Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inspired by a Mentor Text

As I shared in an earlier post this month, modeling matters, not just with your children, but with your writers in your classroom.  This message was most powerfully reinforced by Kelly Gallagher's model when he sat down and composed while we (teachers) composed using Leonard Pitt's essay Sometime's the Earth is Cruel, our mentor text. He co-presented early that morning with Penny Kittle and Jeff Anderson.  Three great reasons to get up super early that Sunday in 2011 as they are all easily on my top-ten list of secondary ELA super-heroes.  

I've always written with my students, but Gallagher's work and Jeff Anderson's work helped me refine the practice of getting students to read like writers.  Reading like writers requires close reading.  This slice is not about all of that.  Here is a draft of a piece of writing that I fleshed out with my students as we started this journey. Rick Reilly's Why I Love My Job is the mentor text that I used with my students.  It is an non-threatening starting place for struggling writers.  This mentor text inspired the following:

When I was thirty-seven and just found out about my disease, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), someone told me that it only mattered to me since I was a diabetic and no one else cared.  Halfway through my fifth year of life after diagnosis (LAD) I know that person is wrong and this is why.

Diabetes is real.  There is an obesity epidemic in this country and the number of diabetics are skyrocketing. You only need to Google the topic and you will find daily headlines.  Just because you are skinny today doesn't mean that you are immune.  Diabetes has many hidden symptoms and can manifest in your lifetime at any point.  Not just because you are heavy and out of shape!

Diabetes has no gray areas.  There are rules that you must follow to live well by.  You have to monitor your carbohydrate intake or else.  You have to monitor your blood sugar or else. You have to take your medicine or else. You have to exercise or else. Or else you can lose a limb, lose a kidney, lose your eyesight, and ultimately your life.  You can't play with this disease. There are no breaks. There are no timeouts.

Diabetes is life-altering.  Each decision begets consequences, physical and real.  When you don't treat a low, you could die.  You feel woozy and your words slur. Too many affect your brain function.  When you are high, there are long-term consequences related to your organs and eyes. Diabetes alters your relationships.  My daughter, a potential first responder at age 4, kept waiting for me to pass out.  She knew what to do and just was waiting for an opportunity to practice.  Glad that opportunity hasn't occurred, but it altered our relationship.

Diabetes is consuming. It is an additional responsibly.  Managing it is fiscally-consuming. Managing it is time consuming.  Managing it is not life-consuming.  You worry about co-pays. You worry about your A1C. You worry about health insurance.  You worry about why your numbers aren't coming down.  You do, however, learn to keep the worry from becoming consuming.

So here's to you, person who said diabetes only matters to me. I am sad to say that diabetes is an international issue.  And everyone should care since it is a disease that may too affect someone close to you.

Note: This is a second draft and I have full intention of revisiting and making it better.

Feel free to add a Diabetes Is....Statement in my comments!

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