The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

My Greatest Wish

I try to take a balanced approach to literacy instruction in my classroom, so some days the students read stories from our basal reader, other days they read from leveled books, and still yet other days they read from chapter books that have been assigned to reading groups. We also do a variety of writing activities, although our biggest focus so far this year has been writing in response to a read text.

This week we read an excerpt from the story My Name Is Maria Isabel. My students really enjoyed this story, and several asked if they could check out the book from our library. After looking in the library and not seeing it, I mentioned something about it to our amazing librarian, who immediately said, “Oh, we have that! It is in the lit library in the back with other large sets. I don’t have a copy out here, though.” (Fun aside: I tell my students that, as a generalist educator, I know everything, but if I ever have a question, I ask the librarian, because librarians know more than everything!)

Near the end of Maria Isabel’s story, she writes a brief essay about her greatest wish, which is for her teacher to call her by her full name, Maria Isabel Salvator Lopez, instead of Mary Lopez, which is what the teacher had been calling her most of the year. (Other aside: I make sure that all of the students let me know at the beginning of the year what they want to be called, because I believe names are incredibly important. My first name is Alexander, but it would drive me crazy if people called me that all day; I have always been Alex.)

Today I wanted my students to start writing opinion pieces, and realised that building off Maria Isabel’s story would be a great way to do it. So I asked the students to write a brief essay on their own greatest wishes. They had to describe what their wish was, why they wanted it, and then draw a picture to go along with it. My original intention was to post them on one of our bulletin boards. However, some of the students’ responses were so very personal that I don’t think it would be fair to them to share their wishes along with their names.

That being said, I wanted to share some of them here. Out of respect for my students’ privacy, I am not going to include any details that would identify them, and I will only share their topic sentences. (I’ve also corrected spelling.)

My greatest wish is:

  • for my dog to meet a girl dog and have puppies.
  • to be a great inventor and invent time travel.
  • to live with my grandparents.
  • to meet Justin Bieber.
  • to have unlimited money and to be a veterinarian.
  • for a time machine.
  • to have a Dodge Viper SRT.
  • that my mom and dad would get back together.
  • for a toy poodle.
  • to drive a police car.
  • to have the Force.
  • to have a billion googol dollars.
  • to live with my dad.
  • to be a famous singer.
  • that my best friend will move back here.
  • to be a WWE superstar.
  • to have a BB gun.
  • is getting a big mansion and money.
  • to be able to see my best friend.

Surprisingly, not one of my students asked me what my greatest wish is. (If anyone asked, I would tell them that it is to have a reason to make a trio of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving next year.) I am pleased that my students took this writing assignment seriously. We will do many opinion pieces in the future. This was very much an early assignment meant to help my gauge my students’ understanding of how to express an opinion in writing. I didn’t expect the depth of feeling that was included! As happens so often, my students have gone above and beyond what I expected.

But I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, my class is awesome!


One response

  1. Elizabeth

    Thanks, I’ll be sure to use this topic with the Graded 4s I’m starting with next January.
    I’m hoping to get them to write a weekly piece in a small journal book – a practice which has worked well with Grade 5s, we’ll see about 4s. Some weeks it’s free choice (usually an account of weekend events), sometimes I give a topic or theme.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm

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