So, I’ve been thinking about how impressive 5th graders are sometimes.
I wrote about my new unit plan the day before yesterday; I know 2 posts in 3 days?! You can read about the whole thing here. But, the point of this post is that yesterday my students were writing “This I Believe” type pieces, based on the NPR show, as if they were a book character. We have read a number of books so far this year and students could choose any main character.
Usually I make very specific planning sheets and graphic organizers and structure the writing quite a bit. And, I did make a planning sheet for students. We also listened to a couple of podcasts of “real” essays too. But, really because the topics that students were writing about varied, it was hard to be as specific as I like to be.
We shared ideas. We started writing. I picked a character no one else was using so I could start an example piece as well. I wrote a little and then read what I had. It was ok and probably helped some folks.
But then, a student brought me her writing to look over. WOW! To say that it was good does not even begin to do it justice. It was crazy, super-duper good. I read it out loud and everyone just got quiet and listened with their mouths open.
She was writing as Philip in The Cay by Theodore Taylor. Her piece is below. (Note: the summary in the beginning of the 2nd paragraph is what happens in the book, the rest is all her added ideas and inferences about what the character would say.)
I believe that war is not the answer. This is my story. I used to think that war was a game. I played it with my friends. It didn’t matter who won because everything would turn out okay in the end. No one really got hurt or anything. Sure there were scrapes on the knee but that could be fixed with a band-aid. But I found out war wasn’t play, but affects lives. One of those lives was mine.
One day war came to my island where I live. I was really excited to see the game I’ve always played in real live action and I thought it would be so cool. My mother disagreed. She hardly liked that my friends and I played war. She decided that we would take boat to Virginia, where I was born, and we would be safe. My dad had to stay and help with repairing boats for the army. It was already mad that I had to leave my dad. It got worse though. On the way there, we were hit by an enemy torpedo. Everything went black. I was blind. I sailed to an island with a man I didn’t know, only to have him die. That left me alone. War isolates people,not only physically, but mentally too. I didn’t see half the terrors that a soldier sees. It scars people forever, like it did to me. This kind of scar can’t be fixed with a band-aid. This is how my life changed.
Now this may make you think that there is no hope. But there is. All of the things I just described could vanish completely. It’s not just that war is bad, but that peace is good. If we all advocate peace, not war, then we could have a better world. War is not the only option you know. Even the generals in the army say they don’t fight just to win, but so that there can be peace. I think that if we all work together, war will stop. I don’t just think-I believe.
Anyone else impressed?