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We came to the writing circle last Friday with our “100 Word Spooky Stories”, eager to turn off the lights, share our stories, and have us a little Halloween party. Before everyone settled in, we made sure to invite K. – our classmate who had moved from Japan just before the start of the school year. K. is learning English slowly; he is a part of our class, but he is working on his language skills with the help of our school’s ESL teacher. Every single one of my sixth graders is hyper aware of the courage it takes for K. to come to school every day, where he is surrounded by the exuberant babble of middle schoolers. He listens carefully, translates what we say into Japanese, then composes a response in Japanese which he must translate back into English before he can speak or write. K’s OLW is dedication – he wants to dedicate himself to learning English – and we see this every day.
So, we made sure that K. was in our writing circle, even though he did not have a spooky story to share.
Soon, the storytelling began. There were oooh’s and yelps and arghs as the flashlight was passed from student to student. We were enjoying the stories, the fellowship, being collectively scared. When the student next to K. finished and was ready to pass the flashlight on, K. spoke up, “I have a story we tell in Japan. It is a scary story. Can I share?”
All eyes to me. K. had never spoken up in class. This was the most he had ever said! Of course he could share!
So, K. took the flashlight, positioned himself so that everyone could see, and told us the story. We oohed and yelped and arghed. We clapped. But mostly, we were so glad that K. had joined the circle.