Celebrating Grandpa(s)

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So glad to be participating in the Celebrate link up. Thank you, Ruth Ayres for this awesome Saturday tradition. 

Knowing I was planning for my memoir study with my 6th graders, my instructional coach shared some mentor text ideas she found on Choice Literacy. There were so many to choose from, and my librarian was able to find a big stack for me. On Friday, I read one of my (new-to-me) favorites to my class: Grandpa Green, by Lane Smith. 

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I  connected to this book. My grandpa, 97 years old and now starting to slow down, has been staying with my parents recently. Reading this book, I reflected on how lucky I am to be a mother myself with living grandparents. My children have been growing up with two great-grandparents (My grandma on the other side of my family will be turning 92 this year). I was trying to pinpoint memories of my grandfather, and the first thing I noticed was that to me, my grandparents have just always been a part of my life. My childhood memories are full of time with each of them. This is the first thing I’m celebrating today: How lucky I am to have these grandparents as solid parts of my whole life. I watch as my mom helps my grandpa, and I hope they are both finding time to celebrate his 97(!) years.

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My mom helping my grandpa to the car

My connection seemed specific when I first read the book, so I thought closely on the subject.  My grandpa who grew up on a farm continued through this past summer to work in his garden, like the grandpa in the book. He was born “…before computers or cell phones or television.”  Like Grandpa Green, my grandpa has started to forget things. However,  he was a scientist, not a war hero like  Grandpa Green, and he only has 2 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. He didn’t meet my Grandma at a cafe (I don’t think!)  and my mother pointed out that my grandpa got his chicken pox in his thirties, unlike Grandpa Green.  So perhaps the book was just as a memoir is supposed to be – a story that resonates, not in its specific facts, but in its universal truth.  Grandpas were “…born a really long time ago. . . ” and are now “pretty old…”

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Tonight, I plan on reading the book to my own children, and I wonder what their connections will be. They have a grandpa and a great-grandpa. I’m sure to my children, both of these men were  “…born a really long time ago. . . ” and are now “pretty old…”

Although I had this immediate connection, I wasn’t sure what my class would think. I shouldn’t have worried. This story sparked many memories for them. They have grandparents, and parents who have exciting and interesting pasts, and I heard all about them.

“My grandfather was in a war. I’m not sure which one, but he was in the Army.”

“My dad’s first kiss was in high school with my mom.”

“My grandpa likes to garden too.”

It was one of those times I like to celebrate in my classroom. I thought we’d read the book, do a quick write in our writer’s notebooks: something to add to our writing territories and look back on when we are ready to dive into writing our own memoirs. But, I was wrong. This book inspired much more. What they all needed was discussion and sharing and it took at least double my time estimate. The majority of the class wanted to share something. So, we celebrated GrandpaS. (And dads and uncles and memories) The last things I am celebrating: Kids leading the way during literacy, and amazing mentor texts.

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13 thoughts on “Celebrating Grandpa(s)

  1. I teach sixth grade too. Sometimes it’s hard to cut down on sharing time and transition to sharing time. How lucky that you still have grandparents! Since my own young adult children have no grandparents alive, we tell lots of stories. I read your post about slicing with your students – my students encouraged me to slice on my blog when we did the March SOL challenge two years ago. Welcome to this incredible community!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, commenting, and welcoming! I agree – transitioning from sharing to working/writing…. can be very hard. I should start setting a timer – because it’s as hard for me as it is for the kids! 🙂

  2. It’s a beautiful book, & a topic most kids love to talk about. I was always sad when some of my students expressed that they either had no living grandparents or no connection to them (there were a few). What a nice thing for you that your grandfather is still living. I know you must enjoy him very much. I did love my grandparents, that’s for sure. Happy also that you had such a good time with the book and with your students.

    1. I thought about that as we had the discussion – were the few people not sharing ones with no grandparents or no connection? I was happy when they started bringing up other family members – to broaden the connection to the book. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. You know it’s a great lesson when the kids connect and it becomes more than what you thought.

    I feel lucky to have had grandparents too. My childhood is filled with memories of them. I will have to check out that book.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Jen

  4. I love the way you wove a story through your celebration, leading to a poignant realization at the end: “Kids leading the way during literacy.” This is what it all boils down to, right? Thank you for reminding me of the power of mentor texts and teachers who listen to kids.
    Shine on,
    Ruth

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