Writing is not part of our curriculum, but I’m determined that our students should learn and be encouraged as much as possible in the area of free writing. I think it will help them to improve writing answers for their endless tests and exams (which they need to learn by heart).
Last year was very much a stop, start kind of year, with students often being forced to stay at home with no access to the internet, so free writing was not really an option until the last few weeks of the school year.
This year has got off to a much more promising start. I have started off with personal narrative to remind students how to recall something that happened in their holidays and then how to take a slice out of that memory and finally to construct an interesting story out of the seed or portion of the day that remains.
They have also begun to learn how to use an interesting hook or line of dialogue to draw the reader into the story. We’ve looked at and practised some examples together. I’m also guiding one of the local teachers how to run the classes, as we meet via zoom once a week.
For the first couple of weeks, it seemed that the ideas were just not getting through and students continued to produce their endless lists of every event that happened in the holidays. As these are kids from very poor families, they generally do very little or go anywhere, so their outlines tend to be fairly repetitive and uninteresting! They also do not speak English outside of school.
Then suddenly towards the end of last month, something started to blossom and they began to catch on. They were able to compose some very simple but great little stories that have now been edited and published and will be added to our small school library for the enjoyment of other students.
Yes, these two books have truly coloured my world, just like the warm soft glow of their charming illustrations!