August 31, 2009

Bucket List

Raise your hand if you've ever written to, assigned, or read a mind-numbing stack of essays with this topic:

"What I did on my summer on my summer vacation..."

In recent years, I've assigned this topic, but students can only write lies. Interesting lies.

"Miss! So we make it up?"

Every bit of it. It's called fiction. Be creative.

It's usually a big hit with students because the sky's the limit.

This year, I took the students on a side street first by asking them to begin a bucket list in their writer's notebooks. It was a lot of fun having everyone share some things from their bucket lists, and since I don't really have a good bucket list myself, I stole some great ideas from my students.

After we spent time on the bucket lists, I asked students to set the list aside while I assigned the writing topic for the week, which was of course all the dreadful summer vacation topic. I deserved the groans I received when I introduced the topic, but when I told students that they were going to tell a fabricated story of their summer vacation--something they wish they would have done--they perked right up. When I told them they might want to use their bucket lists to choose an idea, the majority of my students dug right in and started planning their most excellent adventures.

The rough drafts aren't due until Friday, but I'm already anticipating some interesting, passionate pieces. I'm anticipating a strong start to our year for writing.

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