Riding the Rollercoaster


It’s not late by my standards, but the week is catching up with me and this tired teacher/student is quickly turning into a pumpkin.

My students have been working on fiction stories for a couple of weeks. Yesterday I was teaching a mini lesson on what fiction stories should include. We built a list together of all the important story elements. We were discussing the plot and why in interesting stories, the protagonist has to try to solve the problem many times and often has to fail miserably before they find a solution.

It’s a kind of big concept for a fifteen minute lesson, but we were working it out. Some of the class seemed to be getting it, but most of them looked at me suspiciously like who is this crazy woman talking to us about stories. Then I got a picture of a rollercoaster in my head.

Like a flash of lightning, I knew how to explain it!

I asked them if they liked riding roller coasters? All the hands went up. I knew I had them. I explained that plot is like sitting in that roller coaster car, inching your way up that steep incline. Slowly moving up to the top and having all that excitement pool in your stomach.  We all leaned back and imagined that incline.

Wouldn’t it be disappointing to wait in line for an hour for a roller coaster ride, have the car go up one notch on the track, then even out and come to a stop? Wouldn’t that be boring?

I saw that they got it. I saw it in their eyes. I saw it in their notebooks.

I hadn’t anticipated how much I would learn about writing by having to teach it. I’m excited to enjoy the rest of the ride.

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