I have a student who knows he is a writer. He whipped out pages of stories he has written on his own and illustrations to go with them, all originals. We are working on creating comic books in class. I gave the students a basket of figurines to get the brain storms raining and the winds of wonder howling. I had a bunch of toys from who knows where, but Bat-man and Spiderman and Mr. Potatoe Head, and hearts with faces and hands. You can imagine the choices the students had. Anyway, every student picked one figurine to get the juices going. Although teaching 4th graders, the juices are already so creative and they are so ALIVE with enthusiasm.
I explained to them that the writing process is a process to help them start at a place, but some writers just jump in with both feet and write. Some need a list of topics to choose from. We explored different thinking maps (graphic organizers) and had fun just brainstorming. One of my students got out stories he had written on his own and his detailed description of the second day of school which was a homework assignment. I had showed them my 4th grade journal, which was a spiral notebook starting with the frist day of school, August 31, 1983. I read it to them and told them to write a journal entry everyday and maybe when they are old like me they will still have their journal. It is a notebook with this picture on it. Remember those cartoons? I just loved them when I was a kid. Sandra Boynton is the artist who drew those.
Anyway, on the first day of school I told my students to write down five questions they might have for me or about school in general. And this particular student who knew he was a writer, had written “I don’t have school supplies. What do I do?” I saw this in his notebook because I was reading his long rendition of the second day of school. Which was hilarious since a 4th grader’s concept of time is so warped. He thought three hours had passed after lunch to some other subject.
This broke my heart though. I almost teared up. This kid is so alive and so excited to be in school and he doesn’t have school supplies. I might add that school supplies are expensive for parents. I can’t imagine what it is like to have to pick and choose for your child what you can actually buy from a list that is pretty long and detailed. I actually watched parents school supply shopping the day before school since I was at Office Max and the stress on parents’ faces was incredible.
So, I told that student very discreetly that he would never have to worry about having enough notebooks to write in. I said I would supply him with notebooks for his writing. I gave him a handfull of copy paper at the end of the day and some white construction paper for his final illustrations. I told him the white copy paper was for the rough draft illustration. This child is also a taletned artist. He was just over the moon grateful without being sappy. Gatta love kids. No sap to their sensation!
I think my magic moment was when I looked him in the eye and said, “(His name) – you are a writer. You know that, don’t you?”
He looked at me knowlingly like I had pressed a button only he had access to, and shook his head with soft eyes, and said, “Yes, I do.”
Write on brother…write on!