Friday, March 13, 2015

The One With a Bigger Story #sol15

Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. Every March, the Slice of Life Challenge is a month-long experience where Slicers post every single day for the entire month. I'm joining in on the monthly challenge this year! For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.

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Yesterday I had two great experiences with student readers and writers! First, I was invited to be the Mystery Reader in Peanut's 2nd grade classroom where I read Kate Messner's How To Read a Story and then I shared some of my Slice posts and talked about writing with Mrs. Heise's 7th graders up in Milwaukee.

I've shared my background and how being Hispanic and white impacts who I am, how I see the world, and how others might treat me. I've also shared how this is something new I've been really delving into and exploring but that it feels right to share my thoughts and to offer my story up to others.

When I introduced myself to Peanut's class today, I explained that I'm a teacher, I used to work with students who are Deaf and hard of hearing, and I know sign language. After reading the story, I told them a little about my mom being from Guatemala and that I could also speak Spanish. Most of the little faces sitting on the carpet grinned back at me when I started speaking in Spanish. One excitedly asked if my book might be written in Spanish and English. I would love to do that! But most importantly, I saw how his face changed when I started speaking in Spanish and the eagerness spread when I shared my book might be in Spanish. Here's an example of why I'm telling my story - because students like Peanut and his classmates want to see themselves in a book and want books that celebrate who they are. 
How To Read a Story by Kate Messner will be published on May 5th! This is a book every teacher is going to want to share with students. It's perfect and I'm sure it's going to be loved by teachers and students alike. Today, I started by asking the students to think about what they love when someone reads to them and what they don't love. I labelled each column using an image (Thanks to The Doodle Revolution for helping me recognize when I can use visual literacy!) - one had a red heart and the other had a red heart with a big "no" circle with a line through it. Students shared what they love when someone reads to them and we came up with a great list like:
  • using voices for different characters
  • being excited when you read
  • reading a book that is interesting to you
They also knew it was very important to read not to fast or not too slow! As we read, we compared our ideas to the book and stopped to think about the book. I can see how this would be a great activity for a Family Literacy Night - students could snuggle up and read with parents and, share their favorite books to read together/aloud, and write their own how-to for reading aloud.

I have to commend Peanut's teacher for inviting parents in to be Mystery Readers. As a parent, it's fun to feel special but also to be recognized as a role model. It's no secret that I love to read, but it's great for students to see a variety of readers and to have that shared experience with them. I know it's a moment that I will never forget and that I'm already excited to look back upon with Peanut.
Since I took a personal day to be able to read a Peanut's school, I thought it was also a perfect opportunity to visit Jilian Heise who teachers 7th and 8th grade English in Milwaukee. Thankfully, the snow hasn't made an appearance lately and it was a quick trip. Jilian showed her recent Slice to her students and then I shared some of my posts and how I'm playing with poetry-like ideas to emphasize important ideas in my Slices.

I shared my frustration with bubbles and feeling so torn when needing to choose only one ethnicity. 

You know what I could see in their faces? 

Thinking. I could see that they were thinking. 

You know how you can tell when a student is half paying attention versus 
when he or she is 
really paying attention, 
really making connections, 
really processing information?

It seemed like some of them identified with my frustration because they experience it themselves and others were imagining what it might feel like. The coolest part was when some of them chose to write about a similar topic after hearing me share my ideas. Being an inspiration to someone else is a huge compliment that makes my heart soar.
Making the decision to Slice this month is one I will never forget or regret. I've already learned so much about myself in thirteen lucky days but today, talking to 2nd graders and 7th graders helped me see that it really is important to share my experiences. My story is part of a bigger story. And if my story might impact at least one other person, that's worth it. Because what if that person can tell his story and impact another person? 

To read my previous Slice of Life posts, click on any link below:

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