The Big Fresh October 20, 2018 Crayons
History written in pencil is easily erased, but crayon is forever.
I thought the designer and I were in agreement about not using stock photos till he sent over the latest design draft, which included this shot:
“The crayons have to go. Crayons don’t look like that,” I told him.
“I know you don’t like stock images, but it’s . . . crayons. What else would they look like?” he replied.
I’m sure he thinks I’m crazy.
He may be right.
How can inanimate objects be inauthentic?
It was hard for me to put into words what was wrong with that image. So I pored over classrooms photos I’d collected over the years, wondering if I had any shots from our photographers just of crayons. It didn’t take long to find this one:
This photo was taken just weeks into the school year, when believe it or not those crayons were still pretty new. But what a story they tell already. Of little hands fighting over favorite colors, and friends jabbering about what to draw. A few of the blue ones more than half gone already, sacrificed to fill in most of the page of a sky. Many crayons colored a bit by other crayons. Who knows why kids do that? Messy. Irregular. Used. Loved. Dozens of stories in that little tote we’ll never know, but the hints are there.
In the scheme of things, the difference between the two photos of crayons doesn’t matter much at all. But the older and crankier I get, the less patience I have with teachers having to sit silently and politely while outsiders tell their story and get it wrong. Sometimes the stories are told with numbers -- tests that shame. Sometimes the stories are recounted from decades past, from an outsider’s perspective of school colored in sepia tones of memory and prejudice.
Speaking up for what young readers and writers need, and standing up for what we teach and how we teach it, means telling the truth. Even if it’s something as simple as what a crayon looks like in a classroom. Because if we don’t get the little things right, it becomes easier to fudge the truth about the big things.
My designer kindly agreed to nix the stock photos of inanimate objects. I think he gets it. But even if he doesn’t, I know in that split second when a teacher visits the new website and sees crayons, she will know. The classrooms here are real and the stories are true. And some of them are buried in those crayons.
This week we look at how to make classrooms more comforting to students. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
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Christy Rush-Levine takes an oddly shaped unused nook in her classroom and turns it into a charming space where students can choose to take a quiet break with a "Self-Imposed Time-Out" (SITO):
Katie DiCesare comforts a student in tears at the end of the day, and realizes part of the problem may be that she moved the child into a guided writing group too quickly:
Check out our new online courses for teachers and literacy coaches! In the next month we're featuring 12-day self-paced classes from Katherine Sokolowski on student research projects in grades 3-7, Christy Rush-Levine on quick and meaningful reading conferences in middle school, and Jennifer Schwanke on better outreach to families. Courses include three-month trial memberships to Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy, screencasts, videos, articles, and personal responses from the instructor to your questions. Explore detailed descriptions at this link:
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Suzy Kaback feels rising unease as a tourist in unfamiliar neighborhoods. The experience provokes empathy for students who find classrooms strange or uncomfortable:
That's all for this week!
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