The BEST lessons

It’s been one of those days – one of those surprising delightful days when you’re glad that you’re a second grade teacher who makes her children write. It had been a while since we had EVERY student read something they wrote and it seemed as though EVERY student wanted to read today, so, EVERYONE read today.

Each piece was different from the last. I told them I was grading on speaking and listening as well as some simple grammar, so the audience was quite attentitve. We heard about dogs and cats, plans for the upcoming spring break and some hopes for summer break. There were no ‘love’ stories (I love my mom and my dad and my Hamster Joey. . .). Glory be!

One student started reading a piece about going to the beach with some other students (ficticious) and he did a simple, interesting thing. He described the clothes the students were wearing as they walked. The girls were wearing shorts and “shirts with no sleefs” and boys had on shorts and t-shirts with button shirts open over them. As I listened, at first I thought that that was a boring detail, until I suddenly had a picture in my head of them walking the beach. Isn’t that a strategy I try to teach in Reading?

Then the heroes of our story had goggles and hair bows pop out of their shirts. Well, I exchanged glances with the little girl next to me and we BOTH could tell that we had the SAME picture in our heads: the boys with hair bows! Of course, it was explained that the boys gave the bows to the girls, laughter ensued.

This story did more for my class and I than any mini-lesson I had given. When our writer finished, I asked if anyone else could picture them all walking on the beach. (Yes.) Did anyone else picture the boys wearing hair bows? (yes, ha ha ha) By adding a simple description of what the characters were wearing, the whole story came alive for everyone.

I can’t wait until tomorrow. I KNOW we’ll have a lot of over-the-top descriptive writing for a while. They’ll start describing every little thing and get bogged down in details. GREAT! HALELUJAH! Once they obsess on it for a while, they’ll tone it down. Now though, they can see how taking the time to describe something can really add to the impact of the story.

It’s days like this that make if all worthwhile and so exciting. Oh yes, the student who wrote the description? His parents happened to come to lunch today and brought me a diet strawberry limeade, light ice from Sonic too! How sweet it is!

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Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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