Slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community is a pleasure every week. Thank you Stacey, Tara, Anna, Betsy, Dana, Kathleen, Beth, and Deb.
When I taught, I did have students write to me before school, about their reading and writing habits and wishes, their dreams for the future (I taught middle school age students), what they'd been doing recently, and on. And I valued the information they gave. In the first days of school we wrote a lot, and one of the pieces that I feel held the most importance of "who" each student was is a writing topic I called "things that matter". I used different books each year. Remember, I always had students for the second year, and often for a third, so couldn't use the same resources each year. I used picture books often as mentor texts, and the following ones are inspiring in different ways. I hope you'll find and read them to discover your own unique ways to use them in order to inspire your writers to write from their hearts, "things that matter". In my writing, I've written this prompt all through the years, and some words stay the same, but time also makes them change. It might be fun to have students write at the beginning and then at the end of the year to see if they have changed views.
Here are books that I've used: Lois Lowry's Crow Call, Patricia MacLachlan's What You Know First, Byrd Baylor's The Other Way To Listen and Thylias Moss' I Want To Be. If I could, I would also use Eve Bunting's Yard Sale, published since I've been out of the classroom.
Things that matter: laughter with my grandchildren, kneading bread, Louis Armstrong's singing "What A Wonderful World", the memory of my husband saying "Hi, Babe", sweeping the porch at twilight and hearing the murmur of birds going to bed, moon rise and moon light, finding a word I like, hugs, the sound of a push mower, wind blowing fall leaves, a biscuit buttered hot from the oven, reading in bed, hearing a chickadee, screen door slamming, ocean waves. . .
What would you write?