Day 7 The Unexpected Gift
It’s progress report time (see SOLSC day 1) and near the end of reading their opinion stories, I received an unexpected gift. This was an on-demand writing, so they had only two days to write it without help, other than any notes they wrote about opinion writing. (Haha, fourth graders writing notes that I didn’t say “PUT THIS IN YOUR NOTEBOOK!”) We use this as a piece of evidence to see how close they are to meeting the district’s writing standards.
Okay, you might be thinking. This sounds normal. But this gift came in the form of a story from a student who started fully remote, and only joined us in person in January. (Someone had to move and then we had to go back to in-person instruction for her to join our physical classroom.) She has had facial surgery multiple times in the past and is very self-conscious. She has a ton of anxiety, and works with a special ed para for much of her instruction. Oh and at the beginning of the year she said she hates to write.
I offered a choice of writing by hand or on the chromebook. (She chose the chromebook.) After we did some class brainstorming of ideas, I reminded everyone of the task, projected the directions and they started. To my surprise, she began immediately. She worked fairly steadily that day as well as the second day. They had some editing time later that second day, and I checked in with her. She said she was done. I looked at her screen and saw many more words than I expected. “Wow! You wrote a lot!” I exclaimed. Granted it was one giant paragraph, but the page was almost full.
But that isn’t the gift.
Her story is not an opinion writing. At all. There are no opinions, reasons or evidence. It would probably score a zero. There are no paragraphs, and punctuation is just a thought. However, I don’t think that’s as important as what it DOES have. It has voice, emotions, and descriptions. It has dialogue and drama. It has heart. It’s written completely on her own, with no assistance.
That’s not the gift either.
She ended her story by having one character tell her main character to, “…put your hands on your head and say, I calm my head. I calm my heart. I calm my hands and deep breathe in and out.”
We have been doing this for about a month now as a mindful practice.
This. This is my gift, written in a story by a girl who no longer hates to write. My heart is full today.