Henry. I want to write all of the time:
Most of the time Henry didn’t want to do what the rest of the after school class was doing. He wanted to write and draw his own things all of the time. He came to extra classes often. I showed him how to make his own little journal, and he proceeded to make small books, one about my travels to China, another, a recipe book, and a myriad of funny stories. We laughed often together.
Peter. I have to keep my hands busy:
Peter had a lot of excess energy to burn off. I helped to channel some of that energy into creative projects. I made paper, glue, puppet sticks, tape and other craft supplies available. At first he didn’t want to write, but by nurturing his creativity he eventually wrote a play and drew his own picture. He also very much liked and engaged in peer feedback to help the children improve their plays.
Annie. I want to write a 9-page play:
When we started our Play Writing Curriculum, Annie rose to the occasion. She wrote and wrote, bringing me scenes even when she wasn’t in class. I typed them up for her, and she would edit them, giving a lot of thought to the changes she wanted, and where she wanted the story to go. She made director’s notes and we would discuss them as she made revisions of her play.
Ethan and Ryan. Can I have another (play or comic) template?
Ethan and Ryan would visit my Creative Writing Corner often. They wanted extra help in editing their scripts, and then they would start another one. Sometimes they would each write their own story, always sharing and giving each other feedback, other times they would write a script together. They are destined to be the next great comedy writing duo.
Mingyan. I am shy, but I have a story to tell.
Mingyan, was quiet and shy at first, always wanting help, and feeling more comfortable re-telling a well-known fairy tale. When we started the play writing curriculum something in her ignited and she began writing a series of very sweet plays about a girl and her best friend, Muffin.
Ethan and Kelvin. We want to write together.
Ethan and Kelvin are a great example of teamwork and truly bringing out the best in one another. They always started a story by planning things out, and deciding who was going to illustrate or draw. They usually ended up contributing equally in the writing. They loved writing plays, and reading them, especially the ones written by other children.
Ian. I don’t want to write. What’s the point?
Ian didn’t want to write. We talked about it. I discovered he had a unique sense of humor, that reminded me of a young version of the Saturday Night Live writers, or very witty political comic strip writers. I engaged his unique and sometimes bizarre sense of humor, giving him lots of examples of funny stories. He ended up writing several versions of his play until he found his groove, creating a memorable character that made us laugh.
Warren Jason and Kevin. Let’s create a Super Hero that’s funny!
Warren, Jason, and Kevin were in a large class that didn’t afford a lot of individual attention. They collaborated on their own and created a series of comics, birthing their hero, Epic Man. I helped them translate their comics into short story, and then into a play. They are still continuing to write more episodes of their series.
Erica. Do I have to make it all up by myself?
Erica wanted to just write adaptations both as short stories and plays. I encouraged her, making suggestions on how she could bring herself to the story, and add some sort of unique twist to it. She always did and she did it well. By the last class, she found her voice, and flew with her own very entertaining and well-written story. It was a joy to witness!
Grade 4 & 5 girls. We just want to draw cats!
Almost all of my grade 4 and 5 girls loved the Warriors series and were very focused on all of the details of turning the stories into comics. After lessons on comic book script writing, and examples, they created their own forest stories based on experiences they had.
Sandra. I’m not going to write because everybody didn’t like my story.
This was a teachable moment. We had a contest and the winners were chosen by the students. Sandra’s story didn’t win, which made her think she wasn’t a good writer. We had a discussion about it. I gave her examples of authors who weren’t published right away, and how not every story you write is going to be liked by everyone. Sandra learned that even if everyone doesn’t like your story it doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer. I talked to her about her vivid and imaginative stories. Feeling more confidant about her abilities, Sandra went on to write and draw a memorable forest story comic.
Grade 5 boys: Comics! Comics! And More Comics!
Ryan, Marcus, and Aidan were amazing. They wrote a prolific number of comics, always brainstorming and giving each other feedback. I encouraged them by providing lots of comic panels, and graphic novels to read. We studied comic scripting, and word picture balance. They ended up creating some very funny, publishable stuff.
There are many more stories to tell, but these are a few of the gems. I’ll add more as the school year progresses.