Small Details, Big Questions

In a Saturday Seminar with Elena Melendez -- we're doing introductions and then we're going to rock narrative writing.

Elena.  Ms. Energy trying to slow herself down and not talk a mile a minute.

Sharing her noticing from conferences with students that it comes down to how to manipulate small details AND we have to look at the big picture.  Why teach narrative.  (A favorite subject of mine.)  From an article Ten Top Reasons Why Students Need Literature.

Ten top reasons:
1. Imagination
2. Communication
3. Analysis
4. Empathy
5. Understanding
6. Agility
7. Meaningfulness
8. Travel
9. Inspiration
10. Fun

We got to talk up our top three that stood out for us.  Exciting!  (cited

Comments included seeing this list like a Maslow’s heirarchy, from 10 to 1.   The teacher’s going to make a pyramid poster of it.  Another commented on how not diverse her private school students are — desperately need to see the rest of humanity.  Peek into each other’s worlds.

Now we get to do some writing!  (based on the article)

Prompt:  Format – write a dialogue.  The Purpose:  think more deeply about this topic – narrative

Audience: can be a teacher/friend.  I’m going to Crema.  I’m there.  Sharing my thoughts.

(review skills for writing dialogue)

Here goes, for 5 minutes.

It is mid Sunday morning and Lorena and I are perched on the high stools at the window counter at Crema.  Laptops open, tea and snack bars.

“So, I got soooo excited in Elena’s workshop yesterday!”  Lorena smiles.  “One of my fave subjects was up for talk to open — why teach narrative,” I pressed.

“Wow, why not teach narrative? Gimme one good reason why not!” was her comeback.

“The article on the list included # 10 —  FUN, Lorena!  Our favorite subject connected to literacy!”

Lorena lit up.

“And then there was a tiny line, number 6 I think – in the reasons.  Teach narrative for agility.   To think in complex ways…to hold contradictory thoughts…to deal with conflicting point of view.  Well, I got so buzzed.   Reading, writing.”  I took a big gulp of my cooling Earl Grey.  I haven’t thought of agility with students though I realize it is a quality of writing. “This is the kind of thinking we want our young writers to pursue!”

“Story does that, ” Lorena agreed…


Back to workshop.

I went out to take photos of other workshops and check in with our YA guest, graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang.  Packed house in the auditorium.

Back to Elena.  FUNdamentals of teaching narrative.  BME = Set Up, Mix Up, End Up.

Goal, Obstacle


Story Arc – paragraphing

Figurative Language Grab-Bag

Expression – Found Poems

I love the teachers in this room.  Elena is doing book talk for Social Skills for Academic Interaction.

Jonathan just walked in to give a commercial for our summer programs.  We’ll be heading over to the author talk with Gene Luen Yang, but first I need to talk to parents of young writers and pass out summer writing camp flyers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

A Website.