Our kids have amazing things to say.
The Serendipity Journal project has allowed me to connect with students in a very special way and, honestly, it makes me miss working with students on a daily basis in the classroom. They are thoughtful and insightful editors and it is a tremendous joy to read their feedback each week. I respond to every comment individually because I want them to know that they are special and appreciated.
Oh my gosh, they have taught me so much through their feedback. Here are some things I have learned about students as readers and writers that I will never forget:
- They crave detail. They want to create a picture of each scene in their mind and they need specific details in order to be able to do that. If you look at the comments students have left on the chapters of The Serendipity Journal, you will notice that many of them are asking for more details. They are curious about the characters and ask me things that I don’t even know. This feedback has really helped me edit the chapters because I am new to being an author in general and brand spankin’ new to writing realistic fiction chapter books for middle grade readers so I am soaking up all of their feedback like a sponge.
- They crave connection. The students LOVE the relationship that the main character of The Serendipity Journal is developing with her teacher. They have given me many suggestions to help strengthen the relationship and that has taught me alot about what students are looking for in a teacher. They want to know about the challenges teachers went through as students themselves. They want to know about teachers’ lives outside of school. They want to connect person to person with teachers and be seen as whole people, not just as students.
- Students love reading and writing for an authentic purpose. Their feedback is genuine and specific and you can tell that it is meaningful for them. I had one teacher share that the class cheered when they learned that a new character was introduced in that week’s chapter. Cheering for reading and writing? Yes, it is possible.
- They want happy endings. They love drama and twists and turns, but they want reassurance that everything turns out okay in the end. I think this is very telling about them as people–they want to be able to trust in the good in the world. They want help to develop strategies to turn bad situations around. The good news is that The Serendipity Journal is designed to do just that–teach them skills to help them have effective relationships and to expect good things for themselves.
- They have a sharp eye and can find grammatical errors a mile away! What a great way to practice skills and to teach each other in an authentic way. They give me feedback on past/present tense, about the use of commas, quotations, spelling, etc. Usually, they are right! I love improving my work based on their feedback. And, no, I don’t stick the errors in there on purpose, but I am not editing my work with a fine tooth comb because I want them to help me improve my writing in an authentic way. (Did that sound defensive at all? Ha!)
- They love being asked to help, and they love it when adults listen to them. There are so many comments where students are thanking me for asking for their help and for taking the time to respond to each of them. Take a look at a comment I received this week…
Mrs. Apsey you are seriously my favorite author. You wrote 2 books I’ve read and let’s just say they were very good. I have said it before and will say it again, you are a serendipitous gift in our lives. Thank you for being an awesome author and for being will to take the time to read our responses. We think you are awesome, it is true!
I invite you to take a look at the chapters I have posted and at the student feedback in the comments section under the chapters. You don’t have to read them all–there are literally hundreds–but I bet even reading a few of them will warm your heart and have you thinking of ways to engage students in reading and writing activities that have authentic purposes. Check out The Serendipity Journal here–> https://serendipityjournal.blog/.
Students can do absolutely amazing things when given the opportunity and space.