First graders, living the writerly life


When I walked into the cafeteria for lunch duty yesterday afternoon, two of my first grade students motioned frantically for me to come over.  They were clearly bursting with excitement, practically jumping out of their seats.

“Mrs. Hogan! Mrs. Hogan,” J exclaimed. “I lost my tooth!”  She grinned broadly, showing a clear gap in the front of her mouth.

6a00d83452c74569e20134869023bb970c-500wi“When did you lose it?” I asked, “At recess?”

“No,”she said, “Just now.”

Then she and L both said, “And it’s a small moment! We can write about it.”

J continued, “I’m going to write about it and I’m going to say, ‘CRUNCH!”

“What a great idea!” I said.

“Well, it was actually L’s idea.” she clarified.

Yeah,” L said, “I thought she could add CRUNCH!”

J elaborated, “I’m going to write, ‘I bit into my hamburger and duh duh duh” -she paused dramatically-“CRUNCH!” (Duh duh duh is my first grade class’s preferred verbal translation for an ellipsis.)

They continued on for a few moments, sharing their plans with me and brightening my day, until I had to move away to assist another student. 

A few minutes later, they called me back over.

“You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to do what George McClements did!” L said. (Note—George McClements is one of our mentor authors who wrote the incomparable Night of the Veggie Monsters.)

“Yeah, said J, “I’m going to write, ‘I tapped my feet up and down on the ground’ just like what he wrote.”  She tapped her feet to show me what she meant. “It’s because I was so excited,” she said. She continued to act out what happened as her tooth fell out, planning what words she’d use to tell her story.

As I walked away a few minutes later,  I heard the word “onomatopoeia” drift my way. The two of them, heads bent together, were still planning the story, pulling in every craft move they could think of, and clearly having a wonderful time.  It was one of those moments that allows the joy of teaching to shine through all the paperwork, assessments, meetings and stress.  The glow of that moment stayed with me all day and its memory will certainly warm me in the future. Almost twenty four hours later, I’m still smiling.

12 thoughts on “First graders, living the writerly life

  1. danrothermel says:

    Your “classroom stories” writing takes me right to the classroom where you three had this conversation. There has got to be a journal for elementary school teachers that would love this piece. I look forward to Tuesday writing from mbh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dana says:

    What a triumph! That’s the reason you do what you do!!! That is the culmination of your hard work. Congratulations on reaching and inspiring something great in people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. elsie says:

    Look what happens when we give our students the joy of writing! What a way to put a smile on this teacher’s face!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Linda Baie says:

    Tooth stories abound! Love the ‘Duh duh duh’ & your sharing of those craft moves, spoken about by first graders. What a gift you are giving them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Adrienne says:

    WOW! I think if I’d had that exchange with my students I would have wept tears of joy. A beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Peg D says:

    Love the excitement you have built for writing! The first grade class I am assigned to help in this year has a teacher who demands “No walk. No talk.” How wonderful your kids get to experience writing as a joyful way to share stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hooray! What a gratifying moment for you. Your students’ excitement about writing shines throughout your slice.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. danrothermel says:

    Have you shared this entry with your Teachers Write group?


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