Slice of Life 2021 Day 4: Kid Wisdom

Today marks Day 4 of the Slice of Life challenge. Join me as I work to write every day in March – and maybe beyond!

As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, I used my own writing as a mentor text for my fourth graders. The goal is to use student writing as the literature from which we conduct reading discussions. The REAL goal is to farm out the strategy, if it works. Who knows? Maybe we can have whole classes – whole SCHOOLS worth of children who see themselves as writers, who delight in creating literature that’s just as worthy of analysis as something they’d pick up off the bookshelf.

But I get ahead of myself.

Today, I read my students’ written responses to my work. I set them up with a 4-quadrant response chart before our class discussion. Reading their work, and then hearing them TALK about my writing? Friends, if you haven’t listened to other people talking about your writing, YOU. ARE. MISSING. OUT. I’m highlighting a few questions and ideas from my perceptive kiddos:

Something I don’t understand…
“Why is Lainie’s friend so mean? Why can’t Story be nicer?”
“Why should Story give Lainie a smirk if she already said ‘suit yourself?’ “

A question I have…
“Why does Lainie hate writing narrative fiction?”
“Maybe she is talking to her writing and doesn’t like it but STORY wants her to try again?”

Oh! This seems important…
“Story is telling Lainie she can’t tell her students to do one thing and do something else herself.”
“The friend is encouraging her.”
“Story is named…STORY.”

It’s interesting that…
“A lot of people don’t like writing things they can’t get wrapped up in.”
“Lainie always tries to encourage others but doesn’t try to encourage herself.”
“Lainie tells her students to do things she doesn’t want to do herself.”
“She is standing up for what she likes and doesn’t like.”

I want to let this wisdom stand, so I won’t belabor the point with a lot of extra chatter. But I will share TWO things:

  1. My favorite moment came when the students realized that Story smirked because she had tricked me into writing fiction. That’s when the kids were REALLY able to infer the “tough love” relationship I have with her.
  2. I mean, LOOK at what these kids observed and wrote. They have my NUMBER.

Now. If you need me. I’ll be sitting here, heart aflutter, waiting for what’s next around the bend. I can’t wait – and neither can my loveys!

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11 Responses to “Slice of Life 2021 Day 4: Kid Wisdom”

  1. WOWilkinson Says:

    I love hearing your students’ feedback, and I agree that this process is so fulfilling. I need to practice this more often, getting feedback on my own writing.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! I’ve found that the students are (while painfully honest), ENDLESSLY supportive, and they help me get braver and braver as we go along.

  2. arjeha Says:

    I agree that you are missing out if you don’t listen to others talk about your writing. Some people take it too personally – not good. Others take it as a gauge of how others react to their writing and how it influences them. And lets face, who is more honest than a bunch of students.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Absolutely! I’m hoping that I can model the NOT taking it personally thing for my kids, so that they can see how to both give AND receive feedback. But here’s the thing. So far, I haven’t yet pushed them into the arena of suggestions. So far, it’s only been compliments, analysis and support. Eventually we’ll get to the other, but I’m going s-l-o-w-l-y to build trust.

  3. Fran Haley Says:

    In a word (that I often use for you anyway!): Extraordinary. This kind of discussion is incredibly valuable and meaningful, for the depth of thinking, for breaking down writing barriers, for the utter creativity and freedom of knowing you can write about ANYTHING. Brace yourself because I feel great stuff coming from students, shortly …and can I just say that writing in front of students and using your own writing as a mentor text is second to nothing for inspiring students? Them seeing themselves as writers begins with us seeing ourselves as writers… absolutely.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      THANK you! I am really excited about the prospect. Which is something I need to hold on to this year. I NEED something to remind me why teaching loveys is so very exciting, and why I can’t trade it for anything else. =))

  4. Juliette Awua-Kyerematen Says:

    Thanks for this idea. I also use my writing as mentor texts but do not get students to analyse it. I can’t wait to start. I like the use of the 4-quadrant response chart and the headings.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thanks! I was just talking with my kids about how we were in uncharted territory. Fingers crossed that it goes OK!

  5. Tim Gels Says:

    Wow, this is so cool! I’ve had my students read and comment on my work before, but most of that work was material I wrote in class with them. I’ve not turned them loose on my work that I write for myself; I can’t wait to do that! One of my favorite things to do with my students is to take their writer’s notebooks and type out their work (for speed, and, well, maybe a bit of light editing). We then use their work for reading passages, similar perhaps to the way you use it for analysis. They love it, and I do too. Thanks for sharing this slice!

  6. livinglife816287820 Says:

    Oh wow, what a great idea and some of their comments are just so perceptive and some are just so ‘studenty’! No wonder you are finding it a fun exercise!

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      “Studenty” indeed. I still smile when I read their comments. They ARE so perceptive, so honest, so earnest. It’s one of the reasons I love them so very much.

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