Wednesday, January 4, 2012

But I Don't Have Weird Friends Like You Do

Connecting in Creative Writing is a little different than speech.  It's easier in some ways. For one thing, I have had most of these students in class before. We have a relationship of sorts.  I know things about them, they know some things about me. The connecting comes as we work through ideas and write them in our notebooks.

In some ways, it's harder. I already think I know things about them. They already think they know things about me.  Sometimes, like this morning, it would be easier to just let them come in and start just go with the status quo. When I came into my room, they were already hard at work on the writing autobiography I assigned yesterday.

But today, because of my OLW--CONNECT- I worked a little harder at deepening those connections.

I let them work the first part of the period, but with about 20 minutes left, I asked them to put away their computers and get out their notebooks.

I began with the simple words, "I am a writer.  These are my writer's notebooks. And when I first began my blog, it was hard for me to continually come up with ideas to write about.  So, I began making lists because it's my favorite way to write.  This is the first list I wrote in my notebook."

PEOPLE             PLACES               THINGS

the right side is my people, places, and things list

And I show them my list and how I got started.  I relate how I chose people, which sometimes lead me to places or things.  My writing scribbles all over my white board.  The rows fill as I tell quick little anecdotes about the things I wrote on my list.  Then, I ask them to do the same thing.

Most begin writing with a little trepidation. Frequently heard, "But I don't have any weird people and things like you do."  They always focus on the two, rather unique people I included on my list.  They forget about my college friends, the resort where our cabin is, Chloe, the college I attended...all the normal things I have included. 

So, I remind them of the things in their life I know about (this is the easy part). 

"What about your friends S and I?" I ask of one student. "They're a little weird. And together, I'll bet you've had a few experiences you could write about.  And what about some of the teachers you've had.  Any of them have a few quirks that make you laugh?"

Her list begins to fill.

To a young man trying to hide in the back and not fill out his list, "I had you in 6th period English in 7th grade.  Are there not a few things you could write about from that class?"

"Well, yeah..."

"Hello...get that notebook back out!  Think of how crazy that class could be and all the things you all tried to get away with."

He begins scribbling away.

In talking to those two, the entire class is writing furiously in their notebooks. Lists are beginning to take up most of a page!  One small lesson. Two small connections.  Success.


  1. What an awesome example of connecting with your students. And sharing a piece of you -- your writer's notebook! So brave!

  2. Lovely last three lines. :)

    I like lists too.

    And I really like seeing your notebook. It's crazy-cool the way seeing your handwriting makes me feel like I know you more than just the typed words.

    Happy writing,

  3. Love the line, "But I don't have any weird people and things like you do." Isn't it great what they think of us, even though they do like us at least a little bit. Thanks for sharing your story as well as the notebook pic. Terrific to see!

  4. I too love the glimpse into your notebook. I want to be in your class. I learn so much from your posts, but I just know there is so much more happening between the moments you are able to capture in writing.

    Your post from yesterday and the newness of your students in that one class had me thinking all day today when I returned from break to face my students. There is so much good about deepening connections with students we know so well at this point in the year, but it is definitely fun that you get a splash of newness to offer a whole different set of challenge and reward at this point in the year.

  5. Like Christy, I want to be in your class. I would love to take a creative writing class. I've never taken one.