I just finished listening to The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. I am not a huge fan of audiobooks but they sure make it easy to enjoy a great book while also working out. As I listen to the story I had to pause at some of the profound lines and beautiful story. This morning as the story wrapped up I was struck by one line in particular and I wrote it down in another novel as it was the only paper I had available (I could have used my arms like other people I know but opted for the book).
“I hand it over like a present I’ve had gift wrapped” is the line as the central character describes sharing her poetry. The line struck me one because of the beautiful image it creates but also because of the thoughts it brought me to regarding my own students.
This year I have shifted away from so much technology. I want my students writing pencil to paper, the smudge of erasers as we try to craft our best work. I want my students to see their final products as a gift they are presenting to the world. We are utilizing quick writes a lot and exploring different ideas to write on. The effort put in through multiple drafts, the shared experience of conferencing and feedback all culminating in these beautiful gifts of words.
The other day Pernille Ripp posted a response to a question that was grammatically incorrect. I students shared their true thoughts and an adult onlooker decided to inform Pernille through a comment on the post that it was grammatically incorrect. When we look at these gifts that our students hand to us and instead of seeing the beauty we look for the flaws what is the message we are sending?
“Your gift is not enough”
“This is not what I wanted”
Like macaroni art on the fridge, I want to celebrate my students writing. I want to take these gifts and present them to the world because a gift is not given to be dissected a gift is given to be celebrated. Take these moments to do that. There are mini-lessons to address the gaps, don’t make students think their work unworthy of giving.
With that in mind, this is a beautiful piece written by one of my striving 8th graders,
When i went to the bookstore
When I go to the bookstore I like to take my time to look at all the book on shelves all neatly in a line I like to see all the radiant colours make the stories come to life. I can feel all the characters emotions around me. To sense all the stories calling me, telling me to read their stories so I do as if I’m in a race I go faster and faster stroking each page until there are none to stroke as I get closer and closer to the end it gets harder and harder to keep a consistent speed. When I finish the book I am exceedingly annoyed with the end so I start imagining what it would be like with a more exhilarating ending.When I finally leave it is like it was all a dream the most wonderful dream I could imagine.