My seventh and eighth graders turned in their personal narratives today and after reading over them, I am so damn proud of them. Most of them really took hold of this assignment and ran with it. I have some really excellent pieces of writing and it's neat thinking that I had something to do with them. In total, we've spent two and a half weeks with these things and I think the extra time really paid off. I think what really ended up helping a lot was the fact that I gave them all two days to work on it in class, and two days of proofing. The first day of proofing was really a revision day. I had the students read over each other's personal narratives and then tell each other what they liked about them. The second day was yesterday and that's when we looked at the nitpicky details such as spelling and grammar. Almost all of my students have mastered the MLA heading, something I still didn't have down pat until college. It's days like this when I actually feel more like a teacher, like I've done something worthwhile during my time at school. I had them write reflections before they turned in their personal narratives in order to gauge their thought processes. Most of them just wrote letters to me and they all said how much they enjoyed the project and how they found the writing to get easier as they did more of it. Furthermore, a lot of them asked if we could do more writing in class. More writing! How wonderful is that?
On another educational note, today in my creative writing class one of my reluctant writers came up to me and asked if we could do some free writing. He said he had something on his mind that he wanted to write about. Now, this is a student who I have to constantly request that he write more than just four lines. He filled up an entire two pages with his thoughts about the day. It was silly teenage relationship drama, but it was important to him and I was glad that he allowed me to read it, though I didn't ask him to share it with the class. I'm starting to realize that sometimes my students don't want to share with the class what their thoughts truly are. I usually ask my students to share their writings, but perhaps I'll make it more optional.