Did you ever notice that fourth graders like to complain? Nine and ten year olds have major ish with life! Pollution, Smoking, Bullies, War. Even green vegetables get to these kids. So Danny Valles, a really cool teacher at New Egypt Elementary School in NJ, decided to let his fourth graders make their gripes public. He created a Graffiti Complaint Wall. Students named their complaints, then they wrote about their issues in detailed personal essays.
Two really great things happened. One, the kids had lots to say so their writing had voice and passion. Two, their teacher listened. The kids had some major groaning to do about homework. So Dannie stopped to think about the amount and type of homework he was assigning. Then he had a serious sit-down with his students. And guess what? They loved feeling heard. They felt understood. And they were able to make changes in the classroom. Isn’t that what writing is all about? Making your voice heard in the world?
(For more on Personal Essay check out my website. Click the Tools button.)