Tag Archives: Ruth Ayres

#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,

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said this:

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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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#NCTE17: Sunday


By Sunday the air is bittersweet.  Farewells begin. Last conversations are passionate pleas to capture frantic final minutes.  Choices are final.  Options are few.  Time races. No second chances to catch folks as flight departures begin before the sun is above the horizon.

And yet, gems . . .

“What is Authenticity? 

Is it the same when viewed with a student lens? 

How do we know?”

L. 30 Prioritizing Student Voice:  Honoring Independence, Identity, and Advocacy as the Cornerstones of Learning

And from the #G2Great family:

  • Samuel Fremin   @The Sammer88
  • Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson  @kkht6912
  • Susie Rolander   @suzrolander
  • Justin Dolcimascolo  @jdolci
  • Kara Pranikoff   @pranikoff

Sam Fremin began with asking us to not constrain student’s creativity!  He told us the story of having a two page limit to an assignment that meant he had to cut almost everything out of his original seven page response.  

What is the purpose of a two page maximum assignment?

What is your response to a “page limit”?

Is that indicative of the teacher’s attention span?

Sam contrasted that with this year’s  AP Lang course where they were to “Write about something important to us” as they compared and analyzed two essays.  As a 15 year old, Sam, who likes The Onion wanted to write a satire about “Discrimination not really being that bad” and through multiple conversations with his teacher, worked out the details and “used a display of writing that I will never get to write again.  I displayed my need to try that voice.”  And the teacher, even though she wanted a tight rein on the expectations, did participate in a two-sided discussion that allowed Sam to write his satire!

And then Sam’s role (as a high school junior) was to continue to introduce each of the panel members.  Such poise and great presence for a high school junior and one of the #BowTieBoys! (Sam blogs here.)

We also learned that advocacy for Native Americans is important because Kathryn Hoffman-Thompson shared a US map with reservations marked although only 22% of Native Americans live on reservations.  Kathryn teaches at an Ojibwe school so she is very cognizant of appropriate language and respect for cultures.  Awareness may be a great first step but Kathryn also encouraged us to be aware that work barely scratches the surface of working with folks who have different beliefs and values. How do Ojibwe students want to be named? When do we ask?

Susie Rolander shared that we need to let student input drive our work. This means we need to revise and renew our professional practice.  (A plug for Coppola’s book – Renew!) It’s a Journey! But for students who are struggling there does need to be a Sense of Urgency!  And that this meant as an interventionist, Susie wanted her students to be independent.  “I don’t know what I would do without you!” from a student was not what she wanted so one big action in her productivity plan was to move to student goal-setting so the students themselves would know if they were meeting their goals.  Their goals. Not teacher goals.

Justin had us begin by completing this statement:  “I am _____”

I am a:

Mother

Grandmother

Sister

Aunt

Great aunt

Daughter

Cousin

Friend

Reader

Writer

Blogger

Advocate

Learner

Thinker

Observer

Questioner

Dreamer

Reader

Am I real?  Do my students know my many roles?  Do other staff know our roles?  Justin shared a “I am” board created in his school.

Justin’s parting challenge was to consider equity and how we build our identity every day of our school lives so that we are not just working on career education in high school.  Instead of “What do you want to be?” in terms of a career, Justin said we need to shift to “What great problem do you want to solve?” 

Kara Pranikoff, author of Teaching Talk:  A Practical Guide to Fostering Student Thinking and Conversation,  closed out the presentation with thoughts on how to use talk in the classroom to increase student engagement and agency.  And also, “Deep thinking takes time, we’ll wait. Take your time.”  Students set the pace.  As an instructor at Bank Street College, Kara and Susie routinely invite their students to Twitter chats!

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M. 24  Rekindling Our Teacher Hearts and Minds to Reclaim Our Sense of Agency and Purpose 

(Ellin Oliver Keene, Vicki Vinton, Donna Santman)

What is the purpose of education?  Which of the four statements matches your thinking?

vinton purpose of education.jpg

What do you value?

vinton-values.jpg

Take aways:

” We overestimate children academically and underestimate them intellectually.” ~Lillian King

Shout out to Regie Routman:

Resources will often dictate practices. (from Read, Write, Lead)

“However, we NEED to begin with Beliefs first, then our Practices, and then choose Resources that align LAST!”

Beliefs and Practices – Donna Santman @dsantman

What made your current school a match for you?

When Trouble Starts:

What do you do?

Outright resistance

Passive aggression

Assimilation

Flexibility

What flexibility will be required of me here?

And how will I respond when trouble happens?

Ellin Keene

Our core beliefs about children;

Our core beliefs about ourselves.

We are humbled in the face of children;

We are humbled by our children.

There has been a huge language slide in our country.

How do we convert deficit language to asset language?

ellin assets.PNG

Check out the asset mapping resources on Ellin Keene’s  website Mosaicliteracy.com


N.O8  Redefining Authenticity:  Empowering Student Ownership

(Do you know their Twitter names?  @acorgill    @katiedicesare  @ruth_ayres      @coloreader)

I was expecting to be blown away by Ruth Ayres because I can’t stop talking about her new book just out, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.   It’s an amazing personal heart-wrenching narrative about her children who struggled with life and then also a “how to” deal with teaching writing.  And yet all three of the other panel members complemented that presentation.

Quotes:

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Skills and dispositions for writing are the same for real work. We have to get the heart right. Students need to write.  Yes, kids are afraid! Writing is where I can help kids see the different ways a story can go.

If we have authentic writing projects, teachers cannot make all these decisions.  Students need some choice and voice.  This is NOT a free-for-all!  You don’t have to leave ALL open!  But you must leave SOME open!

Project Idea

Audience Purpose Topic

Genre

Teacher Teacher Teacher
Teacher Teacher

How do you ensure that students have an authentic voice?   

How do you know that students REALLY believe that they have a voice and some choice? 

What did you learn on Sunday at #NCTE17?

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