Now that we’re finally back to schooling, I had the kids pick photos from our Africa trip they wanted to write about. BalletBoy chose to write about this picture of us about to zip line across the Zambezi Gorge.
Here’s what he originally wrote:
one day in Zimbobwe we went on a zipline. it was not scary. It was really fun. you have to get in a jacket because the jacket cunexs to the harnes. it was amazing.
We still need to work on that capitalization, huh? Otherwise, though, I’m so proud of his writing. It’s readable, the spelling is decent, and it only takes him a few completely drama-free minutes. The only thing he asked was how to make “really” say “reeeeaallly” and I suggested underlining.
However, he didn’t want to add a thing. Not only that, but he was resistant to changing anything any of his photo freewrites. As I didn’t give him a formula, he invented his own. Every single photo freewriting he did began with some variation on the same phrase, “One day in Africa…” and ended with, “It was amazing.” When I gently tried suggesting some alternate beginnings for some of the paragraphs he wrote, he said, “But, Farrar, I’m not writing that. I’m a ‘One day’ writer. You know, one day I did this or that.” Oh my.
So, trying to follow the Bravewriter system, I worked on revising it with him and we focused on adding details about the senses. What did he see, feel, smell, taste and hear? BalletBoy has never loved doing oral narrations. Me clicking away on the computer as he talks is always an inhibiting distraction that he’s never quite learned to put up with. However, he was much more okay with me writing on his paper with notes that he could arrange. Here’s the revised version once we had corrected the capitalization and spelling together and changed just a couple of details:
One day in Zimbabwe, we went on a zip line across Victoria Falls. It was not scary. It was really fun. You have to get in a jacket because the jacket connects to the harness. I heard the waterfall and the river. It felt kind of like falling, but I knew I wasn’t. The zip line you hold is smooth and hard. I held it for the whole time. I heard a click that scared Farrar. It budged me to the side. I felt a breeze. I saw a little bit of the waterfall, the rocks, the shore of the river, and the other side of the zip line, which is in Zambia. At the end, the worker came down the zip line to get us. I’m glad I did it.
It still starts, “One day…” but it’s obviously better this way. I think it’s rather good for a seven year-old. He grinned when we read it at the end, so I know he felt proud too.