BUT . . .
I don’t know how to make a quilt. I have seen them in various stages. I remember my hair being sewn into a quilt when I was five and playing under the quilt as the aunts and cousins quilted. I know some of the processes and skills, but I lack the practical knowledge that comes from making a quilt. I can’t . . . I don’t . . .
But do I have the requisite skills and knowledge?
But can I really do this _____?
Last week I sewed my first quilt top. I bought a piece of fabric that just absolutely screamed my grandson’s name. I consulted to see what form it might take. And then I took that hard first step. I bought more fabric and committed to a pattern. Luckily I turned to an expert for the cutting. Constantly checking the two pages of directions. . . Reading, rereading, re-calculating where I changed the pattern. (Gasp!) Was it brave or foolish to modify a pattern that I had never used?
BUT . . . Such a little word, but so important as it often adds a caution and perhaps stops further study or action.
BUT . . . Maybe it will remove doubt. Or free your mind. Maybe it will be the source of inspiration, perspiration, or innovation . . .
Here is one example from page 15 of the free chapter.
Entry into Writing Workshop
Do I need to teach the steps of the writing process before beginning writing workshop?
Not if it adds major stress to your current life.
BUT, what if writing workshop actually reduced screen time for you, your students, and/or your students’ families? Support students with WHAT they need. Don’t second guess. Have them show their writing. Begin where they are.
The style and format of this book puts authors Katherine Bomer and Corinne Arens by your side as your virtual teaching assistants to help you think about Time, Choice, and Response!
Check out this free chapter from Heinemann here.
Check out the Wakelet from the #G2Great chat on 3/26/2020 here.
How can you use “But…?” to answer questions, clarify, and move to action?
How can “But…?” become a source of power in your life?
Watch and listen to how you use “But…” in your life!
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum in March. Check out the writers and readers here.
Fantastic Four Fireballs
Fantastic learning continues and today’s countdown of learning is from Thursday at the June TCRWP Writing Institute.
From Simone Fraser’s session, there are at least three different ways to teach grammar.
- Interludes and Extravaganzas
As teachers, we need to reflect:
Who is doing the work?
Who is doing the most talking?
Do we always use the same group size? Or do we vary whole group, small group, partners, 1:1?
Do students really have enough “work” to really understand?
When do students become more independent?
Which method leads to the best transfer?
If you are only using one method, which one would you add to your repertoire?
From Marie Mounteer and our Interactive Writing session,
When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.
When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.
When making choices, we always want to go back to purpose.
The WHY? is critical.
Marjorie Martinelli’s message in her choice session was exactly what I needed to hear. When we consider any practices in our writing workshop, we need to consider these three lenses:
We were looking specifically at writing centers, routines and rituals, and anchor charts, but these three bulleted ideas can frame our discussions about classroom environments, all parts of the writing workshop, writing process and even genre work. Reminding ourselves of the WHY or purpose behind our work is always a great beginning to review our goals and purposes in order to keep our eye on how all students can have increased access, agency and independence in writing.
Katharine Bomer knocked it way out of Cowin Auditorium with her keynote titled, “With an Air of Expectancy: Teaching Writing with Belief, Hope, and Respect”.
Which one is more inviting? Which one is more inclusive?
They aren’t the same. Just as learning and achievement are not the same.
But this is my favorite and what every teacher needs to remember:
““Let us become ambitious about believing kids and lifting them up… let us see their knowledge, their experience, their languages as gifts. All kids.”
What are you remembering?
What are your big ideas?
What will you DO as a result of your learning?
What’s the key word connecting today’s “Fantastic Four Fireballs”?
A new day. Typical. Some leaving home. Some already arriving at their destination. Snow on the mountain pass. Video from walking through the rainforest. And the ubiquitous, “Are we there yet?” Pictures of the first two arrivals at the airport: Kathryn arriving from MN and Justin from PA. They trickle in. The #G2Great Cousins are arriving from literally across the nation and within 24 hours all attendees will be present.
And then the Gala Event . . .
#NCTE17 began with celebrations divided by grade levels: elementary, middle, and secondary. The Elementary session recognized many attendees for their current work as well as their past work. First time attendees were equally applauded for their presence. The stars were aligned. Ones that I saw and or spoke to included:
Katie Ray Wood
Mary Lee Hahn
Literacy Rock Stars!
The big, big crowd was there to honor and salute the work of Katherine and Randy Bomer, who in their own inimitable style rallied us to action after Kathy Collins’ hilarious introduction of the honorees because she has known and worked with them for year. An interesting factoid is that their November interview is the most retweeted NCTE article. (link)
Critique and resistance are necessary.
What are our values in teaching? How do we translate those into practice?
In a time of resistance, what are we ADVANCING into the world?
Katherine encouraged us to:
- Meet every child with an air of expectancy: open heart, open mind with respect. Awe, wonder, and love. (Maxine Green – TC – “Humans are never done becoming.)
- Delight in students’ voices: “Does it bring joy?” “Student writing is the place where I know I am doing something meaningful.” “Best place to fall in love with student writing is in the notes you find in your room.“ From her mentors: Lucy Calkins, “Children can write, children have stories, and children can write with laser like vision”; and Donald Graves “Children will write if we let them.”
Randy shared that it’s not enough to resist. It has to be part of an action. He proposed that we advance justice and respect.
- Advancing Justice – Critical Lenses – Writing for Change
“Doing critical work is how we continually check the differences among people. How we restratify our relationships. Big concepts are: Groups, Power, and Relationships. Where do we find these in stories?” Student voice, agency, and thinking about hard things in the social world. . . Advancing more critical perspective. Reading our shared lives to see when we see something that someone should do something about – our actions, habits, and lenses.
- Advancing Respect – Appreciative Stance – Critique of Deficit Stance
“Listen to a reader to understand them. Readers come with enough.”
“No deficit perspectives.This has fueled me.” Hold up a mirror to check for an appreciative stance. Call people’s attention to injustices. DO something about them! Polarization that may have begun on internet but have moved to the street. Continue to resist injustice. “White folks are obliged to do that!”
You can hear more from both Katherine and Randy at 9:30 Friday, today, at NCTE. Or check out #NCTE17. Follow the hashtag through Sunday for the best and most important happenings from St. Louis, Missouri.
Final thought I tweeted out before we left the convention center:
“Do we tell teachers? . . .
You are enough!
You don’t need a basal.
You don’t need Pinterest.
You don’t need TpT.
You are enough.
Make decisions for the students in front of you!”
And with that the #G2Great celebration began . . .
Rumor has it that the Friday evening #G2Great meet up will include ukeleles.
How do you celebrate students?
How do you celebrate your own learning?
Who are your ELA heroes?
I search my computer.
My starting point.
What do I already have?
Take a walk.
Come back and dig in.
What does this connect to?
Who are my go to authors?
The most accurate sources?
So many tabs open that I can only see a letter on each.
What to keep?
What to file?
What to read?
Which books do I put on my stack?
And the big question:
What to use?
I’m working on my PD for Monday.
What’s my plan?
What’s my process?
Be not dismayed!
I have books.
I have professional books.
I have shelves and shelves and shelves of books!
But sometimes my book is on my desk at the office . . .
And sometimes someone has borrowed my book and is reading it!
Have you seen my secret weapon?
This was new to me just last month. It’s the Heinemann Digital Library and it’s already been a lifesaver. Understand this. I greatly admire the many authors that can narrow down their “5 Most Influential Book Lists”. I really, really do! However, I struggle to narrow down my “Top 5 Books for Fluency” or “My Top 5 Books for Conferring” or My Top 5 Books for Small Group Instruction”. (Is it too many books or too many favorites?)
What’s the Heinemann Digital Library?
It’s an annual subscription resource for unlimited and searchable access to books, articles, videos and even courses to learn more about reading, writing, assessment, early childhood, math, school improvement, and many more topics.
Why am I so fascinated with the Heinemann Digital Library?
Well, I am often known to have TWO copies of my well-used, beloved professional books. One is marked up with questions, comments, “!”, “*”, and other annotations. Pages will be dog-eared. Some may be tabbed. And yes, there will be sticky notes but those notes don’t remain sticky for long if I’m constantly peeling them off to peer at the words underneath. Access to the digital library now means that I can access the resource from my computer which is so handy when quite frankly, I don’t really remember where the book is right now.
How have I used this resource?
Here’s one example. I needed to add more information to my knowledge base and find some specifics for increasing student engagement during writing workshop. I have several resources on my stack on my desk:
Writing Pathways by Lucy Calkins
The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by Colleen Cruz (also in the Digital Library)
The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers by Jennifer Serravallo
But I now also have these books, articles and a video courtesy of the Heinemann Digital Library.
One video, two articles, and three books . . . plus the resources that I already have. I’m pretty confident that I have a wide range of professional resources from recognized literacy researchers, experts and teachers. I have my resources and I’m now ready to work!
How does this connect to classroom work?
This is also the work that I would expect high school students to complete independently (after providing the groundwork in elementary) for the following ELA College and Career Ready Anchor Standards.
“CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCRA.R.2 Determine central odeas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.”
“CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.”
I would not presume to say that “working on the standards ONCE” would allow me to determine whether the standard has been met. I would want a body of evidence but that’s a whole different series of blog topics!
If you plan professional development, what’s your process?
Where do you get your quality resources?
Heinemann Digital Library Link here
and, in the spirit of disclosure, Yes, this was written after conversations with Cathy Brophy at Heinemann after I purchased my own personal membership to the Heinemann Digital Library and tweeted about it.
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Lisa, 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.
When learning is in the very air that you breathe, it’s totally exhilarating. And that’s just a small piece of #NCTE16!
Session G12: Writing for a Better World: Poetry Responses to World Events
This session should have been live streamed for educators around the world. Poetry is such an important part of the “meaning making” that we must construct of our daily lives.
if poetry is not a typical part of your repertoire, why not? Humor can add fun. Serious topics can add empathy. And above all, poetry can add truth to your life.
Check out this storify that introduces the folks at this session. In no way does it capture the essence of the conversations. That richness lies in the poetry of their talk.
Poetry – Do you need to add some to your life?
Do you need to add some to your teaching life?
Additional Poetry links from/about NCTE poetry presentations:
Poetry is Truth – Irene Latham
Risking Writing – Heidi and Mary Lee Hahn
Kate Messner – Collaborative Poetry Writing
From our view together again at #NCTE
(Still practicing on “selfies”)
The link up to other #DigiLit Sunday posts can be found at Margaret Simon’s Reflections On the Teche. Please check out what other bloggers are writing about today!
And today’s topic:
What does agency mean to me?
It means choice. Yesterday I chose #TheEdCollabGathering created by Chris Lehman (definition one below) and I made sure that I acted on that agency (definition two) by attending sessions live all day. Barely pausing for conversation, my brain on fire, I moved from one session to the next, each one carefully chosen as a tapestry of confirmation.
Topics I needed to revisit. Topics I needed to dig deeply into again. Topics I needed for inspiration and affirmation seven weeks into this new year. Welcoming learning with friends. Welcoming new friends in the Twitterverse. Welcoming a day of JOYFUL learning from my home on a Saturday. (Agenda for #TheEdCollabGathering here.) The sessions were free. The sessions will remain free and accessible. The sessions can be accessed at your leisure. The.sessions.are.well.worth.your.time! TRUST ME! Check them out!
Evidence of Agency for me yesterday?
- That I could choose the free sessions to attend from the comfort of my home.
- Attending the sessions, tweeting out and having conversations with fellow attendees, presenters, and colleagues from around the world . . . and then Blogging about my attendance and learning today!
No . . . er . . . I don’t know YET!
Kind of . . .
I have been working with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge lately. Those four levels that in some circles have replaced Bloom’s Taxonomy. I don’t think either one is exclusionary and in fact believe that there are some positives in each. Both invite thinking in order to move up the levels.
These Depth of Knowledge levels are available about writing at this Edutopia resource.
Level 1 (Recall) requires the student to write or recite simple facts. This writing or recitation does not include complex synthesis or analysis but is restricted to basic ideas. The students are engaged in listing ideas or words as in a brainstorming activity prior to written composition, are engaged in a simple spelling or vocabulary assessment or are asked to write simple sentences. Students are expected to write and speak using Standard English conventions. This includes using appropriate grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling.
Level 2 (Basic Application of Concepts & Skills) tasks require some mental processing. At this level students are engaged in tasks such as first draft writing for a limited number of purposes and audiences. At Level 2 students are beginning to connect ideas using a simple organizational structure. For example, students may be engaged in note-taking, outlining or simple summaries. Text may be limited to one paragraph. Students demonstrate a basic understanding and appropriate use of such reference materials as a dictionary, thesaurus, or web site.
Level 3 (Strategic Thinking & Complex Reasoning) tasks require higher-level mental processing. Students are engaged in developing compositions that include multiple paragraphs. These compositions may include complex sentence structure and may demonstrate some synthesis and analysis. Students show awareness of their audience and purpose through focus, organization and the use of appropriate compositional elements. The use of appropriate compositional elements includes such things as addressing chronological order in a narrative or including supporting facts and details in an informational report. At this stage students are engaged in editing and revising to improve the quality of the composition.
Level 4 (Extended Thinking & Complex Reasoning) tasks may incorporate a multi-paragraph composition that demonstrates synthesis and analysis of complex ideas or themes. Such tasks will require extended time and effort with evidence of a deep awareness of purpose and audience. For example, informational papers include hypotheses and supporting evidence. Students are expected to create compositions that demonstrate a distinct voice and that stimulate the reader or listener to consider new perspectives on the addressed ideas and themes.
As I reflect on my agency and my learning today, I am confident that most of my Tweets fall into the Level 1 category. I often try to capture exact words – the very essence of the speaker’s thoughts – and that is totally recall. No doubt. Level 1. And yet sometimes, I’m pulling in background knowledge or shortening the exact quotes when there are long hashtags and I must cut down the number of symbols. Is that always Level 1? Probably not. Is it sometimes Level 2? Perhaps yes.
And what of this blog post? Where would it rate? Ideas from the day are flowing through my brain. Some pictures are already uploaded. Others are paused. Too few? Too many? Which serve the meaning and the understanding of the reader? Which are examples of MY thinking?
Right now I think that I am approaching or possibly just peering over the ledge of DOK 3. Your thoughts?
As I consider all the meaning embedded in Level 4 (Extended Thinking and Complex Reasoning), I believe this is where Katherine Bomer’s thinking lies when she said,
“Capital E, Essay equals thinking!”
A student or adult is agentive and completing that “extended thinking and complex reasoning” when totally engaged in a task of their own choice. When writing, it may be an essay, a poem, or some great work of literature. But it’s something the student knows and knows well due to their passionate study. It may be a study of their own thinking and problem solving as suggested by Burkins and Yaris in Who’s Doing the Work? when the students are actually working harder than the teachers as they problem solve and persevere in forging their own learning paths when “given the time to do so”.
Jan’s metaphor of shopping was played out in this chart and compared to choosing a just right book. Students choosing their own books . . . not being handed books by the teacher brings up a question: “Who SHOULD be choosing the books?”
Tara Smith tweeted out that “agency = knowing how to make choices.” How often do our students struggle with making decisions? When should they be “practicing” quality decision-making skills? Is that not a skill that should be part of the daily routines during the school day?
Consider how engagement and accessibility play into these four elements. Jan actually framed and labeled them for the viewers. But at any point there could be a mismatch. Clare and Tammy would also point out that the mismatches are opportunities for learning and even ownership of their learning. A celebration of learning. Every data point can also bring hope, joy and agentive power to the students.
And what if students were publishing regularly for real audiences? #TWT authors and bloggers, Beth Moore, Deb Frazier and Dana Murphy literally hit the game-winning touchdown with their sharing and feedback strategies! (It was a Saturday after all-so there was some collegiate football in the background.) Deb suggested feedback to young writers on day one, Dana said it could be ‘fancy like “Wow and Wonder”, “Glow and Grow”, or like “slicers” -1. feel, 2 notice, 3. connection’ and Beth Moore said that someday a student writer might tell friends about how special their teacher made them feel as a writer. Honoring students and their writing work doesn’t cost a lot of time or money. Celebrating student learning should be an every day constant.
After all this is “their” learning! Fewer behavior management systems might be needed if there was more emphasis on “student choice” and so much less emphasis on “compliance” and “silly tasks” but those are both topics for another day!
The intersection of agency, choice, engagement and learning seems to be a good fit for students who are “doing the work” and not passively watching others engaged in the work. Even kindergarten students want to share their thinking . . . not their fault that sometimes their symbols and/ or work needs translation for our adult brains to make better sense (Clare and Tammy’s story about Zachary) .
But what if the entry point for all students was simply choice?
What if the responsibility and accountability lies with students?
Lucy Calkins reminded us this summer that “To teach well, we do not need more techniques and strategies as much as we need a vision of what is essential.”
What if agency is essential? How does that change instruction and assessment?
(Did I make it to Level 4 -Extended Thinking and Complex Reasoning? You be the judge!)
Tonight’s the night. Get your fingers ready to dance across the keyboard in conversations with Katherine Bomer. If you haven’t read the book, come join the chat. If you have read the book, come join the chat. If you love to write, come join the chat!
The Journey is Everything
Somewhere back in April or May several of us online began discussing an option for a book study. Several ideas were tossed out. Some of us were already in the midst of one book and said “SURE!” because “What’s one more book?”
And so a book study began online with GoogleDocs. The pace varied with our lives. Reading. Writing. Teaching. Working. And then it became real when we were so hooked into the book.
It was scary when I actually tweeted out about a travel incident and then added “Food for an Essay Soon” or something like that. It was a done deal. In writing. I would blog about the incident. And it would be an essay.
What on earth was I thinking?
Emboldened with knowledge.
Empowered with learning.
Ready to give it a go.
I sent it to friends.
Is it an essay?
And they said, “Yes.”
And oh, the comments . . . But one in particular!
I’ll be at the #DigiLitSunday chat tonight to capture more wisdom from Katherine Bomer.
Head over to Margaret Simon’s Reflections on the Teche for more #DigiLit posts.
On Friday the pace quickens, the sessions are shorter, goodbyes to session partners are bittersweet, the closing session is uplifting and motivating and then final farewells to friends who leave for home and other travels (Boothbay, ILA, Nerdy Book Camp). New trail guides are perused. Weekend planning begins.
But I must end the week with a smidgeon more.
|Advanced AM Session
Ratchet up the level of your students’ writing by teaching them revision: Tapping into the power of mentor texts and checklists (K-2
- Our ultimate goal: Teach our students how to “mine” mentor text. (published, teacher written, AND student written) When students can mark up texts, they will truly know the strategies/skills. CL
- Our toolkits need a wide variety of pieces in a variety of process stages for examples. Some pages may even need to be in plastic sleeves for extra practice by students. CL
- Students need to talk more EVERY day. Find little pockets of time (like snack time) and create little boards to rehearse the stuff on the checklist. CL (Double, triple, quadruple the talk time to increase volume and stamina in writing.)
- The Units of Study are not always specific about revision. Maybe you will add a physical revision bend for three or four days as a mini-bend towards the beginning of the unit and then another day in bend 2, bend 3 and before the end of the unit with a revision club. C
- Have writing goals. Make sure that the goals are clear. Have you ever had revision goals like:
Using tools to revise
Revising to make ideas clearer
Revising to make structure better
Review revision in each unit and build the expectations across the year. CL
How will we know talk and rehearsal are important in your classroom?
How will we know that students are working on revision every day? Across the day? And across the units?
|Advanced PM Session
Power Tools, Methods and Strategies: Access and Support for English Language Learners and Kids with IEPs in the Writing Workshop (4-8)
We made some tools today that matched the needs of our case studies. They were mini-charts, bookmarks, and choice tools for students. Many were flexible so students could add or take away skills/strategies as needed.
- Use Smarter Charts or DIY Literacy for basic ideas for tools and tool development.
- Consider whether some pictures/icons should be the same across the grade/building for increased access AND understanding for ALL students. (reading – same book, writing – same pencil/pen)
- Consider how color coding could increase access for students: science = green, writing = blue, across the grade/building.
- Provide choices in writing tools for students. Check the recommendations of OT/PT/SLPs. (As I looked around our classroom, there were many variations in tools!)
- Build a plan for the year. Think of it as menu planning for your entire family. What dishes can everyone share? And what dishes meet specific needs/diets? Be planful in advance so that everyone has the sustenance that they need!!
Who ALWAYS asks the question: “Is this good for ALL students?”
How can planning in advance for ALL students improve instruction across the board for ALL?
Lucy began our closing as she began the opening onMonday. . . “We came from 48 nations and 43 states . . . ”
We thanked everyone who made this week possible.
ALL the staff at TCRWP, Teachers College, and our beloved Staff Developers for the week.
Celebrating Student Writing – and the Effect of Your Teaching
We looked at student work to celebrate the growth in writing where we could see huge growth from the beginning to the end of a unit. But we also celebrated what wasn’t necessarily the attainment of a standard or items on rubrics and checklists.
Writers develop a deep passion for knowledge.
Writers cultivate their urge to teach others.
Writers making sense of themselves, exploring their identities.
Writers increasing their visibility.
Writers developing a deep sense of civic engagement.
Writers learning to correct social injustices.
- Just as students celebrate their writing, teachers must regularly celebrate their writing instruction and feed their writing souls.
- Writing improvement may seem like it’s gaining at a tortoise pace, but movement will vary across students. Celebrate growth!
- What are your grade level expectations? Are your goals concise?
- What is your grade level vision? Is your vision broad enough?
- A la Katherine Bomer, what critical literacies do you encourage:Superheroes, Muscles, Politicians / leaders, Fantasy, or Argument – that founding skill set of a democratic country?
What takeaways are going to linger with you?
What and where do you need to consider “revising” in your instruction?
It began with an email. Late Sunday evening, an email in my inbox with the subject, “Five pound favor, please.” I was on the receiving end of chuckles from colleagues every time I recounted the story. Was it not believable? Was it too far from the norm?
And then the box arrived. A perfect cube. Two foot by two foot by two foot. Except for its size, totally inconspicuous in a normal, brown cardboard box. Two layers of packing bubbles hid the goods. Oh, no the corner of the bag was open! White and teal orbs peeked out from around the bag. Fortunately for me the box had arrived early. I had some leisure time to study the size and shape. How would it be best to repack this package for its safe trip to Florida?
On the day of the flight I had my typical early morning pre-dawn arrival at the Des Moines International Airport. My boarding pass and ID were verified in the TSA pre-check line. Easy peasey! No waiting! My phone was in the bowl. My two carry-on bags were on the conveyor belt as I strolled through the scanner. No hands over head. No stopping to hold a pose. The line was moving quickly, quietly, efficiently! And then the line slowed. The man in front of me had his carry-on bag inspected by hand. I saw the location of his bag as my items slowly emerged on the conveyor belt. Phone, check. Computer bag, check. I held my breath. Oh, no, the turquoise carry-on bag was pulled off the line to be inspected.
Darn it. All because of my favor. I wish I could have seen how indistinguishable that item looked in the top of my bag. A Thermos lunch bag cooler, five pounds of teal and white candies inside, carefully cocooned in two layers of bubble wrap to keep them from crumbling and occupying approximately one-third of the space in my carry-on bag.
Have you ever wondered about which candy is most popular? The Mars company claims its M&Ms® are the most popular chocolate candy in the world. The coated candies were created in the 1930s in order to add a chocolate candy to soldiers’ meals that would not melt. How are they made? The candies begin as liquid chocolate poured into tiny molds. They are then “tumbled” to make the chocolate center smooth and rounded. After they harden, a liquid chocolate and corn syrup coating is sprayed on them. Multiple coats. Multiple drying times. The color is the very last coat that is applied. You can read more about how M&Ms® are made here. Additional factoids about M&Ms® can be found through google searches. I wondered how many M&Ms® were in my five pound package? At one point, I had around 2500 M&Ms® in my possession.
My favor, requested by my favorite younger sister, was to deliver five pounds of teal and white M&Ms® for my favorite oldest Florida nephew’s graduation party. The company would not ship them in May to Davie, Florida because of the fear of melting. So after a 1500 mile special delivery trip, here is what the hand stamped M&Ms® looked like and why a TSA screener in Iowa is still asking his peers, “Did you know that M&Ms® could be printed with a picture on them and all kinds of other sayings?”
Have you had personalized M&Ms®? Did you ever wonder about their creation? Or their delivery to their final destination? What stories could your M&Ms® tell?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Visual structures of this draft of the essay above based on my current understanding of Chapter 3: The Journey is Everything.
- The favor – 5 paragraphs
- M&Ms® – 1 paragraph
- Questions for readers – 1 paragraph
- Introduction to the favor – 1
- The story- 3 paragraphs
- M&Ms® – 1
- The specifics of the favor – 1
- Questions for readers – 1
- The mystery – 2 paragraphs
- DSM airport story (the mystery continues) – 2 paragraphs
- M&Ms® – 1
- The favor revealed (including picture) – 1
- Questions for readers – 1
- The Favor
- Mini-story – hint (2 paragraphs)
- Explicit reveal (with picture)
- Involve reader with questions