Showing posts from September, 2012

Sometimes They Still Surprise Me

I know most of my students pretty well. I work really hard at knowing them. I learn about boyfriends/girlfriends, out of school activities, jobs, sports, music, family, books. You name it, I really try to find out about it. But, once in awhile, one of them surprises me. Today was one of those surprises. It started with a phone call... "Sorry to bother you in the middle of class. H has some questions about some poetry you are doing in creative writing. Can he come down or are you in the middle of a lecture?" Lecture? Me? "Send him down. My students are recording today. I've got the time to visit with him." Now, you should know that this is the same young man I wrote about last week . We're getting to the meat of his story, but it still has a ways to go. He saunters in. I really expect to tell him that he doesn't have to write poetry. I just want him to try a draft of it. "So," he begins, "last night, when I got home from

The Real Story

He thinks he's writing about his small cousins' birthday party. But he's not. He doesn't know I understand. His sister shared a very similar story last year. His first piece of writing is just too much. You know what I mean. There's almost too much story there, covering up the one he really wants to tell. We talk. We peel away layers. We strip away details until it hurts. And there it is. The real story. He won't want to share it with anyone and that's OK. He shared it with himself. The real story.

Things That Made Me Smile

Taking a moment to remember the little things that made me smile this week. Smile number one: My freshmen English classes meet the last two hours of the day.  On Fridays, it's almost impossible to get them to focus on much of anything.  The last two weeks we have worked on "fun" writing assignments. The first was a version of a pass-back story. I gave them three totally unrelated words and they had to use them in a story.  Each member in the group of four wrote for one minute. When the timer beeped, they passed the story on to the next person in the group. These turned out pretty silly, but the kids had fun and they were writing. Last week we wrote ABC stories. The stories were 26 lines long and each line started with a letter of the alphabet.  I couldn't believe how hard they worked on these!  They giggled. They wrote. They shared. I love it! Smile number two:  This smile started with a post Chloe and I wrote this summer.  One of the elementary teachers in ou

Don't Be Boring...

I love my drama class. Most of them are my "Speech kids"...those kids who work with me from November through March to go to contest.  But there are also about five who just took Drama because they needed an English credit. They are, however, very talented and fit right in with my kids. The assignment I give the first day of school is called "Don't Be Boring".  Students can do anything they want in one to three minutes. They just can't be boring.  It's purpose is to get them to perform right away. There's nothing worse than waiting for days before you have to perform in front of the class, even if you know them well. This class showed some talent--I had a student play the ukelele and sing a Jason Mraz song . One sang, another played her clarinet, several told stories. And when we were done, they wanted to do it again. They seemed to have a new found respect for the others in the class--especially those they didn't know well. "I

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 writ


It's been four years since I've taught a drama class. In four years, I forgot how much I enjoyed it.  I laugh every day at the craziness that comes out of high school students. For them, I think this class is like recess.... Anyway We've been working on pantomimes in class.  Creating small stories without props. Today's assignment was a real person pantomime. We had moms driving cars, little kids watching TV and even Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk. My favorite was a dead on pantomime of our principal when he walks into a classroom. Hysterical. Really. Everyone knew who she was doing. Next, a student did Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.  And the following conversation brought tears to my eyes. "Isn't it Armstrong? Isn't it Louis?" "No. Louis was a jazz trumpet player. Neil was the astronaut." "Yea. Yea. Neil. Didn't he just die or something?" "Yes. He did." "Oh. Now both moonwalkers are dead.

Practicing What I Teach

After reading and discussing  Write Beside Them  by Penny Kittle this summer with a group of blogging friends, I vowed I would write more WITH my Creative Writing students. Today's prompt I really like ("stolen" Diana at One Literacy Coach ) Things I Didn't Do This Summer: I didn't go to the hospital when I rolled my ankle (although I think I should have) I didn't get to see Los Lonely Boys in concert in Arnold's Park (although we went to another concert and saw them. I didn't enjoy the excessive heat we had for much of the last part of the summer (although I found ways to beat it) I didn't miss my grandchildren ( I saw them a lot) I didn't read near enough books I didn't break any records in golf I didn't write all I wanted I didn't catch the bouquet at one of the weddings I attended this summer I didn't cry when school started Something Just for Fun I found this video through Pinterest this morning and