March 20, 2012
Today is the day I chose to get caught up on my students writing. The first week or so of the SOL I read their Slices daily. Then life took over and I just could not keep up with all the lesson plans, the correcting and reading 29 Slices everyday. So I check in on a few every so often but tonight was the night to be sure I had recorded who was writing daily and read through their work.
It was an amazing adventure into a little corner of their life. They are indeed writing little slices of their life. I am not sure why I find that so amazing but I do. These fourth graders have told me about BBQ’s, basketball games, the house fire, the father who was shot, the father who died in a car accident when the student was 5, the classroom drama about who likes who, the specialist teachers they like or not, when they have gotten in trouble in media for chewing gum, the story of a backpack, the lectures from me that they hate but realize I was right and on it goes. The great moments in the life of a fourth grader. Amazing!!! and Wonderful!!! They are writing and they are indeed writers.
I began this project with them to get words on paper. Lots of words on paper. Words that we could then begin to edit, strengthen and create into more polished pieces. The problem now is that these short works feel to me like personal journal entries – which they are. I don’t like the idea of editing and polishing a personal journal. To me the personal journal is the place that is free and safe from the details of editing. A place we just write freely to express our thoughts and feelings.
What do I do? There are great ideas here – a 4 out of 5 on my writing rubric but everything goes down hill from there. ( sentence structure, rich words, conventions, etc) Do I ask them to choose a day to develop? Do we step into their personal journal to learn to revise and edit? Of do I leave this untouched. I can always set up some writing prompts and we can revise and edit those. ( Although I know they will not have the energy that these short pieces written from the heart have.)
Ah the writing teachers dilemma! Advice friends???