That's me in today's pic with some of the students I worked with this morning at Rosemere High School. It was a special visit organized by my friend, English teacher Abigail Lawrence. My workshop was open to any students in grades nine, ten and eveln who love writing. So let's jsut say it was a pretty easy crowd to work with!
There were about 25 students in the workshop - some of them had special permission to miss math because they were with me. And I had nearly three hours with them, which was great because I got to do it all: talk about how writing works for me and where I get my story ideas, read a little, and give some writing exercises as well as feedback on the students' work. I warned the group that my writing exercises are a little weird -- for instance they start without pens and pencils. So I was super pleased when a student named Sahira announced, "It worked!"
Some of the students shared their work with me -- and I got to read some interesting stuff. Anne remembered being a kid and building "a fort made of coats and chairs." Good use of detail, Anne! And a student named Rosalie wrote about a terrible haunting memory in which she found her cat drowned in her family's backyard pool. That could not have been an easy thing to write about, Rosalie, but as I was telling you guys this morning, it takes courage to be a writer!
I stuck around at lunch to answer individual questions and look at more writing. Rafael had a a lot of smart questions for me. But my favourite is the one I used as the title for today's blog entry: "How do I make my paragraphs larger?" I must say that question gave me a good laugh! I told Rafael not to worry about making his paragraphs LARGER; he needs to concentrate on making his paragraphs BETTER. I suggested he could add interesting details or examples.
Rafael also wanted to know if I had advice to help him "explain main ideas better." I told him that for me, writing is a way of thinking things through. So I think Rafael could clarify his main ideas by writing out every single thing he thinks about then idea, then re-reading it all to select what is most important, and trim back the rest.
I really had a fun visit at Rosemere High. Thanks, Miss Lawrence, for getting things organized and for doing every writing exercise with your students. And hey, students, if I touched any of your papers, I hope you disinfected them... I don't want you to catch my cold. Happy writing, you guys. Like I told you, it's hard work, sometimes frustrating, but hey, there's nothing like it. And if it weren't for my writing, I'd never have gotten to meet all of you today!
I wanted to tell you that is was such a memorable experience having you at the school and hopefully well ghetto see more of each other.