At the core of our reading/thinking/talking about/writing about work is the practice of growing big ideas. Anything that grows needs food and the food for our big ideas includes paying attention (to everything), believing your ideas are valuable, being willing to graft your ideas on to someone else's and time, precious time. The best ideas usually come about five to ten minutes into a discussion. This is worth noting because it takes patience on the part of a teacher to allow the conversation to wander a bit before finding an interesting path to follow. Also many reading programs focus on predictions and inference which are usually noted on a graphic organizer and are essentially closed conversations. "I predict that Gilly's mother will take her home", or "I infer that Gilly is mad because she's always sighing",end of comment, end of conversation, end of thinking. Our talks are less like filling in the blank spots on a wall and more like throwing stones out ahead of us to walk on, the path is always forming in front of us.
Today's conversations began in morning meeting as we sang the song "Love Makes A Family". We always sing a song to begin the day and students take turns choosing the song. The lyrics describe various family types, adopted children, separated parents, same sex parents, multi-generational homes etc. and all are called a family because of the love that is present. The students all agreed that families can look many different ways from the outside, and that love does indeed make the family. Alayna suggested then that "The whole world is really a family, because if we all loved each other then we'd really be a family". Others agreed and talked about how you can go back in history and somewhere along the line we'd all have to be related. Later in the day when we were discussing our read-aloud book "The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Katherine Paterson the students were noticing that Gilly had really changed since the beginning of the book. She was no longer selfish and rude, but now a caring member of her foster family. Chase suggested that the change started happening when the others were sick and she had to do more work to take care of everyone, that having more responsibility made her a nicer person. Jocelyn said that "Gilly had changed her perspective" and now "She saw things in a new way". I asked the class what might have caused this change in perspective (and also congratulated Jocelyn for added a great word to our classroom vocabulary). Isabelle said she thought the pivotal moment was when Mrs. Trotter, the foster mother, had called Gilly her own child. "That's when the family was made" Isabelle said, and of course someone else said "Love really does make a family". I felt like we had uncovered some great new ideas and gathered a few new stepping stones to continue our conversational journey.