Writing Recognition

Teaching is a very demanding profession.  I know parents and friends agree, because I am often told, “Oh, I don’t know how you do it all day with a room full of ten year olds.”  I laugh and nod, but you know what?  I love it.  What makes it worthwhile is the light in the eyes of a student who has discovered that they can master multiplying decimals or sequence events in the Revolutionary War or analyze a piece of literature.  Or write.

This year my students wrote novels for National Novel Writing Month in November.  I signed up immediately when I found out about NaNoWriMo, and only thought about involving my students afterwards.  Initially, my motives were selfish.  Maybe if the students were writing in class, I could work on my own novel.  I broached the idea to the class, and it lit them on fire.  In two days they were all signed up online.

We wrote through the month of November and all 31 of them finished their novels.  I finished mine, too.  Full of pride, we published an anthology of their stories that also included the first chapter of mine.  And that was just the beginning.

I will never forget the day I brought the 654 page published book to class and handed it to them.  With reverent hands, they picked up their book.  They were (and are) published authors.

Then the school library suggested we put a few copies on the shelf for students to check out.  It wasn’t too much longer before the librarian told them there was a long waiting list of students who wanted to check out their book and could she please have four or five more copies?  That light in their eyes still burned.  They were proud.

Today we went on a field trip to San Jose city hall.  Mayor Chuck Reed and our Councilmember, Rose Herrera, presented my class with a commendation for their novel.  They were perfectly behaved on their special tour of city hall, during lunch in the rotunda, and during the opening of the city council meeting.  My heart swelled with pride.  Afterwards, the students were giddy with excitement.  So was I.

Ultimately, that is what teaching is all about.  Yes, it’s important to drum facts into their heads, but it’s much more rewarding to inspire them to greatness.  That is why we teach.

These students will never forget the novel they wrote in fifth grade.  Many of them are already writing a sequel!  They have gained immeasureable confidence in their own writing that extends to other areas.  As we are fond of saying in my classroom, “We can do anything.  After all, we are published authors.”

So, class, what can you add?  I saw from your faces what you were feeling today.  Can you put any of that in words?  How about parents who were there or heard about it later?  What did today’s commendation mean to you?

On my Kindle:  Tiger by Jeff Stone   (okay, this is a hard copy, not on Kindle)

26 responses to “Writing Recognition”

  1. We are very proud of you and your students. Thank you for making JFS a shining star.

  2. Elsbeth McCann Avatar
    Elsbeth McCann

    Great job to you and your students. You are an amazing inspiration. So happy to be the first library to stock your book….the start of things to come??

  3. I was really excited, when I got on stage, i couldn’t stop smiling. I’m proud that our whole class wrote a novel. Whe n I got the news that we were going to city hall, I was so excited I could’nt sleep that night. Without the help of Mrs. Ulleseit, we wouldn’t ever finish our novel without her courage. Thank you Mrs. Ulleseit!

  4. zohacochinwala Avatar

    The month of November was very challenging, but it was also a lot of fun. After I held our published book in my hands, I realized that anything is possible.

  5. So proud of you, Linda! Wish I had the time to do that with my students! You do know that the 4th graders coming up to you will expect to do the same thing next year!
    🙂 Ang

    1. I know, Ang! And some of my fifth graders want to do it again!

  6. To me the city hall trip was the best thing that happened to me that day. I was both excited and scared on the stage while people took our photos but it was a lot of work and it paid off.

  7. Michelle Duong Avatar
    Michelle Duong

    When Mrs Ulleseit said we were going to City Hall to get an award, I was so excited that I didn’t sleep the night before. When I presented an autographed copy of Novel Central to Councilwoman Rose Herrera, I was nervous, but happy. Mrs. Ulleseit’s encouragement during the month of November helped me finish my novel and I’m very grateful and proud. Writing a novel in a month made me feel like I can do anything.

  8. Justin Baraona Avatar
    Justin Baraona

    The trip to City Hall was amazing. Before we got the commendation, I was nervous. But when I was getting the award with my classmates, I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt so proud that my classmates and I got an award for writing. It was the most typing I have ever done in my life, so far. That was a great day.

  9. The tour guide people were really nice and all, but I felt a little nervous being in city hall because you know how there are so many things in there that are so special? I was just so afraid I would break something! But all in all it went perfectly and I couldn’t stop squirming in my chair during the city hall presentation. And I was smiling like crazy when we went up there! But it was a great experience for me.

  10. The class trip to City Hall was so exciting at first. All through the tour I couldn’t stop smiling. When I was in the rotunda, I was excited to hear that there were only two in the world! I was in awe when I saw the beautiful view of the city. It was like a giant map in front of me. When we went into the council chambers for the commendation, I got butterflies in my stomach. Finally, when went up to the front of the room, I felt proud. I held up my certificate for everyone to see. I felt even more prouder when my mom took my picture. Going to city hall was better than my first trip to Disneyland.

  11. My heart pounded with excitement. I couldn’t stop smiling. Every now and then I had to move. i was so proud of the commendation. I couldn’t wait to tell my family. Restraining myself from yelling “I did it!”, I saw Mayor Reed shake hands with my teacher. I couldn’t wait to go home and boast all about it. Mom was going to be so happy!

  12. Since I started writing my first novel, I really wanted to be on tv. and now it came true! When I was at city hall, my face looked really quiet but inside me, I was bursting with excitement. My classmates and I were really proud of what we didthat day. I will never forget that day when I went to city hall! it was the best day ever! I was so impressed when we could almost see the whole city from the top floor. Mayor Reed looks so noble and kind. probably the whole city likes him because of his attitude. i am proud because the school’s principal got to see the famous class, which is c-5 Mrs. Ulleseit’s class!

  13. It takes a lot of perseverance,dedication, encouragement, and determination to write a whole novel. In the month of November the only thing to do was to WRITE and hog the laptop carts all day! It was exhausting, but to find out that our class was going to get a commendation was a miracle. The best part was knowing that the class has gone through so much for this commendation. Standing near the mayor and being on camera was exhilarating, cameras flashed while people stared, it was the moment of a lifetime.

  14. When the month of November finally ended last year, I felt proud to look at all we had done, and completed probably the biggest undertaking in our elementary school lives. Just now, after receiving the commendation, I can once again feel this feeling of pride. The reason: Everyone did what they thought they maybe couldn’t do.

    While we waited in the council chambers for our commendation, I wasn’t too nervous, not nearly as nervous as I am during my piano recitals – How could you be nervous when you wrote a novel? As we walked up to the stage, I was excited and happy for us to get the award. I would have preferred for my parents to be watching, because this was one thing I was actually proud of.

    NaNoWriMo has been very exciting and challenging. I am very proud of myself and of my classmates for what we have done, as well as Mrs. Ulleseit.

  15. Well, I felt a little embarrassed about going up there, and I was thankful that I wasn’t speaking in front of all those people. I was also happy that my mom was there taking pictuers of us, and that we got to see the mayor up close. I was also happy when we got the award from Councilmember Rose Herrera. We got a tour up and when they said the elevater was going to go fast, it did!

  16. We did it! Who would know that a small writing project would come out as a success? Meeting the mayor and getting a commendation, publishing our book, and we’ve been asked to edit some novels! Wow! Last minute butterflies were in my stomach. Then I thought to myself “Don’t screw this up Clyden, this might be your only time on t.v so don’t look like an idiot!” Before we got our commendation though, we saw a lot of cool stuff. Like the model of the city; I was amazed they did every detail of it. At the end I felt proud that my class and I accomplished our goal and we were rewarded.

  17. It all sounded exciting. Too bad I got sick and couldn’t go. I really wanted to see city hall! 🙁 Still I still wrote a story in Novel Central.

  18. When we first left the classroom to get on the bus, I could feel the excitement building up on me. It was the same feeling I had when I was about to go to science camp. Even though my mom was chaperoning for the trip, I sat with my friend, Zoha, during the bus ride. We talked and talked until we finally reached there. When I stepped foot outside the bus, I was more excited than ever. I couldn’t believe what was happening. The first thing we did was take a tour around the whole San Jose city hall. We walked for a long time until we got to a building, the rotunda. It looked a lot like a glass dome to me. It was huge. I was quite amazed at the fact that it was earthquake-resistant. After that, we looked at a model of the whole city of San Jose. Then, we went up an elevator that could fit a ton of people. It was also very fast. I could barely feel going up all those floors. When we went to the top of the building, I was literally shocked. The view of the city was breath-taking. It was too much to describe. When I looked down from the top, it looked like I was watching mini people and mini cars. It was magnificent. When we left that room, we went back to the rotunda to eat our lunch. I was starving by then. We quickly ate our food, and finally we were about to live the moment we were all waiting for. The moment we got to shine like stars and represent not only ourselves and our class, but our whole school too. When finally our class was called to receive our commendation, my heart was pounding with joy. I walked down with my nanowrimo certificate with pride and happiness. I was a little bit nervous, but I was mostly proud. It was an exciting day for not only my class, but for the whole, entire school too.

  19. When I was told about NanoWrimo in class I was shocked and so were my classmates. Between the time we were told and the time we finished, NanoWrimo got more exciting and interesting. At the end of the month I felt a giant sense of accomplishment and felt proud of myself for finishing in time. Getting our book published made me feel like a true novelist. At the arrival at city hall I felt important. In the council chambers it was an honor to be in one of the meetings. When the meeting started I felt nervous and couldn’t wait for our turn. Mayor Reed called us on his agenda and we walked up for the commendation. Councilmember Herrera came up and so did Mayor Reed. I felt proud, nervous, happy, and excited to be up there and have our class receive the commendation.

  20. OMG!:) We are famous! We got a commendation. I felt so glad when just writing a novel it can turn in to big things like being in a newspaper then going to City Hall. It was just too much!

  21. Writing my own novel…it opened my heart to becoming an author. Not to mention it was a big hit! It made me feel like this dash-off writing isn’t really junk at all! And getting the commedation-my classmates did well, and by the time it was given, I wanted to scream and hug Mrs. Ulleseit, although I didn’t. I won’t forget this event for the rest of my life!

  22. The trip to the city hall was great because we were getting a award from Councilmember Herrera. I felt proud and happy at the same time. I felt really proud of the work all of my classmates. As the councilmember called us, all of my classmates walked very proudly. On the way home I felt happy because I was on t.v.

  23. When we got onto the bus I wasn’t excited, but then when we got off the bus I was super hyper. Also I felt very nervous inside of my body. Then when we got inside the room where we are getting our commendation I was super quiet as all the other people got their commendations. Then when it was our turn I walked down to the stage holding my certificate in front of me. I was very scared but proud, too.

  24. zohacochinwala Avatar

    I was so excited when we entered the council chambers. It was very big, it was 4,000 square feet. When it was our turn to get our commendation i could not help but smiling on stage. I would usually be terrified getting up on stage but the happiness overcame it this time.

  25. zoha cochinwala Avatar
    zoha cochinwala

    We walked into fifth grade as normal students and we walked out as published authors.

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