Check list

So says the blog button. Add a post. Say something. Compose

The thoughts inside my skull feel like the swish of rocks and water when you clean out an aquarium. Full day. What story? What thread? Settle down. Monday…

Ms. J’s 2nd grade classroom, where I volunteer two mornings a week before I scoot off to temporary gigs — reading groups and an after- school writing group.

Today we sat in a circle and Ms. J. handed each of us a copy of the first draft of a piece by one of her students. After S read the piece aloud, we could raise our hand to ask him questions to help him think about revision.

Backstory: The other day, Ms. J. was talking to her students about the writer’s checklist for opinion writing, when S had an idea. “If we use checklists for writing to make it better, what about policemen using checklists when they arrest someone?”

S. read his first draft checklist to us, which included things like “Watch before you shoot” and “Use electric gun to make the suspect idle.” There were ten thoughtful, careful points on the checklist. Here’s the final point:

“First, think if you were shooting your family,”

We asked questions and S. responded, taking most of the conversation as helpful for revision. Some students got so deeply involved in the topic that they formed a revision committee.

S. plans to let Ms. J. type up his final checklist and maybe share it with local police officers.

This young writer and this classroom and this teacher. This is what writing is about.

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