How is a writer like a sculptor?

     This was the question students pondered  using their sculptures as a metaphor for the process writers go through to produce a final piece.  Students SLOWLY kneaded the dough; a writer must know the material before using it in a final piece. Then they took a few minutes to play with their clay; a writer plays with words like a sculptor kneads clay. Students were told that they were creating something for their peers, teachers and parents to see, after all  knowing your audience can affect what you create.  Just as a writer cannot begin to write until she knows what her purpose is, students were told that their  purpose was to create a pencil holder -- something that would hold a pencil on their desks. 

     Students created their pencil holder, squashed it and recreated it three times.  It was frustrating but these "first drafts" allowed their creative side time to try out new ideas before choosing the best one for their "final draft." Finally writers need to know how their audience will respond so students took time to confer with a peer and then examined their pencil holder from many perspectives. 

     When students reached the editing point (the detail work) they were able to trade a little Playdough with a friend to add the finishing touches.  They realized that these final touches might make their creations look better but if it didn't hold together the flourishes were unnecessary. Finally we took a gallery walk to admire each other's work.

A writer, like a sculptor, goes through a process involving many changes which leads to a final product.  Enjoy!

lesson adapted from  Ideas Plus Book 15 (NCTE, 1997)