Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to create a writer?

I have spent a lot of time over the past 3 years trying to create writers.

Most schools do so by teaching various writing methods aligned to the common core curriculum.  Me, I do it with my favorite blank books: Moleskine, to supplement the curriculum.

Kids like cool looking blank books and I have been using Moleskines for sometime.  Last year, when I saw the ones with the Lego plate on the front, I had to have it.  Every time I pull it out to take notes, all the kids have to have one too.

Unfortunately, they're rather pricey.  Sure, I'll cough up the way too much money for something like this for me (and, if I had my druthers, I would not have a black Lego base plate on the front to blend in with the black leather cover, I would have placed a red or yellow one to stand out.... but that's me) but what kid has that kind of money for something like that? So it becomes another cool thing adults have and kids don't.

More importantly, when it comes to creating writers, I think about one of my first graders this year who has some special needs.  Like most first graders, he finds writing to be physically difficult.  Some of his small motor skill issues made holding a pencil for the full writing process (idea to first draft to correction/editing to final draft) extremely difficult.  But he's such an amazing story teller, I was worried he would stop if he didn't have assistance.

When I had to fill in for his aide on occasion early on in the year, he would struggle with writing and we finally figured out a system.  I would write his first draft in my Moleskine with my "cool pen" (my Lamy Safari fountain pen) as he dictated and he then would work from there.  I would sometimes copy his words onto regular paper for him to copy over, sometimes I'd take the pages out of my Moleskine. The ones I kept are the ones he wrote for me during his choice or free time, but the majority were for class work, so he had to keep them as part of the writing process.

His regular aide picked up on that system and continued until he eventually became OK with writing as he worked with OT and PT through the year.  He was always fascinated by my Moleskine as he loves Legos and I'm always pulling it out to make notes to myself about stories and such.

I found out last week he's moving to a neighboring community and will no longer be attending our school, so I wanted a present to encourage him to write and knew I wanted a Lego Moleskine for him; however, I knew it was too small for his writing abilities and too rich for my budget.

Call on duct tape and gorilla glue to save the day!

I have some of these marble composition note books on hand:

They have wider lines and guide lines for upper and lowercase letters to help letter formation as well as a space at the top of the page to draw an illustration.  For some kids they draw the picture and then write the story of the picture, the way writers workshop is introduced in Kindergarten and First Grade.  Older kids get lined paper where the spacing becomes smaller as motor skills improve with no illustration space.

The problem is, well, they're kind of lame looking for many kids, my student included.  (Not to mention the complete lack of Lego anything.)  So I stopped at the local craft store and picked up a couple of Duck Tape duct tape sheets, a couple of pieces of scrapbooking paper and a thing of Gorilla super glue to transform that into this:

All I did was carefully apply the duct tape sheet to the front and back covers and slowly smooth it across the cover of the book.  Then I glued used some white glue to place the scrap book paper on the inside cover and slowly work that across, trimming the excess along the edge when it was in place.  On the back cover, before applying duct tape and paper, I took a piece of 3/8" elastic and gorilla glued it to the top of the cover, about 1/3 of the way down and, with the book closed, brought it around the front and cut it 1/3 of the way from the bottom of the back and glued it in place, waited for the glue to set and then applied the duct tape.  With the glue set and the duct tape applied, I could then carefully move the elastic to open the back cover, gorilla glued a length of red ribbon for a book mark, again, the tail is about 1/3 of the way down, then glued the paper to the back cover.  Once things were dry, I closed up the book and gorilla glued a Lego base plate I had on the front.

To be honest, I've done this in the past by glueing pleather onto composition books for older kids with OT/PT issues that needed larger lines but didn't want to be embarrassed using "baby" comp books.  They got the support they needed with a cool looking blank book.  But the duct tape sheets are easier and cover more cleanly (in my opinion).  

As back to school sales raise their ugly heads in a couple of weeks, composition books go on sale for dirt cheap.  For less than $5, you can custom make one of these puppies for the kid in your life.  To be honest, if I had a roll of red or green duct tape, I might have used it on the binding for some contrast just for fun.  The sky's the limit here.

My little buddy will be moving on, but maybe one day I'll see his first novel on the best seller list and think, "I knew he had that story in him, I'm so glad he let it out to share with the world."

No comments:

Post a Comment