Thursday, November 05, 2009

Let Em' Write


I teach a blogging class as part of our After School Program. While I do get paid a pittance (nobody ever got rich teaching the public schools) I offered to do it for the love of writing. Having wrung all the joy from reading the wretched TAKS test is now doing the same for writing.

Children are taught to "write to the prompt" - and the prompt is almost always some variation on "A Day I Was Happy" or "A Sad Day" or "The Best Day Ever " - you get the gist. In addition, these kids, many of have fingers on a keyboard since they could toddle must write in pencil and must do all the edits and revisions via total re-writes. No wonder they consider writing an exercise in misery.

I know that my own blogging experience has improved my own writing. The computer freed me from my own constraints of horrid spelling and wretched handwriting and allowed my ideas to flow.

I hoped the kids would mirror my own experiences and I think I might be right. This is my second year and many of the students signed up for a second round. We even added a second class. It's a two hour class and when it's time to go home I'm greeted with whines of "not yet" and "already??".

We always begin by brainstorming some possible topics. A number of our teachers were out today and most of the kids spent the day with some beleaguered substitutes.

"Write about how you tortured the subs today" I suggested.

"We can't write about that!!!!"

"Why not, make it funny and don't use any names and be sure to write nothing inappropriate"

"You mean we really can write about that? "

"Sure"

"Won't we get in trouble"

"No, just let me me read it before you publish"

So off they went. My role is that of the grammar and punctuation police and general editor and chopper of run on sentences. Most of the students are ESL or bi-lingual and while they write in English they still think in Spanish. Much of their writing still uses the Spanish syntax so it's my job to show them how to adapt it to English syntax. I always edit with them one on one and do it as a "think aloud" so they can grasp there is a method to my madness.

They love the spell check Blogger provides and adore the fact that revisions take only a flick or two on the keyboard.

This one made me laugh out loud. The writer is a 5th grade boy who is in a bilingual classroom. It called for a bit of editing, but not much. Best of all, he had fun writing it and I had even more fun reading it.

2 comments:

Linda Moran said...

Absolutely the best prompt ever!!

janettrumble said...

I love your blog! And teaching blogging to kids is an AWESOME idea! You use Blogger for that? That's always a problem in my district. We are only allowed to use district approved services which are usually cumbersome, ugly, and isolated. Same thing with wikis. Grrr... Any chance you do NaNoWriMo with your kids too?