#SOL15, Almost October, and #OLW

It’s Tuesday, time to write, and a topic is eluding me.

I’ve read this quote from Tara three times:

“The very first thing I tell my new students on the first day of a workshop is that good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”
Anne Lamott


What’s my strategy to get unstuck?

This is today’s strategy:

  • Read my blog posts from last October.
  • Read some other slicer posts.
  • And then start writing.
  • Write quickly.
  • Don’t pause.
  • Write.
  • Write.
  • Write.

What do I wish for students for 2015 – 2016?

  1. Sense of Urgency – There are no “do overs” so each day needs some strategic planning with specific targets in mind. What is the end goal?  Where do we need to end up?  And then backward planning . . . Ready, Set, Go!
  2. Focus on Students – Students First, Students Second, Students Third . . . Get the idea?  Students are at the center of every decision. In every classroom. In every school.  Every.Decision!  (and even knowing when to abandon the plan from sense of urgency because it does NOT work out for students!)
  3. Focus on Volume – Increase Teacher and Students’ Volume of Reading and Volume of Writing – Everyone needs to read and write more.  This will require a focus on literacy, as well as speaking and listening and thinking. Teachers will model reading and writing daily.  There will be evidence of living both a readerly and writerly life! And the reading and writing will be like Gold – not like a curmudgeon!
  4.  Joyful Learning – Not reading like a robot or due to assigned drudgery!  Creating an energized hub of activity – Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening and Thinking Joyfully! Happiness will ooze out of the corners of EVERY room! How do you celebrate meeting goals?  How do you celebrate writing?  How do students become the leaders in your classroom?
  5. And Lastly, Choice – Students will have choice in what they read and write daily. Being engaged in joyful literacy workshops daily means that teachers aren’t assigning chapters and questions or daily prompts. In real life, where are end of chapter questions or daily writing to prompts? When is the last time that a teacher completed end of chapter questions or daily writing to prompts? Readers and writers resent “made-up” busy work activities that are counter-productive to the items previously listed such as joyful learning, focus on volume, focus on students!  Students know when the work is a waste of time!

As mid-terms, October, and/or the end of the first month of school approach,

What do you wish for your students?

What are you planning for?


Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 

20 responses

  1. I read your post because I’m a little stuck today, too. I have an inkling of an idea, but I might need to read a few more posts before I begin.

    1. Great strategy! I hope it works for you!

  2. I loved reading your plan for coming up with an idea and your wishes. Urgency is something I have been discussing with some students lately. I want them to be fully in the moment.

    1. Thanks, Erika. Waiting for inspiration to “arrive” was not going to be a strategy that worked with a busy day ahead. So I thought this would be a great model for myself to use as well!

  3. There are days when you feel like you are grasping at straws in writing, but this does not read like that. You are so focused in your goals and eloquent in expressing those goals. Lucky kids who have you guiding the teachers to develop the passion for reading and writing.

    1. But YET, I did not tell you that this was not my first draft. Still working on recording my writing process. Sometimes I think faster than I write (type); sometimes I type faster than I think. Silent fingers make me nervous!

      Thanks for commenting, Elsie!

  4. I can’t count the number of times I was stuck for a topic on Tuesdays. Sometimes I just start writing and the piece seems to write itself…although this does not happen very often. For today’s post I took something I read in Sunday’s paper as my inspiration. The nice thing about a finished piece is that no one knows you had trouble thinking of a topic unless you tell them. Always good to know that I am not alone when I sometimes have writer;s block.

    1. I often have several beginnings . . . but not so many drafts completed. And you are write, unless the author tells you that it was not “easy” to write, no one else has to know. However, I do believe that we really need to make sure that our students know that ideas don’t magically appear in our brains.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  5. We’ve spent every writing workshop day since day one filling our notebook with seeds of writing “stuff” – even so, finding a writing focus can be the hardest thing to do sometimes…especially on Tuesday!

    1. It’s the pits to have “too many ideas” so that one cannot focus! But, it’s also the pits to have too few! And what is that successful range. Some days there isn’t any number that works!!!

      Thanks always for giving us at least a quote! It’s helpful to have that connection every Tuesday! ❤

  6. Fran, I wish I had such clear goals as you! Right now, I’m zooming through a million tasks at 100 mph! I need to sllloooowwww down and regroup!

    1. Dana,
      This was a great “exercise” for my brain. What’s important and why? And then how do I share this? I so understand the 100 miles an hour, full speed ahead, but also know that priorities are critical!

  7. Fran,
    I wish you could come visit my classroom. As I read your VERY smart list, I smiled and said – “That’s happening!” for #2-5. Daily I need to work on my urgency stamina…minutes do get wasted and with the proper planning and energy, that can be minimized. Your blog post is helping me stay focused on the essentials. Thanks for guiding me from afar.
    (Will I see you in NYC on the 17th?)

    1. Sally,
      YES! See you the 17th!
      Awesome, because your sel assessment on this mini pre-test is an 80%. And sometimes 2-5 are where the REAL work lives! 👍🏼

  8. Love that volume is included in your list. I’ve been pushing teachers to get students to write more and not to teach everything via one piece. It’s a big change for some of them–just let it go in some pieces. Write more. More. More.

    1. Melanie,
      The month of March and #SOL proves the value of volume. “More.More.More.” Students and Teachers! YES!

      And yet, volume is not always the number of words in a piece (last blog post was under 100!). Need many pieces to show multiple points of expertise/learning!

  9. Love the stamina and sense of urgency. So wish I was going to NYC on the 17th. Going to Minneapolis in November so I can’t do bothe. Maybe in the Spring.

    1. Thanks, Julieanne.
      I look forward to seeing you at NCTE!

  10. We love focus on students – in every school for every decision. It amazes how little seems to be about the students these days. We can feel your energy and your focus!
    Clare and Tammy

    1. Thanks, Clare and Tammy!
      School has to be about the students. Not the adults!

      Personal note: I was just rereading and noting that that in the old days I would have had “FRAG” in red for some of my thoughts . . . Scary that moments from decades ago can still have such an impact!

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