideas. After I have given them the rule to be thinking about, we make a WOW line and then I set the timer for 2 minutes. They complete their WOW line in that time frame (yes, I modeled using a different rule). Then they settle in comfortably somewhere and I set the timer for 10 minutes during which time they write a draft of their whole story. By putting time limits, they can't think the idea to death. They have to get busy. All I am looking for are creative, imaginative ideas. I got them, too. It gave me a chance to demonstrate that writing can be fun and doesn't have to be a slow agonizing process. It gave them a chance to see that they really can come up with an idea for writing. We'll see what happens next week in writing class!

1 comment:

  1. I'm "write" there with you, Vicky! Mentally exhausted and not able to get the creativity to flow when I actually had the time to sit down and write. I have been rolling ideas around in my head, though, as well as learning things from other teachers. I think I'll be able to get back on track during our Labor Day break. I love the book you used-- I've always thought it was a bit long, so I think it was so smart of you to just use a few rules.