This week we have been talking about the many factors of an author’s background that can influence his or her writing. Yesterday I showed the kids the lyrics to the Beatles’ song, “Blackbird.” The students wrote about their first impressions of the song, then I shared a short article with them explaining how the Civil Rights Movement had inspired John Lennon to write the song. My students then went back to explain how knowing this information deepened their understanding of the song.
In order to help my kids out, I gave them a simple writing frame to follow. They were to copy the sentence starters and fill in the blanks with their own ideas:
After hearing the song “Blackbird” for the first time, I thought the song was about…
I can see now, that… was a major influence to the song.
Although the song first appeared to be about… , I now know that it means much more.
In reality, the song is about/represents…
This song is an example of how… can influence his writing because…
Most of my kids did a really good job. …I said most…
One student completely ignored the writing frame and started her paper with…
“I think it talking about when you where a bady and wow it your to fly away your mom and your dad.”… A rough start but it got much better after that.
Another student who is very bright, but would rather read than do any actual work, turned in a list of five completely incoherent phrases that I couldn’t make heads or tails of. I gave him back his paper today and told him he needed to redo his assignment. As I turned to help another student, he tucked his assignment under his book and started reading. I turned back to him, took his book, and told him he could have it back after he turned in a completed assignment. His jaw dropped open in disbelief as I walked away.
A few seconds later, out of sheer desperation to get back to his book, he raised his hand and began snapping his fingers.
Student: “Miss Lewis. Pencil. I need a pencil.”
Me: “Excuse me, but that is not how you go about getting something you want in this class.”
Student: “I’m sorry, but I really need a pencil. I’m ready to work now. I’ve got like… the itch. You know what I mean? The itch to write. I’ve got to do this. Now. I’ve got… I’ve got like a da Vinci hand over here. This paper is going to be a real work of art.”
I finished up with the student I was currently helping and gave the crazy snapper a pencil.
Less than a minute later I look up from the group I’m helping to see the crazy snapper laughing it up with his friends.
Me: “Hey da Vinci, what happened? Where’s that work of art you were talking about?”
Student: “Oh that? The moment’s passed. He’s dead to me.”