On Writing….

Posted: August 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m no Stephen King, but I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately.

I am a writer. Thinking back on Donalyn Miller’s excellent keynote speech at the 2010 NWP AM, I have to acknowledge that I am a writer. Writers write. They don’t have to write well, necessarily. They don’t have to be recognized for their writing. They just have to do it.

Of course, I should probably say “we” instead of “they” since I am a writer, right?

I will say I often don’t feel like I’m a “good enough” writer. I’ve spent 3 years in the National Writing Project surrounded by excellent writers. My brother was always the writer growing up. I tend to feel like I’m just playing at it.

But, I keep plugging away 🙂

This may sound simplistic, but the easiest way to write is to have something to write about. (Earth shattering concept, isn’t it?)

I try to remember that for my students, but I don’t always make it. Last year I really made the effort to get my kids writing in class. One way to do that was with my starter. I came up with a ton of music-related writing prompts that I’d slap up on the board for the beginning of class. I got some good responses with a few, but most were duds. It was totally my fault.

This year, I’m doing it a bit differently. Out of 5 days of school, only one starter has had any mention of music. So far I’ve been very happy with the responses.

Normally, a starter is only 5 minutes or so of writing in my class. Today’s starter was going on 30 when I finally told my kids to wrap it up. The prompt was one I shamelessly stole from the ultra-fab Andrea Santos. It went like this:

It’s the Zombie Apocalypse. Choose 6 people to be on your ZA Team. (Real or fictional, dead or alive.) What’s your plan for survival?

I tried the same prompt once last year and it got a good response, but nothing like today. One student asked me if I was serious. When I said yes, he immediately started writing. A few seconds later, “You’re sure this is our prompt?” “Yes, WRITE!”

We had some pretty awesome/unexpected conversations when sharing the prompt.

1. What kind of zombies were we talking about? Slow, Romero zombies or faster, 28 Days Later zombies.

2. Which Harrison Ford character would make the best team member? That convo eventually ended when we decided that most of Harrison Ford’s characters usually get into sticky situations that he barely makes it out of. And, although always makes it out, those around him aren’t always so lucky.

3. Would Barney the Purple Dinosaur make good bait? Yes, he’s large and it would take a while to eat him, but would the zombies bother since he’s not human?

4. Can Superman be turned into a zombie? If not, he’d be great on a team. If so, then forget it. You can’t defeat zombie Superman.

5. If Jesus is on your team, do you need 5 other people? What if dying is part of God’s plan for you?

6. Having MacGyver on your team changes EVERYTHING.

  1. THIS made me almost, ALMOST miss my classroom! Good stuff! Your kids are blessed.

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