Yesterday while I was teaching Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Burning the New Year” in 7th grade there was lots of writing but no talking. Some teachers maybe would enjoy this format but I often like the conversation that accompanies reading and writing instruction.
The students read the poem silently first and wrote a sentence about what they thought the message was. Then I read the poem aloud and they wrote another thought. Some of them changed between the individual reading and the read aloud.
I had them read the poem a third time and mark two lines that jumped out to them. I had them choose one and then use it as a springboard for a 3-minute quick write. There were 2 rules:
- You must keep writing the entire 3 minutes.
- The writing had to be connected to the line that was lifted in some way.
This class is quiet and does not share as a rule described by the regular teacher. I had looked over the shoulders of several students as a check for understanding and the students were on target.
I collected the work and then walked down the hall to my office reading the whole way.
I was amazed at the insightful writing. I was so moved by some of the thoughts of students that I went back down to the teacher and told her how proud of her kids I was.
It is a simple reminder to me that just as Susan Cain says, the loudest person is not always the one with the best ideas.
I look forward to working with this class again soon.
I also have to remember for myself today that maybe I should be more quiet and write more than talk!