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Posts Tagged ‘Melanie Meehan’

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

I have been following the Two Writing Teachers blog for at least 6 years. At NCTE in 2014, I sat next to Melanie Meehan at the Slicer dinner. Melanie was not yet a member of the TWT team. We talked about writing, and she asked me to join her online critique group. At the time, she and I were both writing middle grade fiction.

Fast forward a few years and now Melanie has published a professional book. I won her book Every Child Can Write from a TWT blog giveaway. I’ve been reading and marking it up ever since it arrived. I am so impressed with the attention to detail and practical advice for our most challenged writers. Melanie calls them striving writers. In my opinion, all writers are striving writers.

I teach gifted kids, but that doesn’t mean they are all efficient writers. They struggle with many of the things Melanie covers in her book, idea generating, making transitions, adding details.

When reading a professional book or attending professional development, we look through the lens of our own experience. My students write a Slice of Life each week. I have been grading these posts using a rubric. Melanie made me look deeper at what I was asking my students to do. Were they authentically involved in the process?

Melanie asks her readers to consider designing writing checklists with kids. “Just as we need to understand the concepts, so do our students. Additionally, using their own language is powerful because students are then intrinsically involved in the self-assessment process…Student involvement in creating checklists leads to understanding on their part, and when they understand, the are better able to move along the ladder of mastery.”

I decided today to ask my students what they would include on a checklist for their SOLs. This is the list they compiled:

  • Details: Details help the reader imagine the scene
  • Your story: First person POV
  • Voice: Unique, humorous, new, emotional, have personality
  • Defining unknown words for others
  • Stay on topic
  • Imagery: Use the senses
  • Grammar
  • Paragraphs: Change with new topic or new speaker
  • Spelling

I found a few of their ideas interesting. They have really internalized the importance of using paragraph structure. They also see the value of using their own point of view as well as writing in their own voice. I appreciated that they added “stay on topic.” So often students will not know what to write about so their posts ramble. They do know that keeping to the topic is important to their readers. And their readers are each other.

This conversation inspired by Melanie helped me show my students they are writers and value their input into the whole process. And I’m only on Chapter Four!

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