My kids returned from lunch and recess looking like they were ready for a discussion, not a read aloud aloud. However, it was time for Interactive Read Aloud and we were supposed to look at The Other Side though the voice/silence lens. However, I decided to deviate from the plan and went through the “Voice/Silence Questions” Kate and I created earlier in the week. Then, I asked them, “When, if ever, has your voice been silenced and how did it make you feel?” Hands shot up with stories from the past.
I had already placed white drawing paper in front of each student. Hence, I asked them, at this point, to draw a picture of that time that illustrated how they felt. Hands shot up with questions, the first of which was, “Can we write about it?”
“Sure,” I said sheepishly realizing that perhaps I should’ve handed out lined paper instead or in conjunction with the drawing paper.
“Can we write and draw?” another student asked.
“Of course,” I replied.
And so they did…
Most students chose to combine their tales of times they’d been silenced with pictures. Some students asked that their work NOT be hung up in the hallway since it was too personal. However, the stories I read and looked at today struck a nerve since many of them were about teachers, from other schools, who had marginalized them by not recognizing their potential or who didn’t give them credit for how smart they were (and are). Therefore, I am glad that this vehicle opened up the conversation on voice/silence today since this is the first week of a two-month IRA Cycle on Voice/Silence (see earlier blog post by clicking here). To that end, I’m touched by the fact that my students entrusted me enough to share these personal tales with me. I cannot imagine how powerful this unit will be in the weeks to come seeing as today was just day one.
I am a literacy consultant who focuses on writing workshop. I've been working with K-6 teachers and students since 2009. Prior to that, I was a fourth and fifth-grade teacher in New York City and Rhode Island.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).
I live in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and children. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, doing Pilates, cooking, baking, making ice cream, and reading novels.