Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SoL Challenge Day #8

My creative writing class was a scene from a horror film today.

Actually, several scenes. My students started writing short stories this week, and while they were given many different directions to potentially take their pieces, many of them chose the horror genre.

I was tentative about this at first. This is not a genre I am well-versed in, and I am studying each night to come prepared with valuable advice for them.

I met with several students individually today to conference about their pieces, and as each story was outlined, a bank of memory unhinged in my brain. The first student's piece reminded me of the suicide forest in Japan that I'd read about in a Buzzfeed article a few years back. The second piece brought back memories of watching news reports on the Elizabeth Smart case. The third piece echoed local lore of the Council Bluffs Black Angel.

My students dove into these real life examples of their own stories. They were reading articles out of their own volition. Several had found interviews with victims of strange and horrible crimes.

More than anything though, I finally saw a spark move through the room.

Sections of writing were being shared without prompting.

Voices had a sense of urgency and ownership.

I moved from raised hand to raised hand feeling energized and excited to listen and guide.

As they filed out of the room at the end of the period, I turned to one of my students and said, "That is what writing can feel like."

She grinned and said, "I think I am actually going to work on it tonight!"

My heart grew two sizes. This. This is what teaching can feel like.


  1. You are a good teacher, to let them go in that direction and try to help rather than talk them out of it! And you are reaping the reward.

  2. Once you find something they like to write, the rest comes, well, it comes. I love that you could point them in the direction of info they could use in their stories. Mentor texts and anything else they can use to help the writing goes a long ways.

  3. You are a brave teacher! Your students are lucky to have someone willing to take risks and let them take risks.

  4. Nothin like a little blood and gore to get the creative juices going. I loved your piece for many reasons. First and foremost, your kids are abuzz with writing, the greatest gift you could offer, and the greatest reward you'll reap. Second, I appreciate the cadence and word choice; loved the line - "Voices had a sense of urgency and ownership." On its own line, it was a powerful insight. Finally, I appreciate your sense of humor and the clever way you "matter-of-factly" shared your memories of real life hours. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I absolutely love it when I see that spark in students' eyes. This sounds like an assignment I would have loved to do.

  6. Such a good feeling when everyone in the room is 'getting it.' Well done.

  7. Stephen King's On Writing -- A Memoir of the