writing workshop

Old Photos

After yesterday’s writing, I was reminded of something I read in Ralph Fletcher’s A Writer’s Notebook:  Unlocking the Writer Within You.  (Since this is the second reference for this book in less than a week — Stacey’s post is here — you may want to consider buying it!  Wink . . . Wink!)  He writes:

See if you can get your hands on some pictures of when you were younger.  Some of the best photos to put into your notebook are the ones that make you uncomfortable — that silly expression you often have, the time you were on stage wearing a bunny costume, you sitting on the lap of your least favorite uncle.  Photographs like that often spark the best writing (94).

I think this would make a great focus lesson.  I’ve never directly taught kids to go looking for photos that make them uncomfortable, but I think it is wise advice.  As I’m ready to embark on a personal essay unit with a fifth grade class (Stacey is in the midst of this now), I can see how this strategy would be valuable.  Those things in life that make us feel a bit uncomfortable are often the things we should spend time thinking about and considering.

In this way we will begin to have a greater understanding of ourselves.  That’s what writing is all about — making sense of ourselves.  I’m going to try this strategy this week and then use it for the next Memoir Monday.  Will you join me?