One of the coolest new things that I’ve been doing this year in my classroom is writer’s workshop. The kids get to work at their own pace on a piece of writing, and I give mini-lessons on things they should consider while writing. It’s great.
For the first round, we are writing personal narratives based on an emotional experience. As a model, I’m writing a story about a time when my arm got stuck under the bar of a roller coaster car. It’s one of those things that doesn’t happen very often, so imagine my surprise when one of my students started writing a very similar story.
Me: Oh, G, you’re supposed to be writing your own story today, not copying mine.
G: Yes, I know.
Me: Ok, then why are you writing about getting your arm stuck on a roller coaster?
G: That happened to me.
Me: Really? When?
G: When I was five.
Ok, now, I remember being seven years old and saying that random stuff had happened to me when I was five. I think I thought that at the age of seven I was so much older than five that nobody would ever know if what I was saying was true or not, since it was in the distant past. I really, really doubt that this girl had this scenario happen to her when she was five. She probably hadn’t even been on a roller coaster by that point. But she is one of my weaker writers, and so I’m not sure what I can push her to yet. I’m going to let it go for now, but if when we start a new story she copies me again, we’ll be having a serious talk about thinking for yourself. These kids really keep me on my toes.