with Michelle Cameron
This was a great first class and I’m really delighted to be working with your young writers.
As a warm-up, and to get to know the kids a little better, I asked them all a series of questions. Answers ranged from practical to highly imaginative, goofy to thoughtful:
Then we wrote a collaborative Add-a-Line story. I started them off with this line:
“One morning, Jack woke up and discovered he’d turned into a fly.”
Here’s what they ended up with:
One morning, Jack woke up and discovered he’d turned into a fly. Then his dad came in and tried to swat him. Jack tried to tell his father it was him, but all he could do was buzz. John decided his father couldn’t understand him and flew out the window.
He flew into a forest and…suddenly found himself being chased by a frog. The frog got a hold of him but John still had the strength of a boy and escaped his slimy, disgusting mouth.
He wasn’t used to being a fly so he couldn’t fly so well. He knew it wasn’t safe for him so he headed over the water. He was swallowed by a fish. Then a fisherman caught the fish and ate it. The man was strutting nearby and was eaten by a bear.
Luckily, John the fly escaped the fish and flew away. He flew through the branches of the trees and got stuck. Just then, a hungry bird was looking for food for her babies that had just hatched. John was eaten by the baby birds and was crushed by their stomach acid.
The bear had just woken up and was very hungry. He knocked over the tree and ate the baby birds.
John heard his mother and father calling him for breakfast. They were marching through the forest looking for him and came up to the bear. A tree fell on the bear and the bear fell on the parents under the tree. The parents died.
Then Larry the Monster set off a nuclear bomb and the whole city blew up. THE END
Once we finished our collaborative story, each kid took a line from the story as the starting point for a new one. Many of them didn’t finish their stories in class, but we heard what they all wrote. I also explained my rules for reading their work, listening to others, and offering supportive, constructive critique that starts off with a positive first statement, then can offer suggestions. I discourage the writer from speaking up during critique – you’re not listening if you’re defending the work – but also let them know that , as the writer, they make the final decisions whether to make the suggested changes or not.
For homework this week, students should do ONE of the following:
I’m very much looking forward to what they’ll bring in. They can bring copies for the rest of the class if they wish, but it’s not a requirement yet.
Have a great week!