Thanks Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy!
I told a little bit of my recent life's slices last week, but not all. I'm back in the classroom again, amazingly my original classroom when we moved to this building, and my Advanced School students, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Through some need, I've become the core teacher in this class for the rest of the year. I had conferences last Thursday and Friday, twenty-one, student-led, and they were fine, just long, long days, but good talk. Whew, as I said earlier, my mind is swirling.
Today was day number two. Starting a class in the 11th week is strange. I have some set lessons that I usually use to begin, some favorite poems, special readings, etc., but this time I knew it needed to be different, a start, but not exactly. Do any of you focus on the "art", the "visual", when working with writers? It seems to me that it's an important, sometimes overlooked, aspect of thinking about writing. I want students to believe that no matter what kind of writing they are doing, one goal of beautiful communication is not only to tell a story, but to create a "picture" for their readers. Today I read and gave each a copy of the following poem, Autobiography In Five Chapters, by Portia Nelson.
1) I walk down the street.There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
You can find the whole text here.
We read and discussed the poem briefly, then the students and I illustrated it, quick sketches with stick figures if they chose. We were rather amazed at the varied ways each chose to "draw" the poem, and then the different ways each interpreted the poem. What were my goals? To open eyes to respecting and appreciating different viewpoints, to begin to include the visual in their repertoires of thinking about writing, and to feel satisfied with something they created. I knew the poem, have used it in other ways with early adolescents, too, and am happy with this, our first time as a writing group.
More to come!