Monday, August 22, 2016

A Favorite Teaching Idea



       I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.

The last time I wrote was about going home. I did, and had a marvelous time with cousins, my brother and sister-in-law, nieces and nephews, and of course it was fun to travel with my daughter and the two grand-girls! 





Remember this? That bindweed takeover in the flower bed outside my own garden. 

And what it looked like after cleaning most of it.



And, now, the next pictures, what it looks like about six weeks later. 
 The bees are prolific, and very very busy!

And what does this have with school? Since I'm no longer teaching, this time of year still challenges me to muse about what I'm going to do to empower my students to feel competent, able to accomplish what they set out to do. And I know this is what you've been wondering and planning about, too. I've read your posts, admire the thoughtfulness of teacher writer/bloggers. They are aiming for good things! 

So, one idea. This gardening I've been doing as I wrote before is not what I "need" to do. I'm not in charge of this particular garden plot, but I do pass by it every day when I walk to my car. I love flowers and I love that they can sustain a habitat for bees and other insects, and for small mammals. And I wanted to make things better, to help the flowers, and then the habitat, and to make the neighborhood prettier. It hasn't been easy. After that first huge weeding I've taken about a half hour every day to catch those little sprouts before they strangle. I've researched and found that it may take about three years to finally see (only most) gone. Unless I move, I won't quit.

That is my story, a little story of persistence, and a story of big reward. I've thought of how I might translate this into the classroom. At any age, from emerging writers to the older ones, can they not discover their own personal stories? They can interview family members, parents, siblings, grandparents, or neighbors to find a story of persistence and success. They can share it in a verbal story, create a video of that someone telling the story,  and they can write and illustrate with sketches or photographs. Of course there are famous stories of those who haven't given up. Many picture book biographies have been published in recent years. Yet, finding someone you know seems better to me, seems as if it will be more supportive that if you know someone personally, it means you too can persist and succeed.

I've had fun in the past supporting oral interviews for quite a few topics. It is motivating and is something that helps children learn about their families, neighbors and others in ways they may never know until they explore. I hope that some of you will think about it and perhaps include the experience in your classrooms.


32 comments:

  1. What a terrific idea! Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the idea of oral interviews as a part of a community of stories that intersects the stories in the classroom - so fits with the stories in "Falling Towers" as I've been thinking of the upcoming 15 year anniversary of 9/11. Perhaps another place for oral interviews for our students who were not even born yet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you connected with your own idea, Fran. I've done oral histories where students researched a part of history that ensures a person is still alive who lived in that time. 9-11 would work beautifully. Hard to believe it's been 15 years! Thanks!

      Delete
  3. This is a wonderful idea, and perfect for the beginning of the school year. I am going to share it with my colleagues!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Chris, I hope you find good stories from the students.

      Delete
  4. What a wonderful story to model story creation. I'll bet someone will use this post as model for story writing, don' t you?
    Bonnie K.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe so. I wanted to show that those "small" slices make the stories of our lives, and sometimes give us a model for living. Thanks, Bonnie.

      Delete
  5. You have so much wisdom to share on so many different subjects. I am very fortunate to read your posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, thanks, Bernadette. I think that about everyone whose blog posts I read!

      Delete
  6. Persistence -- so important in the classroom, in life, and when weeding the garden. I've actually taken the same approach to the weeds in my own flowerbed. I visit every day and nip a few which has made this year very manageable and the garden beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That daily work helps for sure, Jennifer. Glad to hear from you, too! Thanks.

      Delete
  7. Your neighborhood patch has transformed! I love the weed strangling analogy to writers that struggle with the process that is so limiting at times. Students come in and see the same tools, the same teaching point, the same prompts. Those things can become what strangles their potential. I saw it happen yesterday with a beginning of the year assessment. It showed me a lot. Allowing young writers different avenues to produce and gather ideas for their stories is brilliant. Thank you for adding (as always) so much to our teaching community!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Julieanne, I guess we both know how numbing the same old ideas can be. Glad to add to your thinking, as you so often add to mine!

      Delete
  8. I wish I knew anything about the garden that's been passed down to me from the previous owner who was clearly a master gardener, but you've given me the idea to give it a bit of a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand, and some days I think I need a "garden apprentice", as in "cut this, get another bag, crawl under there"-Ha! Thanks, and best wishes, Kimberley!

      Delete
  9. Stories of persistence is a great theme for students....I may have to adapt this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do, Deb, it would be great for high school students! Thanks!

      Delete
  10. What a great idea, Linda. I have found that people love to share their life stoic only someone asks them. Such history to learn through this kind of sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I do think also that kids don't often have these kinds of conversations with others, so helping them to seek out stories may show them new ways of learning. Thanks, Bob!

      Delete
  11. Love the view of the garden plot six weeks later. It shows what happens with a little tender loving care. Same thing happens in classes, TLC will create a community of learners who are willing to share their stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you're so right, Elsie. Six weeks was a goal for me to start so many things, to get going! Thanks!

      Delete
  12. Love reading this story and your application to the classroom. We retired teachers really can't help ourselves. Once a teacher, always a teacher and what a gift you are to our community!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! You're right, just can't stop thinking about the class!

      Delete
  13. Well that little patch of land is looking quite good! Your perseverance has paid off!

    This is a great idea, and I hope teachers will do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Dana, oral history has often been a pleasure in my classroom.

      Delete
  14. Loved your story of action. Your idea comes at the right time. Today was the first full day of school, and "do not give up" was mentioned by several students when we spoke about what kind of students they'd like to be this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am determined not to let that bindweed get the best of the garden! Thanks, Terje, wish you and your students success!

      Delete
  15. As I looked at your series of photos and your title and the question at the end of the photos, all I could think about is that those photos- the transformation- the uncovering of flowers beneath a tangle of weeds- has everything to do with school. I really enjoyed your slice Linda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lisa, I do, too, hence the writing about it. It really is something I care about helping students learn, that grit and persistence can accomplish much.

      Delete
  16. Your hard work is paying off beautifully, Linda! I love the idea of kids interviewing a family member about persistence and success. When I was in high school, I interviewed my grandmother about life during the Depression. It was quite an eye-opener for me. Forty years later, when I'm faced with an unpleasant task, I think of all she endured and get on with it! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love hearing about those stories, Catherine. It's of great value to all of us. Thanks!

      Delete

Having a conversation is a good thing!