There’s this vision (Authentic Task #3)

I’d like to officially begin this journey by introducing you to a new friend of mine:  His name is Blade. A seventeen-year-old African-American man growing up in Los Angeles.  The son of a music icon. The lead in Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess’s Solo.  As you know from the previous post, his story is my story.  Here’s where it all begins:Solotheresthisdream1.png

I wasn’t but a few pages past this one when I realized the power in this story and what started as a healthy distraction became my direction.  I’ll show you what I mean in the best way I know how:

There’s this vision

about transforming

task that began

last summer

with a

“poor saps”

vs. party-planners

comparison that excites

and enrages me,

as each time

I hear the words

authentic and task

together I worry 

if this is

the right way to

think about this work

and about the

implication that to

be authentic

requires a

‘profound change,’

that this is

the message

our community

hears and our

politicians and Facebook

feeds perpetuate.

So I think

of you, my colleagues–

those who

joined us at the

#JCIRA18 gala

and those who were

there in spirit–

tonight and put out

a blank page,

grab hold

of the only

thing that

makes sense

of it all.

My pen.


This post is the first one to capture the experience of the #JCIRA18 Winter Gala in this “Authentic Task” blog series.  The chart above is what I wrote within the first minutes of our time together.  Under the influence of Solo, I was able to set a tone of healthy disequilibrium, something one participant noted later on in the night:  Your writing is so “angsty,” he said, and that’s what makes it authentic. It’s exactly what our students do; it’s exactly what we do.  Yes, we agreed, because that’s who we are.  It’s an authentic human experience.Making Space Icon

I cannot wait to share with you insights like this that emerged from this event.  Be sure to check back each weekend as we layer on the learning.   We might even have a few of the participants from the event stop by to lend additional perspective and applications.

Until next weekend, consider the following and leave your comments below:

  • What do you notice I did as a writer to craft the poem above?
  • What do you notice in the revisions from my first draft and my finished piece?
  • What are your thoughts about authentic tasks in literacy instruction?  About the vision?

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