Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday topic is Summer Slide. Today I’m celebrating a week of writing. Perhaps if we had more weeks like this one, the summer slide would lessen.
In the past, the words celebrate and writing would have meant the end of a piece.
This week students shared their independent writing projects. This unconstrained writing makes everyone happy. Or as Ralph Fletcher might say joyous. Students could choose any style, any topic. The only constraint was that they let me know what they were writing. Friday was the deadline. The day I told them it was “due.” All but two were still deep into writing. So the due date turned into a share.
Students found others; partnerships and writing groups were formed. I pushed in as to how they might share, but they already had plans. One group looked at me, a bit guiltily when I suggested they share electronically. They already had. This group of girls was collaborating long before I had suggested it. I was not needed. I walked away, trying to stay unnoticed as I passed other groups.
Aleta* and Jayson* sat side by side practicing the stories they would read aloud to the group.
Jasmine* looked up at Anna* saying, “that is the sweetest story!” At this point, it was between these two writers. I had no place in it.
Before we knew it, as that always is when things are going well, time was up. We had just enough time to listen to two writers who wanted to share with the whole group.
Aleta* was first. She read her fantasy with confidence. She’d shared it on the blog, so we all were familiar with the story. But, reading it aloud gave it a different pacing and power. The story of at sick little girl who had slipped into a fantasy world at the hospital ended with this, “That same day she left with no note nor butterfly or no wolf to howl just a little magic and a last breath.” I know this kiddo will be writing this summer. This is just one of the many narratives she has in her Google drive. Every moment I let her loose on that device, she is writing. Something.
Next was Jayson*. He had finished his superhero picture book days before the due date. He had practiced reading it at home. Now he stood before the group. Shaky. I sat in the back. But something was happening in the front row and Jayson started to tear up. Someone had commented. Unkindly. As I moved toward the front, as William* began to stand and defend Jay, everyone felt it. They saw Jay and his bravery. They focused and let Jay stop and pull himself together. He got stronger and read on. Through the lunch bell. At the end, students cheered. I wanted to hug him, but I just gave him a high five.
There are times in your classroom when kids reach to places you never think they would go. Times when you are so proud to be there. Times that tell you in your heart, this is why I teach.
This week I celebrated our work in progress. We aren’t done yet. All are still in the midst of writing. Perhaps that is one way to approach summer. In the midst.