In college, did any English teacher ever say, "You know what I really can't wait to teach? Run-on's and fragments. When I get a classroom of my own, boy, are we going to have some fun correcting comma splices!" Doubtful. And yet, here I am, deep in the throws of teaching sentence structure three weeks before Christmas, and why might you ask? The answer is simple. I see a need for some intense instruction in this area. As you guys are setting up for typing your style analysis essays next week, I want to make sure you are avoiding fragments and run-on's. When I graded short stories at the beginning of the nine weeks, sentence structure was the most common grammatical mistake, and it is such an easy mistake to avoid.
I would say the day we trudged through the Chomp-Chomp grammar exercises was my favorite day this week, but we both know I would be lying. My favorite day this week was actually Monday when we did Writer's Workshop. For the workshop, I made all of you get out of your desks and come up front to sit on the floor (just like when you were in elementary school). I gave each of you a candy cane, and then I read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" aloud with each of you sitting at my feet. Afterwards, I asked you to record four similarities and four differences between the Grinch and Edward from Edward Scissorhands. I meant for the activity to be fun and lighthearted, which it was. However, I did not anticipate the level of thinking you guys would put into the assignment. I was amazed at some of the similarities you all came up with for examples. One of my favorite examples was when you all said, "They both pretend they are someone they are not. Edward wears normal clothes and the Grinch pretends to be Santa Claus." I suppose there is a real message here if we will look closely. In pretending to be someone they were not, they both ended up deceiving many and hurting innocent people. Pretending to be someone or something you are not rarely profits a person
When I I think of what I loved most about this assignment, it was having each of you sitting in the floor like small children. It made me think about what you all must have looked like in elementary school. I imagined pigtails, slicked back hair, superhero backpacks, fat pencils, coloring sheets, and the smell of glue. I imagined each of you as children before the world became confusing, before pimples replaced freckles, and apathy grew where wonder once lived. A day before a label became your identity and lied to you about who you would become.
In the floor listening to "The Grinch that Stole Christmas" none of us were defined by roles. We were all just people who loved a good story as much as the next. It is my hope that as you leave this class, you will not find yourself in a compromising situation where you are wearing clothes (or an identity) that it is not your own. Take it from an old-timer, life is too short to get caught up in being someone you are not. The happiest people in the world are those who know who they are and what they believe. Thanks again for a wonderful week. I hope you enjoyed the candy cane and the story.
Christmas is Coming,