I met VaShawn last August in my friend Jan’s fifth grade class. During a personal narrative unit, he couldn’t wait to tell his story of a visit to a petting zoo where he encountered an angry goat that butted him from behind. VaShawn knows storytelling is all about the delivery: his description of lying on the ground, seeing “the light”, and coming back to life had the entire class laughing. He ended the story with the perfect punchline: he slapped the goat.
My first conference with VaShawn was mostly about him retelling the story and clarifying what happened, scene by scene. He sketched a quick storyboard during that initial writing time, but the next day he was a bit resistant to actually put words on the page. He wrote a few sentences to begin the story, and then seemed to lose interest.
As the year progressed, VaShawn built both his confidence and his writing ability. His writing notebook grew, and he couldn’t wait to share his writing with the class every day. When I stopped by yesterday, he wanted to share the goat story one more time to show me how he had revised it on his own. VaShawn is still, and will always be, a gifted storyteller, and now his stories live on the page for all to see.
VaShawn helped me remember a few things about conferring with students:
- Laugh when the story is funny
- Encourage students to translate their voices to the page
and VaShawn also had some extra advice:
- Stay away from the goats at a petting zoo
Thanks, VaShawn, and all the students in Jan’s class, for what you taught me this year. Have a great summer!