Pencils raised in the air: “I am a writer! I have important stories to tell! I will not stop writing!” With this Author’s Pledge proclaimed by writing coaches and their students finished my first Adventures In Creative Writing Field Trip with Open Books. It was themed “Celebrating Our Loved Ones” and involved 4th graders from Monroe Elementary. The task of the writing coaches-volunteers was to guide the students and help write their own small piece of prose about a person/thing they love at the end of the trip. Not only did the kids have to compose a story, but first learn the ways to depict a character. Funny and engaging field trip coordinator Julia talked about direct and indirect description, protagonists and antagonists in stories. In order to better illustrate the material students read and discussed extracts from “Matilda” and “Charlotte’s Web” where the main characters were masterfully described. As a practice before individual writing each group of students got a task to describe a random person on the picture given by Julia – come up with his/her occupation, hobbies, likes and dislikes etc. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the kids’ boundless fantasy and enthusiasm to participate in the conversation. Their eyes lit up when the time came to write about their special people because they were given a chance to express their own thoughts, write about their own life. To guide them in the right direction, we gave the kids worksheets to fill out with questions to help the students “dig up their story”. It was particularly amazing to connect with the shy ones and let them open up to you and turn on their imagination. I really enjoyed working individually with each student in my group and developing their story into a concise and engaging piece of writing. All stories were very touching, mostly about their teachers and mothers and showed an emotional depth of young people. At the end of the workshop ten students wearing a pencil costume (like on the picture) read their work to the applause of the audience.
The kids left proud of themselves, knowing that they became published writers-Open Books will type all the stories and make a book out of them. Copies will be given to the school and also distributed in the Open Books bookstore. Each student was also given a coupon for one free book which they could use at the Open Books bookstore and a personal journal where they could keep on writing.
All in all, it was a very fulfilling experience for me. I will keep you posted about other field trips I will take part in.