I have a Writing class each week with four of them. They range in age from eight to eleven. I use an old book that I had used with my children by Joan D. Berbrich. She wrote three I really like, Writing about Amusing Things, Writing About Curious Things, and Writing About People and Yourself, my favorite. This year I am using Writing About Amusing Things. Each week I make a powerpoint that teaches a lesson. Then I send the powerpoint to each household. We go over the lesson and they get their assignments. The next week we read their assignments.
For me the key to a writing class is that they learn that writing is a form of communication. They need positive and constructive feedback and examples. Each week we begin by having them share their writing with each other. After each one reads their paper, or I read it for them, the choice is theirs, everyone makes comments on what they like about the paper. I always try to point out things they are doing well. As this goes on each one learns from the others. As they hear what the others are doing well they eventually try to incorporate that into their writing.
Also I believe adult examples are important. The children need to hear more mature voices and to know that adults still write, not just authors, but normal adults. My husband, the grandfather, is writing his life story, episode by episode. He joins our class many times and uses the assigned ideas to write an episode for his autobiography and shares it with our class. The children love to hear his papers. I write papers also; but the real treat is hearing Grandpa.
Last week we had a lesson on making excuses. Their assignment was to write an anecdote about someone giving an amusing excuse. It didn't have to be the truth; but most of them started out basing it on truth and then imbellished it. I try to mention their use of specific vocabulary that really paints a picture for us to see. This eight year old granddaughter really did that in her paragraph.
My sister, Josie, and I were doing schoolwork in the branches of
the fig tree. It was impossible to climb the tree with our schoolbooks
in our hands. We made a pulley by looping one end of a string over
a branch of the tree and tying the other end to a basket. We put our
books in the basket, then we clambered up the tree. Once we were
perched in the tree, Josie grabbed the end of the string and pulled
the basket up. Now that we had our schoolbooks in the tree, we
opened them up and got to work. A couple minutes later, our brother,
Ishmael, came out and scaled up the tree. When he was clutching the
branches, he grabbed the branch that my math book was resting on.
My math slipped off and my pencil flew out of my hand like an arrow
and shot through my math book and out the other side. So you see, I
couldn't have done my math because there was a huge hole in my
They also had the assignment to write a quatrain about an excuse.
A quatrain is a four line poem that the second and fourth lines
rhyme. Sometimes they really get into an assignment and do more
than the requirement. This ten year old wanted to do more so her
poem had several stanzas.
The Story of Freddy
And I am hungry too,
For when I was baking pancakes,
The griddle ran off with a shoe!
Then the batter said to me,
"I'll bat you right out of the park.",
"No, you're not that kind of batter!" I said,
But it whacked me as high as a lark.
On my way up I broke through the top,
The very top of our house,
"You'll have to pay for the repairs."
"I have as much money as a mouse!"
That's why we don't have pancakes,
You'll have to do with oatmeal.
But for me there's some leftover cake and pie.
What a delicious meal!
This is just one of the classes I teach. I will write about others later.