Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of W.I.C.: Day 16- Taking Notes:Jazz, Magic, & the Idea Book

"I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.
It is as if they are showing you the way."
-Donald Miller ,  Blue Like Jazz

It was pin-drop quiet. They wanted to know, would she? Would she read what she had written? Would it be... "teachery"?

"I was seven years old, and my brother was twelve. He was supposed to be "babysitting" me. We decided it would be a great idea to play with candles, fire, and matches..."

The teacher went on to read the story of accidentally catching a small patch of green shag carpet on fire, then the screen door, and of course, the resulting attempts at a covert cover-up!

I'm sure that you've realized that  teacher  was me. The students howled with laughter at our  amusing antics, (We cut and colored the carpet with magic markers- don't even ask about the screen door!), wanted to know what happened next in the story. But the best part was when I flipped my notebook around. One student gasped aloud, "But, Mrs. Gililland," she sputtered," there are arrows, and cross-outs. That's... messy!".
They were astounded that I would have a writer's mess- but most surprised that I would show it to them.
One student grinned and said "Well, I feel better now!".
In some ways, that was the point. Relax into your process. Understand that essays and stories don't trot themselves out of our brains perfectly phrased. And that's okay.

 Our students should see us write.... and love it. If you don't love it, please do something else. They need the discovery of your love for this. They need to see the furrowed brow of deep thought, the shriek of joy for revelation, the birth of a well-turned phrase. They need to see your scratch-outs, your arrows, your outlines and drawings. It's absolutely pivotal to let them in on our process. Mentor texts work because they show a student how a certain genre operates. Your idea notebook serves as a mentor text. Share it. Talk about your thought process- especially what you do when you are stuck. By letting them in, we invite them to their own process. Showing them this possibility opens the door to their chance, their dream. Remember yesterday's post? Here's the formula: discovery plus imagination. They discover our process (and love) and they imagine their own.  

The discovery of your process, the chance to imagine and try out their own process, to refine and define it for themselves is an exploration of the imagination. The magic of sharing ideas (sometimes with yourself) and  the courage to just put them down on paper, and then talk about them, changes not only what they do, but how they see themselves:

"I never thought that I liked to write, Mrs. Gililland. But it's just that I hadn't written like this before. I didn't know it could be fun. I just didn't know my style yet, I guess. Now, I write all the time. I read essays all the time. I want to be a Sports writer. {like S.I.'s Rick Reilly}"
(E. -a boy!- 8th grade)

"Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself."

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