Impressions of a Fourth Grade Class

As a writer of children’s stories, I have found it fascinating listening in on my kids’ remote class this past week. So for anyone else out there who wants to know what it’s like inside a virtual class these days, I give you the following transcript based on my impressions of the class.

*names have been changed (as have some of the details) to protect the innocent

**I have always had enormous respect for teachers, but these last few days have increased it tenfold. Not only do they have a seemingly unending supply of patience, but they’re doing a lot with almost no notice and constantly changing requirements.

Teacher: Good morning and welcome to class. Just so you know, we don’t have a French teacher assigned to us yet, so instead of French this afternoon, we’ll be doing Art.

Riley: Can I go to the bathroom?

Teacher: Yes, but in future, maybe try to go before class. Okay. So I’m going to start by showing you how to log in to… Yes, Rylee F., you have a question?

Rylee F.: Who’s our French teacher?

Teacher: Right, well, as I just said, we don’t have one assigned yet, so we’re going to do Art this afternoon instead of French. Okay, so to log into the math site you need to-

Ryerson: Can I get a drink of water?

Teacher: Yes, but in future please bring a water bottle to your desk, or drink before class starts. Now, math. In your classroom, click on Math.

Kayden: I’m not in a classroom. I’m at home.

Teacher: Right. We are all at home. But on your computer you have a page called your classroom. It’s where you got the link to this meeting. Can everybody see that? Riley B. Do you have a question?

Riley B.: Do we have French today?

Teacher: No, we don’t have a French teacher yet. We’ll be doing Art this afternoon. Let’s try and focus on getting into the math site. Has everyone clicked on Math?

Riley B., Riley S., Ryleigh, Kayden & Caden: NO!

Teacher: Ok. I’ll just give everyone another moment to click on Math…

Cayden: I don’t like Math.

Rileigh: I’m really good at Math.

Teacher: Ok. Let’s try to keep our microphones muted unless I call on you. Okay, so if everyone has clicked on Math, you should see a link to the Math site we’re going to use. Kaden C, you have a question?

Kaden C: I don’t see a link.

Teacher: Okay, are you in Math?

Kaden C.: No, I’m in my bedroom.

Teacher: On your computer. Go to the Classroom, then click Math, then click the link. Ryerson?

Ryerson: Can I go to the bathroom?

Teacher: Yes. Okay, is everyone on the link? Right. So next you need to find your name and click on it, and enter the password that was on the Math page. Yes, Rileigh M.?

Rileigh M.: My password doesn’t work.

Teacher: Make sure you’re using the right name and that you didn’t mistype the password. Cayden D. you have a question?

Cayden D.: Can I go to the bathroom.

Teacher. Yes. Okay class, how about if you need the bathroom, you just write that in the chat?

Rileigh M.: I got in!

Teacher: Excellent. Right, so once you’ve logged into the site, I want you to do five questions, so I can see where you are in Math.

Rylee T.: Can I just watch You Tube instead?

Teacher: No, it’s Math time. I need you to do the five questions.

Rylee T: I don’t like Math. I’m just going to watch You Tube.

Raleigh: My favourite YouTube is Minecraft videos.

Teacher: Ok, gang, it’s not time to talk about YouTube, it’s time for Math. I’m going to give you fifteen minutes to do your questions…Yes, Riley B.?

Riley B.: Where do we find the link?

Teacher: The link is under Math, in your Classroom section on your computer. Do you see it?

Riley B.: Yes.

Teacher: Okay, are you in now?

Riley B.: Yes.

Teacher: All right. So we’re going to take the next fifteen minutes to answer five questions. Does anyone have any questions before we do that? Yes, Caden N.?

Caden N.: Do we have French today?



I’m telling you, folks, teachers are worth their weight in gold. If you know one, thank them…and maybe consider dropping off a big box of chocolates.


Plotting Away

Well, I’m finally feeling a bit better, and am back to working on plotting my next book when I can squeeze in the time.

When I first started writing, I was definitely a pantser. I would come up with a basic story idea, but otherwise made everything up as I went along, letting the story take me where it would. In some ways it was freeing, but it also resulted in meandering tales that didn’t exactly make sense, populated by flat characters.

So then I started plotting.

My first attempts only focused on plot. You might think that makes sense, given how it’s called plotting. And it certainly is helpful to know where you want the story to go and how it moves from Point A to Point B, etc. But only focusing on the storyline still left me with flat characters.

It took a while to realize that for me, the best stories come when I pre-plan character and plot together. Knowing what I want my main character’s journey to be, knowing what they’re missing in their life, what secrets they’re hiding, etc. and then marrying those things to the storyline is the best way I’ve found to come up with a good story *and* rich characters.

By knowing my characters inside and out, not only can I make plot choices based on how they would react, but I can also up the ante by introducing aspects that will specifically affect them (eg. having a character who’s afraid of being abandoned by loved ones left by their loved one at a crucial point).

I also thinks it helps make the villain of a story more believable if I know their motivation before I ever start writing.

I’m not quite ready to start writing this YA yet, but I’m slowly and surely filling in the little story and character gaps I need to set me up for a good writing experience.

Good News and Bad…

Good news first: I got the results of my Covid test, and I am negative! Yay!

The bad news? I’m still obviously fighting *something* (summer cold? allergies + fibro flare? something else entirely? who knows?) so I’m taking this week off to rest some more.

Hope to have a writing-related post next week.

Good luck for everyone heading back to school & all their families.

September Check-In

Well, that was a quick two weeks.

Somehow, despite the progression of time, we’re no closer to my kids’ back-to-school start (it keeps getting pushed back thanks to last minute changes at the ministry) so that’s fun. (Not.)

I’ve been plugging away at chores (repairing dog-damaged walls, repainting rooms, etc) while listening to audiobooks and brainstorming for my YA. (Note for future: always check whether the paint you’re working with is water- or oil-based before trying to clean your brushes. And if you do, say, end up with hands completely coated in thick black oil-based paint, vegetable oil is a miracle cure.)

On top of that, I’ve been panicking about possibly having having Covid. For the last week I’ve been fighting symptoms that could be the dreaded disease. Of course, they could also be allergies combined with symptoms of my other chronic illnesses (migraines, IBS, fibromyalgia). But we found out we were exposed to someone who likely had Covid, so off I went to get tested.

Still, it wasn’t exactly fun to show up at the testing site and say yes to basically every Covid symptom except nausea (I haven’t lost my sense of taste or smell either, but they didn’t ask that).

So, now I wait for results. And keep my fingers crossed that’s it’s nothing serious. (And go back on my daily asthma inhaler, because whatever it is that’s bothering me has done a number on my lungs).

Either way, I’m trapped at home for the next two weeks. Which is fine, because all I want to do is nap.

Anyway, that’s my update. Hopefully I’ll have good news to share next week. (If you’re anxious to know my test results before then, I’m sure I’ll post them on Twitter, so follow me there.)

August Reading Stats

  • YA Fantasy (4)
  • YA Historical Fiction (2)
  • YA Contemporary (1)
  • MG Fantasy (1)
  • Adult Urban Fantasy (3)
  • Adult Mystery (1)
  • Adult Sci-Fi (1)

August Total: 13

Year-To-Date: 116 (+ 11 Re-Reads)