I largely believe that my blog audience is fellow teachers, but sometimes I meet readers on Main Street, and sometimes they call me on the phone. Both happened to me this weekend. I saw Mac at a local art gallery for Art Walk on Saturday evening. He started up a conversation about reading aloud and how he was happy I was doing that with my students. He told me about how his family read aloud, and he passed it on to his kids and grandchildren, and now even great grandchildren.
I got a phone call from a friend who wanted to tell me that she appreciated the work I was doing with kids to connect reading to their own lives. She shared that she is going through something very difficult, and my posts help her. What? Really? I was moved to tears.
Receiving praise for writing reaches farther and deeper than any other kind of praise because writing is so personal. I want to bring this type of understanding to my students along with the joy and pride of knowing their writing touched someone else. I work to build connections for them. On our kidblog site, we have connected to other classes. I encourage them to find a student from another class to connect with.
We teachers talk with our readers about making text to self connections. Usually these connections seem false. When we make those connections together around a shared text and then share them globally, this writing holds more meaning. The stakes are higher. The voice is authentic.
On Padlet, I posted this question for students to write about in connection to the Global Read Aloud, Fish in a Tree: “In Fish in a Tree, Ally doesn’t tell anyone about her trouble with reading. She has an opportunity in Mrs. Silver’s office and even with her mom, but she resists out of fear. Have you ever had something so troublesome that you just didn’t know how to or were afraid to tell the truth?”
To get them started, I posted my own story.
When I was very young, maybe around 6, I was playing with matches outside with the neighbors. Before we really knew what was happening, the yard was in flames. The blanket for our “campout”, my favorite doll, the pillows from my brother’s bed…in flames. Fear sent me inside. I climbed in my mother’s lap and cried and cried. She got very angry because she was on the telephone. Finally I squeezed out the word “Fire!” and she went running. I don’t remember much after that moment, but to this day I feel very guilty about that accident.
When my students read it, they immediately gasped, “Matches? You played with matches?” My mother now knows the whole story, but I still cannot shake the guilt and trauma of burning the front yard. That spot in the grass seemed to stay black forever.
I sent out a Voxer message to colleagues in California, Ohio, and Illinois. They responded by writing their own stories. So my students had 4 adult models to read Monday morning before writing their own. Thanks Julianne, Julie, and Phyllis.
Click on the image to see the Padlet.
I am excited our writing is becoming richer and holding more meaning. Making connections with text, then having someone else connect to our own writing is a powerful way to communicate and spread kindness and understanding.