monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

4 minutes reading time (816 words)

Great Imaginations at Roslyn Elementary School

I'm just getting home after my last day of writing workshops with Ms. Julie's Grade Two students at Roslyn Elementary School. I spent four days with these kids -- working with each of Ms. Julie's classes twice. In our first sessions (which I blogged about last week), we covered writing tips. In this week's sessions, I read the students my picture book The Brass Charm and then we got to work! Some of the students were just getting started on their next assignment -- writing their own stories. Others already had work to show me. Though I wasn't wearing rollerskates I felt as if I was skating around Ms. Julie's classroom because my goal was to look at the work of every single student and try to give some feedback and suggestions.

So for today's blog entry I'm going to share some of my favourite writing from the kids. I actually have two full pages of notes, which would make for a very long blog entry, so I'll choose a few to share with you here.

I had told the kids their stories needed a beginning, middle and end. I also stressed the need to include TROUBLE. And of course, I told the students to do their best to develop the main characters in their stories and if possible, to include humour.

Wesley demonstrated a lot of creativity when he decided to write about condiments. Also, how many Grade 2's do you know who even know the word condiment? Wesley decided the condiment character he wants to focus on is Mayo -- and that Mayo's flaw will be that he is shy. (I suggested the students make their characters flawed since we're all flawed, right? Besides, no one wants to read about a perfect person -- or condiment!!)

Elorm wrote a powerful piece about a girl named Pala who lives with her grandmother. Pala has undergone a great deal of loss, including the fact that (I'm quoting Elorm here) "Even her four ducks died." An excellent detail, Elorm. Eloise came up with a great title (and idea) for her story: "Big Ben's Destruction." Romi wrote about a monster's cave. When I suggested Romi include some sensory details (such as what the cave smells like), she came up with something super: "it smells like dirty socks and a toilet bowl." That is some bad smelling cave, Romi!

At first Jack complained that he couldn't come up with a story idea. But then, towards the end of our time together, he popped by to announce, "I got one!" Yay! Jack is writing about a basketball player who gets injured. When I looked at his WIP (that's author-speak for work-in-progress) I suggested Jack write about the basketball player's feelings. Jack looked at me and said, "I don't want to. I don't feel like working on it anymore." I have to admit that cracked me up because I'm a professional writer and well... I sometimes feel that way too! But Jack and all the other Grade Two's, you will need to get back to work on your stories if you want them to get really good!

Today, I worked with the last two classes -- and I was impressed by these kids' imaginations and writing too. Alessia created great suspense in her story: "It came and tried to bite us. What was that?" I love the What was that? question, don't you? Sharon wrote a remarkably grown-up piece for someone in Grade Two -- and I didn't find a single writing error. Here's an excerpt I liked a lot: "Elion lived in a poor part of England and his dream was to become a soccer player.... He was the man of the match." Eloise used the word "rustling" in her story about two tigers and a bear. I had to help with the spelling of rustling, but like I told the students, spelling is no big deal and can easily be corrected. But not just anybody thinks of using the word rustling! Elizabeth came up with a great idea for a story she's calling "Someone Stole Valentine's Day." And Sienna demonstrated a lot of creativity when she invented a "unicorn bunny" for her story.

Writers need great imaginations. And sometimes grown-up writers like me can get inspired by hanging out with imaginative kids. Writers also need to work hard and stick with their stories even when they aren't always in the mood for sticking with their stories! Hopefully I inspired Ms. Julie's students too!

Thanks to Ms. Julie and her students for making my four visits so much fun. Look for me in the neighbourhood. (I often jog by your school.) And keep working on those stories. If you work hard the stories will continue to improve -- and you might want to enter them in the Westmount Library writing contest that we chatted about. I'm rooting for you guys!

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Sunday, 19 May 2024

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