Noticing the Light

Slice of Life Entry Challenge #17:Noticing the Light

As I mentioned in my slice from yesterday, our class is reading Number the Stars as our read aloud. We are in deep in a historical fiction unit right now. My students have started making some deep connections of the book, and I am so thankful. I read the part where they say that all of Denmark is dark after sunset. They are not allowed to have their lights on after a certain time and their electricity is rationed. My students are continually shocked and surprised. In Seoul, our Interent connection is probably one of the fastest in the world, and flashy signs and lights are everywhere.

One of my students commented how at night, South Korea is bright and full of lights, while North Korea is black with very lights. There is a famous picture that shows this difference. We started to discuss some of the similarities between North Korea and what the people in Denmark were experiencing. My students are very sheltered in some ways. Yes, they do see the news on T.V. and are influenced by the media, but I wonder, if they really know what is happening in North Korea. We do talk about it in class, but I don’t know if they just brush it off since they are used to hearing about it.  I wonder if they are truly aware that their neighbors are suffering, hungry and crying out for help. Yet, no one seems to really be hearing them.

Who’s the dark-haired girl?

Slice of Life Challenge Entry #16

Yesterday, I had one of those days. A day where everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Just a lot of 5th grade drama and problems. I wanted to call in sick tomorrow. However, I knew if I didn’t come to school, it wouldn’t solve the problems. So I decided to change my attitude and perspective. I decided that I would come in tomorrow ready to have a long meeting with my students in the morning. I would see the potential in my students and help them realize it. I would give them the “pep” talk. I would get my students to be the problem solvers. I would listen to them.

So, I came in this morning optimistic. By the end of the day, I couldn’t believe it. It was one of the best days we had in a long time. During the read aloud of Number the Stars, we read Chapter 5 titled, Who’s the dark-haired girl? Even as I read the title, I had a few nervous “ooooohs” from my students. They knew that this wouldn’t be good news.

As I read through the action packed chapter of the German soldiers coming into the Johansen’s house, their eyes looked at me intently with fear and nervousness for them. They were listening to each word carefully and feeling for Ellen. When Ellen tried to take off the gold star of David necklace, my students gasped, wondering what would happen if she couldn’t get it off. As the solider ripped their family picture and stepped on it with their boots, they asked me why? They couldn’t comprehend the hatred that they had.

As I read the last scene, where Annemarie’s hand had the imprint of Ellen’s Star of David in her hand, the students felt relief. Relief for Ellen. Relief that the soldiers had left and they were safe for now. These are the moments that I live for as a teacher. The moments where students are feeling deeply moved by a book. The moments  where their minds are opening up. The moments where they are trying to make sense of the world around them. I’m glad that I came to school today.