See the bottom of the page for the course description.
Homework given on Oct. 2nd Students are to work on developing a problem that will have to be solved during the course of their story.
Homework given on Sept. 25th. We are beginning a long project that will result in a book. Students are to be determining the setting of their story and working on coming up with the main characters. We are not writing the story yet. We will spend time on plot, character development, and setting. Students will write portions that they will edit. The final product will be ‘published’ in some books I’ve purchased. Students may add some illustrations to their stories, these are best done on seperate unlined paper and then we will glue them into the book. We will be working in class on learning to edit your own work, so please don’t edit all of your students work. Our goal is for them to learn to be editors so that they are not always dependent on an adult to do it for them.
Homework given on Sept. 18th. This week we talked about the concept of showing and not telling. It’s a difficult concept and I was very happy with the work they did in class. The idea is, that when we tell a story it is much more effective to show how a character behaves than to explain it. For instance, having a character arrive in a limo, be rude, demanding, and snobbish in dealing with people in the lobby of a hotel etc. is interesting and ‘shows’ the persons character in ways that a description will not. For the writing in class we used familiar characters from cartoons and kids TV shows that everyone was familiar with, then they had to write a scene that they had seen that gave us a glimpse of the characters…character.
For homework the kids are to write another ‘showing’ paragraph, this time about a character of their own invention.
Homework given on Sept. 11th.
We are working on word choices. Words are the elements we use to communicate and to write well. In class we talked about how making choices in the words we use can convey different feelings. I asked the kids to write down three words that they thought were creepy, safe, about a parade, the Dentist, and two others that are escaping me right now. lol They are to come up with sentences using those words.
The goal is to show students that just adding on a slew of adjectives to a noun is often less effective than choosing a great noun to begin with. For instance, instead of saying ‘the man’ how about, the businessman, King, beggar etc. The idea is to begin to nudge your students toward descriptive language while also remaining concise. By concise I mean not just filling up the page with unnecessary words, but making the words you choose really work for you. While adjectives and adverbs have their place a well chosen noun and verb can be very powerful.
I have also encouraged students to begin to keep a word book. As they are reading, watching a movie, or just going about their day, encourage them to be attentive to the words people use. They should record these words in a book they can then refer back to. While writing, it is often difficult to come up with the exact word you would like and having a book of great words to flip through can be a productive resource and inspiration.
If you would like ideas for additional ways your child can work on these I’d suggest reading this post.
Let the fun begin. This is a course to get your creative juices flowing. While we will be learning serious writing skills we will also spend a good deal of time playing with language, and well, being silly. Children need to work with words, to line them up in new ways, to try out the unfamiliar, and to learn to love paying with language. We will be reading several books in class to inspire us, keeping word journals to collect our favorite words, and writing as much as possible. This is an ungraded class. My goal is to get kids loving reading and writing. That is difficult to do when a grade is hanging over your head, when there is fear that our writing won’t be ‘good’ enough, and interferes with the child’s developing verbal skills. Most adults are hesitant to share their writing with others, children are no different…and I will be asking them to share, so creating a safe environment in which to do that will be key to our success.
I encourage you parents not to interfere too much with your child’s attempts. Writing is a complex skill, and often parents feel the need to come in behind the child and ‘clean up’. This is counter productive in several ways. First, it communicates to your child that what they are doing is not good enough and is discouraging. Second, it prevents me from getting an accurate idea of where the children are and modifying lessons to accommodate that. If you help overmuch your child will begin to find writing a stressful activity and undermine the safe environment we are trying to create.
So how can you help, read, read, read to your child…that is key. Next, be honest. It’s always good to offer praise, but don’t be effusive over every little thing they write or do. If you know they didn’t put forth much effort, communicate that. Too much praise has pretty much the same affect as too little. With no praise or encouragement children can become discouraged…with praise that is constant no matter what the child has done they realize that you are not sincere and that the words of praise don’t really mean much. They can internalize this easily into ‘Mom is saying that to make me feel better even though we both know what I did wasn’t good, she must be saying it cause she knows i’m really bad at this and doesn’t want me to feel bad.” Can you see how that can happen? So, be honest. Offer honest praise. There is generally something to praise; a well chosen word, a clever idea, or a good conclusion. Be gentle in your correction. Don’t mark up a whole paper with red ink. Focus on one or two areas that are weak and work on those…once they are mastered you can move on to the next thing.