Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Connecting with New Writers… #SOL18
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Slice of Life: Connecting with New Writers… #SOL18

Recently I was “introduced” to a poet through Slice of Life.  Larkin Meehan shared this poet’s work on her blog.  I spent over an hour that evening reading his work.  I typically only blog about elementary or middle-grade text.  His poetry, to me, reads more YA or adult, but the power in this writer’s words and craft needs to be shared.  What better community than slice of lifers??!!

There is so much to say about his poetry.  I could never capture all my thoughts, feelings, or questions in this post.  One thing I particularly loved was the way he invited me into his own work.  In each poem, he chooses certain lines to highlight.  As the reader hovers over these words, an annotation pops up and the poet shares his thoughts and reflections about those lines.  I have never experienced anything like this before and I think it is a powerful way for a writer to share his process or insights with the reader.  It was almost as if he was annotating his own writing. The reader is also invited to respond to the writer or the writing in this section of the poem.

I think there are so many possibilities to use this with elementary, middle grade and high school students.  The technology he used is Genius web annotator.  I can envision students using this to share a response to each other’s writing.  I particularly like that the writer has the power to choose which lines are open for annotation.  I like having the writer share what he thinks are important lines – where he wants me to pause and respond.

Annotation is something I think a lot about as an educator.  The day after I read these poems, I read this post by Fran McVeigh.  She posed this question in her post:

How did you manage to figure this out with annotating? ( I believe that annotation has become the new “bore the kids stiff and make them hate reading” routine.)

I immediately went back to the poet’s work and thought about in relation to annotation.  Maybe we are using annotation incorrectly.  Does it need to be used to figure something out or gather evidence?  What if annotation was response – both the author’s and the reader’s?  What if the author could choose where he wanted to annotate and where he wanted response?  I wonder if it would make it less boring.  I wonder if it would have more meaning and purpose.  For me, it was the first time annotation did not take me away from reading, it drew me in and further engaged me. It is something I plan to explore and try as a writer and a teacher.

Chris Chowder is the poet.  I am grateful to Larkin for introducing me to Chris and to Chris for allowing me to share his work as well.  So readers, meet Chris Chowder.  Chris, meet your readers – welcome to an amazing community of writers!

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 10:09h, 20 March Reply

    I had the same feeling about his work, but maybe a little less time when she first shared his work with me. I’ll make more later.

    I love your thoughts about annotations. We ask specific questions, but really, and ultimately want to react and understand why.

    Clare, I can’t tell you how happy Larkin will be.

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    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 10:26h, 20 March Reply

    I really like what you have to say about annotation, Clare. I think you are on to something here. I will have to look for Chris Chowder’s poetry. I don’t think I am familiar with it. Reader response is key here in order for annotating to be useful. I think it is taught as a do this and this and that process. Stiff and not like anything I usually do when I’m reading. Making sure it is meaningful and purposeful is key. I totally agree with you!

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    Diane Esolen Dougherty
    Posted at 10:53h, 20 March Reply

    I like the connection to writing. The writer sharing her thinking and asking for response in specific places….i
    I will look for Chris Crowder’s poetry. I always learn something from your posts!

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    Posted at 11:25h, 20 March Reply

    I think annotation has become a part of the “skillification of reading” that Vicki Vinton blogged about yesterday. A task with a list of steps. Not so much about response or a deeper understanding.

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    Karen Terlecky
    Posted at 21:17h, 20 March Reply

    Thanks for the recommendation. I will be diving into Chris’s work tonight. The thinking about annotation is thought-provoking as well. Do they annotate in a way that meets an instructional need, or do they annotate to process and reflect on the content of what they read?

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    Kendra Limback
    Posted at 00:32h, 21 March Reply

    I love considering this. First grade is in the middle of reading I Dissent. And I wanted them to try some annotating as they listened to me read. I wonder as I finish this book tomorrow if I will steer this a little differently after reading all these reflections. And I’ll be checking out Chris and his work for my 13 year old. Thanks!

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    Marilyn Miner
    Posted at 02:24h, 21 March Reply

    I went to Chris Crowder’s site and read “half-life.” I was blown away. Very powerful writing. Thank you for teaching me.

  • Avatar
    Larkin Meehan
    Posted at 18:32h, 21 March Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing, Clare!

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