Slice of Life Challenge day 29 #sol17

As soundlessly as possibly, I lowered myself into a chair in the back of the room.  Desks in a circle, some of the eighth graders in the room stared awkwardly at each other, while others bent heads down toward notebooks, silently moving lips to rehearse.  The teacher initiated the discussion. “Okay, fictional violence…what do you think?” she said.

A slight pause.  Then hands raised, a few. A bulky, athletic-looking boy began.  “Well, I think violent video games are fine because they’re labeled ’17 and over.’  The people at the store will not sell them to kids younger than that. So what’s the problem?”

Murmurs ensued around the classroom.

Other hands shot up.  Another boy spoke, “I think video games that are violent are not good because they have no moral value.  I mean, what do they really contribute to society?  All you do in these games is cause violence.  Where’s the value in that?”

More murmurs.

Right next to the teacher, a third boy sat up in his chair.  “Well, one thing that’s good about video games is it provides employment for programmers.”  Fascinating, I thought to myself. I never would have thought of that.

“But these games can be confusing to young minds,” came a girl’s voice from across the room.  “They play the game and think that it’s okay to act like that.”

As a literacy coach, I immediately began to mentally lists strengths, as well as next steps for these writers.  But honestly, I was struck by the intricacy of some of their opinions.  As educators of this age, I was reminded of how imperative it is that we recognize the potential of these students to think deeply and critically about a topic.  The key becomes how to adeptly guide and facilitate students discussion, thinking, reading, and writing in order to foster analytical skills.

Today, the kids scratched the surface.  But that’s an exciting surface to scratch.  I look forward to where they go from here.



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,

4 thoughts on “Slice of Life Challenge day 29 #sol17”

  1. By adding all the dialogue, I loved the feel of the class discussion. And am inspired by providing a space for discussion. It is something we don’t think there is time for but clearly, it is valuable time spent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A challenge to be the right person to nurture the minds of these young people. A challenge to get them to share their thoughts and ideas. Praying that teachers, mentors, parents will recognize and encourage these young individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s fun to reflect on lessons and moments in the classroom that are like these, isn’t it? Somehow, we think better when we write about the experiences. You weave scenes and reflections really well, Lanny.

    Liked by 1 person

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