The work week is halfway over and it has been a good one. The Read Across America activities have been so much fun...for students and staff. Today was Wacky Tacky Wednesday with lots of crazy hairstyles...kind of looked like Whoville in the halls. But what I've enjoyed the most has been the student response to the writing activities.
As I said before, I decided to use quotes by Dr. Seuss as writing prompts this week. At first the students were not quite sure how to respond....asking questions like "what am I supposed to say"...and "are we supposed to write about why Dr. Seuss said this?" I finally told them to just read the quote, sit still and let the words just swirl around in their brains for a few minutes....then pick up their pencils and write. And then there was magic....at least for some.
A good many were stuck with the obvious meanings found within the quotes and approached their written response in a formulaic way. But the others....the time the words spent swirling around in their grey matter served to knock loose moments in time...memories which reflected a deeper more philosophical approach to the words of Seuss. And even more amazing to me were the students who responded in that manner....one in particular.
Lionel* has been in and out of our school since Kindergarten....attending for 4-5 months then moving into another school zone...another city...another district for a while before bouncing back to us. He has always had difficulty with learning no doubt intensified by the constant movement between schools. Now in the 6th grade, Lionel is generally content to sit back and coast through his classes not caring whether he passes or fails. There is usually no expression on his face other than one of boredom....such was the case this week at least at first.
The first prompt was "Don't cry because its over. Smile because it happened." Lionel sat for at least half the allotted writing time staring at the ceiling. He glanced over at me. I smiled at him. He looked away, picked up his pencil and began to write. The last time he'd written to a prompt all he wrote was "I dont wanna rite." So I was a bit curious as to what he'd taken half a page to say. Because I move from class to class, grade level to grade level, I didn't have time to read all the papers until later in the afternoon.
When I got to Lionel's half page of scribbled nearly indecipherable words I was stunned. This silent morose visaged student had shared a moment from his life....a painful, personal recollection of a moment of time spent with his father. When I read his words, ..."I felt one tear slide out of my eye and run down my face...." I put my head down and wept.....my tears for the boy whose life was far from easy....for the memory he had shared.....and for the gift of his written word.
Today when I asked Lionel for his permission to enter his writing on our school blog, he looked at me in surprise. Then one side of his mouth curled up in a half grin as he said, "yeah that'd be okay."
Its moments like that one that keep me doing what I do.
*not his real name