Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Slice of Life: the Value of an Asset-Based Approach

    It's Tuesday, and Tuesdays are for slicing.  Anyone is welcome to join us through Two Writing Teachers, slicing, sharing, and commenting on other slices! 


For the first time since the summer of 2019, our live and in-person Summer Writing Academy is up and running, and we have almost fifty young writers showing up each morning. Throughout the spring, the teachers and the brochures are clear; this program is for students who love writing. This year, we seem to have a few who might not be such writing fans. 

"G. and M. don't write," their summer teacher reported to me after the first day. She went on to tell me about all the other things G. and M. do that are disruptive, disrespectful, and disgruntling. 

The summer's writing theme is centered on fantasy, and G. and A are obsessed with the Warriors series. 

"All they want to do is write cat books," the teacher reports. "They're just recreating the Warriors stories."

I took the girls for the first hour of the second day. I had initially planned only a half hour, but their time got extended. I spent the first ten minutes or so talking to them about what their stories could be. What different characters they could invent. What new world they could create. What original conflicts their cats could face. 

These girls weren't budging from their ideas. They had their own vision and language. Try as I might, they were sticking to it. 

So I let them. I sat back and did some relatively mindless work that kept my eyes on my computer and my ears on their conversation. 

They talked about the traits of their characters. 

They asked each other about the setting and if it was clear enough. 

They made up and agreed on friends for their cats. 

They debated whether the cats could have an authentic battle with fish. 

And they wrote. 

A lot. 

And they beamed when I commented on their storytelling abilities and their potential to become the next great series writers. 

And they listened to and incorporated a couple of suggestions I offered. 

At the end of the day when we all debriefed, the teacher again expressed her frustration with the girls' obsession with cats. 

"But what CAN they do?" I asked. 

I went on to point out the value of their writing, even if they were operating within the scaffold of someone else's storyline. They were still drafting-- developing dialogue, creating scenes, and wrestling with the balance of details. 

She nodded, and maybe she appreciated them a little more. We'll see how tomorrow goes...

Happy slicing, 



  1. Such a good reminder of what kids CAN do! As a recovering controlaholic, I know it can be hard to let go of your own vision of what kids should be doing. But boy oh boy, the magic that happens when you do let go!

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