Monday, August 31, 2015

Things That Matter

          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?

27 comments:

  1. I've missed reading your gentle writings. This was just what I needed this morning. Things that matter: my children's feelings, the freckles on their faces, my husband smiling eyes, the books I have given to other people, my pumpkin coffee, the hummingbirds that flutter near my porch in the early morning hours, and Tuesday's SOL.

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  2. What a beautiful prompt, things that matter: the laughter of my grandchildren, my husband's kiss in the morning, my girlfriends, the harvest moon and the crunch of fall leaves, the first snowfall, the memory of my sons childhood, our beloved dog Cole.

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    1. Wonderful to read, Bernadette. Thanks so much.

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  3. Love these books Linda. The only one I don't have is Other Ways to Listen. Getting it now! Thank you.

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    1. You're welcome, Julieanne. I hope you might try this with students.

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  4. Great prompts. Much better than the "What did you do over Summer vacation?" I got when I was a student.
    What matters to me? Kathy's smile, time spent with family and friends, a good book, a purring cat on my lap.

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    1. I love hearing all those 'things that matter" from everyone. Thank you.

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  5. I love coming here. Your thoughts and words always lift off the page and take me along. Your "Things that matter" is so beautiful. Things that matter: good night and good morning hugs, phone calls from mom and sis, daughters coming to visit for the weekend, pancakes on Sunday, a daily cup of tea, a friend recommending a book, words of appreciation, silent time by oneself, the taste of fresh berries. There is more but this is what first comes to mind.

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    1. Thanks for sharing a little bit from your 'things', Terje. As you might see, everyone is both different and the same, something for a community to know.

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  6. Things that matter - what a great beginning to writing - I want to write more about this later today but your sweeping the porch at twilight was perfect.

    I think quickly of the smells from an old family attic, the smell of grapes ripening on the vine, laughter of family while telling old stories
    Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Love hearing what you immediately thought, Joanne. Thanks for the share, & I hope you do write more, especially for you.

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  7. I am thankful for so many things being able to share my poems and art with others 'my family 'spending time with my sisters and brothers 'spending time with good friends' the times I spent with my mom 'remembering my day teaching me to ride my bike' my birth mothers smile 'reading a new pic poetry book 'sharing books with family and friends ' waver washing over my feet 'finding God in each new day

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  8. the day my dad thought me to ride my bike

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    1. Thanks for both the comments, Jessica. Everyone's words are helping me think of more too.

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  9. What a lovely way to open our writing hearts. The things that matter: the sound of my children laughing together, my husband's gloriously awkward dancing, the view from our farm's porch...

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    1. Ah, love your list, Tara. Hope the week has begun beautifully!

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  10. My goal for this year is to read a picture book almost every day. I know I can't commit to everyday. I saw your post and started a list in a Google Doc. I always think I'll remember the titles but never do.

    I love this prompt. Definitely stealing it. Your list is the you I have come to know and love across the cyber-miles.

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    1. I shared because it is a favorite thing that I did with my students, Margaret. Steal away! I hope you'll at least start reading the "It's Monday" posts with Kellee, Ricki & Jen, then n-fPB with Alyson on Wednesdays. I've learned so much from reading others' posts. Finally, look for all of Byrd Baylor's books-still wonderful! Thanks.

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  11. This is a great prompt. It must have been so fun to read and have students share with each other. It's a great way to show how writing can connect us, help us learn about each other, and build community. Just a few things that I can think of right now to put on my list of things that matter are: sunny skies, beach days, a book you can't put down, true friends, a latte on a Saturday morning, running sneakers.

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    1. Thanks Lisa, I like hearing what things you would put on your list. It was a good way to learn about each other. Sometimes we also illustrated some of the list, and surrounded the art with the other words.

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  12. Such good titles some of which are new to me, so I will have to check them out! Thank you, Linda. People matter. Stories matter. Meeting one another heart to heart -- these things matter. Wishing you joy as you start this new chapter.

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    1. Thanks Lee Ann, more wonderful things!

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  13. I'm usually not a fan of prompts, but sometimes, when they're good prompts, I love it. THIS prompt can certainly lead to some important writing. I'm going to have a go with it on my own. Thanks for sharing this idea with us.

    Oh, and Yard Sale is a must-have for every elementary school classroom, isn't it? I've used it with third graders and it has really resonated with them.

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    1. Thanks, Stacey. I've never had the chance to use Yard Sale with a class, but I added it because I think it is so special. I'm glad you shared that it was good with a group.

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  14. Linda, Thanks for the timely post. I miss you gentle guidance and sure way of doing things, especially around writing. I need to have my students write something around this prompt so thanks for reminding me of it.

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    1. You're welcome, Max. Hope everyone enjoys the writing.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!