Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't Kill the Writer

I'm teaching an English 1 course to homeschool kids who are about 12-15 years of age.  Each child has a different writing level and a different levels of grammar work.  I find myself learning something new each class!

I started out with the first class containing a Powerpoint presentation on basic grammar and sentence structure.

Have you ever looked out into a class full of bored faces?  I hesitate to tell you what it is like... I don't want to frighten you!  The Powerpoint event was.....terrible!  It must be a nightmare to teach unwilling high school aged kids literature.  (I sincerely apologize to my literature teacher from my senior year who was trying to get us to read William Faulkner!)

I saw doodling, yawning, eye rolls, gum bubbles, texting...
It was awful!
Immediately I started rethinking my teaching method.

The next class we did more in-class writing and reading.
It was better, but still a grind.

This last class, I think I finally got it.
First we wrote a paragraph while sitting in my living room.

What is the day like? 

Most kids talked about the beautiful sunny weather and the nice temperatures.
Then, I marched them outside, moved around the yard, sat in the warmth of the sun on the soft carpet of my front lawn.  Then we rewrote the paragraph.  Talking about sensory words.  Noticing the variety of birds overhead, the depth of the amazing color of blue in the sky, the thousand colors of green in the grass, the nonstop sound of insects, the smell of the grass, leaves falling from the trees onto our toes, the feel of the breeze that moved the tree leaves...

The paragraphs that came from that exercise were top notch!
And I learned a thing or two too.

Keep it simple.  Keep it interesting.  And keep it real.

1 comment:

  1. That can be tough. But it sounds like you figured it out. Grammar is all about teaching people to communicate using certain rules.

    The communication part is the fun part.

    Maybe some improvisation might be fun.

    That old assignment of writing down instructions about how to literally make a PBJ.

    Start with that and then get weirder.

    That could be fun. As long as they follow the rules, then it's all good right?


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