Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guest Blogger Melissa Childs and Tuesday Contest

First I want to let you know about this weeks contest. I'm giving away Sophia Nash’s book A Dangerous Beauty. All you need to do is comment this week and you'll be in the drawing. I'll announce the winner on Friday.

Now without further ado I’d like to welcome my guest blogger Melissa Childs. If you do not already know this, she is my daughter. She teaches 3rd grade in Arizona. Not only is she an awesome daughter but a great teacher as well. Her love of books goes back to her first month of life when I would hold a picture book in front of her and tell her what the animal was and then show the sounds. Okay, make the sounds but show sounds better. :)

Welcome Melissa.

Hi bloggers! Thanks to my wonderful mom, Vicki, for asking me to guest blog this week! Now, I must begin by saying I am my mother’s daughter. This was intended to be much shorter, but well, as previously stated, I am my mother’s daughter. Here goes.

As a third grade teacher, I get the opportunity to lay the framework of writing for my students. When they come to me they know the basics of how to write a sentence and (on a good year) how to write a simple paragraph. I get the joy of teaching them how to really be writers.

It truly is amazing to see what these eight year olds can come up with. I remember once asking my students to write about a day in the life of a mosquito from the mosquito’s perspective. I had one boy write about how he went to get his lunch from the kindergarten students because they had the sweetest blood. He went on to describe how he had to avoid the middle school students because their blood had way too many calories and he had to watch his figure, he was getting fitted for new wings soon. Those responses are priceless. I am so lucky to be a part of these children finding their voice.

My favorite experience with my students is one that I think all writers can relate to. My state teaches writing through a “six traits” model. Basically, there are six traits of good writing that we teach and score kids on. One of those traits is word choice.

Have you ever been with a kid when they are talking about something and know just what they’re describing? Once they finish this grand explanation you just kind of raise your eyebrows, smile, and say oh, really? Well, that’s what I get to teach kids to recognize in their writing. To teach this concept of word choice, I described a simple monster. It went something like: It has a head, it has arms, it has legs, and it has hair, etc.

When I drew my monster, it did have a head, but it was a teeny-tiny head. It had arms, but it had 9 of them. You get the picture. My students were amazed that their monsters looked nothing like mine, yet I was completely correct in everything I said.

We then repeated the exercise, only this time my descriptions were full of detail and words that “showed” them my monster rather than just “telling” them what it looked like.

We all had pretty similar monsters, but they were quick to point out the parts that were different and tell me how I could have chosen better words so they would have drawn it correctly. J That’s when I know they have it!

For the rest of the year when they bring me papers to look at, I simply say “show” me this monster and they know exactly what I’m referring to. It’s really an inspiring process to partake in.

How about you? Do you find yourself “telling” rather than “showing”? What is hardest for you to show rather than tell?



Anonymous said...

Melissa, welcome. You have an awesome mother. Love her to death. So much we stayed together in Dallas.

You are so right about the show vs tell. I did a workshop for my 10-yr-old grand daughters class and I had them "show" me their pain. Out of 20 kids, all 20 show me's were different. The story about the mosquito is absolutely priceless. Children's minds start winding into high gear early. lol

Anonymous said...

Ooops, meant to sign it as Anne-Marie, but I'm still zoned out from Nationals. lol


Kelly said...

Welcome to the blogosphere, Melissa. Love your anecdotes about the kids. There is something to be learned from the way children think especially in terms of creativity.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vicki-
It was great to meet you at RWA! I hope the person who wins A Dangerous Beauty enjoys it.
See you next year in San Francisco.

Sophia Nash

CrystalG said...

Great blog. I enjoyed reading how you teach your students to write.

Karen Lingefelt said...

Melissa, next time you visit Mom, she must bring you to a TARA meeting! I think you'd fit right in.

You sound like one of those teachers your students will remember for taking such a fresh approach to things and making a difference in their lives. The mosquito POV is a great exercise in creativity!

Anne-Marie: You got voice. I knew it was you!

OpenChannel said...

I teach at Vancouver Film School (adults) and I have to constantly remind them to show, not tell. It's especially important in film, because it's a visual medium.

I LOVE the monster exercise! I think that's a great way of demonstrating it. I may even try it with my older students, haha.

I, too, love what kids come up with when writing. I find their work far more original and surprising than my older students.

Patricia W. said...

Enjoyed Anne-Marie's lesson on writing. Gotta remember that when working with my sons.

Kimberly L said...

Hi Melissa. Loved you great blog about teaching your kids to write. I don't teach but my mom has a daycare and you'd be amazed at what you would learn from small children. They can be so funny.

ERiCA said...

I love 3rd grade teachers! My mom is, my best friend is, several other friends are... I think it's the grade that cool people teach. =)

(And clearly I'm not cool, b/c I don't. I've helped out from time to time and have no idea how you guys do it!)

Vicki said...

In case anyone comes back to see Melissa's comments she wanted me to let everyone know that she enjoyed being here.

She is currently working on her masters and getting her classroom ready for the new school year.

I'm sure she'll be back to blog once in a while.

Thanks for making her welcome and Melissa thank you for such a wonderful blog.