Three days in and students are revising submissions for a publisher.
I decided not to discuss class rules on Wednesday, the first day of school, because who wants to hear class rules for eight different classes in one day?
Instead, we jumped right into a writing contest hosted by Creative Communication (CC). The contest (read about it here) is one aspect of CC’s summer poetry anthology, which will print and ship in December. The primary goal is to see my students published in the anthology; being designated as one of the top ten in the anthology would be a bonus.
Next week, sixth- and seventh-graders will continue revising our poems and since the deadline for CC’s summer poetry anthology was extended from August 23 to August 31, we’ll have even more opportunities to refine them before submission.
I call the poems the students are creating “Sometimes” poems. The concept is one I learned from middle grades author Kate Messner when I attended the Write to Learn Conference in 2016.
Messner shared some teaching strategies from her book Real Revision. Her book outlines practical ways to encourage kids to revise their writing. The “one and done” mentality goes out the window when students see that revising can be how creative and fun. On top of that, these strategies have street cred because they show what professional authors like Messner do in their own writing routines. As a result, students begin to buy into the notion that “Real writing happens during rewriting.”
Students started this project by writing a few sentences about their favorite place or a place they enjoy. They described the place, the sounds of it, the fragrances, the textures. I showed them an example paragraph I had written about sitting in a swinging chair underneath a cedar tree in our yard. Then we read a poem that Messner wrote about one her favorite places: a mountain in April she had discovered while hiking one springtime day.
Students then revised their sentences into poems by adding recurring lines, stanzas, more sensory language, and imagery. At the end of class on Friday, they were still revising and working with partners, highlighting areas of strength and weakness.
It’s a fun project and results in beautiful little poems about places middle schoolers love… their bedrooms, around campfires, the woods, the beach, under Christmas trees.
I’ll be posting soon with more about our “Sometimes” poems. In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post, click like, leave a comment and share on social media! Follow my blog for more student writing contests and ELA teaching reflections. Thanks for reading!
2 thoughts on “Get Your Students Published ASAP”
This sounds great. We’re still almost 2 weeks from opening day, but that means I have some time to read Real Revision. I just ordered it. I really like Kate Messner’s books. I’ver read All the Answers, 7th Wish, and a historical fiction book called Spitfire (because it takes place on Lake Champlain, very close to an area where I used to work in the summers. I’m interested in the Write to Learn conference, too. Thanks for this entry.
Yes, I really enjoy Kate Messner’s work, too. She actually had to Skype at Write to Learn due to bad weather, but that just meant she talked to us from her living room with Lake Champlain in the distance. It was so cool! She also heads up Teachers Write! in the summers. Kind of an online summer writing camp for teachers. It’s awesome. Thanks for reading and commenting!