Thursday, October 15, 2015

English Subbing

So I'm subbing for an English teacher for a few weeks, which is weird for me, since I haven't had to think about English stuff for oh, about 35 years or so... I tested out of my college level English classes, so I never had to take college English. I have, however, done a LOT of writing in my college and graduate classes, so the concept isn't completely foreign. Certainly not as foreign as, say, math or science!

The students are working on writing ever shorter memoirs in class, and as I prepare for class, I find myself really struggling. I love words. I live by words. One of my fondest memories is of my godfather, my Uncle Bob, teaching me a new word every time I saw him. This was a big deal, since he lived in California, and I lived in New Jersey, so I didn't see him that often. In his last years, he took great delight in forwarding me his Word of the Day email. I have every one saved. For a person with a vocabulary the size of mine to write a SHORT anything is a real effort! The first piece the kids wrote was a 60-word memoir, then a 6-word one, then 140 characters. EEP! I gave it a good try, though, and I tried to follow my own advice to the kids - whatever comes out of my head is valid and good. The only way it could be "wrong" is if the format or style doesn't meet the criteria. Other than that, my words and my message are valid. I hope. (ha.)

So, these are my examples:

60 words:

Moving can be painful and positive at the same time. Starting over is overwhelming and cathartic - paring down years of memories to only essentials. Realizing memories are stored in the mind, not in possessions. Deciding what to keep based on need, not want. Resisting advertising's siren call to buy ever more. I now have a “one in, one out" rule.

6 words:

STRUGGLING! 6 words? So not me!

140 characters:

Food, Yarn, Books, Family, Cat, Bed. All the essentials of my life that make me happy. Add in 70s and 80s reruns and country music, and I'm blissful. (129)

Next up, the kids are doing an encyclopedia in the format of Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. I expect I'll have an easier time of this one, since there's no word or character limit. Wish me luck!

Meanwhile, fall has arrived in New Hampshire in all its glory.

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