Monday, May 10, 2010

The Best Mother's Day Gift Ever!

Given the option of a few bucks with which to choose a card and gift for me or doing something else, SJ chose the something else. His dad warned him then, "It better not be lame."

It wasn't. It was a homemade card, fairly typical of those I have received in year's past. What was different was the inside...a full panel of writing. This may not seem like a big deal to many, but to this mom, and to this child who is known for his writing reluctance, it was huge. And it wasn't just rambling but an attempt at thought and prose. My favorite line might have been the one mentioning that I am a homeschool teacher, "which I am very good at." Big smile, with a tear.

It warms my heart to think we have made progress in the writing arena after trying a few super secret simple techniques. The first I read in The Homeschool Magazine's Winter 09/10 edition. It's a long article but in "Three Keys to Teaching Writing," Danielle Orlander shows how to help a child basically rewrite an existing text using a key word outline, restating ideas from memory, and then reconstructing the paragraph. It might seem like cheating but how often, in college did we have to extrapolate text to use in research papers? This technique showed how to find the main ideas and put them in one's own words without plagiarizing. SJ and I used text from a bicycling handbook one day and from a medieval history book the next. In both instances, SJ's paragraph was twice as long as the original and he was shocked to note how easily he had written nearly half a page.

The other idea I gleaned from a homeschool blog (sorry, I can't remember which one). SJ got a new racing-worthy bike this week, complete with clipless pedals, and I knew he was proud of his first real mountain bike ride. We had taken a few photos along the way, so I copied the photos into a Word document, wrote Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? on his white board, and asked him to narrate the photos. It took him less than ten minutes and as he proudly pointed out, he tried a new point-of-view (He wrote it like a news story in third person) all on his own. We will work on editing this week but wow. No one told me how satisfying it would be to feel moments of success!

Disclaimer: Lest you think I come to these ideas on my own, let me correct the record to note that none comes without copious time in prayer and supplication. I am simply being obedient.

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