Local writer Gloria Alvarez, who spent time at Meadow Wood Elementary School recently, was surprised when a question-and-answer format student lesson became an extended lesson in student writing and discover.
Ms. Alvarez visited the elementary school with Writers in the Schools (WITS), an innovative partnership between professional writers and educators that dates back in Houston to 1983. WITS works hand-in-hand with teachers and writers to teach students the craft of writing.
WITS believes that creativity prepares students for the future. The group estimates that about 28,000 children each year are exposed to writing lessons and write their own stories in up to 350 classroom visits across Houston.
The Meadow Wood Elementary visit planted a seed that later resulted in a teacher-student writing experience with remarkable, creative results! Read Ms. Alvarez:
Mischievians Invade Meadow Wood Elementary!By Writer-in-Residence Gloria AlvarezMy cooperating teachers at Meadow Wood Elementary, Tabitha Peña and Hali House, are the best a Writer In The Schools (WITS) writer could ask for: enthusiastic, supportive, and eager to extend WITS lessons to their own teaching.We exchange book suggestions, ideas for revision, and strategies for reaching underperforming students. They open their classrooms to me and work alongside the kids during WITS.One recent effort so inspired Ms. House that she made it her own. I’d brought in William Joyce’s The Mischievians, a book about those mysterious creatures who swipe TV remotes and cell phones, mislay or devour homework, and generally cause embarrassment and trouble.We both love Joyce’s work, including Rolie Polie Olie and the Christmas tale Santa Calls. I’d chosen The Mischievians because it’s so funny: everyone relates to the misplaced iPad or mismatched socks. The illustrations are just as clever.The story follows a Q & A format: the questions in a child’s voice and the answer like a formal encyclopedia entry. We read sections of the book, the students brainstormed new Mischievians, and finally they wrote their own questions and answers.The students completed their drafts and read some aloud. We will revisit the stories in several weeks to select and revise pieces for our class anthology. For now, for me, the lesson was over.But not for Ms. House. She promptly purchased her own copy of The Mischievians for the classroom and displayed it on an easel at her desk. Ms. House read students pieces, providing feedback and editing advice. After allotting class time to revise and recopy their work with illustrations, she created a bulletin board to display all the finished pieces.“They turned out great,” House said. “Everyone had fun with it.”I think so, too. I was beyond thrilled that a lesson – a new, untested lesson at that – had struck such a chord with both students and teacher.
|Students with examples of their work|
|The TalkeyMer TalkyPants Mischievian by Jonathan
Q: Whenever I’m supposed to be quiet, I whisper to my neighbor. Then my voice gets louder until I get into trouble. Why does this happen?
A: There is a Mischievian on the loose called TalkeyMer, TalkeyPants.
Q: Where are they?
A: There are four of them in your mouth: Down, Up, Right and Left.
Q: How do they make you talk?
A: They jump up and down and make your mouth talk. Once your mouth is moving, your voice wants to talk. They jump harder and harder until your voice gets louder.
|The Allowance Thief by Elyse
Q: Whenever I earn two dollars from my mom for doing chores, I put it in my room. Next thing I know it is not there. Why is this?
A: Well, there are Mischievians that are called Allowance Thieves. They like to steal your allowance. They hide your allowance under your bed or in the attic.
Q: What do they look like?
A: They are the color purple, and they have fluffy bright green hair. They wear a yellow shirt with orange pants.
|The Sickevens by Madeline
Q: Every week I am getting sick with some kind of virus. Why am I sick? I can’t believe I am going to say this: I miss school!
A: Well, they’re called Sickevens. They give you a virus so they can get stronger and healthier.
Q: What can I do to stop them?
A: Try this formula if you’re that desperate. But you might explode into one million pieces!
Q: Are there different types of Sickevens?
A: Yes. There are Coldevens,