Write From The Start

The first day of school is the most exciting…and the busiest day of the year. Amidst all the activity, make sure to have your students write on that first day. It will demonstrate your commitment to writing, and it will provide you with a sample of your students’ skills.

What to write? A couple prompts that have worked well for me have been: Write about something you did this summer, or something you would have liked to have done. Or: Welcome to this class. What would you like me to know about you?

After brainstorming possibilities, share your written response to one of prompts. This will establish you as a member of your classroom writing community.

Here’s my response to the first prompt:

The last few summers have involved a traveling adventure of some sort. Last summer I visited the Republic of Georgia and Turkey. The year before it was Colombia. Before that were Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya in Africa. My son was the reason for these visits. He was exploring the world, and I traveled to meet up with him.

We had many adventures together. We hiked and biked and snorkeled. We visited museums, went on safaris, and tracked gorillas. We rafted the Nile River and got flipped into the water. Twice.

Although I stayed in Oregon this summer, I still had an adventure. It was a different kind of adventure, the kind I would rather not have had.

While staying in a hotel, I tripped over a chair in the middle of the night. It was a hard fall, and I felt a lot of pain in my rib area. The next morning the pain was still bad, so we went to Urgent Care. There they discovered I had broken ribs (five!) and a punctured lung. The lung was collapsing.

In the distance I heard an ambulance siren. It wasn’t until the paramedics came hustling in pushing a wheeled bed that I realized who the ambulance was for. Me! So, in addition to my first broken bones ever, I had my first ambulance ride this summer. The ride would have even been fun if the paramedics hadn’t been shoving things up my nose, poking into my hand and arm, and asking nonstop questions.

The emergency room at the hospital was a flow of activity. Doctors, nurses, technicians washed in and out of the room like ocean tides. I left with a plastic tube that a surgeon had cut into my side. The tube would equalize the air pressure and help my collapsed lung.


I spent the next five days at that luxurious hospital “resort.” Sure, there were some inconveniences, like when the nurse jammed a tube up my nose and then down my throat, the never-ending tests, being awakened every two hours during the night, and the person in the next room who moaned and screamed. But, the food was not bad (who was hungry?), the people generally nice, and I was able to change rooms to distance myself from “the moaner.”

I left the hospital with an appreciation of the people who work to help others, a little more knowledge about myself (especially my response to pain), and a summer plan for next year. And it won’t be anything like this year. Guaranteed.

Have a great writing year!

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