Slice of Life: This Is How The School Year Ends

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

In the short but provocative novel Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher, the classroom of sixth graders has a tradition that they enact whenever someone is set to leave the class during the school year (either by moving or some other event). They conduct a Rock Ritual. The way it works is that the student who is leaving chooses a mineral or stone from a class collection, and then each classmates passes the rock around the circle, telling stories of the student who is leaving. That student takes the rock with them, with the idea that the rock has collected the words, stories and memories.

When we read Flying Solo in the middle of the year, my class of sixth graders all asked if we could do our own version of the Rock Ritual at the end of this crazy Covid year. I said yes, of course, and this morning, on our last day together, we will gather in the classroom to have our ritual (using Ring Pops instead of rocks).

Yesterday, we spent part of our morning with a sheet of all of their names, writing down ideas for the stories we would tell.  (Frequent Question: Can we write about ourselves? Answer: Of course). You should have heard the noise and laughter, and sharing, even though I suggested we wait until today’s actual Ritual to share (this is a rather boisterous and louder-than-usual class of sixth graders that is relentless in its socializing).

I’ll have to circle around another day to really reflect on this year of teaching and learning in the Pandemic, and all that I have learned and wished I had learned, and everything else. For now, I will settle into a final act of Community in the Classroom, as we tell stories of our time together in a year like no other.

Peace (and tradition),

  1. I love this idea! I have been looking for a way to close out the year. I am going to borrow it! Thank you!

  2. Oh I love this! I love rituals that have meaning. I hope the day is full of stories and community after a year of social distancing and learning behind masks and plastic barriers. I agree there is much to reflect upon and eventually share. I am wishing you the best last day and a wonderful summer!

  3. Sharing the stories brings a beautiful closure. I hope you will have the summer for resting, reflecting and creating or anything else you need for now.

  4. It’s pretty cool that the kids were keen to borrow this idea from something they read together. Beyond enacting a new ritual it also makes the connection between reading and action a delightfully clear one for them. Congrats on bringing yourself & your relentlessly social 6th graders through an exceptional year. They won’t forget you any time soon. Welcome to summer!

  5. I adore the way you took something from Flying Solo and made it your own. Your kids love it (for good reason)! Oh, the stories they can tell about their time in sixth grade. 🙂

  6. It is the best when kids are inspired by books and community! Congratulations on making a difference to them.

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