Slice of Life Challenge day 1 #sol17

Title: “Nostalgia”

Pulling the door open, the wall of noise hit me, nearly falling into the category of jarring. Good grief, what was going on in here?  This was no normal, run-of-the-mill day of class in sixth grade.

Ah,  wait a minute. This is a book club meeting day.  Around the room, tables were scattered with post-its, notebooks, books face down on binders, number two pencils, and DaSani water bottles.  Faces were a mixture of consternation, rapt focus, harmless daydreaming, and concentration, as varied levels of interpretation filled the classroom space.

Sidling up next to a group of four girls, I attuned my ears.  They were discussing a book entitled Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo, a powerful book about child labor and one young boy who made a difference.  Ideas were flying from one side of the table to another.  Sometimes one idea would flutter across the table and land in another girl’s lap.  The recipient would then scoop up the idea, affix more to it, and sail it back across the table to her clubmate.

And books were open.  Paper books.  Paper books were open.  And across the conversation, the girls referred to page after page of printed text.

Quietly exiting the classroom day, I came to realize that I believe there to be something magical about watching kids engage in face-to-face conversation as they hold a physical book in their hand.  There is something enchanting about observing kids converse as they refer to notes they made with a ballpoint pen on a small piece of physical paper.  There were no Kindles, no laptops, no iPhones or iPads, no snapchats or Instagram photos, no YouTube videos or FaceTime.

Maybe this is just nostalgia here.  But human interaction cannot be dismissed as antiquated.  It just can’t. Writer Carson McCullers once said, ““We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”  I hope that the domain of human interaction never becomes a place we do not know.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

14 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 1 #sol17”

  1. I love how similar your scene of book clubs was to my third graders’ version. I agree- the version you describe means a lot to us as teachers, but I think to the kids too- they can see the real life reactions to their words and grow their ideas in real time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree and speak your same last line in my mind from time to time. Sometimes human interaction, the “original” means of socializing, debating, and gesturing seem like a lost art. Then, I too, have an experience like the one you describe here and my spirit is renewed. It was a bit renewed reading this today. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s so interesting that you write these words today because I was just thinking the same thing yesterday during the book club meeting in my 5th grade classroom. It is exciting to see interaction over reading. It connects us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lanny, first of all welcome to year one of the Slice of Life Challenge and also to the TWT Team! As you are probably aware, this community is amazingly supportive and encouraging.

    I’m with you and love to see kids noses in real text, having powerful conversations around words and stories, and growing as readers, thinkers, and human beings! I think we do need to find a balance as there will be times when technology can enhance conversations, but I sure hope what you so eloquently described never goes away as well. The vision you created — life around books — is one that cannot be replaced.

    Welcome and happy slicing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, this speaks to my heart. I worry about what is happening to human interaction. Your post makes me wonder… is it the books? Is it the stories? Is it the conversation? What makes a classroom come alive like this? The teacher? Or the perfect balance of all of the above?

    Great Slice – wish I could listen in to their conversations!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed the spirit and message of this post. Even more, I loved the description of the idea fluttering around the girls discussion the book. Vivid, creative and fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for this glimpse into the classroom. Your descriptions took me right there and wanted so to enter into the girls’ discussion. The human factor – something we can never take for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amen! There is nothing quite like holding a real live physical book in your hands. I am old school that way I guess. I’m excited to read more about your middle school experiences. They are walking talking aliens to me as I’ve spent most of my career in K-4.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There’s something about holding those “paper books” that is sort of magical. I don’t know how an electronic media will ever replace them (though I suspect they will some day). Paper and pen holds the same allure for me. Thanks for your post and glimpse into your world.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lanny, I enjoyed the peek into middle school. I loved the almost snowball metaphor of the ideas in the conversation. And the frank reality of varying degrees of being “in it.”
    Thanks for challenging me to slice. I look forward to reading all your posts.


  11. I know that “wall of noise”! It is part of my room also. I hope my students are creating that noise for the same reasons yours are–to grow their collaboration and learning!

    Liked by 1 person

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