Category Archives: Writing

#SOL17: Stuck or in a Rut?


Two eyes, glowing in the reflection of my headlights, joined by another pair, and then another pair as I see the dreaded white flicker . . .

White-tailed deer

Not to be confused with those other deer, reindeer, also visible during this season, and recognizable by my two and a half year old grandson.

My foot has already hit the brake, my thumb on the horn, sounding out a staccato beat that matches the prayer on my lips,

Please don’t run across the road. Please don’t try to jump across my car. Please, NO!”




Great draft.

Great first words.

But what next?

I’m stuck.

Do I start something new?

Do I begin at a different point?

Is it time for a flashback?

What can I google?

Do any of those responses sound familiar? 

(And yes, you can Google what to do when you get stuck and you will get these types of links:  here, here and here for over 125 ways to get unstuck.)

What is the simple truth about getting unstuck?

You must keep writing.

Take a short break.

Observe something.

Walk around.

But return to your writing.  Recopy your last word, line, paragraph or — to get your writing flow moving.  Your writing does not need to be stellar.  Your writing needs to be WRITING!




I’m purposefully writing this “stream of consciousness” because of the #TeachWriting chat where we talked about writing. (Storify here)

Ruth Ayres, author of this amazing book,

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.23.49 PM

said this:

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.26.08 PM

So now I am off on a tangent,

not stuck,

but I have abandoned my story line for this:

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.31.32 PM.png

and I am so off track (excuse the pun)

but I feel productive because I continue to add words, lines and pictures to my blog post.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, 

What are those 3 sets of deer eyes doing? 

Have they moved? 

Where did my story go?




Has that ever happened to you?

Have you ever been lost, but found a totally different path?  and then realized that path was so different it was unconnected, so now you had to go back to the original story?

With work, revision, and some sharp scissors, this might become a circle story . . .

MIGHT,

But not today!




CCSS. CCRA.W.5. “Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”

I wish I had a plan. This was truly the randomness of my thinking.  A variety of ideas floating through my head.

But I did not stop writing.

I looked for ideas

. . . and then I wrote

. . . and wrote

. . . and wrote.

It’s 321 words later and I’m still struggling to figure out where my story is going?

How stuck?

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.45.45 PMScreenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.46.39 PMScreenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.48.46 PMScreenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.52.42 PM

Ankle deep?  Knee deep?  Waist deep?  Up to my chin?

How stuck?

Or in a rut?

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.58.05 PM.png

And just like that the glowing eyes decided not to fight tonight.  Not to risk life and limbs crossing the road.  They merely paused . . . and stared . . .

And I blinked, slowed, and cautiously continued on my way.




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




Current status of my draft:

Two eyes, glowing in the reflection of my headlights, joined by another pair, and then another pair as I see the dreaded white flicker . . .

White-tailed deer

Not to be confused with those other deer, reindeer, also visible during this season, and recognizable by my two and a half year old grandson.

My foot has already hit the brake, my thumb on the horn, sounding out a staccato beat that matches the prayer on my lips,

Please don’t run across the road. Please don’t try to jump across my car. Please, NO!”

And just like that the glowing eyes decided not to fight tonight.  Not to risk life and limbs crossing the road.  They merely paused . . . and stared . . .

And I blinked, slowed, and cautiously continued on my way.




At this stage, what are you thinking?

. . . And why? 

How do you get unstuck?

Do you have tested-tried-and-true ways that work to get you unstuck? 

Or are you in a rut?

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#SOL17: Revising Writing with Data


Screenshot 2017-08-22 at 11.17.55 AM

First Day

The bus turns the corner and I check once more to see that everything is in my car.  One picture down although it’s kind of gloomy and there is no sunshine on this auspicious day.

The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road. I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended. “Smile, just one more picture!”  He takes three steps, turns, and looks as I snap the photo and then he resumes his journey up the steps.

I’m sure it’s blurred, I think as tears stream down my cheeks. This would not be the day to take a lousy picture. I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat in the third row behind his friends.

He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning. Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window. The driver looks down, closes the door, and the bus lumbers down the road.

I hop in my car because it’s just five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture. It’s 1995, The First Day of School, and there are no digital pictures.




Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 12.17.43 PM.png

Dear Reader,

If this story felt familiar, you are absolutely correct.  This is a revised version of a “slice” posted on August 22nd here.

Which version do you like best – the revision above or the original posted in August?  And why? 

Continue to think about those two posts on the same topic as I explain . . . 




I found this really cool tool, SAS Writing Reviser, that can be added to google documents to help writers revise and strengthen their written work.  I wanted to put the tool to the test so I pulled up several documents and tested it out.

It was TOO much!

So then I had the brilliant idea of taking an “old slice” and checking out the data prior to a revision.  I really wanted to “test out” the theories that were already rolling around in my brain!




 

Data

My data.

My numbers.

My information to review, consider the implications, revise . . . or not!

I control my use of it.  I am headed straight to the statistics. (No starting at the beginning for me!)

Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 9.53.25 AM

What do I find interesting?  

Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 12.12.01 PM.png

The 27 sentences with an average sentence length of 7 words and where 12 are listed as simple sentences was a big surprise.  But I’m not yet sure what I am looking at.  So more data is needed.

Sentence Length Bar Chart

Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 10.00.49 AM

Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 9.59.07 AM

Confused?

The pop up box allows a limited view of the work so two screenshots were necessary!

Three sentences have 0 words.

What does that mean?

More.Data.PLEASE!

Sentence List

  1. The bus turns the corner.
  2. My last check to see that everything is in my car.
  3. One picture down.
  4. It’s kind of gloomy.
  5. No sunshine for this auspicious day.
  6. The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.
  7. I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended. “
  8. Smile!
  9. Just one more picture!”
  10. He takes three steps, turns, and looks.
  11. I snap the photo.
  12. He starts up the steps.
  13. I’m sure it’s blurred.
  14. Tears stream down my cheeks.
  15. This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.
  16. I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat.
  17. Third row.
  18. Behind his friends.
  19. He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.
  20. Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.
  21. The driver looks down.
  22. Closes the door and the bus lumbers down the road.
  23. I hop in my car.
  24. Five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.
  25. It’s 1995.
  26. The First Day of School.
  27. No digital pictures.

The title and sourcing information of the document was included in sentence 1 making that count over 25 words so that’s helpful information for future analyses.  The writing reviser is good.  It checks all written work, even the words and sentences that I have added to my working google doc.  Only two sentences were originally in the length range expected for essays.

And my mind is whirling with possible uses for this sentence list

for revision and editing purposes.

Hmmm . . .  Is it a formatting issue?

I have one sentence consisting of just one word that really looks like at least a negative number on the chart (8).  Two bars hit the “0” exactly and those seem to be the two sentences with two words ( 17, 25).  So the visual representation in the Sentence Length Bar Chart seems to be off.  Just seeing the sentences listed out verifies that I do have a lot of short sentences.  

Draft Thinking

What if I were to change the length of sentences?  Or even to put in a run on sentence or two, deliberately, for effect?  Those are choices that I could make as a result of reviewing all three pieces of data under the support tools. (leaving four other choices totally off the grid at this time)

Revision Statistics

 

Check out the statistics for the Revision. The Writing Reviser provides a side by side comparison of the original and the revision, but that didn’t work when I kept it totally separate in my Google doc so that I could “keep” the versions separate.

Statistics – Revision

Revision areas                                       Preliminary   Current

  • Words                                                            206
  • Sentences                                                        14
  • Paragraphs                                                       5
  • Average sentence length                              14
  • Possible wordiness                                          1
  • Prepositional phrases                                    18
  • Passive voice                                                     2
  • Relative clauses                                                0
  • Simple sentences                                              2
  • Possible sentence fragments                          1
  • Possible run-on sentences                               5
  • Subject-verb sentence openings                   11
  • Prepositional phrase sentence openings      0
  • Dependent clause sentence openings           0
  • Words used more than once                         33
  • Weak verbs                                                         9
  • Present tense verbs                                         30
  • Past tense verbs                                                 1
  • Cliches and jargon                                             0
  • Possible vague words                                       1
  • Possible pronoun problems                           11
  • Possible dangling modifiers                             0
  • Possible misplaced modifiers                          3
  • Areas to check for parallelism                         8

Screenshot 2017-11-27 at 10.35.54 AM.png

Sentence List

  1. The bus turns the corner and I check once more to see that everything is in my car.
  2. One picture down although it’s kind of gloomy and there is no sunshine on this auspicious day.
  3. The brakes squeak as the bus pulls to a stop in the road.
  4. I hear the stop sign pop as it is extended. “
  5. Smile, just one more picture!”
  6. He takes three steps, turns, and looks as I snap the photo and then he resumes his journey up the steps.
  7. I’m sure it’s blurred, I think as tears stream down my cheeks.
  8. This would not be the day to take a lousy picture.
  9. I watch as he walks down the aisle and chooses a seat in the third row behind his friends.
  10. He looks happy but he was so quiet this morning.
  11. Only the top of his head is visible from outside the window.
  12. The driver looks down, closes the door, and the bus lumbers down the road.
  13. I hop in my car because it’s just five miles and I will be at school for my son’s second “First Day of School” picture.
  14. It’s 1995, The First Day of School, and there are no digital pictures.

RESULTS:

Data confirmed that the visual bars are not correct as my shortest sentence is five words (5) and it looks to be about 4 words on the graph above.  Now eight of the 14 sentences are within the expected range or above according to the graph.

Do the numbers tell the whole story? The average sentence length in this version (14) is almost in the bottom of the range expected for an essay (15 to 20). In order to have longer sentences, I combined several so the second version has 14 instead of 27 sentences where now only two (down from 12, YAY!) are listed as simple sentences.  

What data do you find interesting?

What data would you give more credence to?

What data would you ignore?




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




The rest of the story:

My vote is for my original slice because:  a) the juxtaposition of the actions and my thinking as well as the varying sentence lengths, and b) the way it sounded when I read it out loud. The data and the Writing Reviser has great possibilities for students writing essays and informational texts.  I think the utility for narratives needs further exploration.

#SOL17: Stories


Where do ideas for stories come from?

Some stories come from a picture that captures an idea.

Some stories come from an observation.

Some stories come from a conversation.

Some stories come from a thought or idea inside the brain.

Some stories come from a question.

I had the pleasure of hearing Kate Messner share with a panel on Friday where the idea for Over and Under the Snow came from . . .

tracks and then a hole in the snow

over and under

And then this book became a mentor text for additional texts.

About Over and Under link

Advice for writers from  Kate Messner here

Where are your ideas coming from? 

What are you paying attention to? 

What are you wondering about?




slice of life

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




Additional information:

Neil Gaiman on ideas here

Story Nuggets here

Wiki how here

Heart Maps by Georgia Heard here

#NCTE17: Saturday


magic wand.PNG

And the answers were:

Bob Probst:  “I would give students more access to models of student discourse so they can talk about the content.” 

Lucy Calkins:  “I would give teachers more time for professional conversations, to dive into problems of practice together as a community and share their discoveries.”

Kylene Beers:  “I would double your pay and cut the number of students in your class in half.”

This last question posed by moderator Lester Laminack who was seated on stage with the panel was:  “If you had a magic wand in public education today, what would you do with it?”

Was this the most memorable question of the day?  Why begin here?  Because Saturday was a ginormous day of learning at #NCTE17.  My day was filled with nonstop sessions and meetings from 7:30 am until 10:05 pm.  It was Saturday.  I was in St. Louis.  And let me repeat, “my day was filled with nonstop sessions and meetings from 7:30 am until 10:05 pm.” And it was Saturday.  If you do the math, the answer is something like 14+ hours.

Details:  The first meeting was a breakfast. The last gathering was dinner. 15 minutes in between sessions to race from one end of the convention center and settle in for 75 minute learning opportunities… On a Saturday!

NCTE

What is personalized learning?

What is the role of technology?

My answer is #NCTE17.  A conference that I choose to attend, at my own expense, in order to learn and grow professionally.  A conference where I renew my professional “joie de vivre“.  I chose my schedule (or does it chose me?).  I make a plan or two. I continually check my list of “Must Learns“. Some items are topics.  Some items are names.  Names of people. Names of books.  And the best intersection . . . authors of books from book chats or book studies. The books in my bag in my hotel room that I forgot to match up to my schedule to bring for autographs.  Those authors.  Those from whom I want to learn MORE!

Personalized = my choice.  Technology = those I have met on Twitter, Voxer, and blogs (that I now meet face to face).  A lasting marriage of Voice and Choice on Saturday for 14+ hours of learning! Learning on my own dime and time.

So what did I learn?

“We still need a balance of technology and print in our literacy lives.  There is not yet a definitive answer on when and how much screen time is appropriate for effective learning.  Think balance.”  Colleen Cruz, TCRWP

Lucy Calkins:  “Transference of phonics is the goal. We don’t need a professor of phonics.”

“Our new work is our best work.  We are always striving to improve and outgrow ourselves as a community of learners.”

To learn more about Jacqueline Woodson, Saturday General Session, check out her website. Simply gorgeous keynote!

F.38 What Matters Most About Reading and Writing 

(Lester Laminack, Kylene Beers, Robert Probst, and Lucy Calkins)

What I will hold onto:

Kylene shared that 80% of adults go to text in order to be right.  So we need to teach HS kids that reading, entering a text, is an opportunity to change yourself.

Lucy Calkins – “Live as if one of the pillars of your thinking is dead wrong.” Go to sessions, work with folks because if we only read our books and stay in our bubble – we will not be surprised and will not outgrow ourselves.

Lester Laminack:  Our children are 21st century citizens . . . ask Siri ‘Why do bees buzz?” (and he did on stage for all of us to listen to) How do we convince Ss to fall in love w/ books?  That’s a question for your, dear reader!

Lucy:  We can grow as writers if we write along side our students when they are writing.  We don’t have to be writers before we begin teaching writing.

Kylene:  Writing to tell or Writing to discover. We can’t and don’t write enough. We shouldn’t teach kids non-fiction means not fake which then turns to true…let’s teach them non-fiction means not fiction. Non-fiction can be fake, not because you don’t agree with it though.

G.04  How to Say Less So Readers Can Do More:  Developing Agentive Readers

(Jan Burkins, JoAnne Duncan, Gravity Goldberg, and Renee Houser)

We read passages at 90% accuracy.  They were tough to understand.  Sometimes reading is tough.  We need to acknowledge that.  But we also need to make sure that students DO THE WORK!  We need to set up those conditions of learning!

who is

Haven’t read it?  No excuse!

You can read about it here, here, and here.

what

Gravity and Renee have this fiction and a nonfiction parallel book as well.  Have you read them? Reflections on the books are included on a post here.

JoAnne shared the journey of a particular student in her building who learned to read and was then given books when she moved from the school. Powerful and tear jerking reminders that our relationships matter.  We have to be a part of our students’ lives.

H.08 Harnessing the Power of Multicultural  Literature and Critical Literacy to Generate Authentic and Enjoyable Writing Spaces That Bring Writers Back into the Workshop

(Brian Kissel, Kristina Kyle, and Lauren Rudd)

The two first grade international teachers  shared the influences of their work:

Critical Literacy

  • James Paul Gee
  • Paulo Freire
  • Vivian Maria Vasquez

Social action  (for a Better World)

  • Randy Bomer
  • Katherine Bomer
  • Stephanie Jones

brian

And then Brian had us read and think alongside his reflections on his student work! For more information about Brian and his work, check out this post.

Thought to Ponder:

What would happen if you read every piece of student work just like you read every published book?

I.20 Recapturing Assessment:  Student Voices in Aiding Our Mission

(Jason Augustowski, Dr. Mary Howard, Dr. Katie Dredger, Cindy Minnich, Sam Fremin, Ryan Hur, Joseph O’Such, Christian Sporre, Dawson Unger, Spencer Hill, Jack Michael, Ryan Beaver, Sean Pettit, and Kellen Pluntke)

Take aways from the #BowTieBoys:

  • Students do not want multiple choice tests.
  • Students do not want to regurgitate facts.
  • Students do not want to write essays every time to show evidence of their learning.
  • Students do not want to sit in rows of desks.
  • Students do not want to listen to lectures.
  • Students do not want a two page writing limit.

Students want choice.

Students want voice.

Students want opportunities to negotiate HOW to share their learning.

Students want to explore their own interest.

Students want to use technology.

Students want to learn even if that takes more work. 

Students are less concerned about “fairness in grading” then they are about having choices in open-ended rubrics.

(edited)  For additional details about the individual presentations from this round table see Mary C Howard’s Facebook post here.

J. 21. Beyond Levels:  Choosing Texts to Scaffold Instruction for Engagement and Agency

(Clare Landrigan, Tammy Mulligan, Terry Thompson, and Dorothy Barnhouse)

It was such a pleasure to see the cover of Clare and Tammy’s new book and then to have Dorothy read Yo, Yes to us. We can find authentic ways to build in engagement and agency without “cute” worksheet pages!  Tammy and Clare’s blog is here.

And of course, ending with the Slicer Dinner!  16 bloggers (weekly and each day in March) meet up for food, fun, continued learning, and conversation. (Again . . . Personalized Learning and Technology) Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

slicers

What is your personalized learning plan? 

Does technology play a part? 

Are you ready to sign up for #NCTE18 in Houston?

#NCTE17: Friday


NCTE

Keynote:  Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca’s said that reading and poetry saved his life in the NCTE opening keynote filled with his stories as well as a call to action for teachers:  “If not teachers, who should be teaching our kids to take action!”  He also shared a deep appreciation for teachers and the work they do.  Jimmy told of teaching reading to kids even if it meant bringing in pizza to first meet their physical needs.  He also spoke about the need to involve parents and communities in our work and that would mean meeting them where they are. . . not always waiting for them to come to a school event.  You can learn more about him here.

A45.  Conferring as a Path to Help Students Develop Voice and Agency:  Today, Tomorrow and Forever

(Christina Nosek, Jennifer McDonough, Kristin Ackerman, Patricia Vitale-Reilly, Lisa Eickholdt, Kari Yates)

What a start to the conference.  Some friends in real life, or from books, blogs or Twitter chats.  These six each offered round table sessions where you could choose three 20 minute sessions.  Here are a few of my key take aways.

Patricia Vitale-Reilly    How to Make Conferences for those who struggle REAL!

R – Relevant

E – Engaging

A – Authentic

L – Lasting

Each part of the acronym was supported  with items from her toolkit. (And a few were even marked up as figures from her books.) It was great to see her mentor texts and some examples of her student tools and checklists.

Kari Yates – Four Ways to Know and Nurture a Reader

Book Choice

Healthy Habits

Strategic Answers

Responsive

These characteristics are NOT hierarchical but Book Choice can and will impact all the rest.  In order to have confident and competent readers book choice will often be the first area for teachers to begin their conferring work.  Kari shared some key questions that teachers would use to focus their conferring work.

Christina Nosek – The Language of Conferring

Enter as a gracious guest

Wonder

Affirm

Step it Up

Make it Stick

If you are following along on Twitter, you saw those five!

Christina’s videos of her conferring work with students from her fifth grade classroom illustrated each of the five points above. (Extra bonus:  Watch for the book, currently in publication, from Christina and Kari that will be out in early 2018.)

B. 36  Reading as a Personal Art

(Anne Atwell Merkel, Nancie Atwell, Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle)

Seats were scarce on the first floor and both balconies of the Ferrara Theater as Anne Atwell Merkel began with some basic information about the status of readers, reading in schools, and a deep appreciation for her mother’s gift to their school.  Passion and activism as themes continued in Nancie Atwell’s speech.  “Activism is a teacher’s right and responsibility.  What do you do and why?” Kids are readers when they leave her K-8 school but they come back to share that they don’t read in high school. why not?  Because in high school reading is often still about whole class novels, usually chosen by a teacher, with packets and/or art work that is wasting students’ precious reading time.  Blunt, practical, and yet Nancie continues to be an advocate for student choice and voice in order to have a reading life.

Check out this quote from Nancie Atwell:

“Inexperienced unenthusiastic readers NEED workshop, not strategy instruction or digital platforms. Give them time to read.”

And then Kelly and Penny stepped to the podium.  The cover picture of their new book (February?) has been on Twitter this week, so it was no surprise to me that their duet was a perfect mixture of their classrooms and their thoughts as they easily highlighted their main points.  Flipgrid videos literally showed us how they were working together as well as with a class of college students for two purposes: to build connections to help students be more successful in college and to challenge each other, respectively, to think deeper about the ELA work they are doing in their classrooms.  Secondary folks, you will want this book just for their thoughts on HOW MANY whole class books, scheduling, and  the amount of independent reading time that literally will help craft the citizens of tomorrow that we need today. (HINT:  New book also coming soon!)

C.37 Learning Process and Craft Strategies from Authors

Jennifer Serravallo – Learning Process and Craft Strategies from Authors

Strategy:

A series of actionable steps

Break down the skill (How to show not tell)

Make the way I say it generalizable   

Authentic – show what I do

Something to outgrow

How to develop writing strategies

  1. Spy on yourself.
  2. Notice what writers do in mentor texts

Kate Messner – 15 yrs. as a MS teacher before moving to full time authorship

Structure is Kate’s niche.  She found a structure for Over and Under the SnowThen she used that text as a mentor text to write more texts. I’m looking forward to the “document” format in Breakout.

Sarah Weeks – Beginnings

“That’s my favorite part of writing. Haven’t messed up anything yet!”

“Ideas come from unusual places.”

“Always have my eyes and ears open.”

“When working with young students and grad students, photo prompts let us see what happens. Start with talk— what do you notice?

“What are you thinking?”

“How does it make you feel?”

“Let your emotions come out your pencil – not your mouth!”

Kat Yeh – Find the Emotions

“When you write from an emotional truth, the fiction that you put around it becomes believable for the reader.”

“No matter how ridiculous something is . . . there’s a way to connect them so even in the not working, you will have something to add to your story.”

“Write without lifting pen from paper. . . .Start writing.  Cannont stop and cannot lift your pen.”

“What are you feeling?”

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater  @amylvpoemfarm

Amy shared that Poem Farm began as a poem for every day for a month and then expanded to a poem every day for a year. Since then she has gone on to catalogue the poems. Amy’s advice included:

“In order to write, do stuff in the 22 hours away from your desk. Not just watching shows but up and moving around.

Use photo prompts. Take pictures when you see something that strikes you.  

Varian Johnson – Author of The Parker Inheritance

Look for inspiration in:

History

Memory

Other people’s work

Two examples of real life events were the: Uke Medical Varsity  team – 1944 North Carolina College Eagles and a secret tennis game in 1957. 

And is that was NOT enough, check out some of the books generated by this panel.

js author panes

D.18 Choice Matters:  Perspectives of Students and Teachers

(Lester Laminack, Jason Augustowski, Linda Rief and the #BowTieBoys:  Ryan Beaver, Sam Fremin, Ben Hawkins, Ryan Hur, Joseph O’Such, Sean Petit, Kellen Pluntke, Jack Selman, and Dawson Unger.

If you haven’t seen the #BowTieBoys, then it has totally been your loss.  In this panel session, Lester Laminack quizzed the two teachers and the gentlemen students.  Ranging from eighth graders to juniors in high school, they were:

poised

confident

skilled communicators,

with thoughtful responses,

provided suggestions and solutions to add MORE choice the day!

E.12  The Secret of Crafting Engaging Nonfiction

(Alyson Beecher, Candace Fleming, Deborah Heligman, Melissa Stewart)

With 190 published books to her credit, Melissa Stewart drew my attention in this session.  Some gems that I gathered:

“Concept books: what is the Concept? What is the connection for students? What is my emotional commitment in order to work on this book?  (Hear the backstory for Can an Aardvaark Bark?)”

“Where do my ideas come from:  What I see, What I hear, and What I experience. How do we “teach” this to students?”

“If you write broadly, you are not going to get good research.”

“”Research is like a treasure hunt. Research is fun. What interesting facts can you find? How can you find a community person to interview?”

“Have students use sources they can’t copy during research like watching a webcam video of animals.”

Did you have a great learning day Friday at #NCTE17?

What else did you learn?

 

 

 

#SOL17: It was one of those mornings


Alarm.

Snooze.

Alarm.

Snooze.

Alarm.

Snooze.

“Is it really morning?”

“I have a really long list.  I have to get back in the routine.”

It was one of those mornings.

“The clock read 4:15 am.”

Failure 1 

Strike 1

strike one

Filter.

Coffee

Water.

Hit the button.

“No smell.”

“No dripping.”

“No coffee.”

It was one of those mornings.

Failure 2 

Strike 2

strike two

Turned on the laptop.

Ready to read and write.

One hour of my choice.

“No power light.”

“No light on the extension cord.”

It was one of those mornings.

Failure 3   

Strike 3

three strikes

I didn’t read emails.

I didn’t check Twitter.

I didn’t check Facebook.

I didn’t check out my agenda for #NCTE17

It was the second day of real time. 

The return to regular time. 

No more daylight savings time.

I changed my alarm clock.

I put the missing water in the coffeepot.

I plugged in the extension cord.

I read on my iPad until 5 am.

WIN 1

Touchdown!

touchdown

The gift of time.  It was one of those mornings!




What do you do on days that start out disastrously? 

How do you turn them around?




slice of life

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

#SOL17: Wondering


Do you believe this?  What’s the evidence of your belief?

every.PNG

Doug Fisher, SDSU, August

Just Wondering . . .

How much “LEARNING” do you engage in during a year?

I learn daily as I read and write.

No one says “I have to”.

No one pays me for my time.

I learn weekly in Twitter chats.

No one says “I have to”.

No one pays me for my time.

I learn weekly as I blog.

No one says “I have to”.

No one pays me for my time.

I learn weekly in my Voxer groups.

No one says “I have to”.

No one pays me for my time.

I learn monthly, semi-annually and even annually from some major events.

Last week led me to learning in Davenport, IA on Monday with Dr. Mary Howard and

in Des Moines, IA on Thursday with Lucy Calkins.

Passionate speakers sharing research-based ideas.

Tirelessly

Leading

Encouraging

Thoughtful

Implementation of Best Practices in Literacy Instruction and

Assessment.

In three weeks I will be at #NCTE17.

No one says “I have to”.

No one pays me for my time.

I’m “retired” from a full-time job and yet since retirement, I have engaged in

15 days

of professional learning of my choice!

No one says “I have to”.

No one pays me for my time.

That does not include book clubs (6 this year).

That does not include Twitter chats (often 2 per week).

That does not include reading . . .

That does not include writing . . .

WHY?

Learning is growing.

Learning is addictive.

Learning is necessary . . . breathe in, breathe out, read, write!

Living a learning life!

What does your learning life look like?




slice of life

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum and the #SOLSC that runs from March 1 to the 31st. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. 




What is the Bill of Rights for Writers according to Lucy Calkins?

Link

#SOL17: How Many Devices?


Screenshot 2017-10-24 at 7.49.10 AM

Phone? Check

iPad? Check

Chromebook?  Check

Extension Cord?  Check

Charging cords for all three above?  Check

Do I REALLY NEED my laptop?

“It’s a quick overnight for a day’s training plus some family time at a concert?  REALLY?  Can’t I just leave it at home?”

It was a gorgeous learning day.  Devices cooperated for the perfect environment where I could take notes and also have access to text messages, Twitter, and Facebook,

SLICER TIME!

“And that’s why I need my laptop!  I’ve never been able to successfully add a WordPress blog on my chrome book. I’ve messed with a wide range of possibilities, asked on some helplines, and invariably just either drafted on my phone or pulled out the trusty old laptop and started a post.”

It doesn’t matter that I was thinking of ideas before I fell asleep.

The incredible PD with Dr. Mary Howard.

Friendship

Family

Fall

Looming “First Frost”

The impending excitement of #NCTE17

The power of Twitter

The unbelievable magic of Twitter chats

Screenshot 2017-10-24 at 8.00.15 AM

Chromebook?  Tried but nope, no luck with WordPress!

Phone?  Not the finished look I would like!

Is a draft better than NOTHING?

YES!

So today’s slice is brought to you via a draft on my phone and a bit of polish on my iPad.  My plan for my next travel is to save a formatted draft so that I can add text and publish with relative ease from any device.  (Cross my fingers that I remember!)

How do you turn around a failure? What do you learn from it?

What do you do when your device(s) don’t cooperate?

When do you sacrifice BEST WORK for BEST EFFORT?  




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

#WhyIWrite


typewriter

Why I write:

To think

To reveal

To process

To deepen my understanding

To check my understanding

To analyze my thinking

To share my learning

To wonder

To share

To be a model for teachers and students and

To experience the JOY of a community . . .

Those are some of the reasons I write.

(And as soon as I hit “publish” I will think of at least 10 other “better”reasons that I wish I had thought of during the three days that I worked on this draft!)




Planning

Drafting

Revising

Conferencing

Revising

Publishing

Do these steps look familiar?

But do they match your current reality in your writing?

Do they match your current reality in your writing instruction?

I’ve been spying on my writing for over a year . . . literally in search of patterns that I could identify in my own writing.  Trying to decide on that next big goal for myself – ambitious or “doable”? . . . lofty or practical?

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as finding a pattern, setting up some demos and “off you go” because writing is complicated.

Steps are added or revised . . .

If I have to stop and research.

If I have to completely scrap my draft because it is really so pathetic.

If I have to continue my “search for a topic”.

If I have to . . .

So here are some resources,

Quite literally, some food for thought!

Because all of these relate to just one simple standard in writing and yet this standard (and its intent) are often overlooked in a search for a priority or a way to reduce/simplify the writing standards!

“CCR. W.5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”

A previous blog post that connected to this standard is in the 2014 archives here!


Planning

Planning – Where does an idea come from?  – my blog post

Celebrate Celebrating – a blog post from Julieanne Harmatz (grade 5)

Learn by Writing – Lynne Dorfman’s blog post

Helping Students Plan their Writing – a blog post by Melanie Meehan

Using Technology for a Kindergartner’s Writing Process – a blog post by Melanie Meehan


Writing Goals

Introducing a Hierarchy of Writing Goals – a blog post by Jennifer Serravallo

Goal Setting – my blog post


Drafting:  Beginnings  (somewhere – trying more than just one beginning – trying a new approach

21 of the Best Opening Lines in Children’s Books

The Beginning – my blog post

Strong Leads – Jennifer Wagner (2nd grade)

Drafting – Endings

Behind the Books:  The Perfect Ending – blog post by Melissa Stewart

The Ending – my blog post

Drafting – Telling a Story Bit by Bit

Celebrating Story – blog post by Julieanne Harmatz

Drafting – Organization, Elaboration, and Craft

Elaboration Strategies for Information Writing Dig- Two Writing Teachers

Text Structures – blog post by Melissa Stewart

Specific Examples of the Power of Three – Stacey Shubitz

First Graders Get Crafty – Dana Murphy

DigiLit Sunday:  Craft – blog post by Margaret Simon


Revising

Revising as part of the Process – blog post by Melanie Meehan

No Monkeys, No Chocolate: 10 year Revision Timeline – blog post by Melissa Stewart


Editing as a part of publication

Your Turn Lesson:  The Colon – A blog post by Diane and Lynne

Editing Sticks – my blog post

Editing – my blog post

  • Editing stations for upper grades – Shana Frazin informed
  • Daily light editing – Shanna Schwartz informed

Revising or Editing? – my blog post

Fun tool – Eye Finger Puppets (Amazon or craft stores) – Make editing time special and reminds the reader and the writer to pay close attention to the work!

eye finger puppets.PNG


Reading Units of Study Mini-Lessons

MiniLessons are strong invitations to learning! (TCRWP_

Reading and Planning MiniLessons – Rachel Tassler

A Short and Sweet MiniLesson Format – Two Writing Teachers

How to Plan a MiniLesson from Scratch – Two Writing Teachers

There are More Ways than One to Plan a MiniLesson – Two Writing Teachers

How to Read a Unit of Study – Two Writing Teachers


Fundamentals of Writing Workshop – Two Writing Teachers Blog Series August 2017

 

Share Time in Writing Workshop – Lynne Dorfman’s blog

Choice in Writing Workshop – blog post by Tara Smith

(Almost) Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Partnerships I Learned in Kindergarten  – blog post by Shana Frazin


Why I Write – Stenhouse Blog

Writing is Not a Linear Process    


Banned Books – NCTE – 2017



Mentor Texts – Books that would be nice to have as Resources

Craft Moves:  Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts – Stacey Shubitz (Stenhouse)

Writers are Readers:  Flipping Reading Instruction into Writing Opportunities – Lester Laminack   (Heinemann)

Mentor Texts:  Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature  (2nd etition)- Dorfman & Cappelli (Stenhouse)

Learning from Classmates:  Using Student Writing as Mentor Texts –  Lisa Eicholdt  (Heinemann)

What;s Your Plan? 

What are you going to do NEXT?






Today’s best draft, (Kelly Gallager)

this post,

This post I wrote to organize!

#SOL17: Revisor


Tues.PNG

It’s a typical Tuesday morning at my house.  Tuesdays when I draft, revise, and publish my “slice” before work.

It’s time to write my slice on my blog post, but I don’t know what to write.  Where will my idea come from?

I pace from the living room to the kitchen and back again.  “No idea YET!”

I stare out the window.  It’s still dark.  “No idea YET!”

I reread last week’s post.  “Can I write a part two?  No idea YET!”

I stop.  I ask myself, “What did I do this weekend?”

I went to the Homecoming parade.  I went to the game.  I watched the bands (alumni and current) march. I went to watch high school band competition.

I remembered how much I loved marching band when I was in high school and college.

I was so excited.  When I looked at my pictures from the weekend, I had tons of pictures of both my family and the marching bands.  Finally I have an idea.  I know . . . My slice is going to be about how I found my idea . . . and I begin to type.




And, now for the rest of the story . . . 

Paul Harvey story (Part 2)

The story above is the “Prequel” to last week’s post. I used the prequel in a second grade classroom to demonstrate some revisions that the writers could consider to make their writing stronger.

I am quite confident in my “revising” skills.  It is easier for me to say that I am a revisor than to say that I am a writer.  In the midst of writing, I have doubts.  In the midst of revising, I feel like my super powers are engaged.  There’s structure power, elaboration power, and the so important editing/conventions power.

How does that impact my writing?  

How does that impact my instruction?

I believe that my love for revision enables me to be both a more-focused and a more-flexible writing coach.

Here was my first draft of my writing – deliberately designed so I could use it with my second grade friends! A very short three page story

Draft Document

How did I get from my original nine sentences to the final draft (25 sentences) above?

What were my revision points?  

In our narrative mini-lessons these were some of our teaching points:

revision.PNG

What were student writing goals?

Student goals included strong beginning, writing more sentences across pages, or adding more details.

Beginning – Page one – I need to add where and when because I have the who and what.

Middle – I need more details so I decide to have two pages and decide to repeat the “No idea YET!” (page two)  and on page three I leave the first sentence and change the ending.

Ending – I check to make sure that I add details that bring the story full circle.

I use bright neon paper strips or green marker for my revised sections to make the revisions very visible for my readers and writers.

Google Doc- Revised story

This revision basically happened in order:  beginning, middle, and end.  Not all happen to work that way!

Are you a revisor?  

How do you teach revision?  

How do you match revision, instruction,  and goals?

Did you see Betsy’s post yesterday on Revision?  AMAZING! Sticky Notes, Arrows, and Margins, Oh My!




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

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