I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.
My 6th graders are reading, writing, and even walking around the theme topics Social Responsibility and Leaving a Legacy this fall. I say "walking" because they participated in #ReadWalkWater on November 7th, helping to raise money for Water for South Sudan. I did something a little different for a read aloud during this unit; I chose the play adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. I've written about what this play means to me in a post last summer. We chose three different casts to read parts throughout the play. There were all kinds of reactions: giggling at some uncomfortable "coming of age" parts and romantic scenes with Peter, outrage at Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan's actions, sadness at the end. The end gets me every time. It's just so heartbreaking when Mr. Frank says, "She puts me to shame" after her line, "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart."
This time, as we read it through, I thought more about the legacy that Anne left through her writing. We wouldn't have known anything about the two years those 8 people spent in hiding if it hadn't been for Anne writing in her diary. She wanted to be a writer, and she has left an indelible mark on the world, even in her few short years on Earth, through her words and indomitable spirit.
I think about the Slice of Life Challenge last March when I wrote small stories of my childhood every day, and how relieved my mom said she felt that those memories were being preserved through writing them down. Every day I looked forward to recording those stories, exploring my place in the world.
I come from a family of letter-writers. My mom has been so great about keeping letters over the years. Her gift for my college graduation and my daughters' high school graduations have been albums of letters we wrote to her and Dad. I leafed through a bundled stack of letters tonight she recently passed down to me that she wrote during my first year of life to her parents. I also have an album of letters from my grandmother that I wrote to her and my grandfather throughout my childhood, and my 40th birthday present from my mom is a scrapbook of letters written to me filled with words of wisdom from her friends. All these letters have stories of lives in them.
I hope I can impress upon my students that writing your life down means something. It can help you make sense of the world and your place in it. Writing their weekly Slices of Life is not just an assignment. They're recording their one and only wild and precious lives. They're leaving their legacies.