The Best Compliment Ever.

May 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm (Creative Writing, Education, Kids, Student Teaching) (, , , , , , )

I’m not very creative. Occasionally, I fool myself into thinking that I’m witty and original, but the harsh facts are these: whatever I’ve said, it’s been said before; whatever I’ve done, it’s been done before. End of story.

However, I did have a really cool moment in student teaching yesterday. We’re in the middle of state testing – not a fun time for anyone – and I was helping proctor the test for a small group of kids. Well, they finished and we gave them papers to colour, legos to play with, the whole nine yards. I got out my laptop because, let’s face it, that California English Language Development Test (CELDT) paper is not going to write itself (see how unoriginal I am? Perfect example!). With one eye on the kids and the other on my screen, I tapped away, pushing through the paper.

But this time of uninterrupted productivity did not last.

“Hey, what are you writing?” A little boy chirped from behind me.

“Oh, just a paper on different kinds of tests.” I replied vaguely. I mean, what kid is gonna want to hear about the details of the various strengths as well as the dubious construct validity and inter-rater reliability of a test they’ve never heard of before? Heck, what ADULT wants to hear about that?!? He stepped closer and examined my keyboard, while I watched curiously.

“There it is!” he declared. “I found the ‘Q’!”

And just like that a game was born.

But…you have to admit, one can only go so far with that game. I was getting bored. So I opened a new document and said, “New game! We are going to make a story.” I don’t think I’d ever seen the kids so excited before. I started it off, typing and saying aloud, “Okay, are you guys ready?…’Once upon a time…’ ” I stopped, looked at one of the little boys and said, “What should we type next?” Rolling his head up for a moment, he came up with an answer. And from there we all took turns. One of the girls wanted a sweet, tame story about picking carrots. The boys wanted a violent action story, with lots of fighting. It was fun because everyone got to add a little of what they wanted, but no one could guess how the story would turn out.

We did this for about ten minutes, then the proctor of the test exclaimed, “Oh! It was your recess time five minutes ago! You guys need to go out and play.”

I was more than a little surprised to hear a chorus of, “No!!!” Immediately followed by, “We want to do this instead! This is more fun!” Writing? More fun than playing? To kids!?!?

I convinced them to go to recess and assured them we would continue making the story next week. It was a very sweet, innocent moment, filled with the creativity (along with movie influence) young children tend to have an abundance of. I can’t rightly say what the ending will be, but this is what we have so far. I wonder if you can discern which part was dictated by girls and which part was expressed by boys:

“There once were two boys named Joseph and Jonathan and a girl named Natalie. They lived in the mountains. Joseph and Jonathan went hunting one day and Natalie went picking carrots.  While Joseph and Jonathan were hunting, they saw a strange man. He had a long, white beard and the boys thought it was a stranger, but it was Natalie’s dad. But all of a sudden, he turned into a villain and he was dressed like a ninja!

He disappeared into the forest behind them. Just when they thought they were safe, Natalie’s villainous father snuck up behind them, tapped on their shoulders and began dancing like the court jester. When he was done dancing, he took out a sword. The boys took out their own swords and the three of them began to fight. But in the middle of their fight a snake dropped down from a tree and tried to bite the boys and Natalie’s villainous father. But before the snake could bite them, they ran to the highest hill in Hillsborough, Mt. Bugna, and screamed like men in danger. They heard a rustling in the bushes and to their horror when they turned around they saw two snakes slithering towards them faster than a cheetah. Right when the boys thought it was over, the snakes jumped up to bite them and bonked each other on their heads, knocking each other unconscious.

Natalie’s dad, the ninja, came out from behind the largest rock on Mt. Bugna and he took one look at the snakes, shrieked like a girl and passed out on the ground. The boys stared at him and didn’t know what to do. But then Joseph said to Jonathan, “We need to help him. I know he tried to stab us after he danced for us in the forest, but he could be hurt. Let’s take him back to our cottage.” So the boys carried Natalie’s ninja father back to the cottage, unsure if they were doing the right thing.

Hours later, Natalie’s ninja father awoke in the cottage. He didn’t know where he was, but he knew one thing; he wanted to fight. He jumped out of the bed they had put him in and looked around.

Now this was no ordinary cottage. It was filled with all sorts of weapons, because the boys liked to hunt – a lot. Glancing around the room, he saw a double super-weapon. He gasped in awe! He had never seen a double super-weapon before, though he had heard tales that it really did exist.

Without hesitating, he pulled it from the wall where it hung. He tried to open the door, but to his astonishment, it was locked! He paused a moment, then shrugged and began to chop away at the door until it fell apart and he ran into the main room of the cottage, looking for Joseph and Jonathan.

He searched the entire house, to no avail. He walked outside, his eyes ever-searching for his enemies. Not seeing anyone, he began to let down his guard. Just then!, he heard a low rumble that made his heart tremble in fear. Before he could even turn around, he felt the heat of fire being blown in his face.

Oh no! His worst nightmare was happening to him! He was standing face to face with a dragon. Right when the ninja thought it was all over, the dragon stood up, bellowed and flapped his bat-like wings lifting off and flying away as quickly as he had come.

The ninja breathed a sigh of relief. That had been terrifying! Before he could turn to continue looking for Joseph and Jonathan, they leapt out of the cover of some large bushes and attacked the ninja. They quickly pinned him to the ground and took back their very rare double-super weapon.

At that moment, Natalie came home from picking carrots, singing and swinging her basketful of carrots. When she saw her estranged father pinned to the ground by her best friends, she threw carrots at her dad, because she was mad that her villainous ninja dad tried to hurt her two best friends.

“Stop!” she exclaimed. “Dad you can’t hurt them! They’re my best friends.”

Her ninja dad said, “Okay, I won’t hurt them because I love you and because they are the keepers of the very rare double super-weapon.”

Joseph and Jonathan sighed and questioned, “Do you promise not to hurt us or kill us?”

Natalie’s dad, Bryan, said, “I promise! I promise! Just let me up!”

The boys reluctantly let him stand up.

The ninja, Bryan, walked over to Natalie’s basket and said, “Look over there!” While she was looking away, he stole a carrot and began chomping on it.

Natalie didn’t think twice; she slapped him as hard as she could.

“Firecannon!!!” Natalie yelled as loud as she could. They looked around and as quickly as he disappeared, the dragon flew back. Firecannon looked at her and said, “What do you want me to do to this miscreant?”

“I want you to take this ninja called Bryan far far away from me. I don’t ever want to see him again!” Then she took her basket of carrots and hurled it as hard as she could at her dad, then ran inside the cottage weeping.

Without hesitating, Firecannon nipped the shirt of Bryan and lifted off, flying away with Bryan in his teeth. They flew for hours ‘til the ninja Bryan saw a great stone castle in the middle of…nowhere. Just as they were touching down, Bryan grabbed a scret sword that he kept hidden in his left boot. He pulled it out and quickly slashed through his own shirt, freeing him from the dragon’s clutches.

He landed on his feet and ran as fast as he could inside the massive doorway of the ancient castle before him. But he was out of luck, for this was a very onld castle and the ceiling had fallen apart years ago. Oh no! Bryan suddenly realized that this was no ordinary castle. This was the dragon’s home!

The dragon flew to the center of the ancient hall, blocking Bryan’s path to safety. Bryan’s eyes darted in every direction. His ninja training had taught him to think about every possible outcome. He saw a gleam of candlelight to his right. There was a passage! He rushed as fast as he could down the narrow hallway. It curved to the left and to the right. He went upstairs and downstairs. This passageway was long! But he kept running and soon he saw a glimmer of light.”

It was a nice moment that made me think if I can impart to them something I am passionate about, well, then I can wholeheartedly do this education thing. 🙂

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