I am revitalizing this blog with the Teachers Write program. I need to get back into a writer’s notebook. I have several notebooks that I have been using, however, I need to keep the ideas rolling. One week I decided to sit with my 8th grade classes and write with them. It was amazing. We came up with a prompt from different creative ideas, and then would write for about 15 minutes. We shared, and the stories that all of us (myself included) were able to start were incredible. I was so proud of my kids and their ability to turn a very simple idea in to complex characters and plots.
In my writer’s notebook I write down snippets of conversation. I write down interesting, surprising or funny observations of life around me. I also love to write down book titles. Sometimes a question or statement that is more like a title pops into my head and that is what begins to guide the writing of the piece. Most recently I started work on a poem after considering the perspective of one of my students for the first time. Every week I assign an independent reading log and each week students receive a grade on it. One of the components of this log sheet is the parent signature. The kids complain about this, but I like it because I think it does force some parents to have a literary conversation with their kid. Or at the very least, it forces them to look at their homework since it has to be signed. If it comes back unsigned, I take off a few points, but nothing too drastic so a student might get an A- instead of an A.
Very recently I was thinking of a particular student who does amazing work. Every week she receives an A- because of the lack of the signature. A few weeks ago, it really struck me at one point at the symbolic meaning behind that minus sign. An A- is a good grade, but the minus is a constant reminder of the emotional absence of the parent.
It is observations like this that drive me to write. Our society is what drives the importance of literature. We have to tell the stories of the people. We have to keep the themes and lessons alive so that people can learn from our society. This is why I have to write. I have to write to make all of our struggles and sadness not endured in vain. I have to write to make all of our humor and love be abound for future generations.