academic choice · art · IRA · jacqueline woodson · reading · silence · voice · Write: It's good for you! · writers · writing

Of course you can write!

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.

4 thoughts on “Of course you can write!

  1. Reading your blog today made me think of Andrew Clements’ book, NO TALKING. I’m not sure if it correlates exactly with your unit, but thought it worth a mention. 🙂



  2. Stacey —
    Goosebumps from feeling like I’m in the classroom with you. Have you ever read Anthony Browne’s book VOICES IN THE PARK? I was reminded of it as I read your post.


  3. Stacey,

    As I read your reflection today, the poem by Gerhard Frost, “To Still a Song”, echoed in my head. A wonderful and wise college professor recited from memory this poem; I keep it close to my heart as a reminder of how each one of us can still someone’s song — sometimes we are not even aware we are doing it.

    I admire your tenacity and love your daily thoughts. I look forward to reading your blog several times a week. Thank you!

    “To Still a Song”
    by Gerhard Frost

    The seventh of May:
    I stilled a song today.

    A meadowlark flew up from the grass
    as I sped by;
    I had no time to avoid the crash.
    I saw the broken body fall
    as I stole a glance at the rearview mirror.

    I can’t tell where the bird was going
    when I killed it:
    I only know it was on its way
    from song to song,
    for that’s the way a meadow lark flies
    in spring.

    It will never sing again.

    I think of myself, a teacher and parent, and wonder
    how often have I killed an imagination
    or darkened a dream?
    How often have I stilled a song?

    It is no small thing
    to kill a song.


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