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Archive for June 7th, 2016

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Reading, reading, reading...

Reading, reading, reading…

The unmistakable voice of my daddy checked me out of the Anxious Hotel and back into reality. Elizabeth Tow, 8th grade

In the midst of the stacks of student-written stories about monsters and disasters and parents dying in car crashes, there were a few gemstones.

Monday was the annual LA Writes judging at my home. Teachers gathered around fruit and muffins and coffee to read 622 entries from Kindergarten to 12th grade writers from around our state.

Amidst the state standards and curriculum mandates, we writing teachers hold out hope that someone is cultivated creative writing in their classrooms. Interestingly, most of the best writers came from only a few teachers. Either these are the teachers keeping writing alive or these are the teachers who take the time to enter students in contests.

I have been coordinating the LA Writes contest for a dozen years, and I look forward to this day every year. I get to see some of my favorite teacher-friends and share my home with them. We talk and read, read and talk.

We find favorite lines. My friend, Nettie picked these lines to share.

The radio comes alive like low heeled boots. By Lily Adam

Alone together in a room for all
A kiss meets lips like stroking midnight buds. by Jasper Koelbel

Resting on the back of a goose wing, trying to blend into the cream colored feathers. By Rangasri Narayanamoorthy

When we started this contest, we created an acronym for our judging criteria with the word VOICES.

Voice
Originality/ surprise
Imagery/ figurative language
Clarity
Economy
Significance/ insight

As a teacher, I am in tune to these elements and encourage my young writers to reach not only for clear and precise writing, but writing that sings and makes the reader look at something in a new and surprising way. These elements are hard to teach, but we all know good writing when we see it. My students know good writing. They don’t always know how to name it, but they know it when they see it.

Yesterday we culled the stacks and stacks of writing down to 5-10 in each category in each grade-level division. It was hard work. It was good work. We will send these finalists on to our author judges, authors from our state including our new state poet laureate. We hope that they will see the gemstones that we saw and enjoy the looking.

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