So how do you get a hundred twelve and thirteen year-old girls to write together on a Friday afternoon at 1:30? Well, you start by going to The Hewitt School, which already has in place a writing-based curriculum and a commitment to hosting writers of all kinds (thank you amazing Hewitt English teachers! and thank you to my friend and colleague, Maureen Burgess Chalfen, who is the Dean of Teaching and Learning in Humanities and the Chair of English Department at Hewitt and has worked so hard to bring writing-to-learn strategies from Bard College’s Institute for Writing and Thinking to her school!).
And then, I guess, you try to ask them a question they can’t resist answering. More on that in a second.
First, I want to say that I had a great time on Friday talking with Hewitt students about The Stalker Chronicles. I shared some stalker-related images, I read two different scenes from the book, we wrote together and shared some of that writing, and we had a lively Q and A. Hewitt students are excited, informed, and so supportive of one another! I was impressed by how hard they worked and also how much fun we had together. But it’s true, my favorite part of my two-hour visit was well, the writing.
SPOILER ALERT! After I read a scene from The Stalker Chronicles–the one in which my protagonist Cammie Bliss goes through her crush’s garbage–I asked students to “tell the story of a time when you or a character went too far.” We freewrote (trying not to censor and or do much editing) for about ten minutes and then we each bracketed off a sentence or two to share with the larger group. Check out the pictures above of students sitting on the floor of the gym and using their chairs as writing desks!
The students wrote great pieces (both fictional and autobiographical) about girls who are curious, who want to take leaps, and who follow boys, friends, and teachers because they have questions they can’t get answered. They wrote about girls who are brave, who are freaked out, and who’s bodies move through spaces and landscapes that don’t always fit.
Thanks for writing with me Hewitt!