#sol15: March 26, 2015 – Sometimes, they just blow you away…

We kicked off our “Family Stories” writing unit today, a first time endeavor.  I had asked my kids to bring in copies of old photographs so that we could begin digging into and imagining the stories buried in those sepia toned pictures. Things got off to a rocky start when two thirds of my kids couldn’t find a photograph (they’re buried in the attic, in Grandma’s basement, or in a box somewhere in the house).  So…Plan B:

Google images…vintage photographs.

After a bit of talking through the process: notice details, key in on expressions on the faces and body language, try to gauge mood and emotion, focus on the perspective of one person who really grabs your attention.

It was slow going at first.  My morning class took a while to get into the spirit of the lesson (the curse of period 1, when they are barely awake), but something changed when they began to imagine a perspective and write.  That was the point at which they threw themselves into the project and wrote some beautifully evocative “heart of the story” possibilities:

IMG_0839 IMG_0838

Sometimes (actually, more often than not) they just blow me away….

18 thoughts on “#sol15: March 26, 2015 – Sometimes, they just blow you away…

  1. I’ve been doing family history research which lead to a family mystery, which has given me so many “what if” writing ideas. I hadn’t thought of doing it with my class though! Great idea!

  2. They did a great job! What a story they tell. “Shaking in my boots,” “my stomach lurched” wonderful word choice in both. They have that power to “blow you away.”

  3. Kids never cease to amaze us. These are the kinds of things no other profession brag about. Good job to your students and to you. Always good to have a plan B, planS, etc.

  4. Ooo, I did something like this with the Maine Writing Project. I loved it. I wrote such a great piece based on a photo. I think my 2nd graders would love to do this too. Now to find some good photos to use. Thanks for the idea. I love how you run your classroom.

  5. Sixth graders are a funky bunch, yes? Some days you want to yell, and just when you open your mouth, the students somehow let you know that they CAN do so much. They show you, and then you smile. Sounds like a productive lesson to me! 🙂

  6. There is so much treasure buried in old photographs Tara. It’s fun to speculate, to ponder the possibilities and delve below the surface. You improvised so fittingly it seems. Your post reminds me of Cynthia Rylant’s ‘Something Permanent’ in which she used the Great Depression photographs of Walker Evans to create poetry and stories around the images.

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