Posts Tagged ‘language arts’

The Important Thing

December 20, 2016

First, a poem I wrote:

The important thing about silence is that it is quiet.
It comes in many shapes
And sizes
And moods
And it might frighten you
Or distance you from others
It might fold around you in comfort and protection.
It is a generous listener,
Or the house at night,
Or the almost-no-sound
Of a pencil scratching,
Or children breathing in their sleep,
Or the hum of the earth.
But the important thing about silence is that it is quiet.

Next, the back story.

Have any of you ever read The Important Book? It’s an incredibly charming book by Margaret Wise Brown (think: Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny). I shared it with my fourth graders a while back as part of a collaborative project with some colleagues.

Each page begins and ends with the sentence,
“The important thing about ________ is __________.”
We also noticed that the truly important things often were articulated in the remaining text, not in those sentences.

My students then created their own “Important Thing” poems and had a great time.

Today, wouldn’t you know it…the conversation led right back to that book. We were talking about Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, and how both words and silence seem to be important in different ways. Which gave me an idea.

We all took out our notebooks, and I wrote the following on the board:
“The important thing about silence is…”

Then we got cooking. I have nothing but admiration and awe for the words of my students. Their writing blew me away and made my day.

The important thing about students is that they amaze me.

(a poem, perhaps, for another day)

Resolution: Another Direction

January 6, 2015

Today, my fourth graders discussed the layers of conflict in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. Kids worked together to find evidence in the text for conflicts involving Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, and Man vs. Nature. (And yes, for the pedants out there, we did talk about how “Man” meant “People.” It’s all good, I promise.)

Kids gathered evidence to highlight conflicts that Brian, the main character, struggled with, and evidence demonstrating a resolution of those conflicts.

Which got me thinking.
(That’s when the fun REALLY begins.)

Here’s what I asked the kids. We have these three types of conflict. But what, exactly, does it take to RESOLVE those conflicts? To get past them, to work through them, to make things better?

The result was a brainstorming session and an incredibly insightful conversation. Here’s a picture of where our thinking went:

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b1e/6908709/files/2015/01/img_0178.jpg

It gave us a chance to wrestle with some pretty tough questions:
*Must we have an apology before we can offer forgiveness?
*How is conflict with ourselves like conflict with others?
*What does it take to bridge the gap between the vision we have for ourselves, and the reality we see in ourselves?

Pretty amazing stuff, if you ask me. It’s one more reason to get up in the mornings, and just one more way the kids I work with excite, teach and inspire me.