Small Wins Wednesday: Authentic writing

Published by Lori Pickert on March 12, 2014 at 07:37 AM

Kit (age 3) is now plowing through the old Birds & Blooms magazines so she can figure out what to plant in the garden. #butterflyproject #pbh

She is insisting on writing all of the flower names herself. — Sarah

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Every Wednesday we share a small win from the forumTwitter, the Facebook page, or (with the writer’s permission) from the mail bag.


My 10 yr old has been between projects since his football project waned, possibly as a result of the season ending. A couple of weeks ago he was reading a magazine article on the seven wonders of the ancient world when he became inspired by the information about the creator of this list. He began thinking about making a list of his own. Great, I thought — until he said he would make a list of the top Mario games on his blog.

How did we get from the ancient world to Mario video games? My eye began to twitch as it always does when video games come up during project time, but I know enough now to not say anything and not to jump to the conclusion that he’s just finding excuses to play games during project time.

He wrote his top 10 list and then decided, after getting his feet wet, he’d make another top 10 for the best galaxies in Mario Galaxy. He wrote this list over the course of three days. He researched other lists, watched videos of top 10s, and really considerd the best galaxies for his list and why they should make the top ten and their individual placement. By the time he was done, he had created a thoughtful and entertaining piece of writing that was also quite lengthy I might add (at least as long as any school report would be required to be and far more interesting to read). He had catchy openings and varied sentence structure and, although it wasn’t very academic in topic, it was authentic and I could see a budding talent for writing.

Never could he or would he write anything so amazing on any topic I told him he must write on. He might squeeze out a few boring sentences to compliment a topic he deemed boring, but it wouldn’t be anything close to this blog post on Mario. Even better, he came to me with his “to do” list one day so he wouldn’t forget what he needed to do the next day! Now he’s creating Mario pixel art. He’s using graph paper for his designs and then building them in Minecraft. He’s planning a post on that as well.

PBH can be hard, but I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it through all the struggles and doubts and difficult times. Both my boys have produced some amazing stuff in the last year, but I’ve had to see it with my fresh new PBH glasses. My old traditional school glasses would never have seen the value in all this work or even let it proceed. We would have missed out on so much!Christi


Why do we share small wins? Because we put on our attention on what we want to grow. We support each other, celebrate each other’s successes, and we make more of the good stuff!

Have you had a small win this week? Whether it’s related to PBH or not, please share in the comments!


Comment by Deb @ Not Inadequate on March 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM

That is a beautiful story! Very inspiring, very meaningful.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 12, 2014 at 03:14 PM


Comment by dawn on March 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM

i got to teach ds' first grade class again yesterday for GRACE art. i followed my instincts again and veered from the formal presentation and "model" we were offered. after a lively discussion, when it came time for the students to work on their own interpretation, some of the parent volunteers asked if i was going to show the kids what to do or how to do it. i answered again like i did last time - no. i wanted the experience to be about the process and the deliberate choices the artists wanted to express in their interpretations of the idea. i did NOT want a cookie-cutter project.

most got right to it, eager to get their hands on the materials. there were just a few kids who asked how to start. i asked them a simple question - what does your ___ look like? start there.

every one of them came up with their very own interpretation and were excited and enthused and proud of what they had created. one girl in particular wanted me to see how she thought out and implemented her art installation. i was inspired. i had not thought of it; no one spoke about it beforehand. she came up with it on her own and IT WORKED.

i am finally getting to the point where i am not surprised what these young artists do when given the opportunity and resources and permission to do so. i assume capability and i am justified in that every time.

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 13, 2014 at 04:21 PM

dawn, that is wonderful! you are doing great things there! :)

do they have time at the end to show each other what they’ve made? i imagine that might take too long, but it would be so great.

Comment by dawn on March 14, 2014 at 09:16 AM

in the two sessions i have led so far, the kids tend to share their process and product with each other as they do it and afterward on their own initiative. they sit three to a table - enough room to spread out and but close enough to ask questions and make comments. they also tend to get up and move around to share and discuss with other friends. they are great about asking each other questions and offering compliments.

the parent volunteers are there to provide assistance and ask and answer questions and serve as an audience to facilitate the session for a group of 20.

i checked with the teacher first, and she enthusiastically agreed, about using the kids' artwork to inspire them as a writing prompt using the concepts we discussed while talking about the artist: who uses the ladder you made? where does it go? she displays the students' artwork and writing for all to see and share as they feel comfortable. i can't wait to see what they come up with!

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 14, 2014 at 11:31 AM

thank you SO much for sharing this! truly inspiring! :)

Comment by amy21 on March 14, 2014 at 11:24 AM

this is great, Dawn! I'm glad you shared it here so I got to read the whole story. :-)

Comment by dawn on March 14, 2014 at 11:52 AM

maybe, just maybe, i can persuade ds to let me blog about it and post a picture of his ladder and tell his story sometime.

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