Updated: Jan 27, 2021
| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 1/25/21|
I shall call this student Dean. Dean loves to read fantasy books. In fact, he devours books like cupcakes. I only teach him twice a week, but I can see his imagination runs for weeks when he reads books. He also has a natural passion in his voice when he speaks. I don't know if anyone has ever noticed it, but I do. It just stood out to me from the first moment.
I always knew Dean was creative from the start. However, he can't quite gather his thoughts when writing. At best, you give him a familiar topic and he would generously write three sentences in 45 minutes or so. I tried giving him background information before he writes and that helped a little, but he often became stuck again. One day, I decided to return to the basics and reintroduced the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, and How). My intuition told me this would be a great starter tool for his writing. Every time I gave him a topic to write, I told him to brainstorm the 5 W's using the writing topic. Right away, he felt comfortable with this new tool. I could sense his quiet sigh of relief. With my new strategy, he can now write a solid paragraph in 20 minutes. I could see the smiles in his eyes: It said, 'I never knew I could do this.' To add flair and creativity into his writing, I came up with a game where I gave him a boring sentence and he came up with three exciting words to spice up the language.
First, he changed "It was a nice day." to "It was a nice day, so I went to the beach and had a picnic on the hot sand."
Then, it became like this:
My perfect day… has not happened yet. But I imagine it like this: It is 11:00 AM, without a cloud in the sky, and my best friend and I are at his house, surrounded by small birch trees held up by wood planks, and little birds who act like roosters and wake us up in the morning.
The next practice I gave him, he sang with the 5 W's and developed an incredible ease with writing now that seemed almost miraculous.
"Hey Dean, look at you go, you're a true writer and you don't even know it. 'you're doing the what.' That sounds like a dance, right?"
"I'll show you a dance." He stood up in his chair, and he made a smooth dance where it looked like waves of excitement ebb through his limbs because he is doing the victory dance with writing. He did it twice while finishing the assignment. We laughed all the way, but I made sure he got the work done on the other side of the screen.
No more writer's block! He is now dancing with writing.
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