“it is our responsibility to teach, to model, to think aloud about the engagement that comes from aesthetic experiences” What Price Beauty? A Call for Aesthetic Education, Ellin Oliver Keene
I started this blog last spring. I had a hard time finding the right title.
I wondered: What was I going to title my blog? What words were going to capture what I believed about writers and writing? What title would embody what I believe about writers and writing? What would I call my blog that might invite readers and writers into my little world?
I thought about the past 25 years as a teacher. I thought about how I discovered the writer in me. I thought about how I have used my journal as a teacher, as a mother, as a writer, as a thinker, and I came up with “Let’s Observe”. I thought about how I continue to use my journal to this day. I typed the words, and I knew I had it. You see, I believe that writers see the world in a unique way. Writers find ideas in their every day worlds. Their interactions at the grocery store, at home cooking dinner are sources for ideas. Their observations of trees and people fuel their energy to write. For me and my busy body, when I stop to observe in sketches, I find focus, memories, words, stories, poems. When I observe I find ideas. Ideas are the heart of a writer.
I ended my week on Friday afternoon with fifth graders working in the Greenbelt. The classroom teacher and I had connected last winter in a workshop. She had come to the workshop ready to wear her teacher as writer hat. It was in the workshop where Diana. experienced observing and writing first hand. The experience was powerful for Diana and she asked if we could possibly do some of this work with her class the following year.
So this past Friday afternoon, I found myself in her fifth grade classroom. We worked in the Greenbelt. Our time was structured with the following agenda. I told them “We are giving you an opportunity to make a choice and discover. There is no right or wrong here.” Without question, each and every 5th grader made a choice and got to work observing, thinking, and discovering.
Here is a sampling of what emerged on paper over the course of 25 minutes.
When I asked the 5th graders at the end, “What did you discover today? What happened for you when you went off to work?”, hands shot up. Winnie shared “I picked choice and I just started writing. At first it was random stuff, but the more I wrote, the more it started to make sense.” Annie shared, “The word of the day, “flutter”, made me think of fluttering eyes, so I played with that idea.” Annie’s share invoked more hands to go up. “The word “flutter” made me think of a butterfly in the fall so I wrote a poem.” Diana, the teacher, shared, “The word “flutter” made me think of my fluttering brain, which led me to a cup of black coffee which symbolizes my grandmother and the mystery she was to me. I wrote about it.” Andrew shared, “I chose to observe the bark again and this time I saw binoculars in the colors and shapes of the bark. That made me think of a ship out at sea. I wrote about that and then stopped to draw. I think I might add to it.” Their voices and identity filled the room as they reflected on their thinking.
These writers were given structure and choice in the Greenbelt. We got to witness them own their choices, seize ideas and discover the possibility within those ideas.
“we believe students desire and have a right to autonomy, self direction, and choice in their development of lifelong learning” What Price Beauty? A Call for Aesthetic Education, Ellin Oliver Keene