Chapter 13: The Golden Line
I absolutely love the title of this chapter....The Golden Line! When I read like a writer, I uncover "lines" that engage me and enlighten me; lines that inspire my own writing. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite books for golden lines. She begins her book, "It was in the summer of the year when the relatives came.." which instantly reminds me of my childhood when all my cousins would come from Florida. They would stay for weeks! And literally become as she describes in her book, "it was different going to sleep with all that new breathing in the house". Finding golden lines in children's work is exciting. One student once wrote, "My mom is 99.99% perfect". Gary Paulsen's Canoe Days is filled with golden lines. He talks about the "green magic where the fish play" when describing the lake that his canoe glides across. I am inspired when I read like a writer. RF says that we should learn to write "memorable sentences". I totally agree that strong verbs is the key to powerful sentences. The example given on pg 110..."The Sun Dissolves" is a powerful demonstration of strong verbs. Jane Bell Kiester's Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment has a powerful chapter on verbs. Students can understand adding strong verbs and with modeling can do this in their own writing. Similes and metaphors are also tools that students should have in their toolbox. Making comparisons can add punch to their writing. "Overwriting" can be a problem. Sometimes when you teach 'similes' to children, they begin to write a simile in every paragraph to the point that the writing becomes 'over done'. Adding these impressive elements should be a natural process. That is why we need to provide them with many tools so that they don't take one idea and 'wear it out'.
Chapter 14: Putting It All Together
I like how this book first looked at various parts of a good piece and then put it all together to see how all the pieces fit together. I look at writing the same way. Using the rubric, I teach all the parts first to help students develop of understanding of what each part is and by modeling I show them how each part looks. Then, we put it all together in one piece. We can instruct by the rubric, write a whole piece and then assess by the rubric. I am amazed at the progress our third grade students have made in the past three weeks doing just this. First part by part with 'I do it' and 'we do it' strategies and now we have whole pieces where we can see how all the parts came together and are fitting perfectly.
Chapter 15: Last Thoughts (My Personal Reflection)
Writing has become an integral part of me. I live and love writing. It has become a personal and professional passion of mine to move students and teachers to love writing. As a teacher, I wasn't given the coursework or professional development opportunities to help me as a writer, let alone the instructional fortitude to guide students. I had to read and learn on my own. I guess you can say I am a "self taught" writer. But my 'writing road" was paved with great authors like Ralph Fletcher who broke everything down into simple understanding and then put it all back together so that I could learn about writing and how to teach writing. This book among the many others that I have read by RF and other great writers has guided me to where I am today....writing, teaching writing and reading about writing. As you continue to engage yourself in writing and the teaching of writing, I encourage you to "read like a writer", write often yourself, and provide many opportunities for your students to write daily.
I have enjoyed reading your comments as we have read Live Writing by Ralph Fletcher. I trust that you have gained some inspiration and instructional knowledge from this very simple but powerful book.
I leave you with one thought....What tools will you put in your young writer's toolbox?