Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ticket to Write


Last summer, I attended an entire week of training with four of my teachers on a program to teach writing to students. We have all kinds of programs to teach reading, math, science, etc., but there is very little out there to actually teach writing. When I think back to my school days, I don't ever remember actually learning how to write. As a teacher, I always felt that it was one of the hardest subjects to teach. It was exciting to me to find something that would really assist teachers in the teaching of the writing process.

One of my former students is a writer for the Arizona Republic. In correspondence with her, she told me several years ago that her love for writing came from the year she was in my class. Although I don't think I did a very good job of teaching writing, I do know that I showed my students how much I love writing. So that is a good thing, I think!

I have always loved to write. Humor was probably what I enjoyed the most. I actually wrote an "underground bulletin" at my schools when I was a teacher and it was a lot of fun. Since I have become a principal, I have to write so much with an enormous amount of it being tedious. At times I have come to dread writing. As a result, I haven't done much of the enjoyable writing for quite some time.

Then came this blog.......... All of a sudden writing became fun again. Over the last several months, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing again.

The week we spent in June in the training was great. I learned a lot about the art and science of teaching writing with a great instructor. We were given an assignment that had to be turned in when we went back for the next phase of the training. With my busy schedule and so much to do, I didn't think about it until yesterday. One of my dear principal friends reminded me at a meeting we were in that I needed to have this assignment completed. Of course, I had nothing with me. She gave me her outline and the "prompt" that we were given. We had a choice of two prompts, but I knew that I would do the one about the Dairy Queen. I had actually thought about it, but hadn't actually sat down to do this. So in the middle of our "other" meeting, I wrote my story with confidence born out of seven months of blogging!!

The following is my story with the first sentence being the prompt that was given to us:

I raced from the car to the Dairy Queen door, threw it open and slid into line.

The Dairy Queen in the small town I grew up in was only open for the sizzling hot summer months. April 1st was an exciting day in our town as the local DQ reopened after six months. So many people were anxious for the first Dairy Queen treat in months.

I couldn't decide which item on the menu I had missed the most. Was it a Dilly Bar or a chocolate ice cream soda?

I could taste both of these after months of not being able to go to Dairy Queen. I was so excited that it had reopened and that I could go every evening on my bike, although tonight my mother drove me. I think she was as excited as I was that it was open again.

Finally, I was in line with only one person in front of me--decision time! I decided on the ice cream soda at the very last minute before I had to place the order. I could taste it even before I ordered it--sweet, delicious, and refreshing.

Going back to the car, I asked my mom if I could walk home. I wanted to savor every drop as I sauntered home, just four short blocks away. She said yes, which was exciting in itself to be allowed to walk on my own.

As I walked, I thought about the 12 Dilly Bars that my mother had purchased and was taking home to the freezer. Dairy Queen treats were back for a few months at least. The enjoyment of these treats had to be even better because of so many months without them.

Oh, the wonderful memories of growing up in a small town will be with me every time I pass a Dairy Queen!!

Much of this is true. This is called believable fiction I learned today. The Dairy Queen part is very accurate. I was never really that excited about the opening or closing of it because I don't really care much about sweets. The rest is accurate. My mom loved Dairy Queen and so we went often. It really is only four blocks from 858!

I turned my paper in at the end of the day yesterday with great confidence. Our instructor told us she would have them ready for us tomorrow and not to worry if we didn't get a check. Most mistakes would be easy to remedy. So I am thinking--no problem. Even though I did this quickly, I am a very good writer. I will have a check mark.

So this morning I go to get my paper and there is a SEE ME. SEE ME???? I couldn't believe it. So I saw her! I needed to have two sentences for my opening and two for my closing. Okay, I could fix that easily!! So I added to my entry "The excitement of this event filled the air." That was fine. But I truly felt that my voice in the closing would be compromised by adding another sentence. But I did it anyway...: "I love these memories and I am happy that there are still Dairy Queens everywhere."

At the end of the day, I was able to speak with our wonderful instructor. I told her how I felt about my voice at the end. She read it and suggested that I just change the order of the sentences. It would read "I am happy that there are still Dairy Queens everywhere. Oh the wonderful memories of growing up in a small town will be with me every time I pass a Dairy Queen." I could definitely live with this!!

Tomorrow is the last day of training. It has been great and I have learned so much. I know that my teachers who attended will be able to bring this back to our faculty and to our students. I truly am excited that we finally have a "program" that I think is going to be fabulous in the teaching of writing. Because I love to write so much, I hope that our students will also have this love.

I look forward to the months ahead where we can instill the love of writing (and reading) in all of our students and possibly untap some incredible potential that is out there with our children. Writing is so personal and can be so therapeutic. At the same time, being able to read a great writer can work wonders and draw out such emotion. I know how much it has helped me and I hope my love for this craft will be imparted to others. This blog has done this for me. I truly hope that what I write is enjoyed by others out there. Technology is such an awesome tool!!

4 remarks:

velvet brick said...

I can only giggle at this a bit.... 'please see me'..LOL! I LOVE that this blog has opened up a new path for you!!! It is such a unique format in which to chronicle, document and save for eternity your paths, travels and journey! And you crack me up with your music.... is 'paperback writer' just perfect for this? Love it, Sheila!
VB

eyeofthehurricane said...

Thank you for your comment. Of course you can share my blog site in any way that you would like. Your site is great... you obviously have "skills". Goodness, I'm happy I've just figured out how to sign on and log out, and post comments. I'll have to work up to music, pictures, bells, and whistles. Your site shouts of a love of writing, and life. I loved reading about your annual 3rd grade field trips!! It will be fun for me to follow your writing journey, as well. Thanks, again, for the encouragement. (p.s. I love Heather, too!) Janice : )

Susie of Arabia said...

I had a big smile on my face as I read this post. Going to the Dairy Queen was such a special treat for our family too. I have to admit, my favorite was always the Dilly Bar - my mom would always buy the dozen bag too - and getting the "FREE DILLY BAR" stick was always a big competition for my brothers and me. Such happiness at the thought of a free Dilly Bar!
I never could figure out why they didn't stay open year-round. I'm sure they would have been able to turn a profit!

Anonymous said...

You are such a good writer. I enjoy reading your stories.
Deb Lovett