Reading, Teaching, Learning

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Slices of Life - Leaving a Legacy Through Writing

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.

10 comments:

  1. What a gift to have those letters. I worry that going digital will not preserve our writing the way letter writing has. I still have all the letters my husband wrote to me when we were dating. I think. I'm not sure where they are. I am feeling compelled to go find them. I share your hope that SOL will mean something more to our students, more than just a writing assignment. I got a new student yesterday, so I asked my other students to tell him about blogging and SOL. It was good to hear it from their voices. One said that not only is it an assignment, but it's a way for us to connect to others. I am encouraged that they do see the importance and significance.

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    1. The digital communication piece is worrisome. At least there are blogs to preserve a lot of our writing; I know I wouldn't be writing as much if it weren't for this blog. Technology definitely has its advantages and disadvantages. That's wonderful that you were able to hear positive feedback about your students' SOL writing! What a lucky student to get placed in your class! :-)

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  2. Holly, this is beautiful! I am thinking of my Grandmother as I write this. After she passed, we were in her bedroom at my Mom and Dad's cleaning things out. She had notebooks and binders of ideas and writings. (I Knew I Took After Her!) Looking at those was my favorite part, and inspired me to journal more and keep the journals, even if they seem irrelevant. Thanks for reminding me that my writing will belong to my family someday. What a great way to start a Tuesday.

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    1. Kendra,
      What a treasure you have in those notebooks and binders!!

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  3. Holly, those gifts of letters gave me goosebumps. I've saved quite a few letters my mom has written to me, and my summer project will be preserving all my Slices for Maddie and Katie to read when they're older. What a precious gift. Thanks for sharing - I love this Slice.

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    1. Dana,
      Will you put your Slices in a scrapbook? I've wondered if I should print mine off and put them in a folder or something just in case something would happen to Blogger!

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  4. Holly, on Giving Tuesday you gave us the gift of stories in the form of letters, a lost art. How precious your albums must be and how cherished the memories. I always smile when I find old cards with sayings. Those are the keepsakes that preserve our life stories and special moments.

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  5. I do hope that letter writing survives...your mother's gift is a precious one - all those letters are tracks of your life, really.

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  6. Those letters...priceless! I too, am from a family that doesn't throw out letters. My dad has some amazing ones from his mom, when he was in Germany during WW2. Thank you for the Ann Frank quotes, such an amazing book!

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  7. I don't have many letters, but some that are precious from grandparents who were avid letter writers, and letters between my parents in their early marriage. (My father was killed in WWII.) I like the words you used at the end, Holly, and will share some of them. I just had my new class start Sol! Thanks!

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