I'm always telling everyone (including kids) to TAKE NOTES. Well I need to add something new to that advice: DON'T LOSE YOUR NOTES! I took two pages of notes during my visit today to Laval Senior Academy -- and I can't for the life of me find them. So I'm going to have to reconstruct today's events. And hey, LSA students, if you see that I'm writing about you (or one of your classmates), post the student's name in the blog and I'll make the fix! UPDATE; IT'S FRIDAY MORNING AND I FOUND MY NOTES. SO I'M GOING TO ADD THE NAMES THAT WERE MISSING!
So I started my day with a new group -- one of Ms. Gosdanian's Grade Nine English classes. We covered a lot of writing tips! We talked about how stories need TROUBLE, and how writing is really about RE-WRITING. Because the students are working on a memoir assignment, we also talked about memory and how it works -- and about the connection between the five senses and memory. There was time for a short writing exercise at the end. I asked the students to write about a life-changing moment. One student, Riley, wrote about his memory of his younger sister crying and how he tried to comfort her. I found that was a beautiful memory because it's about love. And Lianna wrote about how her life changed when she met her best friend Allysson. And then a funny thing happened: Allysson (who's not in the class) happened to pop by and Lianna introduced us!
My second group was Ms. Lambropoulos's Sports-Etudes class. I'm only going to see these students twice, and to be honest, I was having a hard time getting them excited about writing. But I came up with a way. YAY, MOI! Inspired by a student sitting at the front named Leo, I asked the students to make a list of every word they could think of that starts with the letter L. I did the exercise too, and came up with twenty words. But Kali (correct me if I've spelled that wrong!) came up with forty-four words. That's a lot of L-words! And then we started talking about which L-words we liked. I personally liked the word LOST. Christopher had the word LIVERPOOL. And a few had the word LAUGHTER (which I had missed). And two students had my favourite L-word today. Are you ready? Lambropoulos!! Anyway, as I told the kids, the point of the exercise is to show them that words are fun and exciting. They need equipment to do their sports; I need WORDS to be a writer.
I shouldn't have favourite students or favourite classes (favourite words are okay!!), but sometimes well... it happens. Ms. Lambropoulos's last group were students I had met yesterday -- in fact, today's pic (me and a student named Matthew, that name is correct!) was taken yesterday. Matthew stole my heart because of the two books he had on his desk: The Hobbit and The Communist Manifesto. Quite a combo! Matthew wanted to know about writer's block -- which led me to tell the class my trick for when I get stuck: I just allow myself to get angry on the page, to insult myself, or my work, sometimes even to use swear words... and then the block disappears. Hey, if you try it, just make sure to delete the bad stuff afterwards!
We also talked about voice -- and the important role it plays in memoir writing. My view is that if you write honestly and with an open heart, readers will be engaged by your voice. I also told the students something I hadn't planned to talk about or teach because it's kind of a complicated concept -- that writing helps us FIND OUR VOICES. That's one of the wonderful things writing did for me.
Even if I lost my notes (temporarily only), I still had fun writing this blog. That's because I had a blast today with the students at LSA. I'll be back again two more times -- do some writing in advance you guys, then how 'bout I stay at lunch time on Wed. Oct. 19 -- so we can eat our sandwiches together and I can look at your writing?
Thanks to Ms. Gosdanian, Ms. Lambropoulos and Ms. Song for sharing your students with me today. Thanks to the students for making my day so fun and here's an L-word for you: LIVELY!!
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