Mending our Writing Hearts

“Teach the children. 

We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. 

Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit.

Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.” – Upstream by Mary Oliver

My son goes to a nature kindergarten. My husband is from Norway and through my relationship with him I have learned the beauty of how people in other parts of the world nurture the love of learning and school… and nature school is one of them. So we searched for a nature school for our sweet boy, because we believe attention is the beginning of devotion. 

This can apply to so many things in our teaching lives. When we slow down, explore, appreciate, feel– our learning dives not only into cognitive understanding but into an appreciation and love of the subject. 

Especially writing. 

How can we create a devotion to writing in our classrooms rather than a grade waiting to be filled in on our online gradebooks? 

My kiddo at nature school

The Wild Remedy

My dear friend Angela Stockman In her blog post this month talked about slowing down, taking time to collect things in nature, photograph and share her findings. She sourced an amazing woman Emma Mitchell. Have you heard about her? She’s a scientist, writer, illustrator, mental health activist, and naturalist… and of course identifying as most of those things I was drawn in. 

Check her out here 

Her book, The Wild Remedy, is all about how nature mends us or can help mend us. And this started me thinking… I have some students that need mending. I need mending. 

Getting out and starting to mend and pay attention

So before you get into the swing of AP or state preparation let me offer a suggestion on how to start writing this year off right. 

Collect, Draw, See, Touch, Write

Maybe it starts with a walk. Student’s collecting found things in nature to write about. Drawing attention to the green space they live in. 

From your walk could this spark working in small groups by touching, observing and sketching their found objects? 

How could their objects be arranged? How are their objects different from one another? How do they communicate something about their environment? How do they make them feel? 

Then have students write about their objects. It could be information they research about their found things, it could be prose, even just an observation of where their found things are from. It’s a time to connect them to a place, space, and its surroundings. 

Or maybe its having students bringing their found objects from home or having a container full of loose items that students could use to compose a 5 minute narrative.

My son brings home a stick, feather, or some sort of found object from school almost everyday, and guess what? He has a story to tell about it. How can our found things, or loose objects tell a greater story?

I believe our loose parts can tell a greater story together.

Here are some examples below

Emma Mitchell The Wild Remedy 

Emma Mitchell 

If any of these ideas were inspiring to you — and a motivation to slow down I would love to hear it. If you want to learn more about multimodal writing and loose parts writing, pick up Angela Stockman’s Make Writing.

Remember attention is the beginning of devotion, how will you draw your students’ writing attention? 

Hopefully for their good. 

Teach the children.

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