Friday, August 10, 2007

Experiment #3

I hope to use this picture (resized a la flickr) as my profile picture (I'm sure there's an easier way, but I'll do what I know), and I might as well tell you the story. This is my wai-po, my maternal grandmother who raised me from birth to age 7 in Taiwan. Needless to say, we were very close. My parents lived in the US and (finally) sent for me to live with them a month before my 7th birthday. Wai-po brought me to NYC and thought about staying, but decided to go home, much to my dismay at the time. Certainly distance (time, space, culture) separated us for most of the rest of my life, and she passed away from illness last October.

I'll make the simple "teaching connection" that I have written about wai-po when I demonstrate writing assignments (memoir, poem) in class. Sometimes I struggle to find interesting personal common ground with students (I have no siblings, I didn't play sports, I'm Chinese, etc.), but students have no trouble connecting with my wai-po stories. They're captivated.


jenamoured said...

Family is something that students can usually always connect to in one way or another (whether they have positive or negative connections).

Once, when talking about the food industry and fashion magazines (while reading Fast Food Nation for a 10th grade honors class), we did a looping activity in class. I wrote on the board while they wrote on paper. We had previously been talking about who has 'permission' to dictate how and what we eat, and how we look. Without even realizing, I began writing about recovering from anorexia. When we shared, students were quite surprised that I'd share that with them, and then seemed to listen a little more closely to everything else that I said after that.

It's almost like a reward for them to know about us.

zeldadg said...

That sounds like a great story. Any chance you might write about it for Nanowritmo? I'd love to read it as a novel.

Regardless, I hope you'll post about your and your class's progress. I'd love to hear how the kids are reacting.

I was just looking at the Young Writers Program over there and thinking about writing an article about it.


roller coaster teacher said...

Jen - stories that move us, all relate to love and loss, don't you think? I watched "Ratatouille" (yeah, I know) yesterday and there was one moment when I teared up most unexpectedly (seriously!) - it had to do with a food critic character.

Z (I mean, Tricia) - oh hey, thanks for the nanowrimo idea! When I write about my grandmother, I'm surprised at how many stories bubble up. I will most definitely post about it. You don't think I'm crazy to do the young writers program, do you? It's not hard to incorporate an assignment like that because we have a fiction writing prompt anyway, but I need to decide on parameters. I might require a minimum of, say, 1000 words. And book lots of computer lab time asap.

Tricia Grissom said...

I think it's a fabulous idea. I saw some of the teacher responses on NanoWritmo and it sounded like the students loved it. I wish someone would do it for my daughter's middle school.

Z ;)

Vivek said...

A warm and wonderful post!

I'm Indian and am going to be teaching in the US too so I'll be looking out for more posts on how you made the cultural connects.