I look out across the carpet at the second-graders sitting before me. One is picking caked mud from the bottom of her shoe. Another is using his fingernail to press marks into his arm. Every eye seems to be somewhere else but on me. Lint and forgotten paper scraps are infinitely fascinating.
“When a thief sneaks into your house, what does he steal? Does he steal underwear or does he steal the “good stuff”?”
Giggles erupt from the carpet. All eyes are on me now. I said the “forbidden” word.
“Today, we are going to be thieves. We are going to go into a book and look for the “Wowzer!” things Kevin Henkes has done, steal them, and use them for our writing. Are you ready to be thieves and search for the “good stuff”?
Eyes that once were flat and resigned are now dancing with hope. They scooch closer, ready to “steal”.
I begin to read, Wemberly Worried, using my voice to draw attention to what I want them notice. They don’t disappoint. They notice. They name.
We practice together and with partners using dull sentences that are all too familiar to second-grade writers. I love my mom. The party was awesome. When I send them back to have-a-go with their own writing, they are chomping at the bit. Bodies find chairs as pencils eagerly begin scratching out thinking on paper. My little thieves are creating.
I walk around the room, reading. I find someone who has begun to show–not just tell. I capture them back to me with a gasp, “Writers, you have got to hear this.” They look up. Their ears bend toward me not wanting to miss a word. I read, again using my voice to make the writing extraordinary. Some nod. Some smile. There is a “wow” from one. More determination fills the room.
At the end of the lesson, I ask, “Tell me something you learned about yourself and your writing today.”
“I can steal.”
“I get tricked by periods.”
“I can tell more.”
They go on and on. Then one voice says…
“I learned writing can be fun.. when you actually write.” Heads around her nod.
My mission is accomplished.