It’s Tuesday! Time for a Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Thanks to Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey, and Tara. You can find more slices here.
Life is interesting. I have these ideas, theories, plans. I paint this picture in my head, and then reality gets involved. At first glance today was disappointing. But then I thought about it.
Students are writing letters on Bring Your Own Device to school. They have changed their positions pro and con, back and forth. The more they know and the more they write, the more their ideas morph and grow beyond their initial response. It’s been hard to work through this thinking, this writing. They aren’t loving every minute of it. That’s the part that doesn’t fit the picture in my head. But I’m proud of their process, their writing and their opinions. They are thinking beyond themselves and that’s hard.
In our social issues reading unit we’ve been talking about power; who has it and why. Students have said people have power over others because of strength, money, will, leadership, race, kindness, love, bullying, laws, judges, intelligence. I find it so interesting they include kindness and love right alongside bullying and money. Not what I expected.
Today we got to the part in The One and Only Ivan where the news media has become aware of Ivan and Ruby’s situation. Ivan, the powerless and caged, has become a bit of a celebrity and my students can see the power is shifting towards him. I’m wondering if they are making the connection as to why it’s shifting. Do they see him as a disenfranchised letter writer, causing change. Do they see the power of the written word?
Put this all together with a side project, sort of an adjunct to our social issues work, an investigation of kindness. Groups developed questions using the Question Focus Technique. Each group choose their top three questions on the topic of kindness. Then they voted on questions they most wanted to investigate. Each class came up with three questions.
- Why should we be kind if someone isn’t kind to us?
- How can you be kind in difficult situations?
- How can you find kindness in your heart?
- Why do people bully?
- Does choosing kind make you a better person?
- Why aren’t people brave?
These questions say so much about what students see around them and why they don’t always choose kind. They point directly at why kindness is such a challenge. Kindness is easily overwhelmed.
Literature is an obvious place to find kindness; choosing to show us kind. Perhaps writing gives us space to find the kindness. To think before we react to what seems to be an assault on our person. To give kind, to find justice.
This student’s writing was a surprise. I didn’t expect it. On Friday he was opposed to BYOD. Today he wrote this:
it isn’t fair that just 5th graders have iPads. All grades should be blogging. That’s why I believe we should be able to bring our own devices to school.
In the picture in my head I see students coming to understand the need for social justice. They’d speak out on the behalf of the weak, reach out and be kind even when others aren’t kind to them.
Students can be selfish. They get their feelings hurt and strike back. But then they reflect and come up with some startling ideas that make me realize there’s a lot more underneath.