Let me start today’s blog entry with my happiest moment today at Roslyn Elementary School where I was back to work with Miss Julie’s Grades One and Two English classes. I was telling a student named Eliana that I was going to teach her class an important new writing concept, and you’ll never guess what Eliana did.
SHE CLAPPED AND CALLED OUT, “YAY!”
That made me SO happy. In fact, as I told the class, that’s exactly how I feel when I learn something new. Only because I’m an adult, I don’t get to clap and call out “Yay!” (By the way, that’s Eliana next to me in today’s pic – she’s wearing black and white.)
Last week, I taught the students about how important it is to have interesting characters (and to try to include foils, which means characters who are opposites) and whenever possible to include trouble in a story. Today, the important new writing concept I taught the class was SETTING. Setting refers to place and time, answering the questions “Where?” and “When?” I explained to the students that if setting is handled well, it can be just as important to a story as the characters that are in it!
To give the students an example of setting, I told them about my novel 121 Express (Orca) which is set almost entirely on a school bus. Then, and I did this in all four of Ms. Julie’s classes today, I asked the kids to close their eyes and imagine a great setting for the stories they are working on.
And boy, did they ever come up with some great ideas for setting! I’ll share some of my favourites with you now. Jack imagined a story in Candyland; Caël thought of a story set at a McDonald’s; Aaliyah imagined a story set in a cave; Eila even knew the name of the fictional town where she’d set her story: Witchville; Eric had the great idea of setting a story inside a human body (WOW!!); Charles wanted to set his story in the dressing room at a hockey rink; Alice wanted to use a snake park for her setting; and Mara had the idea of setting her story in a treehouse. (I told you they had some great ideas!!)
When I told the students that most stories have a beginning, middle and end, Wesley – who was in the last Grade One class I worked with today, raised his hand and asked, “Don’t you mean a beginning, a middle and a twist?” Which I thought was pretty brilliant. A twist at or towards the end of a story is a great idea!
Oh, I should tell you a few more of my favourite things the kids said today. A student named Quinn came into class and warned me, “I might fall asleep.” Quinn went on to explain that her tummy hurt and that she’d spent recess napping. And a student named Celia told me, “I like writing, but I want to be a paleontologist when I grow up.”
I’ll end today’s blog entry by sharing a little part of a story Wesley is working on. I asked Wesley to come to the front of the class to share his story with his classmates. Here’s my favourite part: “A magic banana boomerang turns people into bananas.” Pretty cool, Wesley!
I think students in Grades One and Two have a lot to teach the rest of us. Lessons such as it’s good to clap and say “Yay” sometimes! And that we all have amazing imaginations – like Wesley’s – all we have to do is USE THEM!
Thanks to Miss Julie for the fun invite. It was great being with you and your students today. If the kids have questions or comments, post them in the comments section here and I promise to answer ASAP. Thanks to the kids for being TERRIFIC!
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.