My students have been reading The Freedom Writers Diary. Yesterday, we read Diary #5 which recounts one student's decision to buy a gun for protection from a group of teens in his neighborhood who are constantly messing him up. In the discussion that followed in each class, my students were in 100% agreement that they like this book. It's difficult not to be drawn to truth and honesty. My response was to ask the students whether they thought they had stories worth telling.
From playing the Line Game, I knew the answer was "Yes."
My next question was more difficult to answer, "Why aren't you telling them?"
In truth, no one has ever asked them to tell their stories. No one has said to them, "Write something you would want to read." The Freedom Writers Diary has helped them see that what they want to read, they could write. My assignment at the final 15 minutes of the class period was to "write a story from your life that you would be interested in reading." The results were varied from the expected to the intense. I want to use these truths to begin editing and publishing. I need to get from these stories to blogs. They need to be able to post anonymously. Logistics to think on.
What's ironic is that I was waiting for their skill sets to get to the point that my students could blog. This was wrong. I needed to wait until they had a voice that needed hearing. We're almost there.
My hope is that we will be able to have a level of interaction similar to that of Will Richardson's class when they blogged about The Secret Life of Bees. Having had the chance to actually get to meet the freedom writers, I feel sure they would take 5 minutes every once in a while to write back to my kids. Here's hoping.