Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Teaching writing can be a tricky profession.  Just because people can talk properly, it doesn't mean that they can write clearly and creatively.  Writing is a learned skill.  Generally, any person can write a stream of consciousness essay in the manner of James Joyce. But to write an organized paragraph or story takes thought and training.  It also helps if you know a few tricks.

I love it when my students follow instructions and end up with a clever, creative essay! I taught them to add a clause which began with who and include somewhere in each paragraph an interesting adverb to describe a verb.  Here's what three of them came up with:

 An exerpt:

The pig and mule were ready to fight.  Because the mule was so old, the pig, who was arrogant, thought the mule was completely weak and knew that he could kick the mule's butt.

The pig, who was avoiding the mule's long teeth, ran for the mule's rear end.  He should have thought twice because the mule kicked the pig right in the face.  The pig flew off the bridge and landed loudly onto some grass.  The pig, who realized that he couldn't win, ran away.  "If I have to fight an old mule again," he thought, "I will have to worry about the bite and the kick."  The mule, who was barely bothered, slowly crossed the bridge and went on his way.

Another one:

On the 18th of April in 6200 B.C. there was a daring and arrogant wild pig.  There was also a wise old mule who did not like fighting.  On that sunny date 8210 1/2 years and 10 days ago both animals were standing on the same bridge, which was somewhere in southern Brazil.  But it wasn't known as Brazil back then.  And all was not peaceful, because the animals were not on good terms with each other.  They were tussling, furiously biting and kicking with tooth and hoof.

Here's a third example:

It quickly became a chaotic encounter.

The pig wanted to have a brutal fight with the old mule.  He viciously started teasing the mule, who became visibly mad.  Because he thought the mule was weak, he gloated excitedly.  The pig decided to attack from behind to avoid the mule's razor sharp teeth.  So he immediately charged.

The clever mule threw his heel back.  The mule savagely kicked him in the face.  The pig who soared in the air, landed in the grass.  The pig ran like a coward. 
 (This student really likes adding adverbs!)

Didn't they do a great job?  These kids are only ten and eleven years old!  They used two little tricks to add so much interest to a simple folk tale.  Reading these stories gives me so much satisfaction!


ancient one said...

I loved each version of the story. You are a good teacher and you have very bright students.

Hollace said...

What fun to read!

Mogul Myra said...

English and writing were always my favorite subjects in school. What age range do you teach? My goal is to get my PhD and eventually become a college professor in my latter years.

roxie said...

Love it! the last one need to be more clear about who is doing what, but the adverbs are great fun.

We get lots of kids in to the testing center who think they are good at writing because they are very creative, but they don't know the basic rules of grammar and punctuation, and wind up taking remedial writing classes. Writing an essay is not the same as writing a story. Make sure your kids understand that, ok?

Love your tips and will try to use them in my next piece!

Anonymous said...

Wish you had been my teacher. What a clever idea.

ellen b. said...

Loved them all. Well taught Willow!

Knitting Linguist said...

I can see why! Those are really wonderful - they make me happy, and I didn't even get to see them master that knowledge. I hope I get some of your students in my classroom someday :)

Lovella ♥ said...

Wow. .I am amazed at how well these students wrote. I have thought more than once recently how much I would benefit from some writing classes. Maybe I'll just put your little tricks into practice.

Bethany said...

It makes me so happy to know that kids this age are doing such great writing! I wanted to share this with you... Caroline's 8th grade English teacher will NOT let them use the word "got" in their writing! He marks it off when they do. I wonder if you see that a lot in your students' work? I'm not sure if I agree with it or not, but then, I'm not an English teacher!

Sharon Lynne said...

Great job! I enjoyed reading your student's writing. I wish we could do more creative writing. I have been instructed to teach fifth grade (Special Ed) students to write a 5 paragraph essay. Paragraph one is the intro and paragraph 5 is the conclusion. (I'm sure you know...) Next week we will start a persuasive essay. That might be fun.

Because I have a hard time staying in the box, we did come up with some good introductions. I told the kids it was important to hook the reader right away.