I love it when I can kill two birds with one stone.
In my sixth grade English class, we have been reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. (If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend this book. It’s especially fun to read aloud!) As part of our unit, my teaching partner told me that she would like to have them write narratives about survival.
I definitely had an example to share.
We like to run our classroom as a community of writers, so we both go through the editing process with the students. After I shared “300 to Starboard,” and pointed out the authors’ tools that I used, I asked the students for suggestions. Students are always hesitant to give each other suggestions about their writing, but I figured we could get them past that hurdle if they saw that even teachers have areas in which they can improve their compositions.
After reading it, I already wanted to change the flashback, and put it all together, rather than going back and forth. I also wanted to stretch out the ending, because the clipped ending makes it seem like I just got tired of writing (which might be the case…). One student suggested this as well. They also wanted to know more about Alpena and why I did not want to go there. They wanted to know more about the Bean and what she was doing during all of this, and they wanted to know if the boat got fixed.
I chose to disappoint them on that last one. I wanted to focus on the fact that our dream was still alive, whether the boat was repaired or not. (My students actually do know that it was repaired–I’ve got pictures up in my classroom!)
So, here it is. 300 to Starboard: Revised.