As the sixth graders entered the computer lab for Wow’s blogging workshop last week, three boys sunk into their chairs with long, sullen faces. They were upset; each wished he had been placed in radio personality Mike Stone’s sports writing session. They were not interested in blogging.
Wow’s Susan Knoppow and I, along with an impressive group of local professionals, were at Hillel Day School for the first annual Real Life Writers’ Conference. Susan taught two sessions on how to craft a memorable greeting card, Mike taught them how to create a 40-second sports radio spot, and I introduced them to the world of blogging.
I looked at the boys slouching in the front row. “You can blog about sports,” I told them. “I am sure Mike Stone’s class will be great, but you can write about sports in many different ways.”
I asked the students what they like about writing. To my surprise, just one boy out of the dozen participants said “nothing.” (We had to peel him away from the computer at the end of the session because he wanted to write more.) One boy said he liked to write because it was creative; a girl said she liked writing as a tool to express herself. These kid were excited. I was blown away.
Together, we looked at three blogs (sports, fashion and music) written by teens. Then, one by one, the kids talked about their own blog ideas: music, theater, travel, reading, politics, soccer, hockey. By the end of the session, each student had written a first draft of a blog, complete with fantastic details.
One of the boys who pouted because he was not in the sports session included scary details about a moment during a hockey game when a player got kicked off the ice for chasing him with a hockey stick. A girl who likes musical theater described how it felt being on stage, and a boy who likes superheroes created a new one in his own name.
Thank you to Hillel’s sixth grade teachers Lauren Sterling and Marjorie Jablin for believing in your students and giving them the tools to write – and to like it! Your young writers inspired us.