Exercising Writing Muscles

“Writers, you wrote two stories at home last week! Let’s begin to get our writing spaces ready by putting our eyes on those pieces.” Some writers immediately reached into their desks. Others had to scurry out to their lockers. Then, there were the two writers who had nothing at all. I scanned the room as we got ready to transition to our mask break. These are paragraphs, I thought. I wonder how long they spent on these attempts. We’ll just keep pushing forward, I reminded myself. Meet them where they are.

Fresh air did me good. I was somewhat worried about the images my mind collected before we came outdoors, but I was comforted as I mentally flashed through the video lessons of the week. There is no way their stamina won’t improve within the next five days. We marched inside, and I dug deep for excitement.

Two days of writing. Plan the story in three parts – trouble starts, trouble gets worse, trouble resolved. Draft each scene across its own page. Stretch this trouble out across as many lines as you can. What did you do? What did you say? What were you thinking? Edit for punctuation and capitalization. Watch how I use my office supplies to insert or rewrite. Give it a try!

“Writers, have you noticed how long your writing has grown? Are you thinking about how much stronger your writing muscles are compared to last week?” Heads nodded, and writers mumbled about their hands aching. Then, unsolicited reflection began. Kids actually pushed themselves to think about why before I prompted. They filled the air with what was working for them at school. Unknowingly, they sent the message that what I consider a “small thing” registers as a big contributor to their success. Every writer agreed that the music playing helped them focus better.

Well that’s easy, I thought. I will give them exactly what they think they need. I went home and attached the YouTube link to their writing assignments on Google Classroom.

These writers are heading home again. They have their supplies. They have tools in Google Classroom. We may go through this same scenario all over again when the back-to-school transition comes. Or they’ll press play on the music at home, keep their pencils moving, and return even stronger than before.

Published by Melissa Quimby

Melissa is a 4th grade teacher in Natick, Massachusetts. She can often be found with an iced coffee and middle grade novel in hand! Connect with her on Twitter & Instagram - @QUIMBYnotRamona.

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