Getting Writers Excited to Write!
“Mrs. Frazier, today’s my mom’s birthday!” “Mrs. Frazier, LOOK! I lost a tooth!” “Mrs. Frazier, I played Grayson’s team in soccer last night!” “Mrs. Frazier, my dog, had puppies and I got to stay up late to see them. She had three puppies, and two were all black, and one is black and white. My daddy said we might keep one, but we are selling the other two.”
My first graders are voracious storytellers. From the minute they see me until the end of the day, their stories float in the air of our classroom.
Do the students know these are the stories writers write? Do they know they can extend the life of their story through writing? Do they know these stories can soar far beyond the page when given an audience?
I am not sure they do. Students tell stories over and over. They want others to hear their stories, to react to them, and most importantly, they want us to listen. But when writer’s workshop rolls around, these same students sit stuck trying to think of an idea or they toss the morning’s news aside and choose something else entirely! Instead, they compose a story lacking the feeling and detail of the one they told me just an hour ago.
So how do we help these young storytellers bring their stories to paper?
How do we show them these are the stories writers write? I think we begin by getting our kids excited, really excited, like “I can do this, let me write NOW!” excited.
Monday, I began this journey. With my class seated on the carpet ready for our writing minilesson, I pulled my chair as close as I could, without rolling over any fingers. I leaned down toward my students, and I said,
“Did you know writers DON’T write words. Writers DON’T write sentences. Writers DON’T draw pictures?”
Some students disagreed, naming familiar books as proof. Others sat with confused scrunched up faces and narrowing eyes. I paused, a long pause, then I said,
“Writers write stories! Writers make us feel things. Writers make us want things. Writers take us places. Writers ARE STORYTELLERS!”
I picked up two class-loved books to be our first mentor texts, In My New Yellow Shirt by Eileen Spinelli and The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog by Cynthia Rylant. I asked my students to look at these books as if they were the storyteller, how did the author make this story?
We began to note what we noticed. We talked about why the author made these CHOICES, (because authors make choices) and we envisioned using these crafting techniques in our writing.
Stop back next week on Oct. 21st to learn more about the students’ work and my newest reflections.