Monday, June 30, 2014

Looking Closely

I was thinking my year long focus on Close Reading was over as the school year wrapped up. My book club was done.  My teaching focus was finished. My thoughts and notes were secure in my APPR binder where no one was likely to disturb them. I had stockpiled my list of probing questions for the littlest readers. I knew, in my heart, that while the concept of closely reading and thinking was not new, taking time to stop, look, and reflect deeply in our busy world was a lost art that remained critically important to seeing the beauty in words and images.

I smiled as I tossed papers and never used materials into garbage bags, without looking closely, the way teachers do at the end of the year.  I smiled as I read (much too quickly)a tongue in cheek obituary by Dave Stuart, Teaching the Core.  I was overwhelmed with heat and humidity as well as end of the reports, packing up the classroom, and saying goodbye, again, to colleagues! Like so many BUZZ phrases and phases in education, perhaps this one had served its purpose.  Perhaps it could be "retired."

Then, in the early hours of my summer vacation, I headed out to the mall.  We were not there long when I acknowledged that ol' "close reading" perspective.  We were looking closely at dresses from many angles and reflecting deeply, through repeated viewing at fabrics, styles, and prices.  We talked about how others would see what we were seeing.  We pondered how the dresses would glow in a grand ballroom on a snowy evening as we squished into the tiny dressing room on a hot summer morning.  We looked at similar and different fabrics and weighed pros and cons of styles, & colors.  We questioned how others might see them.  So much talking and thinking, deeply and recursively, about such a tiny part of the big day. It was indeed the "first" of many "reads" on dresses.

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Then, I settled onto the porch for that first, real summer evening without the alarm looming in my horizon and noticed that the sunset was incredible.  As I looked, closely, I noticed the layers of colors and wondered if they painted, on purpose, just for us?  Did others see the reminder of cold Syracuse evenings in the summer sky?  I viewed the changing skyline closely for a long while and I must admit that my smile reflected the complex layers of thoughts in my own head.

So, on this, first morning of summer, I am confident that my year of closely viewing, thinking and reading has NOT come to an end!


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