If you have ever worked with middle and high school students, you know it is not easy to hold their attention. There is a lot to compete with out here. I am not nearly as interesting as a cellphone or iPad, but my 8 students haven’t dropped out, and I am encouraged by their presence!
Once a month, we gather around a mahogany table in the conference room of Tailored Tutoring. Before they start a writing exercise, I tell them to pretend I don’t have an imagination. Pretend I can only experience what they write on paper. For example, if they write, It rained, I only know drops of water fell. I don’t know how they fell or where they landed.
I continue, “I am entering a world of complete darkness, and it is your job to introduce me to the sounds and smells of the environment you create. It is your job to make me see and feel something while I am there.”
I also encourage them to use the words and phrases they hear in their homes and communities, and I listen in awe as they read sentence after original sentence. Voices from multiple generations come to life!
Last week, we started with a simple sentence: The computer stopped working. I explained that it isn’t necessary to add multiple sensory details in every sentence. The computer stopped working is a complete sentence. It includes a subject and a verb. I asked them if they would want to continue reading if it were the first sentence of a novel. They answered, “No,” and agreed that it was boring. That is the response I wanted!
I told them I truly believed they could come up with a sentence that was much more interesting, a sentence that would make me want to continue reading. They were up for the challenge! After going around the room a few times, this is what they produced:
The phone screen freezes and then speeds up after a few seconds, and for a moment, I think it isn’t meant for me to talk to Aunt Rebecca, who I have never been able to trust.
My response, “Yes!!!! Tell me more!!!!”
Creative Writing Crew