Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Slice of Life - Learning to Live With Your Eyes Wide Open

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers. For the month of March we are posting a slice each day on our blog. Join in! 

To get better in writing, students need to write. It seems like common sense, doesn’t it? I’ve been preaching the same concept to my students about reading for years – you grow as a reader when you read. And I knew this as a writer, but I think sometimes I forget.

Today during our mini-lesson for writing workshop, I shared a realization with my class. The Slice of Life Challenge is three days old, yet I am already starting to see the payoff in my writing. Where I’m often struggling to come up with a topic to write about lately, during this challenge – knowing I need to write each day – I see writing possibilities everywhere. Just today I noticed and wondered about:

Lack of reflection. When reading The Invisible Boy to my students, they were horrified at how the boy, Brian, was left out. Yet the same students turned around and left a classmate out. How do I teach them to be more self-aware?

Admiration. My colleague, Brad Garrett, has begun a chapter book series for kids combining his love of sports and history. We talked, briefly, today about his next steps. I admire the risks he has taken and the work he has put into this new endeavor.

Gratitude. I had a quick note and gift from Brenda Power at Choice Literacy. Anytime Brenda sends you something, she includes a handwritten note. I love her messages and the time she puts in to being thoughtful.

Former students. Recently I read Gary Paulsen’s How Angel Peterson Got His Name. As I read it, the face of a student from last year kept popping into my mind. I was certain he would love it. I sent it to him through our school mail the next day at school. Josh read it and loved it. His mom returned the book tonight with some cookies and a note from Josh. It made my evening.

Each of these moments could be a slice on their own. What I find remarkable is that they are moments that would just pass me by if I wasn’t looking for them. I cannot find the source, but I clearly remember this quote: writers don’t lead more interesting lives, they just live them with their eyes wide open.  This challenge proves that to me. Stories are everywhere, just waiting to be told, and for us to pick up the pencil and write them down. I hope my students see that as well.