Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Slice2012 6 of 31: What to write about...

 I'll be honest and tell you that I was having a hard time thinking about what I wanted to write about today. My mind has wandered from topics like the stress relief that comes from getting my hair colored to posting about a newer book by Kevin Henkes,  Penny and Her Song (which Cathy posted about here) to the frustration I am having raising a soon to be teenager.  But I didn't feel passionate enough or want to think through my ideas further with these topics.  So, I am not posting about these.

I really just wanted to post something fast and be done.  And then I realized how kids have days where they feel the same.  They are distracted by something happening in their lives, by an event that is imminent, or they just don't feel it for the day.  I noticed this happening to one of my own students today.  This student has made 2 How-To-Books (how to draw a tree and how to draw something else but I can't remember right now) and was challenging himself use a mentor (If you were a Penguin) that we have been studying to help him write about something he knows about and loves: his Cat.  He shared his idea with me last week and had two pages written but today was stuck with what he wanted to say next.  I was meeting with 3 other writers so we didn't talk.  I did notice he went back to his old books and added background and then added detailed pictures to the ideas he started in his "If you were a cat book." He didn't write words today.  He made about decisions for his pictures and created a beautiful scene for his page "If you were a cat, you could sit outside and feel the breeze." I've tried to teach my students to honor their pictures and be thoughtful with how they create them to match their text. He did just that today. Other observers might think he just colored but I know that he was thinking and writing.

I asked him to share what he had been working on and the other students immediately wanted to give him feedback about his illustrations.  Someone asked about what he was thinking he might write next and he said he didn't know.  So, we all turned into a cat for a moment helped him think.  He called on some students to hear what they could do if they were a cat. He began to smile.  "My cat does that!" And I know he would be filled with some ideas for tomorrow.  Hopefully, so will I.




7 comments:

mary b. said...

Well done! Thank you for your observations and well-written reflections. (My copy of Penny & Her Song is set to arrive Thursday! Can"t wait.)

MaryHelen said...

Writer's block happens to me every year I do SOLC. I'm glad you are relating to your students and growing in this way. Penny Kittle says to keep writing and eventually the thoughts flow. Your thoughts flowed well in this piece.

Julie said...

Katie,
I've been sharing my own struggles with my students as I do SOLSC. Since my third graders are also participating, we have started each morning this week talking about how "slicing" is going. I want them to know that I struggle with finding what to write about too. I always love how you can connect what is happening in real life to that of your students. Beautifully written!

Cathy said...

Katie,
Oh my goodness! I'm having the same challenges each day. I started writing about memories. Then I found a few snippets from my notebook (which I actually kept once upon a time). Then I tried to just find the writing, but it wasn't calling to me. I'll keep looking tomorrow. I have a new appreciation for the work my young writers have been doing for 120 days of school!

Cathy

josie said...

I too have had this happen - I sound just like the kids - I don't know what to write about... of course I sound like them, I am finally joining them in the process of writing every day. This is such a powerful challenge. It reminds us that not only do our kids need to see us as the enthusiastic readers we are, but they need to know that we too struggle sometimes with writing, but we keep going... just as they do, with the help of a strong community.

Jen said...

Katie - I just love it that you honor his work as a writer and don't let what others think get to you. I feel like so often we don't trust kids or give them the space they need to do that "mucking aroung a bit" as I call it! The beautiful thing though is that you gave him space and honored the work he did today, but also with questioning and prompting allowed him to find a vision for future work. AND that's in FIRST GRADE - you are amazing!!!

Karen said...

Doing this challenge has been a humbling experience for me. Every day I wonder what will show up on my blog the next day. I have such empathy for the writers in my classes each day.