Show AND Tell

As many of you know, I started this website to promote writing in my classroom. My reasoning was simple: Show students that I’m not afraid to put myself out there and take risks then hope like hell they follow my lead. Again, I’m NOT sharing my writing because I think it is perfect (Spoiler Alert: It is not!) but because I believe sharing a part of myself will help students feel more comfortable with the writing process. It’s a philosophy that has made its way into most of my classroom writing assignments as well.

For example, this year, on the second day of school, I introduced a small narrative writing project that freshmen students had to complete AND present to their brand new classmates. After walking them through the narrative process and calming their nerves about the whole speaking in front of the class thing, I modelled the process. I wrote a small narrative paragraph on my most embarrassing moment and presented it to the class. You could see the anxiety over presenting leave their faces as we shared a laugh at my misfortune. Once they were done roasting me, it was their turn and, for once, everyone seemed to want to go first. It was the first time in my fifteen years of teaching that every single student presented on the actual day an assignment was due. And they were truly amazing! Sure, you could argue that I just have a very special group this year and you’d be right (FYI – Fifteen special groups in a row!) … but I like to believe that when teachers put effort into their explanations, they get effort back.

My narrative paragraph example is below if you want a laugh at my expense.

Don’t Sleep on Sleep

I used to think I could stay out all night and it would not affect my class work … but I was wrong. So wrong. One morning during my post-secondary days, after a particularly eventful evening, I woke up late for class and rushed to the university. Once there, I had to walk into a Geology lecture where the only free seats were located in the front row. I could feel hundreds of eyes on me as I descended the aisle and sank into my seat. The professor monotonously droning on about rocks was the last thing I remembered … until I woke up. I was jarred awake by the sound of binders closing and feet shuffling out of the aisles. It was then that I noticed I had a trail of drool extending from my mouth to my notebook. I embarrassedly swiped at my face, grabbed my books, got up, and took a hurried step towards the door. Next thing I knew, I was flat on my face. My left leg was asleep. In my desire to end this waking nightmare, I pulled myself up, using a chair for leverage, and dragged my leg up the stairs and out the door, never to return. That was the last class I ever failed. After that day, I always tried to get my eight hours of sleep, especially on school nights.


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