Friday, February 3, 2012

A Million Little Pieces

My students are working on memoirs and their second drafts were due today. The following message was in my email inbox this morning.

We read J's story which is due today. There were a few sections with inappropriate content, we have discussed this with him and he will make necessary changes. He can stay after school today to complete or use time this weekend. Thank you for understanding.

Uh oh. The last I had seen of the piece was a little silly, but not too far out of bounds for a sixth grade boy. I talked to him first thing. "What's going on?" I asked.

"My parents are totally over-reacting," he sighed.

I asked to see the draft, and there were a few things that I knew I would suggest editing out. I replied to his mom at lunch.

The drafts that were due today were not intended to be in final form. I encourage the students to take creative risks in their writing, but I agree that J's piece was not appropriate for school as it was written. One of the objectives of the assignment is for students to choose a memorable event from their lives and to consider how it shaped them and what their actions and reactions in that situation reveal about them. When I talked to J about his story, he explained that he had only presented the perspective of his eight-year-old self. Today he worked on adding what he learned from the experience, what he thinks now, and making clear that he and the boy mentioned are still friends. He should continue working on it over the weekend.

He can also start a new piece on another topic if your family would prefer. Please contact me with any further questions.

A little later I found out that J the author had been taking liberties with the facts.

Thank you for your quick response to our concerns. The content of the story did not reflect the incident as it occurred or how J has felt when similar situations have occurred in the past. He is struggling a bit with his identity recently and I understand he would like others to see him with a different bravado. Thank you for providing the specifics of the assignment, I see he still needs to address the other points of the assignment as well.

It looks like J is going to be doing some revising this weekend.

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