#SOL15: Day 18, Can you see yourself?

Yesterday we read my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss story:

2Q==-1I’ve loved this story since I was little. I remember my momma reading this collection to me.

I read it to my children.

Yesterday,  I read it to my students.

It was like coming home. I felt the words in my heart and soul.

I chose this title as a part of my week-long can-you-see-yourself in characters series. Terje’s comment on yesterday’s post inspired and “stretched” my ideas.

#SOL15  Day 17, Seeing the Character in Us   To Read To Write To Be

With Terje in my head, I asked students if you were a character in this book, who would you be?  The Star-bellied or the Plain-bellied Sneetch.

They listened, talked and wrote in their notebooks.

As I sent them off to read, I invited them to look for characters in their club books that they would choose to be. At the end of reader’s workshop, I collected their thoughts.

Some wrote on The Sneetches.

2015-03-17 21.00.23

Both of these students reflected on the themes in this story and connected it to their personal journeys.

…I tried to fit in, then I started to be myself and I got lots of friends.

…I thought to myself at the end of the book that we all are the same and we can treat each other kind.

 

2015-03-17 21.03.20

These students attempted to see themselves in their club books. The first jot is from the graphic novel, Amulet.

I think I would be the robot Cogsley because I like to help and he is the assistant and makes everything is order. Or maybe I would be Navin because he also helps but he is brave and is always there for his sister.

The next is from a reader of Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere.

I will see myself as Armani because I got to take responsibility for by two little sisters still.

This same reader adds her thinking on the Sneetches:

It looks like the slaves…because plain Sneetcehs = slaves. Star sneetches = white people.

Amazing the power of one little prompt. Amazing where one little comment can go.

Thank you, Terje and all who offer feedback and support for my classroom learning.

Today’s read aloud is Mem Fox’s Feathers and Fools.

search

 

My question: If you were in this story, what would people see you doing, feeling, saying. What kind of a character would you be?

Thank you, Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here. 11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

#SOL15: Day 17, Seeing the Character in Us

I started read aloud, asking students if books took them places. Most students nodded. Then I added, “In books I love, I see myself in the character. I feel like they do. It’s like holding up a mirror, seeing a bit of me in them. Have you ever had this happen to you?”

One or two students nodded, but the majority looked at me like I was crazy. Even my most perceptive readers looked confused.

Then I dug around, giving them some examples from our past read alouds. Saying, “have any of you felt like …”

I was losing them, so I dropped it and pulled out Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose.

2015-03-16 18.10.50

In this story, Kid feels it’s his right and duty to crush Ant, but Ant begs Kid to see the world through his eyes.

I ask students, do you see bits of yourself on this page? Have  you ever felt this way? At first they identify with Kid.

Then Kid says, how can you feel anything you’re so small. Ant replies,

2015-03-16 18.11.21

I ask, “have you ever felt so small and asked this same question?”

“Yes! With my parents!”

Bingo. A shift from Kid to Ant. For a moment, they see themselves in this character. Ant is them.

We consider:

2015-03-16 18.11.58

Students have strong beliefs. “Ant should live! He has a family. They should become friends!”

I’ve spent the year reading books that revolve around kindness. Students could see it in the story. They know who’s the bully, and they don’t like him. But, then they’d go to the playground and call another student “Auggie.”

How could they not see they were being the bully they hated in the story? I hadn’t considered they didn’t see themselves in characters.

This week we will be practicing finding ourselves in picture books characters. Today students had a tiny aha. I had a big aha. Maybe more will be found if we just clean our lenses and look for it.

Thank you, Anna, Beth, Betsy, Dana, Stacey and Tara of Two Writing Teachers blog for hosting the Slice of Life March Story Challenge. Read other bloggers slices here. 11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

Slice of Life: Looking for Kindness

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.
11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

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.

  1. Why should we be kind if someone isn’t kind to us?
  2. How can you be kind in difficult situations?
  3. How can you find kindness in your heart?
  4. Why do people bully?
  5. Does choosing kind make you a better person?
  6. 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.

imgres