Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Really? Just Do What The Prompt Says! Just DO IT.

Remember a few months ago when I started my series of blogs on teaching a reluctant writer? It has been going super well! UNTIL today!

I should have known this was coming. Things were going too well. He was writing each morning without complaint. He loves to read things out loud to me that he writes and we giggle about it. His resistance to writing has slowly, ever so slowly gone down.

In fact, we started doing some formal note taking when reading about dinosaurs, using venn diagrams to pre write, writing paragraphs, and typing final drafts without too much of an issue. So when I introduced a writing prompt asking him to write a narrative about waking up in prehistoric times, I thought no problem!

We read the prompt and took it apart. He used Legos to create three different scenes from his story. Then, he told his story to me as I scribed. Finally, he typed the story on the computer.

Today, I had  visions of our fabulous revision process where we would talk about sensory details, plot, and quotes. But first, I wanted him to compare what he did to the writing prompt. My goal was to show
him that he needed to double check his work to make sure it fulfills the assignment.

We re read the prompt together. That is when it all fell apart.

The prompt required him to start his story by saying, " I woke up called out, "Mom", but instead of hearing Molly running up the stairs, I heard leaves rustling and strange animal sounds..."

Robert's story started with, " I woke up and felt fur on my face..."

"Robert" I said in my teacher voice, " Does your story start with the line that the prompt requires?"

"NO." I stared at him.

"So what do we need to do?"

"NO."

Now, Robert is not always the most compliant student, but we have been in a pretty decent groove lately.

I calmly explained that sometimes, we get to write what we want. But when the teacher gives us a prompt that we have to follow, it is important to follow it or the teacher will grade is really low.

"No. I don't care. My way is better"

My Love and Logic Training kicked in. "Oh Robert, so sad. You don't seem ready for help. When you are let me know" and with that I got up and left the table.

I heard furious typing and clicking. I couldn't help it and I looked over his shoulder. He had erased his story and started to type, " I am not going to fix it" and "It is better my way".

Inside I was screaming, "JUST DO IT. I have to leave for work in ten minutes! I don't have time for this!"

I walked over quietly and calmly explained that what he had done was disrespectful. It isn't okay to talk back to an adult in an angry way. I offered that when we were done revising his story so that it fit the prompt, he could write his own version. After a grumble, he agreed and I showed him how to get his story back on the page.

At that point, my dad arrived and I had to leave for work. I yelled as I went downstairs, "If you don't revise today we will work on it tonight" and left.

So, here is the rub. My overall goal is for him to take ownership of his writing. I homeschool so that he isn't forced inside of a box. Most of the time, I allow him to take ownership, use his ideas, and his language. Our lessons and talks revolve around mentor texts, figurative language, and author's intent so that he can think about his writing in a smart way.

Realistically, I also want him to be able to read a prompt, address a prompt, and pass the stupid writing test.

I have no idea how the story ends. I am still at work. I hope he just DID IT. Sigh.

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