It’s the day after the election. Some people are sad; some are happy. Everyone has a passionate response, an opinion. That’s a fact.
So for a 6th grade writing workshop today, I felt it appropriate to focus on Op-Ed/Commentary (something I used to write for newspapers) because I wanted students to voice an opinion. I wanted them to choose a topic they were angry, happy, sad, excited, or confused about, and write a piece in the unobstructed voice of their youth, forgetting the 5-paragraph persuasive essay structure and focusing on getting words on paper. After I read them a few of my old Op-Eds (they loved one I wrote about Thanksgiving and how I longed for a Turkey Day trip instead of a 6-hour cooking marathon followed by a 10-minute eating event), we had a crazy-lively brainstorming session–WHEW!! They had so much to say! We chatted about opinions on everything from school lunches to uniforms, holiday madness to sibling rivalry. In light of the post-election negativity, I asked that they “talk” about positive aspects and outcomes, along with interjecting others’ views via snappy dialogue. They got extra points if they could make me laugh.
And let me just say: THESE KIDS BROUGHT IT. Pencils scritched and scratched. Eyebrows furrowed. There was … silence. “I’ve never seen them this quiet while working on writing,” said the teacher.
The kids wrote about a call for change within their homes, prejudice, traditions, choosing popular kids over talented ones for parts in plays, extra curricular activities, the frustration of losing a big game (What Happened to Our Defense?!), the value of personal space (I Want My Own Room), and a community parking issue (Parking in Ardmore? You Better Walk). Excellent, right? But it was the way they wrote about these issues that made such an impression. There was passion.
All I can say is, I’m proud of this next generation. They are a generation of fearless thinkers, movers, and shakers who, given the opportunity, have a whole lot to say–in writing.