I had two classes: the first one consisted of eleven 6th-8th graders who wrote and published a camp blog. After receiving instruction about Muscle Words and the Who? What? Where? and Why? of reporting, they practiced observing and taking notes in a "Paint on Canvas" class. They wrote it up, received my edits and feedback from their peers, revised, and then moved on to observing other classes running concurrently in the Fine Arts Center. I hope you take a few minutes to read our blog; I'm proud of the way in which they learned how to incorporate figurative language and specific details into their work.
|Photo courtesy Joanna Henn|
The second class included seven eager 4th and 5th graders who came ready to write a story. (When they introduced themselves quite a few said they'd been "writing their whole life.") Using lesson plans from my book, Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8, I taught them how to Create a Character, Set the Scene, and Plan a Problem. They were each anxious to start their stories--many had constructed intricate plots in their imaginations before coming to class.
We used some of the artwork displayed on the Fine Arts Center's walls to prompt their imaginations. In this exercise, they were looking at these pictures and imagining what the story was behind each character. I asked, "Who is this person?" and "What is she feeling or thinking?"
|Photo courtesy Claire Natiez|
When we studied setting, I asked the students, "What could happen here? What is the mood of this picture?"
inspired this descriptive paragraph:
The tornado rushes by as howling winds blows dust into the air, and tress bend against the wind. Gritty sand rushed into his mouth every time he took a breath. There was suddenly a chill in the air as hail pounded upon him. Suddenly all he could see was darkness. When he woke up it seemed that all of his bones were aching. Jeffrey L., rising fifth grader.
|Photo courtesy Lydia Hammond|