I teach writing at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky. For sixteen years, I was a straight English teacher, doing time in both AP Lit and AP Lang, Chapter I reading, ACT prep, RTI-Reading Plus, regular/general, college bound/honors, American-British-World Lit classrooms, battered and bruised by standardized, institutionalized, cookie-cutter approaches and teaching to the test.
But then I landed a job teaching writing as an elective in a performing arts magnet program, the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) which is embedded at Lafayette. All day. Every day. W-R-I-T-I-N-G. Stories. Poems. Vignettes. Screenplays. Novels. Essays. Craziness on the page.
Teaching is a bit of a stretch for what I do in this job. I am mostly a life coach, an editor, the classroom barista, moral compass (ahem), and workshop facilitator. The kids do all the work; I just hang out, hold hands, harangue and cajole when necessary, and put ridiculous grades into our district’s data system. I love my students. To them and to the teachers out there who are looking for writing lesson plans, I dedicate this blog.
The format is simple. I will fling a writing lesson at my students and see what happens. Sometimes nothing but a giant concrete egg will happen. Sometimes amazing, shimmery things with wings will happen. But whatever happens, I will post a few of my students’ pieces here along with my lesson plan.
Fellow teachers, I hope you find something here you might try even as the hounds of standardized testing stand baying at your door. Throw them a bone, shut the door, and turn your kids on to the greatest test of all – their imagination against a pristine, white sheet of paper. Let stories rule the day.