We are honored to have Michele Simonetty from Dover Middle School in Dover Plains, NY guest post with us today!
My school, Dover Middle School (Dover Union Free School District), has had a partnership with the Hudson Valley Writing Project (HVWP) for a few years now. I had received some Professional Development, but I had been a part-time participant until this year. This year, I had the opportunity to work with my 8th grade Team, and with Bonnie Kaplan from HVWP, to develop and improve writing practices for the students and ourselves.
I am a Special Education teacher, co-teaching ELA and Social Studies, and I have little writing training in my background. I often have a lot to say about things which, for me, makes writing an easy task. However, I had little understanding of writing as a craft, until now. Under Bonnie’s direction, being challenged to write and practice the activities we wanted students to participate in has given me a better understanding of the purpose and meaning of writing.
Our Team was asked to write a piece that would be made into a digital story. The writing prompt revolved around a turning point in our lives or a specific event that changed our lives. When I first began, I just wanted to write and write, using imagery and big words to impress the readers! I enjoyed telling my story, and I enjoyed fishing through old photographs to find the ones that would help make my story clear. I thought it would be easy to turn my story into digital story. Text and pictures, right?
Once I began playing around with the Photostory program I realized I had written way too much. I told my friend and co-teacher Jack Zangerle (8th grade ELA teacher) that “I was really trying to impress by using imagery in my writing but it made it too long. Now that I have added the photos…” Jack finished my sentence, “…you don’t need all those words right, because people can SEE what you mean.”
OK, so he had a really good point. He’s probably crossed out millions of words in revising and editing his own work…but darn it, I worked hard to write my original piece, did I really want to begin crossing it out?
Lesson learned. I was a writer! Learning that editing is OK and that the finished piece doesn’t always look like what you intended. THAT’S writing! So, I have the first draft of my very own digital story complete. Bonnie will watch it and will tell me it’s still too long. But, that’s OK…I can edit it….I am a writer. That’s what writers do!