My student was working on a research project, along with his peers. He had chosen to write about wolves, and was using a deadly-dull nonfiction book to get some factual information for his piece. The book's text plodded along, although there were some great photos.
On his piece of notebook paper appeared the line, "A wolf's eyes are like hunks of gold." It was a line I wish I had written.
I screamed. I yelled. I swooned. The whole class heard this young man's brilliant image by the time I was done. And for the rest of the school year, I got a grin out of him every time I mentioned what an incredible writer he was. And then, with that little nudge, he was willing to put forth a little more effort for me.
Celebrate the small things. The beginning lines. The well-crafted similes. The clever word choices. Cheer your students on as they take baby steps because as they get stronger and more confident, they'll walk all the way across the page...on their own.