Six Word Slice of Life: Kids, Dancing

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: Yesterday was our annual Sixth Grade Quidditch Tournament at my school. My class (they chose Tsunami as their name) came close to winning, but not close enough. Still, they had a blast, playing our version of Quidditch all day long in our gym before the rest of the school and visiting families. At night, the teachers’ team — Pink Fury — took on sixth graders in a fun match, and I will be feeling the effects of that event for a few days, I am sure. My six words are not about the tournament itself, which I have written about in the past, but about what happens in-between the games. The DJ (DJ Fred: mailman by day, DJ by night) kicks up the jams, and a horde of students rush to the gym floor to dance together. It’s quite a sight to see hundreds of elementary students — from young kids to older kids to adults — doing line-dancing and other popular moves in sync, all with smiles and laughing and joyfulness. I wish I had a picture of all that but it is clear in my mind — this ocean of young dancers.

Six Word Slice of Life Dancing

Peace (dancing it),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Peaceful Silence

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: This is the time of year when the work we did around routines earlier in the year can begin to pay off. Sometimes. We’re into an independent reading unit, and I try to stay true to the need to carve out about 15 to 20 minutes of each class for quiet reading. The kids sprawl out around the room, and after getting settled, they are almost all quiet, immersed, engaged in their novels. I love that silence.

Six Word Slice of Life Silent Reading

One of my students saw a video from last year, when we did our Mannequin Challenge of frozen readers, and he asked if we could do one this year. So, yes, of course we did. It was a ton of fun.

Peace (on the pages),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Fragile Students

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: Actually, I don’t want to give much context today, to protect the privacy of my students. I just want to say that the inner lives of our students are complex and confusing at times for them, and their grappling with difficulties and stress and anxiety and friendships can suddenly surface in unexpected ways. Helping our students through that, as best as they can, is part of what makes teaching both challenging and rewarding.

Six Word Slice of Life Fragility

Peace (inside, too),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Protest

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: Today is the National Student Walk-Out Day, and although our elementary school is not officially part of the student-led protest against gun violence and in favor of more gun control, my heart is with students everywhere. My sons (13 and 17) will likely take part in walk-outs planned at their two schools. Students in the middle and high school in my district — my former students — will be involved in protest and activities. Will any of my current sixth graders want to walk out today? Or have 17 minutes of silence? Not one has mentioned doing so to me and our administration has not pushed the issue, due to the thorny debates and age of our students, and snow days and other things have disrupted our schedule. We’ll see. My thoughts will be with all students, everywhere, today, that they can make the change the adults are afraid to make.

Six Word Slice of Life Protest

Peace (bringing the possibility),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Visiting Teachers

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: Yesterday, two seventh English teachers from the middle school came down to visit our sixth grade classroom. They have been making the rounds to all five of our regional elementary schools, to peek at what kinds of writing and learning are going on. We were able to chat for about 30 minutes about a range of topics, including finding a shared sixth grade novel that could become a touchstone text for discussions when all sixth graders arrive together in seventh grade (but different from a summer reading book). It was a nice visit, very positive, and my students were just starting an Interactive Fiction project, so they were excited and energized and happy to talk with our visitors about what they were up to with writing. We don’t do enough of these kinds of visiting classrooms in our district, and almost never do we do seventh grade teachers coming into sixth grade classrooms (and vice versa). So, this was a welcome endeavor.

Six Word Slice of Life Visitors

Peace (visits us),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Play Quidditch Plays

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: If you have been hanging out with me for many March SOLs behind us, you know that this time of year, our sixth grade shifts into Quidditch Season. Yes, we play our version of Quidditch — this is the 19th year of it. This version of the game was first developed by students, and then we have adapted it over the years. I try to incorporate different writing activities into our class as part of these activities (which culminate in a day-long Quidditch Tournament between the four sixth grade classrooms). One of the expository writing pieces I have them do is to design a Quidditch play and then write an explanation of how to play the play. This connects to our work with informational text, of using images as a text, and Quidditch itself.

Six Word Slice of Life Quidditch Plays

Want a closer look at some of the plays?

Quidditch Play Collage 2018

Want to learn how we play our version of Quidditch? (It’s very different from the college-level game)

Peace (on and off the court),
Kevin

 

Six Word Slice of Life: Story Branches

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: We began our unit this week on Interactive Fiction, stories where there are “branches” or choices to be made, and every decision sends you on another path. A few kids have read these stories, and some immediately connect to the narrative arcs of video games, but for others, this is a whole new way of thinking of reading, and then writing, a story. So, I begin with read-aloud, and as a class, we make choices on the flow of a story — this one is called The Green Slime. On the board, I map out the choices we make, showing in visual fashion the various “branches” of the story. Four classes, one book, four very different maps.

Six Word Slice of Life Branches

Peace (branches for support),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Questions (on the bus line)

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: It’s an unscheduled early dismissal day because of the impending snow. The students are all waiting in line, ready to depart to the bus loop, with the understanding of knowing we went just long enough not to have to make up the day in June. Winter has already taken its toll, and our school district is threading the needle on this Nor’easter storm and its strange timing. A question works its way down the line: What’s the first thing you will do when you get home today? Food, play, sleep, read are common answers. Me, too.

Six Word Slice of Life Waiting

Peace (waiting it out),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Keyboard Symphony

(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)

Context: We’re winding down an essay project on inventions. The other day, as every student in my entire class was working hard at moving from rough draft to final draft on the laptops, I noticed the sound of fingers on keys, clicking. When it’s just you, alone, you may notice the sound of your own starts and stops. When it’s a classroom of 20 sixth graders, the rhythm of writing takes hold in interesting ways, as a sort of collective writing symphony.

Six Word SOL Symphony

Peace (make writing into music),
Kevin

Slice of Life: I’m Tall(er)

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays — and some do every day in March for the Slice of Life Challenge — about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

It was the end of the day, yesterday, the first day back after February break. All the kids were looking tired. I felt it. We were waiting by the door for the bus kids to be called. Walkers and pick-ups had already gone.

“I feel tall,” she said, looking at me. “As if I grew over the weekend. I think I did. I think I got taller over the weekend.”

“Can you dunk?”

“What?”

“Can you dunk at the hoop? How about the ceiling? Can you touch the ceiling yet? I bet you’re tall enough for that.”

She smiled, and shook her head at my absurd reaction.

“Mr. H.”

“Try on your tippy toes!”

“Mr. H!”

Her voice contained exaggerated exasperation, the result of our light-hearted give and take that has been going on since September at the end of most days, waiting for the bus announcement, as if Godot might be arriving at any moment. Beckett would have approved of the absurdity of most of our end-of-day conversations.

Then.

“Really, though, everything looks … different … and I think it’s because I’m taller.”

I nodded, now in serious agreement. She did seem taller, if only in perspective. The speaker announced the busses, and she certainly walked a lot quicker than I remember.

Peace (in the look),
Kevin