Thursday, March 7, 2013

Scrapbooking Wannabe

“Life is a series of first time experiences - learning to ride a bike,
not to tell a big lie, coping with the dentist.  There are a lot of them.” 
Jan Berenstein, author of the Berenstein Bears books

              Writing About Your Life by William Zinsser has become the theme in my classroom these past few years through daily reflexive writing and the use of “visual literacy,” otherwise known as scrapbooking.
               People described me growing up as “the little girl who always had a camera.”  I loved taking pictures and putting them in photo albums.  As I got older, I would add captions to the photos or write a name and date.  Until my son was born, I did not realize that the words were just as important, if not more, than the pictures. My journey deeper into the world of scrapbooking started during this time; I decided to create an A B C book detailing Caleb’s first year of life.
            At the same time in my professional career, my second grade class had looped up to third grade with me.  I had tons of pictures of them from the two years.  In years past, we had created small photo albums with the pictures or I had just returned them at the end of the year.  I wanted this class to have a special reminder of their two years with me.  So, I decided to have them make a scrapbook.  Because of time and lack of knowledge, we still focused mainly on pictures and quick captions.  It was a beginning.
            Two things happened the next summer to convince me to begin researching better ways to scrapbook in the classroom and add lessons to my writing workshop, one a life- changing event and the other  just a few short moments in the car. It was not long after I became an Abydos/NJWPT trainer and read Aging with Grace by Dr. David Snowden that I realized my grandfather had Alzheimer’s.  Through spending time with him though, I saw a gift being given to me.  He couldn’t remember if he had eaten dinner on some days, but on other days he would sit and tell me story after story about his growing-up years and his time in the Navy and World War II, stories I had never heard before.  I knew that I had to write these down so they could be kept and shared.  My grandmother and I gathered pictures and began a scrapbook of his memories.  Then, on the way home from their house one day, I heard a newly released song on the radio.  The deejay said the title and singer, “Nineteen Somethin’” by Mark Wills, but I only connected with one chorus that first time, words about parachute pants and growing up. Memories from elementary school, like my friend Jason Davis and the many different colors of parachute pants he wore each day, came flooding over me.  I’d not even thought of those years in forever, but it was so fun to look back and remember.
            I started thinking about my students, who are about the same age as I was then.  Will they remember those little things twenty years from now - the fads, the daily fun times with friends?  We all seem to remember the big events, those indelible moments, like September 11, 2001, and the space shuttle disasters, but I began to see how the everyday moments were what I wanted my students to see and record as well. 
            I returned to my classroom with a desire to research ways I could guide my students through the scrapbooking process and help them write down the memories they were making. Each year, I have been able to change a few things, add more time and lessons in to the process, and see my students become excited about a new way of writing and recording. My professional scrapbooking works, but I have neglected the piles and piles of keepsakes and pictures and notes and journals and and and and in my own home.
        So - Now is my time to scrapbook for pleasure and as a memory maker with my own children. In the few years since Caleb was born, the scrapbook industry has changed dramatically. In fact, ALL of my daughter's pictures are digital and STILL on the computer. I try to figure out why I do not just jump in and start; I have all of the supplies, a work space, and now extra hands to help me. I think I am a little scared. You see, I am a perfectionist (which will probably be a post topic itself at another point in time). I have come to realize that I'm scared I will mess up or it won't look exactly how I want it to look. Why do I do that to myself?
        I have decided: one of my goals for Spring Break is to take a long hard look at my scrapbooking conglomeration. What will I keep? Will I make the switch to digital scrapbooks which are the growing trend and really more practical and convenient for me to create?
          This time though I plan on not becoming overwhelmed or stressed; I have my daughter, Sophie, to help me. She is a crafting phenom!!!! I hope this process will bring us closer, help me loosen my grip on the pictures and "stuff", and share the fun experience of creating pages for our memories that will  be a reminder of how blessed we are and the love we share. I think she is the key to crossing out the Wannabe and changing it to Queen <3. To be continued . . .


  1. I love how you incorporate scrapbooking with your students. They may not realize it now, but they will treasre those captured memories later in life. I can relate to the piles of scrapbooking stuff. I\m currently stuck back in 2009. Pictures since then are still on the computer.

  2. I have had the privilege of seeing your work with your students, and it is such a great idea. The students learn throughout the process and have wonderful memories to carry with them.