Ruby Tuesday: Writing Project
When I discovered that I have two non-readers, A-Girl and D-Boy, in my sixth-grade language arts class, I began thinking of ways to include them as fully as possible in our literacy activities. I decided to have the kids, all of them, play with rhymes and make couplets, because poetry that rhymes is just plain fun. (I can still recite “Eletelephony,” which I memorized when I was in elementary school about 2,000 years ago.)
We spent some time coming up with several lists of words that rhyme, and kept it simple: day, may, way, play, say, etc. Then we experimented with writing couplets. Again, I kept it simple, asking the students to fill in only the last word of a couplet I had created, using the list of rhyming words that we had already generated together. Even my non-readers could copy the couplets from the board and recite them, because the musicality of poetry sticks with your ear a lot longer than pedestrian prose. (Why do you think Shakespeare has lasted so long?)
As an extension of this activity, I decided that we could collaborate and write a book of couplets together. The book I envisioned would contain lots of repetition so that A-Girl and D-Boy would, sooner or later, start catching on to the correlation between the symbols on the page and the sounds we made with our mouths. The book would also be illustrated by the students.
At first, I thought that I’d look at all the students’ illustrations and use only the very best one for each couplet in the book. I quickly abandoned that idea in favor of each student’s making his or her own book, illustrating all the couplets.
Red-shirted Glenn, whom you see in the illustration, is introduced on one page of our book that, when finished, will be twenty-eight or thirty pages long. We hope to have it “published” and ready for the parents to read by Back-to-School Night on the 26th.
So far, the kids are having fun with this writing project—and so am I!