Mash Up: Wailing Walls, Social Justice, Positive Feeback and Building Relationships

Carrie Eneix held a discussion on Friday with her students about the book The Secret Life of Bees.  She had pulled this quote to discuss, “Most people don’t have any idea about the complicated life inside of a hive.  Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about” (148).  This lead students into an insightful discussion about the importance of empathy based upon the idea that, “We never know what is going on inside of those around us.”  

When students discussed May, a character who takes in the pain of the world around her, one student asked the observant question, “If everyone in the world dealt with things like May, how might the world be different?”  Students discussed the fact that even though there are sad things in the news all the time, no one cries as they are watching it.

Another question Carrie asked was, “Do we all need a wailing wall?” or a place to “let go” of the things that bother us.  Many students agreed that they did.  This led into an assignment Carrie gave for the weekend where students were asked to “write a letter they would never send” like a character in the book had.  Here is the prompt:

Have you ever written a letter you knew you could never mail but you needed to write anyway? In chapter 8, Lily writes a letter to her father, T.Ray, in which she vents all of the anger, disappointment, and frustration she feels toward him. When she is finished, she tears the letter up, but feels relief because she got it out of her system. Write a letter to someone or something that will make you feel about a situation by getting it all out of your system.

Carrie plans on exploring a symbol in the text further by focusing on bees complicated ecosystem as they played a major role in the text; each chapter is started with a scientific quote about bees.  She read an excerpt to students where Sue Monk Kidd describes the in-depth research and real-world experience she gathered with bees to write the book as an introduction to what students would begin next week.  She and I discussed possibly connecting this to students creative writing in a lesson the following week, so more may be to come about this.

Melanie Begley had just finished a literature circle about Fahrenheit 451  when I visited her classroom this week.  She provided positive reinforcement and feedback to her students by going through the expectations for literature circles with students and reviewing the things that she thought they had done really well.  This will lead into other literature circles in the future.

Ellie Wiseman posted this relationship-building, positive message on her board for student athletes:

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Leslie Harris and Erin Salzer read the story “Average Waves in Unprotected Waters” while I was in their classroom.  They were doing two really interesting things.  The first of which was a “reading strategies” worksheet used to prompt students’ thinking about the story.  Here is an image of that:

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They were also using an engaging framework to study characterization and look carefully at the text post-reading.  Students were imagining they were “social workers” gathering evidence on a case where a person was being mistreated.  Here is the worksheet for that:

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This is leading to students reading Of Mice and Men and exploring the character of Lenny.  Leslie has an interest in focusing on the social justice inherent in this text and others.  I will hopefully be posting more about this in the future.

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