Celebrate: Choice Words and Waiting for Stories

It’s the last Saturday before school starts and it’s time to celebrate this week with Ruth Ayers. Thank you Ruth for the opportunity to link up with others who share. Read more celebration posts here.
celebrate link up

This week I’m celebrating Choice Words and waiting for stories.

1. There are stacks of empty notebooks.  They are closed, undecorated, and waiting.

2. Two bags of two pocket file folders They are leaning up against the notebooks, waiting.

3.  Boxes of  pens –  blue Bic ball point and black Flair pens They are capped and waiting.

4. Thirteen iPads – Fully charged, stacked, and waiting.

5. A Library of Books  – informational, realistic fiction, historical fiction, poetry They are in boxes waiting.

The room is empty, quiet, clean. Waiting.

Waiting for 58 students to come and fill up the room with noise, questions, wonderings, ideas. Words that will fill paper, electronic devices, the air and our minds. This is the excitement of the unknown every new school year. All of that possibility of what might be.

Every child walks in looking at those beautiful new notebooks ready to be filled. The new pens ready to spill out words, words, words  and books ready to be explored.

They walk in the first day with hopes and dreams; with wonder of what will be accomplished. They all walk in new. Almost.

Students walk in with stories of what they have been.  How they see themselves. How others see them.  As they walk in, there is hope of new beginnings. That clean slate feeling of all that is possible in a new year.

This week I’ve been re reading Peter Johnston’s Choice Words. Last year what stuck with me was one word, “yet.” I hold that word close because it offers  hope and the acknowledgement of a continuum of growth.

This year the idea of narratives resonated with me: how narratives set us up for success. When we have a sense of agency our personal narratives reflect it. Students who come into a classroom with narratives filled with success or more importantly, stories that show a they are problem solvers have a sense of agency. Their stories might sound like: “it may be hard but, I’m the kind of person who can handle it, figure it out, get it done.” The question is how can we teachers promote this kind of narrative.

This year I’m holding on to these choice words from Johnston:

The heart of a good narrative is a character who encounters a problem and by acting strategically, solves it, usually (but not necessarily) attaining a goal. The following examples of teacher comments are likely to influence the sense of agency children experience in the stories they tell about themselves as literate individuals.

How did you figure that out?

What problems did you come across today?

How are you planning to go about this?

Where are you going with this piece (of writing)?

Which part are you sure about and which part are you not sure about?

Why would an author do something like that?


Next week we will walk into the classroom ready to learn, to become, to create narratives.

This year I’m holding on to the idea of creating narratives that build agency.

This week I’m celebrating Choice Words and waiting for stories.


11 thoughts on “Celebrate: Choice Words and Waiting for Stories

  1. “Tabula rasa”-so right for the beginning of the year. It’s one of the prompts I gave students early, asking what did that mean for them? Peter Johnston’s words are important to ponder, use, keep close. Love the way you continued to say “waiting”, Julianne. It’s like holding our breath, isn’t it?

  2. Oooooh! The anticipation of meeting your new class Is palpable isn’t it!? I’m excited for you and for them and for all the exchanged learning ahead.

  3. I just love school supplies and I have missed buying those this summer. Since I am moving to 6th, I do not have to buy or store things like I used to. It has really been an unusual start! I have not read Peter Johnston’s books but I have heard so many positive things about them. Enjoy the excitement of your new year!

  4. I love the enthusiasm I hear in your words!! I love the image of the new school supplies…but I have a question…the books for the library are in boxes? I’d love to hear how you set up your library. Do you do it with the students?!?! I love that idea and I’m wondering if I’m brave enough to do it. I have about a thousand books and my classes are 90 minutes long…wondering about the logistics…

    Sorry, got off topic! Happy beginning of the school year!!! I can’t wait to follow your year here on the blog! 🙂

  5. You have captured this feeling perfectly! It is such a lovely time, so many possibilities. The sense of “How will you do this?” and “What is your plan?” is so empowering for our students – thanks for the reminder!

  6. I am excited to see where the year takes you this year as you learn along with your classes. I am so glad that you choose to share chunks of that learning in this space. Thank you.

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