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!


8 thoughts on “Teaching children to write…and other really cool things!

  1. That is so neat! All too often, those special needs kids get thrown in a classroom where little learning takes place. It always makes me smile when a teacher is willing to think outside of the box and really work with special needs kids. Just like infants and toddlers, they’re so much smarter than we give them credit for. They just require a different style of teaching. (My two cents…)

  2. I can’t even tell you how thrilled I was to hear how well they are doing. It seriously chokes me up 🙂 I’ve been having one of those weeks where I question why in the world I decided to travel this crazy path – and things like this are exactly why. I want to give all those kids a big hug. I am so incredibly excited and proud of those little writers! Thanks so much for the post, Christine. I think I’ll have a perma-smile for the rest of the week 😀

  3. Christine, this was so inspiring.

    Writing poetry is emotional work in itself. I can only imagine the satisfaction gained from helping others tap into their expressive creativity.

    And I applaud everyone who helps kids to learn something new–the experience stays with them forever.

  4. Congrats, that’s great news! I’ve worked with special needs kids (my oldest son is considered one), so I know how even the smallest accomplishment means so much. And what you guys did was a huge accomplishment. You should be very proud. 😀

  5. I love this post. Besides being filled with a positive story about writing, kids and overcoming preconceived notions — a few of my favorite things — it shines with a happy voice of someone doing something she loves. Thanks for making me smile.

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