Monday, April 13, 2015

Why I Love School Visits

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending three days with the students of Memorial School in Hopedale, MA. For two days, I did large group presentations for most of the students, and they went  well. The students had been well prepared by their teachers, librarian Laurie Wodin, and literacy specialist Nancy Verdolino. The children were enthusiastic and engaged, and they asked great questions.

But on the third day, a little bit of magic happened. I was doing single-classroom writing workshops with the third graders, and we were discussing voice in nonfiction writing. After guiding them through a series of games and activities to help them understand what nonfiction voice is and how to incorporate it onto their own writing, I ask them to transform the voice of piece of writing I give them.

This workshop is challenging for third graders. Usually, I feel confident that students get the concept, but the writing activity can go either way. Sometimes they struggle to use their own words rather than just copy the initial text. But sometimes the results are amazing.

One class at Memorial School did particularly well, and one big reason for that is that their teacher wrote right along with them. Her actions showed the class that she valued what I was doing, and those students worked really hard.

There were many great writing samples at the end of the activity. But one of them was truly breath taking.

Here's a photo of Landon, a truly talented young writer.

And here's what he wrote--in just 5 or 7 minutes:


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