17 Oct Slice of Life: To Have and To Hold #SOL17
What is it about seeing, holding, and feeling an important object in your hand that transcends time and space? I visit many classrooms and notice objects being used to inspire the use of physical descriptions and details in writing. For me, however, holding an object that is important to me, typically conjures emotion first and foremost. An emotional journey that is difficult to put into words. Intense and vague; present and distant; focused and universal all at the same time.
As I unpack our Halloween decorations, I wave of emotion comes over me with each object. I can hear the voices of my children’s younger selves; I can see them making costumes; and I can feel my mother’s presence. Holding an object takes me back to a time when … the conversation; my thoughts and the actions. The emotional connection to the object brings it all rushing back to me as clear as day.
I wonder if it is the same for young writers. They have not lived through as many years, but do they have objects that are meaningful to them. What would happen if students brought in objects from their lives? Would they shift from telling us about it to telling us a time when….? Would the object be a distraction or a bridge to the heart of their story?
Ever since I became a holder of my mother’s memories, I started to choose an object each holiday season from her collection to place on my desk. An object that for some reason speaks to me at that moment in time. I find myself gazing at it, holding it, and allowing it to take me to a time when. It opens many doors and invites me to explore new territories as a writer.
This leaves me thinking about classrooms and how we could make this an option for students. While notebooks, photographs and lists provide a bountiful array of ideas, I find an object is different somehow. Not just one object at the beginning of the year as a topic generation activity. The use of an object as exploration of memory, strong feelings and stories that matter. An object as a doorway to ideas yet to be discovered and feelings yet to be experienced. An object as part of a writer’s toolbox.
I don’t have a classroom “home” to experiment with this idea, but I would love to play with it and think through how to make it purposeful and authentic in the life of a young writer. It seems simple enough and ordinary enough that students might even make it a part of their writing lives. I know it works for me.