Silly, Violent, and Gross

Posted June 7, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

I used to go into classrooms with a very clear idea of the poems and stories I wanted the students to create.  I imagined beautiful, lyrical language, deep emotional revelations, memorable, personal themes.

Then I started reading some of the research about boys and writing.  I learned from experts such as Ralph Fletcher and Peg Tyre that I needed a new set of expectations and strategies to reach most of my boy writers.

I took away some valuable pointers, including allowing boys more choices when it comes time to write, advocating for boys with poor handwriting to get access to keyboards, and appreciating that my boy writers have more fun and produce better writing when they are allowed to be silly, violent, and gross.

Here is a good example of a boy who writes best when he’s talking about something he cares about: horror movies.

When I saw the movie “Chucky,” it creeped out my mom, but I liked it because it was cool.  Chucky is a doll with stitches all over his face.  He seems like a regular doll, but he isn’t because if you take the screws out, there are no batteries, just flesh.  The doll came in a box, but it escaped.  The boy who bought it looked for it everywhere.  Then Chucky jumped out.  The whole movie is about Chucky hunting down people.  The first time a scary part came, I screamed like I was going to be killed.  Chucky looked like he was going to cut my hand off.  I thought if he looked at me again, I would run to my grandma’s house.   But I survived.  I watched the movie every day for awhile.  My mom would jump at the scary parts and run to her room.  I like horror movies. They don’t give me nightmares.  They give me ideas to scare my brother.

By Nick, 10

by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools