#SOL19 Day 29 Spark: That’s News To Me!

For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.28.56 PMChallenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

That’s News To Me Quick Write.

We are living in a world of BREAKING NEWS, which can keep us on edge if we are trying to stay abreast of it and keep the incoming information in some context or perspective. It almost always beckons us to respond in some way. Similar to quick write responses to print news headlines or magazine articles, we can also encourage our students to respond to news clips of current events or primary source videos. These are sometimes controversial, so always be mindful of your purpose, audience, and information sources to make sure they are appropriate for your students and that you are aware of potential bias and reliability issues. (unless your purpose is to raise awareness of these issues with older students and you want to expose them to these sources).

I recently saw some news clips from the Clinton impeachment hearings and on the eve of the invasion of Iraq wish I had some journal entry or writing that reflected and documented my thinking as news was breaking back then. Never too late to start!

Here’s my 3 minute quick write in response to this C-SPAN clip from yesterday’s news cycle.


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Quick writes can help us respond in a visceral and unfiltered way to news and events. We can revisit our responses and see how our thinking can change with time, new facts, or events coming to light. We can see how our first reaction may be quick to judge or born out by more facts. We may learn that sharing our first responses in the privacy of a notebook,  rather than social media may be a better reflective or cathartic practice.

Sure we can pen more thoughtful opinion pieces but that serves a different purpose-to persuade others rather than to explore our own reactions, opinions, and values. This doesn’t replace that form of writing. Writers shouldn’t be compelled to share and if they do, it is important that others are open and accepting of responses.

In a world of constant breaking news, it might be good if our students had a safe and nurturing place to explore their thinking. Our classrooms could be that safe place.

8 thoughts on “#SOL19 Day 29 Spark: That’s News To Me!

  1. Great idea, Paula. I like this – and to be able to share or not to share. Writing our opinions as a way to discover our feelings and be able to evaluate and possibly revise them is always a good way for students to see the power of writing. Thanks for your wonderful example! I may borrow the scaffold, “It’s not okay to….”

  2. I agree with you 100%. I love the idea, “It’s not okay to…” I hope you do not mind if I borrow it.

  3. This is powerful on a number of levels and I appreciate you offering your example to encourage us all. Being able to respond in the moment matters more than a little for us, for our students, for our communities. A quick write that stays private or is volunteered to be shared offers a prime opportunity to process for ourselves. Thank you, too, for not shying away from the political as a flashpoint.

    1. Thanks, Sherri. We rarely ‘consume’ news in an emotionless vacuum and I think it is important for our students to recognize this and feel like it’s ‘normal’ to have emotional reactions. I think viscerally responding on paper (privately if desired) can help them process their thinking and emotions. It works for me! I worried a bit about the political aspects, but what the heck–that’s 99.999% of our news lately!

  4. Sometimes it seems students aren’t paying attention to the news, but when we bring current events into discussion and writing, we find they definitely have reactions and opinions. You are right- they need a safe and nurturing place to explore.

  5. Thank you for sharing another good idea. What I really like about this is the unfiltered aspect. More than just for my students, I think this might be a good practice for me when I read or listen to the news. Also, thanks for sharing your own writing on this piece. It was powerful for me to read your thoughts and know that my own are reflected in there.

    1. Taking a risk that I might offend someone I suppose, but if someone is offended by the truth I can’t worry too long or hard on that. I’m sure you Canadians must wonder what the heck is going on down here!

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