Late morning I met with my 5th grade focus group, gathering in the conference room around the round table, in swivel chairs to make it special. I passed each student an envelope containing the first, introductory letter from their adult high school student.
Peggy (their teacher) and I had spread our letters around her dining room table Thursday night and matched each student, rather well, I thought.
I let my students know it would be okay to read their letter twice to take it all in.
Their faces. The quiet. Soft, open expressions and not one distraction or fidget. They were reading deeply. That magic place only some people know about.
I watched them read with the relish one might take in a lovely sunrise or landscape. Then I asked them to share round the room. ‘Were there any surprises? Any likes?”
They all had things to share. Then, they re-read to a partner over their shoulder so they could stop and talk about parts. When we went back to the classroom, I gave them a quick write — time just to say the immediate. “What would you say, if your buddy was here just after you read the letter?”
More engaged time, writing. Nonstop. Tomorrow, we’ll lift a line from the letter and write to that. For the moment I will savor those at risk kids, reading deeply and being eager to write.