Now that the third quarter of the school year is behind me, I’m finding a bit of relief from the non-stop essay grading that was consuming all of my evening and weekend time. The 3rd quarter is when I relentlessly try to prepare my seventh graders for the Califonia STAR Writing Assessment, which is, in many ways a mockery of everything I try to teach my students about writing. They had one hour to read a two and a half page story and write a response to literature essay about it. One hour to read and analyze the text. One hour to plan, write, and proofread. No feedback. No peer editing. No revisions. How many people do you know (remember we’re talking about twelve year olds here) who could write a solid essay which traces the development of a character and analyzes theme in an hour? But no matter. It’s part of the state testing madness, where the ability to answer multiple choice questions or write a single draft of an essay are valued over trivial things such as creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking, and the sheer joy of reading and discussing a piece of literature.
The rain is pouring down right now; a few minutes ago it was hailing. And when I opened the door and reached out my hand to touch the tiny white pepples of rain, the smell of battered anise floated over me.
I’m trying to make time now to work on my altered books again and have decided to do some more pages in the continuing saga of my Altered Book Journal :: The Art of Happiness . The two pages I just completed are not my favorites, but they’re something. The two colored squares I chose stretch my color complacency to the brink of disaster. But I feel the need to keep creating, no matter how I struggle with my art right now.
A big thanks to everyone who has written to me regarding my mom. Many have taken the time to let me know that I am not alone. Thank you for the encouragement, support, and reassurance. Even though you are all strangers, your words of comfort make me feel as though we are friends.