Slice of Life #4 Beginning to think like a writer?
This is my 4th Slice of Life blog and I just might be getting in the groove! I found myself several times during the past week noticing things and thinking to myself: Maybe I’ll write about that!
I’m working with a reluctant reader. He’s a second grade boy and we had a heart to heart talk on Friday afternoon because he gets so anxious whenever I do anything that in the slightest way resembles an assessment. We had a whole conversation about why he automatically thinks of this as testing and how he hates testing and how he doesn’t want to do any more testing. As I reflected on our conversation I found myself thinking about how I might write about it. Would I just scribe the conversation? Would I co-opt his voice and write a letter to his dad? Would I approach it from the teacher’s perspective and write how I could reassure him I’m just checking in to see what he needs to learn next? Would a poem work?
Then, later, I was at the dentist and overheard a conversation coming from the exam room next door. It was the hygienist and a mom engaging the young patient about her day at school. She said, “Oh, you had art for your special today?” Then she asked her “What are you making?” And so I immediately remembered Katie Wood Ray’s book, About the Author, in which she talks about “making books.” I wondered if the mom remembered that the little girl had probably written today at school, and if she would use the same terminology about writing. “What are you making?” Maybe I’ll turn that in to a SOL, I thought. Maybe I could reflect on ways to nurture young writers. I honestly wonder if I would have even tuned in to the conversation a month ago.
Several times this past week as I finally finished my daily tasks and prepared to settle in to a good book (currently Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar) I actually paused before grabbing my book and getting comfortable and thought: Should I take a few moments and write something first? Would you believe I did write at least twice?!
I’m reading a lot of Ralph Fletcher these days. I just finished Joy Write (I highly recommend! It’s a quick read!), but now I’m in to Breathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook. He talks about becoming more aware and how the simple act of noticing provides ideas for writing. “Once you get in the habit of writing in your notebook you’ll find yourself paying closer attention to the world around you.”
So, a month in, on this 4th Slice of Life, I’m wondering if a bit of writing pixie dust has entered my brain. Am I becoming more observant? Am I considering my every day existence from the point of view of how I might write about it? In actual fact, it is Friday night as I write this, and my next SOL isn’t “due” for a few days! It may be a teeny tiny little step, but please forgive me if I’m feeling the slightest bit encouraged!
And here’s the aha you’ve been waiting for: if this is happening for me after only a month of writing weekly, how might it affect my students? If they have writing scheduled 3, 4, or 5 times a week, would they begin to think like writers too?