Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting Them Ready to Write

My creative writing class this semester is boy heavy. Boys who don't like to write. Most, took this class because they needed another English credit, and they like me. That's not bragging, it's just what it is.  They are some of the SSB's that I have written about in the past.  Many are not the students that one would wish to have in class--especially a class that makes them think and write and create.
They're just not that kind of student.

Ask one about the band he is in and you are likely to get a history of rock and roll.
Ask another about what he did over the weekend, you'll find out everything you ever wanted to know about racing.
Hunting is always a favorite thing to talk about.
So is football. So is wrestling. So is farming.
There is one young man that I can't get to be positive about anything.

But write?

Text messaging is about all the writing they do. A few also on Twitter or Facebook. They write when they have to at school.

They write as little as possible.

So, these first two weeks of school I have spent more time than I ever have working on ways to get writing ideas. I have liberally stolen exercises from my favorite teacher/authors, Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher. I have had writing prompts on the board that make them think outside of the box and beg for more to be written.

I show them work from the past.
I have them practice different styles (they thought 6 Word Memoirs were going to be easy until they had to try to write a couple).
I make those styles short!
I talk to them.

Next week, they are going to start telling their story.

We'll see what happens.


  1. Love that blank writers notebook. And I bet it's going to be filled wonderfully in these next weeks, Deb. Can't wait to hear more about these boys. I haven't read but a little bit online, but I wonder if Ralph Fletcher's Boy Writers would help too. Maybe. Wish I could be a little mouse to watch you & this group. I imagine magic!

  2. I was wondering that too. I may have to get it!

  3. Ahh, this is the joy of it all, isn't it? Finding out what makes them tick, what will be the nudge that moves them. You are a master at connecting and drawing out stories. I am with Linda--I picture that magic of yours working on these students.

    I know they need you, but haven't you always wanted to teach 8th grade language arts in a suburb of Chicago?? My beloved colleague who joined me in reading and living Penny Kittle's Write Beside Them this year is moving to a curriculum coordinator position. The classroom next door to me will be empty! Oh, how wish a Deb Day would come fill it with her magic!

  4. Yup, you are awesome! Keep pushing, those stories will eventually come.