I have a great job. Not only do I get to hang out with cool kids every day, but sometimes I even get to help them write. Such has been my life over the past few weeks.
One of my special education teachers and I decided to introduce her class of 6th through 8th grade students to the “art” of writing. We wanted to see if we could use some of the How-To advice from my agent-mate, crit buddy and good friend, Michelle McLean, and apply it to a group of students who struggle with learning related to various learning disabilities.
So, we used ideas from Michelle’s book, From Papers to Poetry, as well as structured writing programs, a crit circle (me), and other techniques to encourage personal narrative writing.
The results after a few short weeks – nothing short of amazing. I have students, who could not write a paragraph, let alone an essay, writing amazing personal narratives, full of vivid imagery, varied sentence structure, emotional content and active verbs.
All because the teacher – who is amazing in her own right – used Michelle’s ideas along with her own unique teaching style and threw herself into it.
My role in this process has been small…I come in weekly and chat with the kids. A few weeks ago I helped them flesh out some ideas, develop a strong hook, and choose vivid imagery. The teacher and I taught them to utilize the thesaurus to beef up their writing, as well as other writing tools. I meet with the students in small groups and provide feedback to their stories, help them spot the holes and fix them.
We are going to be holding an Author’s Tea at the end of the semester just to give these students a chance to show off their work.
So what’s next – we are participating in a modified version of the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program. We set small, achievable goals for the students and are so excited to see the results. Who knows, we may have opened the door for a few future writers!