The Miraculous Work of Essay

The writing about ideas can be confusing for young people. So when we started our essay unit, students had little understanding of what was ahead. And, I wasn’t sure we would figure it out. This was a unit based on faith and total acceptance of possible failure.

Most started telling a story or an all about. Ideas were few and far between. It wasn’t until a few approximated this type of writing and served as mentors, did the majority of the class understand what they were going for.  To see how writing about ideas could go, they needed each other’s work.

And once they got that, it didn’t matter where they started, most found ideas through writing.  Some stayed close to their beginning ideas, and some wandered off towards unsuspected territories.  They had incorporated a bit of story, a bit of information, a bit of opinion and a bit of did you know.  Ideas were discovered, played with and in the end even questioned as each piece was written.

Most wrote about what mattered to them. Friends and not friends, video games and youtube, being a sibling and being bullied. They wrote about what they believed in and who are and why.

We celebrated their work yesterday. In small groups. Quietly reading and then, some students chose to share with the whole class. So interesting who wanted to share. A popular student’s piece on bullies; a quiet student’s exploration of why she is shy, a student’s reflection on why nine-year-olds are addicted to technology.

On a Friday, my active, typically noisy group sat quietly and appreciated the work of their classmates.

And when all was said and done asked, can we write another one?

The adventure was uncertain. It could have been a disaster. But I believe it proved the power and importance of writing. For everyone. This is why we need to write. To discover and tell who we are and what we think. A miraculous journey.