Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tale of the Truck Stealing Turkeys (Bad Turkeys)

My one little memorable boy who was in my first fourth grade class...well, he had an academic history. You see, he wasn’t super duper excited about learning, and writing was his least favorite subject. I took a different approach with this kiddo when it came to writing. I had reserved about fifteen minutes at the end of the school day for creative free writing. I put on soft music and gave only one direction: Make sure you are writing the entire time. This boy in particular was a dawdler for a while…not really joining his peers who spent this time sprawled out around the room, brows furrowed in concentration and pencils furiously dancing across their pages. I didn’t push him…just gently urged him each day to try writing….writing anything that came to his mind. It took a few weeks, but finally he started writing. Boy, did he ever!

By November, this youngin had a book series. Yup. A freaking book series! He would write this adventure stories about super heroes fighting monsters. Each title was an alliteration, introducing the reader to the newest monster. And each book’s main character was based on himself. Naturally, whenever the monsters were about the strike, the main character “qwickly changed into my spysuit.” Every. Book. And you know which book was my favorite? “The Tale of the Truck Stealing Turkeys (Bad Turkeys)”

Of course, he now had fans in the class. A FOLLOWING! His peers even started signing out HIS books to read independently from our class library. I set up a section in the library for his book series! And then came parent-teacher conference time.

This kiddo has a father and a mother who encourage his eccentric and quirky behavior. He also had a fourth grade teacher who supported his wacky behavior. So, I didn’t think we’d have many surprises at this conference.

“We have a problem.”

Yikes. Huh? I rack my brain…my tired brain since this is one of the last conferences of the day….for any issues that came up concerning this boy recently. None. I drew a blank.

“It was past midnight on a school night when I went to check on our son in bed. I discovered him in his bed, with a flashlight under the covers.”

Okay…I don’t know what this has to do with me…

“He was writing!!! We have always fought with him to write, whether it is on his homework assignments or for pleasure, and now he is sneaking writing paper and pencils into his bed! What are you doing to encourage this? We want to know the secret!”

(Internal sigh of relief, external grin.) That’s when I showed off the section of the library dedicated to the popular alliteration series and his ever growing book series. His parents were shocked. Naturally, they asked to take some home as keepsakes, and by the end of the year I had sent the remaining books home as well, although this caring kiddo insisted that I keep at least one. I choose my favorite, and I still have it today.

The Tale of the Truck Stealing Turkeys (Bad Turkeys)

So, you see, when it seems impossible, some kids will write. IF you give them the chance. Nowadays, with all of the push for achieving high scores on state exams, it's difficult to justify giving your class free writing time, especially when they spend it the way this boy did in the beginning of the year, by dawdling. But you should! They will discover what they are passionate about and they will write.

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