As you may know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I am back to being a full-time teacher at Marianopolis College here in Montreal. Life feels way busier, but also more full. And what can I say? I get a big kick out of teenagers. They're fun, they're funny, they ask good questions, and of course, they give me inspiration for my YA stories!
The title of today's blog entry is "I Smell Talent!" That's a comment I write on some of my students' assignments -- and I've been smelling a lot of talent even though we are only two weeks into the semester.
For their first assignment, I asked students in my Writing for Children class to visit either a children's bookstore or the children's section of a local library. I told them to hunt for specific details. And so, for today's blog, I'm going to share some examples of really good writing that came from the class. (I got the students' permission to include their first names.)
Emily wrote: "The book stacks were less intimidating -- it was as though they had lost a few inches in height." In class, we discussed why this line works so well and decided it had to do with the fact that Emily SURPRISED us. We expect people's heights to change, not book stacks!
Isabella described the scene she encountered as "a teleportation device back to my childhood." Here, Isabella shows us she is a playful writer and she manages to communicate an important message in just a few words.
Mrittika described a little girl she saw at the library: "After playing with her gum, which she later stuck underneath the table." We loved Mrittika's observation and how she managed to capture the girl's mischievousness!
Brian did a great job of describing Montreal kids during winter: "hat-hair... red cheeks and dripping nose, along with the permanent snow pants/overalls." Even if you live in the Caribbean (lucky you!) and have never visited Montreal, Brian's description will "take you there."
Laura showed us her sense of humour when she wrote: "My career goal in kindergarten was to be a cowgirl." As I told the class, they say it's harder to make a reader laugh than to make him or her cry... so great job, Laura -- and thanks for making your teacher laugh out loud when she read your paper!
Stephanie is in the Music program at school, so it's not a surprise that she did a great job describing sounds in the library, "swishing pages" and a little boy who is having trouble with the word "van": "at first stuck on the word... then forgetting he's reading, just enjoying the sound of the letter 'v.'''
I'll end today's blog entry with two students who captured a similar wistful feeling. Joyce described the children's library she visited as "feel[ing] so different. Louder. More colourful. And also somehow happier." Similarly, Amanjot described a girl she observed whose name is Mina: "Mina has a wonderful imagination which allows her to get lost in the book she is reading. I want to be more like Mina."
So... here's to teenagers learning from little kids (and of course from their teachers too). And here's to teachers taking joy in their students' talent and being inspired by them.