|What does a giant chicken sculpture draped|
with Christmas lights have to do
with reluctant writers? Absolutely nothing!
Two kids readily admitted to me on the first day that their parents 'forced' them to take the class. One of them spent much of the first day sighing very loudly each time we tried a new writing exercise. When he hit a new level of frustration - a sigh AND an eye roll - after I asked for a volunteer to share his or her work, I silently vowed to help him see that writing could be tolerable, even fun (gasp!) by the end of the week.
A quote - "Reluctant writers aren't born, they're made" - came to mind. Had he been frustrated by writing assignments that kept him from expressing what he really wanted to write? Had he been overwhelmed by the 'rules' of good writing? I told the class early that there were no rules for the week, other than the general 'no cell phones/no-talking-when-I'm-talking/be-respectful-to-your-classmates' variety. Creative writing should not be restricted by rules.
The week moved along at a quick, energetic pace, and I'm a little biased, but they seemed to enjoy it. Everyone plotted an incident stemming from a time when they got in trouble. They made a character collage, filled out a bio sheet, then 'talked' to another character in the class when we studied dialogue. They had a tasting party, and used ALL of their senses to describe the foods. For ten minutes half-way through each class, they used a beach ball to play a word association game. They had so much fun with the game, we also opened and closed each of the following sessions that way. I let them take turns picking music on Spotify to listen to while we did our timed writing spurts. I was determined to show them the fun in creating characters, settings, and stories.
By the end of the day on Tuesday, I counted only a handful of sighs from the reluctant writer.
On Wednesday, he surprised himself by coming up with some pretty amazing observations when we did character exercises.
On Thursday, he volunteered to read his work FIRST during share time.
Before he left class on Friday, as his mother signed him out, I asked him what he had thought of the class.
He smiled. "It wasn't so bad," he said.
"What was your favorite part?" I asked.
He didn't hestitate. "That I could write what I wanted."
Mission accomplished? Yeah, I can live with that.