Getting Invested: My Recent Favourite Writing Assignment

My daughter, Lily recently had her 4th birthday party.  It was the first one for her that 'presents' were a pretty big deal.  One of her school friends gave her a Zhu Zhu pet.  Basically, a Zhu Zhu pet is a hamster that runs around in circles and makes cute jibberish noises.  This little Zhu Zhu pet named Pinkie was worked hard to about 72 hours and then……he stopped.  I had a very upset 4 year old and a broken Zhu Zhu pet!  So, when Monday rolled around I told Lily that I would take Pinkie to school to see if my kids could help fix her.  While I was saying this to her, I was planning a trip to ToysRUs after school so I could buy a new one, but things have a way to working out like you wouldn't expect. 

I'll fast forward now to Monday afternoon in my grade 2 classroom.  There is a little restless buzz in the air and I have a feeling that the kids are going to have a hard time settling right into their Daily 5 choices.  So, I improvised.  I began telling them about Lily's birthday party with the idea that we would share some ideas for writing and then get to work  But, the kids were really interested in the details. So, naturally,  Pinkie came up in the conversation and she came out of my lunch bag! 

This is where 'magic' happened!  I told the kids I needed their help.  I filled them in on all the details about Pinkie's demise and asked if they could write a letter to Lily for me.  I explained that she might like to have a letter that told her about their favourite toy and how they felt when they lost it or broke it.  I also suggested that some of them could write a letter that included help on how to fix Pinkie. 

We did a quick mini-lesson on setting up a letter and then they were off.  These kids were captivated.  A few of them came up to the front of the class to have a closer look at Pinkie but others didn't lift their pencil for the next 25 minutes!  I was buzzing with their excitement and their empathy brought a few tears to my eyes.  These kids all wrote their hearts out and felt really important and confident about doing it.

I hope for these moments everyday.  My students became invested in their writing.  They had a REAL purpose.  They felt confident because they were the 'big' kids writing to a 4 year old.  They worked hard and they had fun.  These are the moments!!!


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