soul strikers

powerful moments in education

Boy Writers PART II

So impressed at the quick and thoughtful response I received today.  Thanks, Ralph Fletcher.  At this moment, I only have time to post the reply, but I will keep you posted on the path I choose to take as this week unfolds.

Hi Jaclyn,Wow. Fascinating. I won’t be able to give you the long, thoughtful response you deserve. I can see you are a fine teacher, and more than willing to rethink your instruction. I think it’s a bit harsh to say the stories have no structure. It sounds like there’s a clear structure,albeit a predictable and repetitive one. No depth? Well, did Talladega Nights have depth? Sometimes writing is just fun. Still, I do understand your desire for something more substantial.

They might benefit from a genre study on sports writing. Have them read sports commentary (Dan Shaughnessey in the Globe, or Rick Reilly). Do a class reading of Travel Team by Lupica. Good sports writing has strong characters, a sense of place, etc. My next book, Guy-Write: What Every Guy Should Know About Writing, will be helpful but isn’t out til next spring. It has a chapter on sports writing.
 If all else fails,  you might have to call a halt/moratorium on those stories for a few weeks.Good luck! By the way, have you seen my newest professional book–Mentor Author, Mentor Text (Heinemann). It has 24 mentor texts written by me, each one followed by “writer’s notes” in which I unpack the piece and explain what I’m trying to do. Check it out.



So- teachers out there- how do you balance the free choice and guided choice that is so important in a Writer’s Workshop? Non-teachers, what were your writing experiences?

Thank you, friends.


2 comments on “Boy Writers PART II

  1. soulstrikers
    October 14, 2011

    First of all Lindsay, I love that you and I are blogging on a Friday night. Hopefully you have a Homunculus nearby, or something of the sort. Second- yes. The sprinkle of salt- love the quotes coming from your “Boy Writers” at the present time…Thank you so much for reminding me that I am the teacher- which is nonequivalent to dictator- I am only providing new opportunities, sprinkling salt to add new choice, paths, for the writers. Keep sharing, Lindsay. I have always depended on you for insight in guiding student writing.


  2. Lindsay
    October 14, 2011

    I have to say I mostly allow choice, but you probably already know that. Whenever I choose to have students write a focused piece, it is well worth the moans and groans over losing that choice for a while. There is so much value in choice writing. Give some thought to maybe a day a week of really enticing mini lessons that get the kids writing about topics they might not normally choose (like a squiggle write,have them draw what kind of superhero they’d be and then write about it, or create a robot and write about it, share a poem and have them write and echo poem). The list goes on and on…and so do I tonight :) Good luck and just remember a sprinkling of salt goes a long way.


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This entry was posted on October 11, 2011 by in education, Literacy Whatnots.

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