Students work on writing at camp in Tupelo

TUPELO – Several Church Street Elementary students have spent the past week learning that writing entails much more than jotting words onto a page.
While attending the school’s eighth annual summer writing camp, those students are learning the art of brainstorming, adding strong verbs and including sensory descriptions.
Each of the roughly 30 students in the camp wrote a story on Monday based on a personal memory. They’ve constantly revised those stories each day since and will present their finished work in a special program today.
“I’ve had kids in my class who have been to the camp before, and I see they understand the writing process more,” said Church Street first-grade teacher Amy Wyatt, who is one of two instructors for the camp. “The most important part is the revising process and learning that you’re not done the first time you write it.”
All of the campers are in kindergarten to third grade, but co-instructor Terry Leigh Clayton said they are learning skills that are useful to adult writers.
“Teachers teach writing, but they can’t devote a week to it and nothing else,” Clayton said.
Clayton, who also teaches physical education at Church Street, has been an instructor at the camp all eight of its years. The camp is sponsored by the school’s Parent Teacher Association.
The students write stories and poems, discuss stories they read and create other artwork.
“It gives them a confidence in their writing,” said Church Street Principal Kay Collins. “We try to teach them to read like writers and write like readers.”
Their biggest work is the story they write based upon a personal memory. The process begins on Monday when the campers brainstorm three or four ideas and conference with their fellow campers to pick the best one. By the end of the day, the students have finished their first draft.
They continue to add to that draft. They read their story to partners, who point out questions they have about the story, and make sensory charts to see how they can add descriptions to give the story more emotion and flavor.
They discuss verb usage and titles and read other books to study how those authors began their stories.
“My favorite part is when we write stories and add more things to it like rhymes and sounds,” said Belle Roberts, 8. “I’ve learned you can always go back to your story and add more things.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal