Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slice of Life - Writing with Mrs. Parshall

I love participating in Slice of Life, started by Two Writing Teachers and writing a story, reflection, or musing at least once a week.
     During my September visit with Mom and Dad in Florida, Mom sat me down in her office with piles of papers, photos, and newspaper clippings so she could purge more things from her new house.  I was to go through the memorabilia and keep what I wanted and trash what I didn't.  I'm not overly sentimental, so there are a lot of things I'd rather not keep; however, I DO like paper items - photos and documents that help me rekindle memories and chronicle a life - my own or someone's in my family.  As I sifted through brown-edged newspaper clippings and drawing paper softened by age, I realized I have lived somewhat of a writer's life.  Old poems, stories, and spelling bee contest photos appeared in the pile.  Even an autobiography written in elementary school.  I have lived a reader's life, too, but more writing was evident in that pile than reading. 
     Recently I read a few stories written by literacy leaders and authors in Scholastic's new Open a World of Possible initiative.  I especially enjoyed Donalyn Miller's "Reading Sent Me to the Principal's Office" essay (p.186).  Her Mrs. Potter reminded my of my Mrs. Parshall.  While Mrs. Parshall encouraged reading books of our choice, she also encourage writing pieces of our choice, and that's what I remember most about that 6th grade year.  As I wrote about in one of my Slices of Life during the March challenge, I was crazy about horses that year and decided to write about them.  We wrote books that year, complete with cardboard covers enveloped by contact paper, sewn spines, and illustrations.  Mine was a handwritten chapter book that reached 143 pages.  I remember sitting side by side with friends - writing, crafting, chit-chatting, and creating.  When I look at the finished book, I marvel about the enormity of the project and how much time it must have taken.  I can't imagine my students having as much time in their 60 minutes a day for ELA to create something like this anymore, and it makes me sad.      

      Mrs. Parshall even took us to her horse farm that year.  It was a year of the book mobile, finishing and lamenting the end of The Black Stallion series, playing Nancy Drew, and riding my own horse bareback in the fields.  I was living a literate life, creating the memoirs, stories, and poems I write and think about today.  Thank you, Mrs. Parshall, for letting us choose what to read and write, think about, and create.  And thank you for giving us time to do it. 

 Leafing through the book - you can tell I was influence by The Black Stallion - I also had a character who spoke in dialect!  Oh, and I got my first rejection letter that year after trying to send the manuscript to a publisher publishing children's writing for children!



  1. What a gift Mrs. P gave you. She instilled in you a love of the literate life and you are passing on that passion. I love stories like this

  2. Love this post and it helped us check out the Scholastic initiative -- we did not know about it. Thanks for sharing your story and these resources!
    Clare and Tammy

  3. TIME for reading and writing -- ah! What a concept! I'm so glad you had that experience.

  4. Oh, I love this slice. I was hoping to hear some of your story. Did you share it with your students? You were quite the illustrator, too. I remember wanting to draw horses but they were so hard to draw. Heartwarming.

  5. Choice is everything isn't it, Holly, & Mrs. P empowered you by letting you do the choosing, respecting that you knew what was best for you. I too wish it could happen more. Glad your mother was purging because we got to hear what you found!

  6. Holly, this is touching slice-from the memorabilia to the part on how your reading and writing lives began. The video was an interesting look at a young child's musings.

  7. I love that you like horses, writing books, and making them about horses! I was so amazed when I saw your name for this slice! Amazed!
    By the way, this is from Kayley in your second switch ;-)