I am a fifth grade teacher. With the arrival of August, my thoughts turned back to the classroom and ideas for how best to engage my students started swirling through my awakening brain. One of my most challenging subjects to teach is Writing. Surprising, given my love of the craft, but often the things that we enjoy doing are difficult to teach. I needed something different, a new approach to show my students the authenticity of the writing process and practical application of the skills and techniques I teach them.
With the recent publication of Missing, and the realization of how easy the process is, I decided to write a book especially for my students with a goal of having a finished product in their hands by the end of the school year. This way, we could actively discuss techniques like snapshots and exploded moments in a manner that was (hopefully) meaningful to them. Making it meaningful and relevant, was another challenge. What would I write about? Should I shoot for Newberry material? Or something more mundane?
The answer: ask them what they want to read about. I had a captive audience; they were more than willing to brainstorm ideas for stories that interested them.
So I did. Last week, I did a lesson on story elements: what to include in a narrative. We discussed characters, setting, problems and solutions. Then I had them brainstorm a list of characters and problems that character might have. What resulted was an eclectic list of ideas that would never have occurred to me on my own.
Since then, I have selected several of the ideas and begun hashing out a plot. I won't give away much at this point, but let's say that bacon will play a prominent role.