I used to ask students to describe their characters (real ones and imaginary ones) in a way that would help me picture them in my mind.
Sometimes I would even add, “I want to feel as if I’m watching a movie when I’m reading your descriptions.”
And I thought that was pretty clear. But draft after draft, I would read yawn-worthy descriptions like these:
"John is 5’5’’ tall with brown hair."
"She was always happy. Everybody liked her."
"Bill is my best friend. He’s funny and popular."
Obviously, my instructions were not clear.
So I tried to think of ways to rephrase my instructions so the next set of papers did not require a pot of coffee and an extra stash of red pens for me to “make it through” my newest stack of middle school writings.
I figured if I’m going to spend hours reading papers, doggone it (Grandma's go-to phrase for showing frustration without taking the name of the Lord in vain), I wanted to be entertained!
So I came up with a bunch of Get ‘em moving – then get ‘em writing mini-lessons to demonstrate exactly what I was wanted them to do before I asked them to write a single word.
And guess what? They. Worked. Every. Time.
These exercises not only made the minutes during class fly by, but I was able to ditch the extra red pens and, depending on the hour, pour myself a glass of red wine (the red kind is healthy, right?) and enjoy the pictures running through my mind as I read my students' papers.
I just uploaded my first eBook (It's free.) which describes the strategies I used to banish boring character descriptions for good.
If you give a couple of them a try, I'd love to know how you used them in your classroom.
Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.