I might be on sabbatical from my teaching job at Marianopolis College... but that doesn't mean I'm not back at school. I'm just home from a morning of writing workshops with Sec. 2 students at Laval Junior Academy!
You may be wondering what in the world today's picture is about! Those two students are Massimo and Adam. Well, when I was discussing body language (and how that can be a useful detail for writers to OBSERVE), I happened to notice that Massimon and Adam's hands were in the same position. So I asked if they were friends, and guess what? THEY ARE! (I guessed that because friends often mirror each other's body language.) The picture is my proof that I was CORRECT. (We all enjoy being correct occasionally, don't we?!)
Here are a few highlights from my work today with Ms. Milea's Sec. 2's. I asked the students, "What's the main thing you need to do to improve your writing?" and I was delighted when a student named Jakob came up with the answer I was hoping for: "Write!"
When I was talking about how TROUBLE is the FUEL that helps move a story forward, a student whom I'll call D announced to the class, "My dad left me when I was three." Then D turned to me and asked, "What should I do about it?" My answer was: "WRITE ABOUT IT!" I explained that often, the hardest things we have gone through can provide us with the richest story material. Later, during a writing exercise, a student named Pina, wrote about a difficult memory that took place in a car. "It's too hard to write about it," Pina told me. So because I am full of helpful suggestions, I came up with a suggestion for Pia too. I told her to consider changing things up. Instead of writing about a student who goes to LJA and lives in Montreal, write about someone who's a different age and lives in another paert of the world. But be sure to keep the emotional truth of the story -- because that's what will make readers connect with it.
I worked with two classes this morning. I asked the first class to write about a memory from when they were ten years old. But with the second group, I invented a new exercise. Only I can't take full credit for the exercise. Part of the credit goes to a student named Mia. I was suggesting to the students that for homework (not that I can really assign them homework), they should interview an older person and ask "What is the hardest thing you ever lived through?" -- so Mia raised her hand and asked, "Us?" ... which gave me the idea for the second exercise -- to have students remember -- using all five senses -- the hardes thing they have ever experienced.
I'll be back tomorrow to meet more LJA students, and then I'll be back during the first week of October to work with all of them again. I'm hoping they students I met today will continue working on the stories they started this morning.
Thanks to Ms. Milea and Ms. Farrell for the invite to LJA, and to the students this morning for waking up my brain -- and my heart. I didn't realize how much I've missed the classroom!