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Phone Conversation with my Friends in Wemindji

I just got off the telephone with Ingrid Taylor's class in Wemindji. (These are the students I visited last month in Quebec's James Bay region.) We had a "conference call" -- the students had sent me their stories and we discussed ways to make them even better. So in today's blog entry, I thought I'd share some of the pointers I gave to the students -- and then I'lltell  you a little about what they had to say about writing. 

So, I told the kids how their pieces need to have strong HOOKS. They are writing short pieces about members of their community. Several of the pieces began with a statement like, "So-and-so is hardworking." I suggested that instead, they give us an example of how the person works hard -- show us the person they are writing about in action. That relates to my second pointer: that details and specific examples can bring a piece of writing to life. Finally, I told them about the importance of editing. Their teacher, Ingrid, said this is something her students are often reluctant to do. They write something once and then they don't want to change it. I asked the kids to guess the number of times I rewrote my novel, On the Game. One of the students, Yolanda, guessed that I rewrote the book three times. "Wrong!" I told her. "Seven times!!" See what I mean about rewriting? Every bit of effort you put into a writing project makes it a little better than it was when you started.

At the end of our conversation, I asked the students to tell me how writing is going for them. I thought I'd include two of their comments here. Julia said, "Writing is hard." I told her I agreed completely. There's nothing I do that's harder than writing -- and that's exactly why I like it so much. Because it's a challenge. Tristan said, "Writing is fun!" I agree with that, too. When we do them well, hard things become fun -- and satisfying. So wherever you are and whatever you've  got to do, do your best. Have a strong hook at the start, support your points with interesting details -- and edit your work. Talk to you tomorrow!!

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Comments

Guest - Kim on Thursday, 28 February 2008 00:58

I agree with the students' comments -- especially those which say that writing is difficult!! I also dislike the editing part, though I'm becoming more and more patient with the process... at least for English essays. For the French ones, somehow I prefer to write my essay once and then just correct grammar and spelling mistakes, because it's what I had to do last year (we had no time for drafts) and am now used to. I'm just not sure about writing being fun. I think it's much more fun to write something which is of interest for whoever is writing rather than having to analyse a text, which is something I seem to be doing a lot these days (in both English and French). On the contrary, in Spanish class, we were asked to write about an event which radically changed our lifestyle or behaviour, and that was much more fun to write.

I agree with the students' comments -- especially those which say that writing is difficult!! I also dislike the editing part, though I'm becoming more and more patient with the process... at least for English essays. For the French ones, somehow I prefer to write my essay once and then just correct grammar and spelling mistakes, because it's what I had to do last year (we had no time for drafts;)) and am now used to. I'm just not sure about writing being fun. I think it's much more fun to write something which is of interest for whoever is writing rather than having to analyse a text, which is something I seem to be doing a lot these days (in both English and French). On the contrary, in Spanish class, we were asked to write about an event which radically changed our lifestyle or behaviour, and that was much more fun to write. :D
Guest - Tamar on Thursday, 28 February 2008 23:00

i like the comment about how you like the challenge of writing.. i find that i like to do challenging things (to a degree) because i get bored, for example.. i found most of my classes boring or too easy last semester (though i honestly did enjoy english for the first time, doll house was the first book i actually finished for school and liked) so i opted to take calculus 1 this semester, something that will challenge me but that I know I am capable of doing

i like the comment about how you like the challenge of writing.. i find that i like to do challenging things (to a degree) because i get bored, for example.. i found most of my classes boring or too easy last semester (though i honestly did enjoy english for the first time, doll house was the first book i actually finished for school and liked) so i opted to take calculus 1 this semester, something that will challenge me but that I know I am capable of doing
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