I’ve heard Lucy Calkins say that the mark of a great writing conference is that the writer leaves with increased energy for writing. A great comment on someone’s Slice of Life story can do the same. Learning to compliment others well is a real art. Receiving any kind of positive feedback on one’s writing feels great. Receiving a compliment that gets at the heart of what one was trying to do as a writer feels amazing.
Teach your students to leave compliments for others that point out specific writing moves that they themselves are attempting to master. You might reference some of your teaching charts that list qualities of good narrative writing and ask students to turn these into specific compliments that might benefit other writers. You might generate a list of such compliments, for example:
- I love how you start with a few lines of dialogue (or a small action) that put us right into the middle of the story.
- You paint such a clear picture of the scene. I can imagine exactly the kind of place where your story occurs.
- Your bring out such strong emotions in your story through the dialogue and the way you describe people’s actions and reactions.
- I can tell that this moment had a lot of meaning for you. Even though at first glance it seems like just a story about ______, I can tell that for you, it was really a story about_______.
- I can really relate to the experience you write about in your story because the way you tell it makes it feel universal. For example, …
If you have other compliments that speak to qualities of good narrative writing, feel free to add them to this list.
Also, check out Tara post about how to leave constructive comments by clicking here.
- 31 Slices (ideas for topics)
- Essential Information (includes classroom materials, details on Twitter hashtags, and thoughts about commenting)
- Q&A About the Classroom Slice of Life Story Challenge (watch a video call with elementary school students)
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).