a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


The Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS

Who knows what the meaning of subterfuge is?

{crickets chirping}

{tumbleweeds rolling through the room}

So, as we read this chapter, pay close attention to see if the author gives us a clue as to the meaning of the chapter title.

{read sentence in which subterfuge is found, which also contains obvious context clues}

Raise your hand if you can figure out the meaning of subterfuge now.

{most of the class raises hands}

{read to end of chapter}

So, J (you had your hand up before), what might subterfuge mean based on its use here?

“What?  I don’t know.” J is not a defiant student.  This answer is completely earnest.  His voice is absent of attitude.

But you had your hand up.  I thought you figured out what it meant.

“What?  No.  You asked who could figure out the meaning.  I could figure out the meaning using the context clues.  I just didn’t.” 

I am always learning.  I know better than to think I have it all figured out, yet I was blindsided by J’s response.  To think that a student is completely aware he has the skills to be successful, but doesn’t seem to really get that it would benefit him to apply the skills without personal prompting…this gives me pause.


  1. Hummm...that gives me pause, too. Something to puzzle through.

  2. I am feeling you! Today was one of those days for me too! Igh!

  3. You never stop learning about kids, do you? This was not the answer I expected as I read the post. My mind would just start trying to figure it out. My guess is there are a lot of kids who focus on that word, "could" and then just let it go at that.

  4. I was surprised at his response too, Christy. You know him. I don't. But, the response made me wonder if he really 'could' figure it out. If you can, you're inclined to just do it (as Deb says above) because the invitation is there. Maybe answering a 'could' question is easier. You can say you could without being tested on that claim. I could be way off, of course.

  5. The response of the student was unexpected. Your last paragraph gives us all pause.

  6. I think sometimes we assume things--like that when we ask if students can do something, they will get that we mean they should or that we want them to actually do it. I had a similar experience with 2nd graders once. We were trying to figure out why they weren't understanding something they read, even though they had tried rereading it several time and it was not a text beyond their reach....and then one little guy suggested that maybe if we tried thinking when we reread it would help. Then another added that when we reread we could think about what it was we were trying to figure out. Oh dear.....