Same Story; Two Angles

Oct 12, 2010 by

On Monday I presented a writing in-service to some teachers in Ogdensgurg, NJ.

DSCF4600Ogdensburg School Library

After the in-service I had a long drive back to the airport in Allentown, PA which meant lots of time to think.  As I was driving, I had some thoughts and experiences that I wanted to record in writing.  I decided to use my drive time to organize my writing thoughts.  I quickly encountered a dilemma, however.  At first my thoughts took me in one direction and then seemed to take a sharp turn in another direction.  I couldn’t write about both ideas in one piece.  That led me into an even different line of thinking which is this:

How often do our students tell us that they’re finished writing or can’t think of anything to write about?  In a way, who can blame them?  After all, if they are writing every day, that’s a lot of writing topics they need.  I think we need to teach our students that just because they have written about a topic once doesn’t mean they can’t revisit that same topic in the future to write more or to write from a different angle.  Last March I had the opportunity to hear Patricia Polacco speak.  One thing she said that really resonated with me is that she actually only has one writing topic—family stories.  She said we need to teach our students to stick with topics longer, that just because they have written about their dog doesn’t mean they can’t write multiple dog stories.

So as I continued my drive I began to think about writing on the same topic from two different angles.  If you come back tomorrow, you can read angle one.  In the meantime, would you consider encouraging your students to think about multiple ways to write about the same topic?  Maybe have them write from different points of view or have them look at the same experience through two different lenses.  Of course, if you really want them to do this well, you’re going to want to model this for them yourself.  I’ll model this for you in my next posts, and then hopefully you’ll be ready to try it!

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