Three Simple Words

d6cfff9f-78ff-47ca-9380-7f97051efa32Recently I saw this painted on a tree and immediately started to wonder about the story behind the message.  Who wrote it and when?   What were the circumstances behind sharing something, that not that long ago would have been shared in the delivery room, so publically?  I could go off on a tangent about the loss of that wondrous moment when the gender of a baby was only announced at the moment of birth and not a few weeks after conception ~ but I’ll save that for another post entitled “What technology has stolen from us”.  Back to my wonderings about the message on the tree….Was there a significance to this location?  In my mind, I had envisioned a young woman coming to the park one night and writing the message on the tree and then the next day, bringing her husband to the spot, with his eyes covered, and then uncovering his eyes and revealing the exciting news about the gender of their unborn child. Or maybe this was the location where the husband proposed to his now pregnant wife.  Fast forward to the future when the current unborn girl is now a 25 year old woman and her parents select this very location for her wedding picture. Oh how I hope that the location remains untouched by “progress”. Hmmmm… another topic for another post on another day!!

Within time, I found myself generating several other scenarios.  Maybe this was a unique way of sharing the gender of a grandchild to the first time grandparents.  I recall our niece and her husband shared the gender of their unborn child with the whole family by having each of us select either a piece of paper with boy or girl on it  and then they opened up a large box and out floated several blue helium-filled balloons.   Several months later, Zaine Zavitz made his debut.

Three simple words scrawled in pink on the trunk of a tree and a potential story, complete with characters and plot is created.  I’ll never know if my conjectures were correct or not, but in the end, that doesn’t really matter. I was intrigued enough by what I saw to create a story.images

The power of creating their own stories is a skill that our students to practice, just as much as they need to practice reading stories that established authors have created for them.

What might you share as a provocation that would fascinate your students to the point that they would want to generate their own story?

Come write with me….

3 thoughts on “Three Simple Words

  1. Sue,

    I love that thise simple words can stimulate so many wonderings about the purpose/circumstances. Modelling this process for students is very powerful.

    I have had the pleasure of spending a few days with David Bouchard. He is an amazing orator and storyteller. He weaves words so well and can push thinking with striking honesty as he broaches difficult topics. As we worked with some of my target students yesterday he discussed the importance of knowing where we come from before we are truly able to move forward on our life journeys. Through the concersation students shared aspects of themselves that and their family histories that they had not yet shared out loud with the class before. Expanding student views of what makes a “good story” – it was a powerful afternoon. I can’t wait until my next visit to see where their personal naratives have progressed to.

    We all have a story to tell – finding our voice as a writer can be a challenge – when we start with telling our stories orally it makes the process of recording them easier.


  2. As I read your posting I wondered if provocations need to be connected to what the child knows or has experienced to some degree in order for it to have greater meaning.

  3. When I was working on my master’s thesis, I was teaching a grade 12 writing course. In front of me sat 25 students–a motley cast of characters–most more interested in writing the perfect keyhole essays, than embarking on a creative journey as a community of writers.

    What became my thesis focus was the power of images to trigger detailed, emotive writing that breaks the boundary between reader, writer, and text. We used a particularly unique piece by Joyce Carol Oates as our guide, and then dug out our old family photographs. Student writing that began as stilted, distant prose, became raw, powerful ‘snapshots’ of life. Students showed us the moment divorce redefined who they were. Another showed the moment a little girl realized her mother had a life beyond her. Then another; a perfect moment at a parade, that was a prelude to misery.

    Images, then, I would say, are a valuable trigger to some beautiful writing–they allow us to enter a moment, dwell in it, and then bring the moment into real-time. The community of writers is born when the image is translated into the written word.

    I love the image you discuss, Sue, because it shows how readily a visual can trigger imagination. Using personal images elicits powerful emotional writing, but I wonder if it also, in some ways, thwarts creativity, as when it is our story, it is only one story–one road to go down?

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