Category Archives: Writing

#SOL17: August


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What’s your future?

Lazy days of summer continuing?

Shear panic as school soon starts?

Last days of vacation?

A room to assemble?

Weeks to go?

Days?  Hours?  Minutes?

According to Your Students:

Is school their safe place?

Is school a friendly place?

Is school a kind place?

Who is welcomed?  Who is not?

Who are the heroes?  Who is not?

What do we read?

What do we write?

Whose interests are included?

Whose ideas are reflected?

Who matters?  

Will you bravely include ALL?  




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

August #TCRWP Reading: Day 1


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Monday arrives with rain and yet the fire in my brain flames on . . .

Lucy Calkins keynote . . .

Laughter with Natalie Louis . . .

Learning with Kelly Boland Hohne

Illumination with Cornelius Minor

Such was the Monday in my life!

Today’s post is a recap of information from Cornelius Minor from his closing session: “Using Digital Tools to Offer Access to Students with IEPs”

Access for all Kids – Why is Access Important?  (AKA “Research to Weaponize”) 

  •        UdL – more inclusive
  •        On heels of Civil Rights
  •        Architects – ADA compliant – door width, door knob  (designed from inception)
  •        Knowledge of the three networks that access the brain:
    • Recognition (input – see, hear, perceive);
    • Strategic (executive functioning); and
    • Attitude (and feelings about teacher and learning)

 

Here is a chart I developed to organize some of the information shared by Cornelius.

                                                             What is the main thing?  
Skills Instruction
Vocabulary

Alfred Tatum – Teaching Reading to Adolescent Black Boys  (Chicago) (EL)
Start with verbs – most common  (not ameliorate)  to speak, to move, to think

Build on strengths!

Synonyms:  Ponder, saunter, exclaim – derivatives of most common words.

Camera  saunter A , B photographer

Video ponder B, A videographer

Develop criteria together.

Make pic for word wall – Use students in the class

Social – Doing and Talking

Fluency

The sound of my voice when I am reading text I care about.  (have to like my audience as well as my text)

Teen ink  is a source

“The day I met you was a bad hair day”

Need texts that are worthy of practice.

“Going to play Simon says. You are going to read the poem like I do!”

3 different emotions:

  1. “You just ate the last Dorito” and I wanted it
  2. “Cutest baby” – change voice to match your meaning
  3. Accused, but didn’t throw paper ball!

   Annotate text for emotion

Specific Chrome Tools

  • Announcify
  • Read and Write for google
  • Ginger – grammar checker
  • Google dictionary – define and save
  • Text compactor – summary
Have 3 or 4 that are extremely effective.

More is NOT better.

Can also change readability

Effort

Behavior mirror

Transfer – Use contexts that are familiar – Audio / Video – Students use daily!

Do what the leader does!  SELL it!

Effort lives in our methodology.

What was something tried and true?  

What was new?  

What will you do next?




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016

August #TCRWP Reading & Celebration


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Published Blog Posts as of 08/06/17

What a milestone to celebrate!  500 blog posts.  Little did I imagine that!

And today marks the beginning of the 2017 August #TCRWP Reading Institute!  I’m looking forward to the the opening keynote by Lucy Calkins and then sessions with Natalie and Kelly all week!

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This would be a great week to follow #TCRWP on Twitter!  Great learning ahead!

What’s on your learning agenda for this week?

 

#DigiLitSunday: Stamina


 

Last August, the most difficult day of our trip to Rome was the very first day because it was not a typical day of just 24 hours.  We traveled on the plane overnight.  The perfect opportunity to rest.  Yes, restful, if you were used to traveling like a sardine.  Space between seats was extremely limited when reclined as most passengers were so inclined.  At the airport it was “Hurry Up and Wait” to get baggage collected and through customs.  And then the rain. All.Day.Long! The bus was always parked “just a little ways away” on this day where we had three stops scheduled but yet no “sense of the flow of travel or the schedule” on a bus with 50+ new best travel friends. Our sleep cycles disrupted, dining on new schedules, and walking, walking, walking.  On this day we discovered that the “step” measurements by my siblings were not the same; however, they agreed, we walked over ten miles.  Several of us had to call on every last fraction of an ounce of our stamina just to crawl into our hotel rooms.  Our energy had ebbed with the waning hours, the uncertain schedule and the never ending first day of travel.

I tell that story because any new adventure brings a bit of angst.  Last Monday was the first day of the August #TCRWP Writing Institute which began with a stirring keynote by Lucy Calkins for 1300 attendees, large group sections, simultaneous lunch schedule for all, small group sections and closing sections.  Content may have been familiar or unfamiliar, but the intensity of the schedule both physically and mentally could also make one question one’s personal stamina.

YET have high expectations.Stamina:

Synonyms include “endurance, staying power, fortitude, strength,toughnessdeterminationtenacityperseverancegrit”

Although it’s August, there are many stages of “school life” across the country:  students who have been in session for over a week, those who are returning this week, those that return in the looming weeks of August, and of course those who don’t return until after Labor Day in September.

Is back to school “stamina” a teacher issue?  A student issue? Both?

Already, I can hear the voices . . .”My kids can’t sit still that long.”  “I can only start with five minutes.”  “I’ll be lucky if they are able to sit for two minutes.”

It’s not about torture and being mean. Be realistic. 

YET have high expectations!

Plan for your situation!  And be purposeful!

Reading Workshop

Begins Day One.

Reading.Happens.EVERY.Day.

NO.EXCUSES!

If it’s a “Non-negotiable”, plan for how it will go on Day 1.  Plan for some book exploration.  Think about a soft start.  Think about how your respect for your students, their time and their year will be evident in all that you say AND all that you do!

It’s not about cutesy perfectly organized classroom libraries.

It may be about having students organize the library

as they review the books.

Do you have a book bin of “Favorite Treasures from Years Past”?

It may be that the students have book baggies

that were filled at the end of the last school year.

It may be that you create book baggies for your students . . .

ready and waiting for eager hands to cherish! 

When is it a physical challenge?

When is it a mental challenge?

How do we merge the two challenges?

What series of “work” will you begin on Day 1 in order to build stamina?

Writing Workshop

Begins Day One.

Writing.Happens.EVERY.Day.

NO.EXCUSES!

If it’s a “Non-negotiable”, plan for how it will go on Day 1.  Plan for some small “bits of writing”.  Think about a soft start.  Think about how your respect for your students, their time and their year will be evident in all that you say AND all that you do!

No rushing off to buy “The First 20 Days” .

No “cutesy” worksheet of “interests to fill in.

Writing Units of Study are written to begin on Day 1.

If you change the order, read the first bend of book 1.

What habits do you need to build?

What writing of your own will you share?

When is it a physical challenge?

When is it a mental challenge?

How do we merge the two challenges?

What series of mini-lessons might you use across the day to build stamina?

Read Aloud

Begins Day One.

READ ALOUD.Happens.EVERY.Day.

NO.EXCUSES!

If it’s a “Non-negotiable”, plan for how it will go on Day 1. Think about how your respect for your students, their time and their year will be evident in all that you say AND all that you do!

What book?

When?

Where?

So many decisions?

When is it a physical challenge?

When is it a mental challenge?

How do we merge the two challenges?

How will your Read Alouds progress so that your students 

will be independently sharing THEIR OWN Read Alouds by the end of this year?

What are your classroom non-negotiables?  

How will you build your stamina?  

How will you help your class build stamina?  

What’s your plan?

 

 

August #TCRWP Writing: Day 5


Screenshot 2017-08-04 at 3.05.20 PM.pngWhat a blast!  So much learning!  So many new friends!  So much talent!  AAAAAAMMMMMAAAAZZZZIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!

I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having a “split” schedule during the 2017 August Writing Institute so I was learning from Shana Frazin (grades 3-8 emphasis) in the mornings and Shanna Schwartz (K-2 emphasis) in the afternoons.  The content aligned a lot but the stars were in perfect alignment on Friday when a chunk of time in both sections was focused on editing!

Editing can become a “hot button” topic pretty quickly as many teachers have strong beliefs around the fact that “kids need to write in complete sentences” AKA “Kids need to write in complete sentences with capital letters at the beginning and terminal punctuation.”  Capital letters (K) and ending punctuation (1) are in the learning progressions and are a part of instruction.  This post is not going to hypothesize about why those skills/strategies/habits don’t appear to transfer across genres or grades and why students in MS and beyond don’t seem to “use” what they have been taught.  That’s a great conversation to pair with adult beverages face-to-face!

Editing:  What’s Working?  What’s Not Working?

There are so many components to “editing”:  spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization that blanket statements about the effectiveness of instruction are difficult to accurately tease out.  In general the research has been clear that the effects of isolated drill in traditional grammar instruction has had negative effects on improving the quality of writing. (Steve Graham)

So what can we use?  Try?  Test out in our own classrooms?

One FUN method used by this author is editing sticks and you can read more about those  clear sticks here.  Students can work on the MEANING, or purpose for punctuation, as well as explore how the meaning changes with these editing sticks.

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Shana Frazin proposed editing stations and even demonstrated small group instruction to work on editing skills around commas.  The students in the group used “checklist strips” straight from the WUoS to determine whether they had commas in their current piece of writing, and then they checked their comma use against the purposes for using commas in the information writing unit. If they didn’t use commas, they were then adding commas into their continued writing during that small group work.

Because “run-on sentences” are listed for fifth grade in the progressions,  I chose to use 5th grade as a target grade level to tackle the “I can fix run-on sentences” from the editing checklist.

Here’s the task card I drafted:

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Some practice sentences:

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Here’s one tool (idea from Shana Frazin):

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Ending punctuation flip book

Here’s a second student tool ( 3 x 5 post-it matching the task card):

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This still feels “Drafty-Drafty” as it shows two types of run-on sentences from student work.  Run-on sentences with zero conjunctions.  Run-on sentences with too many conjunctions or “Scotch Tape Words”.  The easiest way to develop a task card or tool would be to check the full range of WUoS and see what work is already built into the units around run-on sentences.  That “go to” response could save hours of angst and searching for solutions outside the resources!

 (Unfortunately I did NOT have the entire set of books in my dorm room in NYC to peruse!)




Here’s what I heard Shanna Schwartz say in our K-2 session:

“Light editing could occur during every writing workshop session in second grade.”

This is not about being mean and telling students they have to “FIX” their writing every day before they can write anything else.  This is not about REQUIRING students to EDIT every session.

This is one idea.  This is one way that editing might go in order to build up habits that lead to being a stronger, more confident writer.

PLAN:  “Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today.  I want you to read back over it and look for ‘x”.  I am going to set the timer for one minute.  Read back over your writing for one minute and then you may continue writing.”

Parsing / Processing (What did I see and hear?):

  • Light editing – 1 minute required
  • It’s a short break with a minimal disruption to the writing flow but yet it underscores the importance of YOU, the author, rereading your work in order to fix this one thing.”
  • Respectful – “second grade writers”
  • Time limited – 1 minute. Could extend a bit longer if the student is really “fixing  something.  But if it interferes with writing production, that will create a different issue during writing workshop sessions.

What might these skills be?

  1. Something that has previously been taught.
  2. Something that has previously been assessed.
  3. Something from earlier grade level progressions.
  4. Something that is a necessary foundation skill.
  5. Something that is not sticking for the majority of the class so the first use of editing minutes will be whole class.

Possibilities:

“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today.  I want you to read back over it and check for capital letters at the beginning of every sentence . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (K)

or

“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today.  I want you to read back over it and check that you have put punctuation ( .  !  ? ) at the end of your sentences.  Reread and check . .  .  ” (Set the timer for one minute.) (1st)

or

“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break.  Choose three words from the word wall. Look at the writing that you have done today.  I want you to read back over it and check your writing to make sure that you have spelled those three words correctly . . . ” (Set the timer for one minute.)

or

“Second grade writers, it’s time for our editing break. Look at the writing that you have done today.  We have been working with word endings in word study.  Read back over your writing and check your words for the endings “er”, “ed”, and/or “ing and make sure those endings are spelled correctly . . .  ” (Set the timer for one minute.)

How many editing goals?

I would hope and Shanna suggested that students would have ONE editing goal at a time.  The student needs to work on this targeted goal until he/she is able to complete it independently.  Practice is definitely required before strategies will become a habit. That’s why this skill needs to be practiced multiple times in order for the student to be able to complete it!

The more visible you can make the editing goal the better! You will be watching for this goal during conferences, small group instruction and in the student’s independent work.  Once you see a “body of evidence”  you will move this goal to the Accomplishment Board where the post it / goal card goes in the pocket by student name like the one posted below.

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Accomplishments Class Board

How are you currently “teaching” editing in the Writing Units of Study?  

What might you strengthen?

What might you add?  

WHY?

 

 

 

August #TCRWP Writing: Day 4


tc columbia

#TCRWP

Hallowed Halls of Learning,

Ivy League Halls of Learning,

1300 Learners

This Week

Here

There,

Laughter,

Tears,

Learning

and then a Focus for Me.




Closing Choice Workshop:

Supporting Kids with IEPs

Creating an Environment, a Schedule, and Plans that

Accommodate All Your Learners 

by Val Geschwind

As we began, Val encouraged us to think of one child.  One child to be at the center of our thinking in every consideration for the environment, the schedule and the plans.  Just one child.  I always loved when Heidi Hayes Jacob did this.  So powerful!

So here he is:

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What about the Environment for this guy?

The depth of Val’s planning blew me away.

And remember that I come from the field of special education.

It was my life for many, many, many years.

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Self- Monitoring

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Partnerships

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Talk

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Physical

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Support Risk-Taking

Val shared her thinking as well as explanations for each of these slides in her presentation.  The pictures truly added to my understanding, but the pictures were not the main focus.  Our focus was on the child at the center of our attention.  Were his/her socio-emotional needs met? Physical needs?  And what about supporting Risk-Taking?

How is that one child doing? Do you know if that child is “learning”?  What evidence do you use?

There’s a paradox here because writing is one area where many might propose that a child with very specific needs  as identified by IEP goals must receive a different kind of writing workshop.  That view is often focused on a very narrow subset of constrained skills that includes letter naming and recognition, drill on letter formation, and other worksh*ts (a totally out of context reference by Lucy Calkins in her opening keynote on July 31 to the materials that some students use during writing time). However, in the context of “All students are general education students FIRST”, they must receive differentiated instruction in the classroom writing workshop FIRST.

WHY?

Because as Lanny Ball wrote so eloquently this week for the “Fundamentals of Writing Workshop” series, it is all about Time, Choice, Response, and Community and Cambourne’s Conditions of Learning: Immersion, Demonstrations, Expectations, Responsibility, Approximation, Practice, and Response. (TWT, August 1, 2017, here)  Aren’t those the things you want for your “one child” above?

Is every child successful in Writing Workshop?

Not necessarily.  But are writers in Writing Workshop classes achieving at higher levels than other classrooms? Are the students able to write independently?  Do they CHOOSE to write?  What does the data say?  What does their instruction say?

How are you measuring “Success” in Writing?

What environmental issues would you add to Val’s list?

August #TCRWP Writing: Day 3


One goal of writing workshop may be to have independent and confident writers who can and do share their writing with the world.

Any one in the “reader-sphere” gulping just a little at that?  Big, Bold, Audacious Goal!  Dream Big!

So how do we REALLY set students (or even adults) up to be Independent?  Some might argue that this means that a teacher needs MORE control over a student’s writing so that the path is quick, controlled and successful.  But how does that student learn to handle trouble?  Work through adversity?  Persevere?  Does that student ONLY turn to outside sources for validation?

This is a draft.  I repeat, “This is only a draft!” But I’ve seriously been considering this since Monday.  A LOT!

I wanted to write about it yesterday, but I was still thinking!  And so last night with the extra hour BEFORE the #TCRWP Twitter chat LIVE from the dorm across the street from TC, I initiated a simultaneous phone conference google doc with a writing colleague.

Testing the waters.

And yes, only a draft for the third time.

Many of us love partners for student work.  And we have our own partners. Partners in life. Partners in marriage.  Work partners. Writing partners. Reading partners. Thinking partners.

How do we set those up . . . in the beginning.

This idea . . . I heard it, we tried it out in our section and it “felt good”, I read some more about it here, and then I tried it FOR REAL again!

Courtesy of Shana Frazin and Katy Wischow:  Open Conferring Notes

 “Open notes conferring could be a path to greater independence, more engagement, and stronger connections between us and our thoughtful, fascinating readers.”                    – Katy Wischow, June 12, 2015, ‘Turn and Talk About”.

Don’t panic!  Open Conferring Notes are not notes left with the student.  They are notes the teacher takes (his/her accountability) and shares with the student so that the student can SEE that his/her voice is heard.  Students participate in conferences differently with Open Conferring Notes because it is more of a partnership than just a turn-taking typical conference.

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The notes are simple 2 columns.  “I noticed” heads the first column and “Tips” heads the second column.  Writing notes as an adult to share with a student DOES feel clunky at first but the notes shouldn’t be a secret.  After all, the words were real words out of the student’s mouth.  What felt “clunky” was:

  • How many notes?
  • Which notes to record?
  • Can he read my notes?
  • Did I capture that thought accurately?

I know over-thinking.  Over the top.  But that delicate balance between what is said and what is written and am I OVER recording?  YES!

Why does this matter?

Do you have student partnerships confer?  Do you expect them to tackle this work?

Wouldn’t Open Conferring Notes be the “perfect” scaffold to begin to teach students to “share the conferring note recording pen”?

As the conferee last night for about an hour, I loved this.  It felt good to be simultaneously, yet respectfully turn-taking in our excitement as we practiced “Open Conferring Notes”.

Partners

Conferring

Together

Open Conferring Notes

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What have you learned, tried out, practiced and investigated further?  

Open Conferring Notes – soon to be used with teachers learning to confer as well!

Thanks for teaching me about Open Conferring Notes, Shana and Katy!

 

 

 

 

August #TCRWP Writing Institute Day 2


Impossible that two days have literally buzzed past in the lightning round of learning.  Time . . . that enemy of teachers everywhere.

What have I learned?  

The learning curve is high.  

There is always more to learn.  

My blog posts this summer are going to be a bit different than previous years.  “Different how?” you might ask.  “Well, more of a focus on application and less focus on ‘reporting’!”

I am completely blown away by the new “Up the Ladder” units available from Heinemann that look like this because I haven’t just read them or watched the videos. I’ve actually “mucked around” with them and tried out some new work as well as experienced the sequence in the Information book in Shana Frazin’s session.

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Link for additional information from Heinemann

For the record, there is one set of 3 books available that could be used for students in grades 3-8. (And yes, the cover says 3-6 so keep reading please!)  In my five years of attendance at #TCRWP, I have had the great privilege of learning from six of the seven listed authors.

(Any errors in this post will be re-posted in another color with accompanying tweets or highly visible corrections. Unfortunately it would be the fault of the operator of this Chromebook, NOT the technology itself.)

August Writing Institute attendees received a copy of the Information “Up the Ladder” spiral bound book.  All participants have had an opportunity to review  the hard copy.

What follows is an opportunity for you to learn more about WHY these units were written, the responses to the “Aha’s” that have been built into these units. the special features that are included, and how you might consider using these units.

Why did the folks at Teachers College write these units?

 

  • To give students who had never had writing workshop an opportunity to “grow into” this work.  For example, fifth graders  new to writing workshop were struggling with writing an argument-based essay when they had not written essays before.

 

 

  • To support teachers who have not done writing workshop before.  Using the unit in professional development would provide common language for teachers unfamiliar with writing workshop and the Units of Study in Writing.  A new to the district third grade teacher could learn a bit about paper choices and “Small Moments” from the learning opportunities in primary grades.

 

  • So students who are struggling writers  who have had difficulty accessing writing  can accelerate their writing.  This can include English Learners or students with IEPs when provided with explicit instruction.

What has been built into these units?

Staff Developer and one of the authors, Alicia Luick shared these “Ahas” in a closing workshop on Monday, Day 1, of the August 2017 Writing Institute.

The “Up the Ladder” units provide additional support because:

  1. The writing process matters.
  2.  Organization must be specifically “taught” (and no, completing a graphic organizer is NOT teaching! – my emphasis)
  3. Teaching into Revision and Student Set Goals is critical.
  4.  Writing volume matters.  The use of writing booklets pumped up the volume exponentially for students in grades 3-8!

What are some special features that a teacher will find in the “Up the Ladder” Units?

 

  • In each session “Teacher Goals and then Student Goals” are side-by-side.
  • QR Code with video models exist for each session. An author models the lesson (minus students) in 6 -10 minutes.
  • Language is clear, concise and easy to follow  with a 6 page maximum length.
  • The end of every unit has ENL’s – English Language Learner suggestions
  • (and added by this author – The post its for the charts are included.)

 

How might teachers use this new resource?  Some Possibilities Include .  . . 

There are several options.  For a district that is new to the Writing Units of Study for grades 3-8, teachers may decide to start the year with all three “Up the Ladder” units before cycling back to grade level units.

Another option might be for a new third grade teacher (for example), to teach the “Up the Ladder” Narrative and then the grade three narrative.  The instructional cycle might continue with “Up the Ladder” Information and then grade 3 information and “Up the Ladder” Opinion and then grade 3 Opinion.

A third option might be more of a “Choose Your Own Adventure”.  A teacher might decide to use the data from the class “pre-on-demands” to determine WHICH (if any) units or bends to teach based on information gathered directly from the students at the beginning of the year.

Are there other possibilities?

YES!  

Most definitely!  

However, a few words of caution.

“Danger, Will Robinson!”

Go back and reread the section about WHY Teachers College (AKA Lucy and Colleagues) wrote these units.

High Expectations lead to High Results.  

Students don’t hit targets that they have never seen.  Simply slowing down the writing instruction so that all students are progressing at a “slower pace” because the units are “too hard” in a district that has been using the Writing Units of Study for multiple years is NOT a viable goal nor the purpose of this resource.  Providing additional support for students or teachers who need INSTRUCTION  or PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT is appropriate.

This week there is a great series at Two Writing Teachers about “Writing Workshop Fundamentals“.  Check out your beliefs and knowledge there!

teachers college

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Thank you #TCRWP, Shana, and Alicia!  So helpful for students and teachers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#SOL17: #TCRWP Writing – New Friends – Day 1


It began with a DM:

Coaching institute or writing institute?

And of course, there was no easy answer.

It depends!

Knowledge, background, willingness and ability to THINK

and apply.

Such a pleasure to meet that coach this week at the #TCRWP August Writing Institute and to sit in the front row together,

listening to Lucy Calkins together,

tweeting together,

nourishing our social media connections and

our face to face interactions.

NOT on Twitter?  

Then you are missing out on PD opportunities from your home like:

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And I don’t say that lightly!  What a great morning!  More in another post! (Shana Frazin)

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What was your story of Monday?  What did you read or write?

I know 140 characters doesn’t cut it for some folks.  Being concise is an art.  But check out this blog post by my friend Sally Donnelly who I also met via Twitter and TWT for a beautiful summary of Lucy’s keynote with some staggeringly wonderful organization!  I just have a glorious collection of stories!

Keynote – “Fun with Reading and Writing Blog”

Homework caused this post to be quick and light.  More later!




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      

AND YES, My Craft Moves is now autographed by the Author!  Thanks, Stacey!

August #TCRWP Writing Day 1


2:44

3:33

4:09

I give up!

Excited!

Afraid I will oversleep!

Time to read!

Precious minutes!

This was my view at 6:00 am.

Screenshot 2017-07-31 at 6.51.35 AM

And the morning begins with registration at

Screenshot 2017-07-31 at 6.42.25 AM

 

Then off to Riverside Church for Lucy Calkin’s keynote at

Screenshot 2017-07-31 at 6.43.17 AM

It’s a great week to follow #TCRWP on Twitter to catch the ideas from the August Writing Institute

What will you be learning today?

 

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