When Kelly Gallagher gave the keynote address at the North Carolina Reading Association last week, he cautioned educators about overwhelming student writers. He said: “Start off small when modeling. Use high-interest models.”
Before students write an essay, for example, they might write a 100-word memoir after the teacher models it.
Gallagher doesn’t begin there. He starts even smaller.
He shared the example of the “34-word story” he uses to inspire his students—that of Olympic speed skater, Dan Jansen, as seen in the photo above. Gallagher plays this Visa commercial at the outset of the lesson, to illustrate the impact of these few words:
He knows what he’s doing, Kelly Gallagher.
As if the hearts of the audience members weren’t pierced enough, he then shares this “34-word story” written by one of his students:
The absolute power of words.
Just thirty-four of them.
Challenge: What would your “34-word story” be? I experiment with my own. . . .
A teacher once told me, after seeing my performance in a play: “I didn’t think you had it in you.” Guess what, teacher? There’s a lot more in me, too. Including the last word.
I asked a friend to read my first blog post for feedback. She said, “What’s your niche? You need to target an audience.” I said, “I write for humans. My niche is the world.”
When all’s said and done, and my time here is over, I will go celebrating these things: I lived. I loved. I was loved. I got to write about it all. Thank you, God.