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Shortly after this Socratic Circle and its blog, life took a cruel turn for our school community. To our stunned disbelief, one of our school families was destroyed one night when the mother and her two children, one a seventh grader, one a high schooler, were slain in cold blood by their own stepfather. Unable to grasp the horrific event, the children in my classes added their grief and reflective pieces to their comments already posted, making “Crystal Moment” very meaningful us all.

I was stumped about my remaining ideas for deep readings which had continued the theme of “life is short, so….” I felt this would not be uplifting after such a ghastly experience. Thus I chose the following two pieces, the first a philosophy statement from an essay by Charles Swindoll, entitled “Attitude,” (See Figure 5a - following page) and the second, a non-fiction series of advice

bytes from Bill O’Reilly’s book, The O’Reilly Factor for Kids: A Survival Guide for America’s Families.

March/ April: The poem, “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou completely captivated the girls in classes. Boys were a bit confused at first and wondered how kids who are not from the African- American community, and who are not female, felt about it. Could they identify at all? Why was Angelou so hostile anyway? Was she hostile? Was the poem meant to be “off-putting?”

May/June: Our last piece of the year was a reflection piece using quotations from the stu- dents’ school agendas. I videotaped this Circle. Classes were surprised that at first they were worried about this, but during the taping, they admitted they’d actually forgotten. They did recommend that we tape each time we hold the circles next year, if only to see what discus-

sion skills had improved by year’s end. (See Figure 5 on the following page for a student sample of text marked before the circles began.)

Transcription of legible writing to left of printed text in Figure 5 as written by student:

when I was little you could have me do about anything because I would not have known better but now…we are being judged or know…that ride is going to kill you (like the Dominator)… referring to #4—you what we have been talking about…change. Written notes within the notes box: this 1st quote is a little bitter/sweet. You can focus on your goals but you need to take time to smell the roses. I can spend hours playing my viola and end up spraining my hand before the concert. The 2nd quote made a lot of sense. You can know everything and retain it. The 3rd quote I have seen before somewhere maybe. JHS. Either way it is saying that a natural is nothing com- pared to the person who has worked to master a skill. 4th quote—is true for the most part but it is not always true but is a good rule of tumb. I can spend 10 hours on a paper and get an F but spend 2 hours on writing the same paper and get an A. 5th quote I love. People (including me) are afraid of stinking on ice and falling on our faces. But we have to overcome our fears & use them to our advantage we can take the chance. It is better…6. I would recommend it to Social Studies, LA, art, maybe science but not math because it would be weird…

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Virginia Educational Leadership

Vol. 7 No. 1

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