Friday, November 6, 2015

The Writing Center

I needed the kindergarten love.
Ms Levine told me to come on down.
So, I set the alarm for much-too-early and arrived in time to give stickers to kids on the playground.
A fourth grader served as my minion, helping me search out those kids who were alone.
We extracted smiles, some larger than others, and then it was time to get smarter.

Matt is a modern day, English as a Second Language YouTube savant.
The kids were mesmerized.... silent.... absorbed.... imitating....
learning the days of the week and reviewing their morning routine.
Brush brush brush your teeth...
comb comb comb your hair....
with an acoustic guitar and a reedy voice he had these digital natives entranced.
Once breakfast was finished and cleaned up, the scholars went right to their learning centers.

The interactive computer activities were much less attractive than the table full of library books for this little one. She was quite proud of the softness of her shirt; we discussed the concept of nap with great seriousness. We agreed that a soft and silky nap is quite wonderful.
I was assigned to assist at the Writing Center.
The scholars brought their journals and their letter charts.
The crayons and the sharpened pencils were in the purple tub.
 Sentences were required.
The sentences needed correct spelling and punctuation.
Pictures were to be drawn in the box at the top.
The pictures needed detail. 
The humans needed arms and legs and necks and bodies and hair and hands and facial features.
It's an exercise in expanding on the possible, in learning to do more, in knowing you can do better. 
 I love to watch it happen.

Creativity came in the most unexpected ways.
I am in Colorado, he wrote.
Yes, he insisted, he was finished with his picture.
All the detail necessary was provided.
He was in the snow.

Once I laughed, he got to work on what was happening beneath the flakes.
He's funny, but there's no snarkiness in someone that young.... and that makes me happy.

Some just refused to write a complete sentence.
On the other hand, he took his time sounding out the entire word.
He was willing to erase and start again when I pointed out a missing syllable.
He did it all himself, using the chart only once.
His b's and a's all faced the right way.
It felt churlish to complain.

And then there were the girls.
The pink one was going to the mall.
Her pencil followed her mouth as she sounded out the words, then she moved on to the illustration.
Body parts flowed effortlessly from her crayon.

Her colleague refused to have a thought.
She stared at me with those big brown eyes, expecting me to answer my own question.
She picked the wrong grown up for that trick to work.

Once she figured that out, she, too, decided to go shopping.
I'm not sure what the first line says, although the author was quite clear as she enunciated each letter.
It may be words of her own, but I have no doubt they are spelled perfectly.
The purple lady on the end is me.

Some details are more special than others.

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