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Kids Need Secretaries Too

I have a precious 5th grade student with a wonderful imagination. He is so poetic that he sees stories fully formed in his mind. His details, word usage, and transitions are seamless. He can paint a picture with words that takes me into his story. However, when he sits down to write the stories out longhand, he gets bogged down in the mechanics of the writing - the physical friction of pencil to paper slows him down. Typing by hunt and peck also slows him down. He gets frustrated and loses the story. Rather than a joyful experience, writing becomes torture. I do not do torture.

I ask him to get out paper and colored pencils. I ask him to draw a picture for the front cover of his story. While he is drawing, I ask him to tell me the story. I type exactly what he speaks. The words. The pauses. The ummms. Everything. The words flow out of him. He says what he sees in his mind. After he completes his story, I read it out loud to him. He tells me where to add punctuation, which words to change and which to delete. He adds content and deletes content. Then he reads it out loud to me to hear the words. To hear the story. He makes a few more corrections regarding word choice and the story is complete.

The lesson here is, let the children speak their stories. Let them speak into a tape recorder or you be their secretary. Let them correct, edit, adjust their words. You will be amazed at what they come up with when they are not bogged down by the mechanics of writing.


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