In the first of today's pics, you'll get an idea of why I had fun during my visit today to Heritage Regional High School in St. Hubert.
I spotted this pair of socks -- they belong to a student named Melissa. Later, when I explained to students that it's better for writers to SHOW, rather than TELL, I used Melissa and her socks as an example. I told that them if I wanted to show, for example, that a student is free-spirited and unconventional, I could say she often wears unmatched socks.
I worked with four groups of students, ranging from some in Secondary I to others in Secondary V. In all my workshops, I tried to leave a little time for writing. In today's second pic, you can see two devoted students named Alex and Maggy -- they got so into the writing exercise they actually stayed during their seven-minute break between classes to continue writing! Way to go, you two!
And in this last pic, you'll see me with students from one of my afternoon sessions. I've been to Heritage before, so I already knew I'd enjoy working with the students. They're bright and lively and they have spunk. It also helps that the school has a terrific English department, run by the wonderful Mary Eva. Mrs. Eva helped keep the kids in line, which made my day feel more like play than work!
A student named Colin asked if I ever run out of things to write. I told him no, my problem is I run out of time to write about all the things I want to write about! Which is why you young writers need to keep a notebook full of your ideas. And because you're young, you won't be running out of time nearly as soon as I will!
During the writing exercise, some students accessed powerful memories -- one boy wrote about surviving a serious car accident; another wrote about celebrating his tenth birthday with his dad and his dad's girlfriend; another compared the cement in her old schoolyard to a black beach.
Since my sessions were only a little over an hour each, I didn't tell the students everything I wanted to... Mrs. Eva had asked me to talk a little about journalistic-style feature writing to help prepare the Sec.V students for their provincial exam. So how about I pass on some tips right here?
On the exam, you're going to get background material to work with and then your task will be to produce a feature story. My advice is to begin by reviewing the background material carefully. If it was me, I'd underline what seem to be the most important points and I'd look for quotes that I could work into my story. Another thing I'd do would be to look for a beginning, middle and end. Once you've got that, you should be able to find a structure for your piece. Do an outline, figure out which quotes go where, then get to work. Leave time, of course, to revise. And once you've finished revising, revise again!
So thanks to Mrs. Eva for inviting me to Heritage Regional, thanks to the students for being such good audiences, and thanks to Melissa for wearing two different coloured socks!!
I really did like seeing you today on April 27th.
As I sat listening to what you had to say, I remembered you and knew that you've been here before. Maybe a year or two ago, time passes too fast to tell. I remembered you exactly the way I saw you today as a chipper lady with plenty of interesting things to say. The way you can observe everyone's body language as you are talking is extremely impressive. You got us writing and luckily for me I had been their in the morning and the afternoon. The 1st writing exercise was in the morning, it brought us back to grade 5 with all our senses and memory in tact. The 2nd writing exercise in the afternoon was more difficult. The process involved us puting ourselves in the shoes of the person who annoys us the most in our lives. This writing process actually gave me more understanding of the person therefor more patience and I say thank you for the trick. Hope to see you again all and well, maybe in a year or two. Continue doing exactly what you want.
Mel : )
Hi Melissa! Thanks for posting your comment. It's great to hear when my wacky exercises work!! More and more, I'm realizing how important it is to access memories and feelings in order to bring our writing to life. Have a great rest of term and I hope to cross paths again with you soon!
It took me awhile to get back to this page because I have been so busy, you visited last week and I thought you were very encouraging to take a few notes down every now and then if I see something that could be a story. Very inspirational ! Anyways, thanks for coming to the school and giving words of wisdom I enjoyed it very much!
Jeneva! I do love your name -- especially now that I know it's spelled with a "J."
Thanks for posting your comment. Yes, yes, jot down those notes and see what they turn into.
Funny that you sent that message today because I just cracked open a new notebook for my next project.
Best from Monique