Monday, March 24, 2014

25/31 Weaving for Memories



   It's Day Twenty-Five of the Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers!
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         I haven't mentioned all the reasons why I am so interested in the weaving I've started. Part of it is that I had my mother's loom sitting without love in a closet. But the other part is something I did with a class one year. More than one post has talked of the importance of community, and I believe it makes the year with a class smooth as smooth can be. At my school, there is a slightly different challenge in our core classes, that we keep some students and other join us each year. (I taught Advance School classes, 6th, 7th and 8th graders.) That begins the year with "experts" and "novices".  Weaving (that word again) this disparate group into a learning, fun-loving, cohesive whole takes activities, shared experiences, learning about each other, learning to love each other. It isn't now the beginning of our school year, so those activities are for another post, but this post is about weaving us together into a memory that will last. Each year, one of the things we did was travel on an extended trip together. That taught us about each other more than most things could. 



            However, after the trip, the final weeks are bittersweet, winding down, finishing individual unit work, final writing projects, meeting reading goals, knowing we will soon part. Each year I would try to find a way to do something as a class, to leave something behind that would forever mean "that" group, together like no other year, created.  Eighth graders are leaving for their individual choices in high school, others will become the new seventh graders, and sixth graders will move in the following fall. This, this group that have forged such friendships, carry the memory of this year, and no other group will have it. So one year, I bought a large loom, and in addition to all the other memories, we created a tapestry of our year. 
          Everyone was required to spend 30 minutes to an hour a week on the loom. Each could decide what to do. If there was a big idea, it was brought to the group to see if everyone agreed, and who would like to help create it. Otherwise, the peaceful and quiet act of weaving happened in the classroom every day, during all the hours students were there. It became a time of quiet for those working on other projects too. Some became 'caretakers', tying off the dragging pieces at the back, being sure the weft was packed down by the weaving comb. Others sat and took out all the kinds and colors of yarn, arranged them, messed with them. The project was transformative. I've done murals with students before, other art and writing projects, service projects for others and for school, but somehow this was more. Or maybe I'm romanticizing and this was just the class it was meant for. Here's a picture of the weaving, which hangs in my office for those in that class to come to see. Some of the objects are meaningful, some are whimsy, but I don't think any of us will soon forget that spring when we wove our memories together. 

39 comments:

  1. I love that you do these big projects with your class...maybe you are right that the projects match the class ("this was just the class it was meant for.")

    That light switch! What a perfect metaphor.

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    1. Thanks Tabatha. They're always a wonder, particular to the class as you mention. Glad you like it!

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  2. We need time in the midst of busyness for a peaceful and quiet act!

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    1. And for some students, this small thing might be the only one. Thanks.

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  3. I love the weaving and all that it represents for that class. It is a challenge to weave together the different personalities in a class to create something bigger than all of the individual parts as you did with that class.

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    1. Thanks, Kay, you are right, different personalities don't always mesh together, but it's also great to see them compliment each other.

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  4. The weaving is gorgeous and what memories it holds. What a community building process.

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    1. I remember it so well, Jone, thinking it is the weaving that cements that time. Thank you!

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  5. This gives me chills! That project speaks of community and collaboration - just gorgeous!

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  6. BTW - I want to learn how to do that - wish you could give me lessons. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Holly, I can help via e-mail, but once that tricky warp is done, the rest isn't hard, just patient work. Happy you liked it!

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  7. Each group has to weave its way to become a community. That is a special piece of art with all the memories attached to every fiber woven. Your school is a special place of learning.

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    1. Thanks Elsie, I appreciate the thought.

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  8. Taking turns, thirty minutes at a time, bit by bit and the end result is filled with memories. I like the mixture of colors and lines.

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    1. Thanks Terje, it was very much a pleasure.

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  9. The weaving is so beautiful, even to the eye that holds no memories. Such a precious gift. I often did cumulative art projects with classes when I was teaching regular ed. Students who walk into my classroom are always impressed by the art on the walls. Art just makes me happy.

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    1. It's such fun to do art, for sure, Margaret, & to do it as a group was really special. Thanks!

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  10. So neat, Linda! I love the metaphor of weaving together, and I love the little objects they tied in... what a special keepsake!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. I'm glad you like it.

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  11. What a wonderful memory, Linda. I love the metaphor of weaving the class together--so important to build that community early.

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    1. Yes, it is (was) wonderful to have these middle-school aged students together for the year. We think they do such good things when they are in a settled community.

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  12. I never realized that people actually still had looms until I was a student teacher and my master teacher had one in her home. But how wonderful to bring it in and use it to build community and draw students together around a shared project such as this. Love it.

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    1. How great is that, Alyson. There aren't too many weaving shops here even in a bigger city, but I've discovered there is a weaving guild, so they are definitely out there. Thanks.

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  13. I could wax eloquent (or try to) about the symbolism of this particular endeavor, but I won't. I am just so moved by the care and imagination that goes into all you do at your school. I am in awe, actually.

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    1. Thanks Tara, for your appreciation! It is a good place!

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  14. It was one thing that I read your posts and I want to buy books; now I want to buy a loom. I have never done weaving before! (Except with paper!) This is so lovely. You wrote - "Everyone was required to spend 30 minutes to an hour a week on the loom," and what follows seems to be almost a mindfulness exercise, with each middle-schooler choosing what they wanted to do with the yarn. Wow. How beautiful and creative and calming - and it builds community, too. What more could one ask for? The weaving is a beautiful remembrance of those students.

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    1. Thanks Maureen, as I wrote, it turned out to be even more than I had planned (or imagined). Maybe you will be inspired to find your own kind of "weaving".

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  15. Well, I just absolutely love this. It is beautiful just like your writing. What a wonderful woven memory.

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  16. What a beautiful and symbolic project to do with any group of humans, let alone a group of middle schoolers! Your description of the project was so engaging and I was so happy to have the picture included! What an important word weave is, Linda. Really, really wonderful post.

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    1. Thanks Melanie. Part of my sharing about my class is the hope that others might see something they can take for themselves and their own students. Hope so. This was a special project!

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  17. Linda, this post makes me remember the year we taught our 6th graders how to knit and made hats for the homeless. What a unique experience (we couldn't have done it without an incredible core of volunteer parents)! The best part was seeing the notes students wrote for the recipients of the hats. I love that wonderful piece of weaving and the story of its creation that you shared with us.

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    1. Thanks Ramona. I bet it was a similar experience. The calmness & focus of making something like this was very telling.

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  18. Such a beautiful keepsake. I am sure that will be a memory those students care through life. I remember one year I did small cardboard looms for our pioneer unit and one group of 5 boys took off with it. At the end of the year they presented me with a fairly large woven piece, made from many squares that a mom had sewn together. All their initials were in the piece. I still have it and treasure it.

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    1. Oh wow, that's wonderful, Beverley. It makes me know even more how much the creation of something really touches people, young students and older! Thanks for telling me!

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  19. I love the idea of kids coming together around a common piece. I love that the image of them sitting at the loom, creating. I love the memories that are woven in. A beautiful piece of writing Linda!

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    1. Thanks Carol. It was a pleasure capturing the memory, too!

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  20. Oh thanks so much for sharing.....I love it.

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    1. You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it!

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