Sunday, March 1, 2015

On Differences--Those That Matter and Those That Don't #SliceofLifeChallenge

After much contemplation, I decided to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge, although I know a trip will interfere w/ my blogging. Here is Day 1: 
Two events this past week have me thinking about differences that matter and the way social networking turns a nonevent into an explosive debate.

The first happened at the Oscars last Sunday during Graham Moore's acceptance speech. During his speech for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, Moore eloquently articulated the importance of embracing our differences, particularly since we never know where they might take us, what accomplishments might await us.

We began a new trimester on Monday, so I waited until Tuesday to show my students Moore's speech and the meme Upworthy posted:

After listening to the speech and viewing the meme, I asked students to quick write for ten minutes about a time they felt as though they didn't fit in or felt weird.

After the free write I asked students to share. This normally isn't a problem, but this time my students didn't want to share. Maybe this is because they didn't feel comfortable sharing something so personal at the beginning of the trimester. Maybe it's because they were grouped with new students.

One student did read his response. He shared that being different is part of his life daily, that he embraces his differences because we're all unique, that it's biologically impossible for us to be the same. It's a good reminder and one that gave us all an aha moment.

The second internet explosion happened on Thursday with what's now known as "the dress."

At first I ignored the plethora of posts about the iconic question, "Is the dress white and gold or black and blue?" Yet as I thought about the question and the debate, that to my mind is rather trivial, the dress images took on metaphorical meaning for me as I began seeing it as symbolic to our nation's discussions about race.

We make too much of a big deal about color, whether it's the color of a dress or the color of skin. Instead of fixating on the differences, maybe we should embrace our uniqueness. That's the message in Graham Moore's speech and a far more interesting discussion than this:


  1. Beautifully written. We do indeed make far to much of color. Perhaps your class can revisit this later in the tri?

  2. Your student's comment gave me goosebumps!

  3. Moore's acceptance speech was amazing, wasn't it. I love that we can show kids a role model who did something fantastic and admits to having difficult times...

  4. I missed his speech. I'm so glad you posted it. I can't wait to share this with my students!! Hopefully we can start doing free writes like this with our AP Spanish kids next year.

  5. I missed his speech. I'm so glad you posted it. I can't wait to share this with my students!! Hopefully we can start doing free writes like this with our AP Spanish kids next year.

  6. Your line "this time the students didn't want to share." That kind of quiet tells us that something really big is being thought about! What a powerful prompt you have your students. I am so proud of the one student who shared! Welcome to the Slice of Life Challenge!

  7. I like how you used a speech to encourage more thinking in the classroom!

    1. Thanks, Loralee. I'm a speech teacher as well as an English teacher, so speaking is integral to my practice.

  8. I loved Moore's speech. I also love your good thinking about color and acceptance ... so much of that is too close to me and too close to where I teach and what I do. How we think about color and difference is often on my mind. That dress and students' fascination with it defined our Friday. So glad you decided to jump in to the Slice of Challenge this year!