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A Lesson About Writing: SOL 1

Write. Share. Give. Join the March Slice of Life Story Challenge @ Two Writing Teachers

Last night after dinner, my ten year old son Felix said, "Well, it's time to do the dreaded paragraph. Be ready to stay up late." 
"Seriously?" I said. "You can't write a paragraph in less then two HOURS?"
My son is incredibly smart and talented at so many things. The fact that writing completely stops him in his tracks makes this writer sad. Writing is thinking and I know he can think--quite well in fact. Usually when he has an assignment like this, he moans and screams while he is completing it. Literally.
"Why me?!" he will yell from the kitchen counter.
Sometimes the yelling is so bad, I demand he remove himself to the front room where a desk waits for him. He prefers to be near me.
"If I'm near you, your writing talent might rub off on me," he says. I smile.
Last night after dinner, I tried a new tactic. 
"Okay Felix, I type--you talk." 
He bit.
He started talking and I started typing. I'm fast. I worked at United Way for 14 years. They have a lot of meetings at United Way and each one requires meeting minutes. I know how to get the job done.
After talking for a full minute and hopping around the kitchen as he spoke, he slid over behind me. "What are you writing?"
"I'm writing what you are saying, exactly as you are saying it."
"Is that okay?" he asked.
"Yes, you are very articulate. It sounds great."
"What does articulate mean?"
"You say it clearly. You say exactly what you mean and it makes sense."
"'re just writing it? You aren't making it sound perfect?"
"Nope. I'm just writing what you are saying. Let me read it back to you."
So I did and he couldn't argue with me because I wrote just what he said and it sounded good.
"I had no idea that writing was just talking," he said.
"Well, it's not just talking, you have to think about what you are going to say too."
"Good point."


  1. I have been thinking about experimenting with Google voice with my students to model this idea. Great thinking MOM!

  2. What a great work-around to get past his writer's block! I love the flow of this story, too, your use of dialogue and commentary. Wonderful post; may I share it with my fourth grade team as a possible source of inspiration for their students during Camp Write-Along?

  3. Great slice! The dialogue between you and your son really brings it to life. Congratulations on a successful new tactic. I'd love to hear if this experience influences Felix's future writing assignments.

  4. You can feel the love between you and Felix in this small slice of your life together- homework time! Maybe Felix will like writing more now that you demystified it for him a bit! Isn't it funny when our kids don't love what we love?

  5. Oh how I love the moment when kids have epiphanies! What a wonderful way to end a homework struggle! What a lovely way to show Felix that writing is thinking and that he, too, is a writer!

  6. I love the scenario of you typing as he talks and Felix relizing that writing is just "talking." I'm curious how that will play out for him as a writer,

  7. I loved this slice,especially the beginning, I laughed out loud. Such a clever mum you are and he's lucky to have your fast typing skills for typing 'dreaded paragraphs'. :)

  8. This is my student. He has so many wise words but he doesn't put them on the page. He told me yesterday he wasn't getting any better as a writer. That broke my heart. That he didn't believe in his words that are so strong, he just can't put them on the page.

    Felix is amazing and will get there with your support. Being next to you WILL rub off on him.

  9. Yes! Oh Felix, you have a brilliant mom. (You could read that back to him too!)

  10. "If I'm near you, your writing talent might rub off on me," - wise child, that Felix!

  11. You are a genius, mom! That tactic also works well with reluctant writers in my classroom. I love how Felix felt your writing talent would rub off on him if he sat near to you. I'm sure some did!

  12. This is it! Next time E complains that she can't write a SOL, I am doing this! Thanks. Love your voice in this piece, BTW. Happy Day One!

  13. Perfect! I love how you wrote this with dialog but I also love that you helped him see that writing is not some big dreaded thing. You are great!

  14. Ha! What a great trick...I mean strategy! :)

  15. Love this! It reminds me of my students who sometimes have writers block. I'll say to them, "If you knew what to write, what might you say?" Works every time :) Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Awesome... just awesome!! Great idea.... and what a perfect lightbulb to go off while you were doing this. I'm new to Slice of life, and my good friend and coworker Jennifer sent me to read your blog. I've really enjoyed what I've seen so far. I'm excited to read more! Thanks so much for sharing.

  17. So enjoyed reading this slice! You spread great messages everywhere! Home, here, school...

    Felix sounds like such a great kid!


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