sing methods learned at my National Writing Project summer institute, the first week of school in my creative writing classes surpassed my expectations. I want to share how I developed the class over the course of this first week, but it can summed up in one word--mentoring. I am becoming more of a mentor writing alongside of them as well as conferring constantly with many of them throughout the class.
n a series of blog posts, I want to share how each day progressed during this first week:
Students wrote their names in crayon on a name card (construction paper of various colors) which, when folded, stands up on their desk like a nameplate. I cut a full sheet in half and then folder that to create a blank nameplate. I should add that my students sit in groups every day in my classroom. I asked the students to doodle something important to them in the upper right hand corner--we then went around the room and gave a brief summary of what we doodled and why it was important to us. I created my own nameplate and also doodled a picture.
These name plates served as our template to write on (as many students did not have a notebook/journal yet for class). I also use these every day by placing their nameplate on a different desk each day. Students sit with different groups of kids every day--when kids in my homeroom (who do not have me for class) heard about it after the first few days many piped up, "Ooh I'd like that!" Many in my classes have also enjoyed the variety and daily hunt for their card.
The first writing assignment we did on the nameplate was actually a drawing. We opened the card to draw on the "inside" of it. I asked the students to draw a "neighborhood" that they know...it could literally be the neighborhood they live in now, one they used to live it, a combination of all of the neighborhoods they've ever lived in, or even a neighborhood of their life (a series of images of all of the fascinating, important, memorable moments, places, people, encounters they have experienced).
We then did a small group share (5 or so in a group), where each student explained their neighborhood to their group. I had sketched a sample neighborhood of mine on the board as a model--but I also drew my own neighborhood inside of my own card alongside of them. I did this with each class. Rather than create five separate cards for each of my five classes, I just kept adding to my neighborhood map. By the end of the day I had a highly detailed map for students to use as a model.
This ended Day 1--we would use the neighborhood map during Day 2.