This was the first week of Secondary English practicum. I am exhausted. But I am also very excited about what is to come in the next seven weeks. Normally, I hope I’ll have more to blog about than practicum, but practicum is really all I’ve had time to think about this week, and, I promise, it’s related to writing. 🙂
Students in the 7th grade language arts class where I am doing my practicum wrote short stories and poems this week. I made comments and suggestions on over 50 student poem drafts and helped with questions while they typed up their short stories from the written drafts they had done previously. Reading those poems, which were Bio Poems based on a template that the teacher provided, I was amazed. Several of the poems wowed me so much that I had to ask my coop what I should write as feedback! I don’t recall doing any creative writing (and by that, I mean writing aside from book reports or five paragraph persuasive essays) during my own junior high years (or in high school, for that matter), and I was amazed at the language these students used. Here is the script that I recall from the assignment, though I’m sure I’m missing a line or two. Also, keep in mind these were supposed to be written in third-person:
4 adjectives that describe me
Daughter/son/cousin/niece/nephew/sister/brother of _________
Lover of – 3 things
Who fears – 3 things
Who feels – 3 things
Who would like to see – 3 things
They were encouraged to provide as much detail about each thing listed as possible. Of course, there were some students who did the bare minimum, and I commented on those papers that they did an okay job, but more detail would really be great. However, the vast majority of poems had some really creative use of language. Each student is at a different level of writing, but when they received their drafts back, each one had mechanics changes as well as comments on content and let the student know where he or she could move on from there. My overall point is that despite the fact that these students are newly from multiple elementary schools and have had different exposure to writing in school, and they are each at their own writing levels, they all had some really great writing skills. I think it is important as this age that their teacher is spending a lot of time on creative writing because not too long from now, if they have not been encouraged to write creatively, they will start to move away from the use of imaginative language, at least in my own personal experience.
90% of the poems I read had great use of description. At least 8 of the 50 or so I read had comments from me requesting that they make an extra copy for the teacher to save in her folder of “great examples.” And I could see the pride that these students had in their own work. Even (most of) those students who had suggestions about needing more detail in their writing did some great revision in their drafts and asked questions when they needed help.
I guess the overarching sentiment of this blog is that now I have seen in action the importance of writing in the classroom and the impact it has on students. I have also seen how writing can be implemented in the classroom in a practical way. Now that I’m back in a classroom, I realize how short a class period really is, which makes the fact that these students can accomplish some really great writing in such a short time span all the more impressive. I hope to see a lot more writing during my practicum, and hopefully next time I will have a little more insight on what I’ve learned!
Question: how do you feel about asking students to write scripted poems? My coop told me that she doesn’t particularly like assigning poems like this, but that at the beginning of the year, with students from all different backgrounds of writing, it can be daunting to students to say “lets write a poem!” This assignment was actually helpful for me, too, during my first week because it allowed me a chance to get to know some of the students with whom I’ll be working.