professornana (professornana) wrote,

The road less traveled

On Friday, BH and I hopped the train to Denali. It is an 8+ hour trip through lots of wilderness. Lush greens, stark mountain peaks (no sighting of Denali due to overcast skies), and assorted wildlife (osprey, bear, moose, trumpeter swans, ravens). I listened to a couple of audiobooks on the leisurely trip (no such thing as phone service or internet out in those parts). Saturday morning dawned chilly but clear. We hiked a couple of miles along the Nenana River before catching the train back to Anchorage (a 9+ hour trip back). Again, the wonder of nature and wilderness was almost overwhelming. And we got to see Denali at many turns in the track. We made it back to Anchorage Saturday evening in time to head off to the airport for our red eye flights back home.

All along the span of last week, we took many roads that were not the usual routes for tourists. A stand of trees at one point made me think of BIRCHES by Frost which eventually spun into THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED. We did just that: took roads less traveled. Did it make a difference? I think so. At several points on the trip, we simply would nod at one another or clutch one another's hands: words seemed unnecessary (and if you know me, you know that is unusual). We communicated in images we were snapping on our cameras, or a nod in one direction, gasps. Very nonverbal.

Sometimes that is exactly how I respond to a powerful book. Words fail me; the emotions are too raw and I just need to let them fall out however they need to express themselves. Imagine how powerful our classrooms are if this response is cherished and valued (and I know many of you live for these deep personal reactions, too). With all of the push toward more complex texts, toward a more restrictive reading environment, I fear that we might lose this type of response. Any more if it is not part of the CCSS or whatever standards, it does not "count." it cannot be quantified, measured, taught, or assessed. It comes from the gut.

As this school year opens, I wish you many experiences with real reader response. Take the road less traveled when you can. Invite your students to come along with you.
Tags: response

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