If and Then

I asked my grade 10 students to define the word “if”. They looked at me wide-eyed, mouths slightly open, then heads turned and they looked at one another. I moved to the document camera and wrote:

“If” is a hopeful word, a full of possibilities word.

Mo chimed in and said, “Ya, but it can also be negative.” They chattered and shared ideas and struggled to define the word.

If only we imagined the glass half full and we saw with forgiving eyes all that is beautiful.

If I could use my thoughts to give and if I could receive the needs expressed as thoughts, then…

We paused here and talked about parallel structure and the ellipsis, a mark of punctuation they use, but do not understand.

But something prevents me – an disease, a deterrent holding back the hope of possibility.

I told them about shifts in tone, and showed them how to move from something positive to something negative.

“If” sometimes presents excuses like dogs eat essays, and computers delete documents, and social lives are more important than “if”.

Maybe “if” has two sides: one hopeful, a promise – one excuse-ridden, a promise broken. If only I could define “if” then…

 

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