Melissa Williamson is a teacher at Deerstream Learning Center in North Carolina. Her student, Skylar O’Neal, was selected as a Top Ten Winner in our Spring 2013 essay contest. The winning essay, “My Grandmother’s Mountain”, can be viewed here. Melissa has had over 40 students accepted for publication since she first participated in our national writing contests in 2010.
We asked Melissa her thoughts on engaging student writers and what helps her to be successful in the classroom. She responded with the following:
“Engaging young writers can be tough. My main goal as I teach is to help my students find their writing voice. I want them to progress forward from emulating authors or producing what they think I want. Finding their individual writing voice is key. Some students like sarcasm while others like flowery wording. Descriptions for some students are matter of fact with specific details and others leave the reader with more room to imagine for themselves. Academic writing suits some personalities as others blossom with imagery and word pictures. No matter the style, once they find their voice they really begin to shine.
“I like to teach my 12-14 year-old students different aspects of writing beyond mere sentence structure. Some of the lessons they enjoy most have been writing with dialect, writing the same story from two different perspectives, and adding more to the ending of novels we read. I have also found that when it comes to teaching the mechanics of writing I prefer to use their own work. My students write responses to weekly journal prompts and I use those for our grammar exercises. Helping them transfer their book-knowledge to their own work can be challenging, but it is always exciting to see enlightened faces when they finally catch on.”
You can view Melissa’s personal homeschooling blog at http://gracefilledhomeschooling.blogspot.com.
To learn more about our national writing contests, visit www.poeticpower.com.