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: Coming Home

(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: Even when everything goes according to schedule — the taxi ride is quick, the security line is manageable, the flight isn’t delayed — the coming home always feels long. I spent the first part of yesterday in “travel mode,” making my way home from our National Writing Project work in Washington DC. The travel seemed endless, even though I was home, walking the dog, returning books to the library, reading the Sunday newspapers and driving a kid to baseball practice by mid-afternoon. Back in the flow …

Six Word Slice of Life Home

Peace (travels far and wide),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Spring for Summer

(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.)

To be honest, officially it’s still winter, right? But it’s Mid-March. That’s what should be Spring in my mind. Ignore the snow. Yesterday, I spent the day in DC, collaborative thinking about a summer project to connect teachers, writing projects, and National Park sites together, and July seemed very far away. I know it’s not. (Not many signs of Cherry Blossoms here in DC yet … )

Six Word Slice of Life Planning

Peace (thinking ahead),
Kevin

 

Six Word Slice of Life: Power of the Press

(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: I’ve visited Washington DC any number of times and each time, I think: Next time, I am going to visit the Newseum, the museum (not part of the Smithsonian) that centers on the news media. As a former journalist and always a news junkie, it would seem like a given. But until yesterday, I never had the opportunity, and boy, am I glad I took the opportunity to get in a visit. The exhibits in the Newseum remind you of the power of the freedom of the press — through all its many rocky terrains — as a bedrock of our country, no matter what our president seems to think and to say about it. The exhibits showed the power of story, in all of its forms — photos, writing, design, video, etc. I nearly cried in the 9/11 room. I was quiet in the Pulitzer Prize Photo exhibit. I gazed in wonder at the headlines of newspapers for the day from all corners of the world on display. And I laughed in the Late Night Talk Show room. The history of the news is as search for some semblance of truth to guide us all. We all know, too, that this is a work in progress.

Six Word Slice of Life Press Matters

Peace (and stories),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Talking and Listening

(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: As I mentioned in my Slice of Life yesterday, I am here in Washington DC, with a large group of National Writing Project teachers, lobbying our members of Congress to support educational funding for professional development for teachers. The president has decimated that funding in his budget but the recently passed funding deal might have a little more leeway for increases. We in the writing project network hope to be able to tap and leverage federal funds for our work. My Massachusetts contingent visited the offices of four Representatives (Kennedy, Neal and McGovern) and two Senators (Warren and Markey), telling our stories as teachers in the classroom. To be honest, these were sympathetic ears, already supportive of education. But telling our stories of our work, and the stories of our students, to those in power is still important. I think we’ve all learned, you can’t rest on your laurels these days.

Six Word Slice of Life Talking and Listening

Peace (in the halls of power),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: NWP in DC

(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: My wife and I headed to the airport after school, and flew together to Washington DC for the Spring Meeting of the National Writing Project. This gathering is about advocacy — the NWP’s funding has been cut by the Trump administration — as well as developing and supporting programs. I am involved in a new project stemming from a partnership between NWP and the National Park Service. However, with both my wife and I gone, we have been stressed and worried about the kids at home, enlisting family member and neighbors to help us. It will all be fine, and the two boys at home are old enough that this is not a problem. The problem is us. We leave home but never really leave home, if you know what I mean.

Six Word Slice of Life NWP

Peace (in distance),
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: Story Well

(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: Do you know Hello, Universe by Erin Estrada Kelly? I was deep into the story yesterday, and I won’t give much away, other than the hint of my six words.

It’s a great story (it just won the Newbery Award), told from many perspectives and full of insights into the colliding worlds of children.

Six Word Slice of Life Well Story

Peace (in connections),
Kevin

Six Word Slice of Life: Chords

(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: I’ll often pick up my guitar and just play whatever gets played, with no plans at all. It’s not practice. It’s just playing. These moments are often where new songs come from. A chord progression, a small melodic lick, or just random humming might suggest a song. Yesterday, I hit an accidental chord … and was intrigued. But no amount of tinkering could bring an odd kernel of an idea I had into visibility. The chord never really struck again. I’ll go back today and see if a song surfaces.

Six Word Slice of Life Chords

Peace (sounds good),
Kevin