Slice of Life: The Ending

“Only one more day of real school,” S said.

I heard it but didn’t process it.

“Real school”  a.k.a., instruction.

He’s right. Tomorrow is my last day of teaching this group of kids. After tomorrow, it’s done.

I knew this. Had planned for it. But still, that’s it?

So today we learn.

Eight students were prepared to read their memoirs to the entire class.

Before presenting, we talked about the qualities of good speaking. The rubric for speaking, PVLEGS, developed by Erik Palmer was easy for fifth graders to grasp. I asked each person to choose one lens to look through while they watched the video. We’d watched this before looking for the structure of a memoir. Today, we were watching for his craft in presenting. Both the message and his presentation are powerful.

The big take away in terms of speaking was his use of gestures. With that tip in mind, the eight students who were sharing went off with groups of students they had selected to coach and critique their work.

Each group was focused on the one brave speaker and their work, looking for the characteristics of good speaking and suggesting ways to revise content.

You’ve said model too many times can you think of another word?

You need to start a little before this happened, like three months ago…

Maybe you could use your hands like this…

After three rounds of practice, students were ready. The speakers sat in their seats while the rest of the class waited on the carpet.  As each speaker came to the front, their group became their cheerleaders. Those who coached and critiqued had ownership in the memoir and the speaker. Students rooted their writer on, providing much-needed confidence for these soon to be six graders.

Each memoir was touching and structured with story and reflection. The most hesitant student presented a memoir about her reluctance as a writer that mirrored her reluctance to work at anything difficult. Another spoke of her realization that she’s a perfectionist; that’s an impossible bar she needs to put aside to grow. Another spoke of illness he’d faced, and the support of his classmates that has helped him recover.

Each piece was clearly them. They spoke to what mattered, and they did it publically.

Listening to this work, I was proud of their writing skills, the meaning of their work, and their bravery in standing up and exposing themselves when it was easier to sit down. Mostly, what I’m proud of is the place they created that allowed students to share their work with support and understanding.

One student ended his memoir with this, “It seems like the end but, I thnk we’re really at the beginning.”

I have to agree. They’re ready to end so they can begin again.

Thanks to Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara Two Writing Teachers blog for Slice of Life  Tuesdays. Read more slices here.