Six Word Memoir

It’s Tuesday and I’m linking my blog post to the writing community over at Two Writing  Teachers. Take a look and consider joining in.

Six Word Memoir

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My One Little Word

Today is Tuesday and I am joining the wonderful community of writers over at Two Writing Teachers with a slice of life story. Won’t you consider joining in?

One Little Word

I awoke early on Saturday morning and immediately noticed the extra light peeking through the window. As I adjusted my eyes I instantly realized that my beautiful maple tree had lost all it’s leaves and I was staring at the near naked branches letting more light into my room. My family had just been raving about the glowing colors of this maple and now, due to a week of crazy work, I had missed seeing my maple in her glory.

As I arose I stared out my window to see a pile of golden leaves laying heavy on the ground, taken too soon by the overnight rain and winds. A few branches of color remained, but gone was that full burst of yellow I look forward to admiring each fall.

Pause. My one little word for 2018. Seeing the leaves on the ground made me realize my desire to stop and notice more this year was fading away. Time to hit the refresh button and take note more often.

Here’s to more moments captured through my bedroom window and elsewhere. Moments to take pause and realize the important things in life, like glorious yellow maples and early morning sunrises.

Pause.

How Do You Grade a Process?

It is  Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers and I’m joining in the writing fun.  Take a peek at the wonderful community of writers.

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How Do You Grade a Process?

“The hardest part is the grading because truthfully.. How do you grade a process?”

Those were the words I heard from a friend who teaches a college level course on playing classical jazz guitar.  He was sharing the challenges of meeting college requirements for grading when he spoke.  As soon as he uttered the phrase I thought back to an uncomfortable conversation I had just had with a colleague.  She was sharing with me that grades HAD to be given on the first piece of writing because she needed to add something to the grade book. I was seeking to understand and not getting very far in the conversation and decided to mull it over for the weekend.  That’s when these words hit me. The phrase kept swirling over and over in my mind:

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

As the words circled in my brain more questions came to the surface.  What makes writing a process in one grade while in the next grade it becomes a paper with a numerical score? What does that score say to the student who is still learning to write, and still valuing the process of learning how to improve his/her writing?  What does that number mean to the parent receiving that score? Does putting a number on a paper mean that a writer has arrived and writing is no longer a process for him/her? Does grading stop the learning?

Aren’t we all writers in process?  I don’t think I would continue writing this blog if  I knew someone would be grading me each week.  So what is this teacher of writing to do?  How do I reconcile the fact that grades are required with my true belief that writing is a process, much like learning to play classical jazz on a guitar.

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

How do you grade a process?

No answers today but maybe a stronger conviction to keep on supporting our youngest all writers as they we continue to grow through the our process of writing.

Writing Truths

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers.  This community has been instrumental in helping me live a writerly life!  Come join us!

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Writing Truths

“What a wonderful tribute to your friend and principal.”

“You managed to captured the spirit of P. so well.”

“That was such a moving piece of writing. Would you be willing to share a copy of that piece?”

These were the comments I heard last week after delivering a speech honoring my dear friend and former principal who passed away from cancer one year ago. I had nominated her for a plaque honoring community members who contributed to the lives of the children, and so I was asked to share a few words at the celebration.  Writing these words was indeed a labor of love and when I sat down to write the speech I was amazed at how readily the words came together.  Why was that?  What made writing this piece so easy?  My reflection led me back to the truths of writing workshop that are near and dear to me.

  • Writers talk before putting words to paper.  Long before I put pen to paper I spent time simply talking about our friend and sharing ideas with colleagues.
  • Writers need partners.  After putting my talk on paper I read my words to peers. I asked for critical feedback on the lead, the ending, and the flow. My writing partners were valuable as I judged I could be vulnerable and share my work with them before it was perfect.
  • Writers have a choice in topic. I was asked to share a few words at the celebration about my friend, but I had a choice as to how those words would best reflect the honoree.  I choice a unique style with a little bit of humor to lighten the evening.
  • Writers write best what they know (and care) about.  These words certainly rang true when writing these words.  I cared about my friend so the words flowed across the page without any effort. It was easy to pour my heart out without stress or strain because of our relationship.
  • Writers need time and practice.  I could not have written this piece nor this post a few short years ago.  Writing and sharing a slice of life post each Tuesday with the community over at Two Writing Teachers for the last three years has given me the hope and encouragement to live a writerly life.  I am ever grateful for being on this journey with these incredible practitioners.

These are my writing truths, learned through trial and error.  What would you include on this list?  What have I missed? How do we make time to include all these important pieces in our daily teaching of writing?  I’d love to hear your input as I strive to grow in my writing practice as a writer and a teacher of writing!

 

 

 

Learning By Listening? Not Me!

It’s Tuesday and I am sharing my post with the great community over at Two Writing Teachers.  Take a peek and consider joining in!

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Ahhh.. the aroma of a new car…

It had been eight years since I last enjoyed that smell, so I tried to take in every single moment of owning a new car.  But with that fabulous new car came the fact that in eight years cars had changed with so many more newfangled features that I would have to learn.

I was slightly anxious as I walked into the dealer to pick up my new automobile.  The dealer guided me around the car to review each and every button and knob.  His mode of delivery was one that did not mesh well with my learning style, with him sitting in the drivers seat, and I listening anxiously in the passengers seat.  As he rambled through his list of things to know, I was screaming inside “Let me try! I learn best by doing!”

The salesman continued through his list while I sat trying to take in all the features: camera assist back-up, Bluetooth connections, driver assist eye technology, and oh so much more.  My mind was spinning with all his talk.  I simply wanted to touch and activate the buttons right after the directions were given.  His typical routine didn’t allow for that.  He only wanted to tell me and check it off his list.

So now I must find some time to go through the manual and re-learn, no learn, which button to press when I get stuck in the snow, or want change the settings on my dashboard, or discover how to adjust the steering wheel to fit my long torso. Yes, you guessed it, I learn by doing  and not by listening.

As teachers we know the power of knowing and teaching to our student’s learning styles.  Wouldn’t it be nice if car dealers did the same?

Flexing Muscles

It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers today and each week.  Take a peek and consider joining in!

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Flexing Muscles

Each weekend I try to devote some time to taking a mental break from the rigors of the weekday tasks.  I am a better teacher and coach when I have been able to take that break and give myself  time to forget about the to dos of the work week. This past weekend was no exception.

The three day Columbus Day weekend called me to embrace the glorious weather and get outside a few more times before the colder temperatures settled in.  I decided to join my daughter on a long bike ride on a local path. Before I began this trek I had to dust off my bike and inflate the tires because unfortunately I did not spend any time riding this summer. I was excited to begin but slightly anxious about my lofty choice of rides.

As I rode along my muscles immediately began to tighten.  It was then that my mind circled back to a parallel to reading. (So much for a break from school related thinking!) As I peddled I drew connections between my muscle cramps and the hard work a student needs to accomplish when he/she is learning a new strategy or skill that will eventually propel the reading forward. The work is difficult and the muscles must flex even more as the new learning is first tried out, much like my first mile of biking.

I continued down the trail and I began to get into a groove. My muscle aches subsided and there was seemingly less stress on the calves. Similarly my readers need a little less muscle strain when they get a slightly more comfortable with the new skill, trying it out with teacher support and eventually while the teacher stands nearby. The muscles that were stretched at first are now more relaxed.

In the last half-mile I need to push myself once again as I approach a final steep incline.  I am beyond exhausted but I want to rally to the end and not give up. My daughter and I push each other to make it to the top without the embarrassment of having to walk our bikes.  We finish with gusto and celebratory high fives!  Likewise my goal for readers is to take what they learn in small group instruction and apply it to every text on their own.  They too must rally to transfer these new skills and push their muscles to the end so that they can experience the sweet victory of independently reading with greater ease and hopefully with greater joy and celebration.

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The beautiful vista at the end of the trail.  Now turn around and  head back home – 14 miles to go!

My Saturday bike ride was grueling and my muscles screamed out in pain the next day, but the ache was lessened thinking about the joyful conquering of a difficult task. My hope is that I instill that same joy in my growing readers as they flex and expand their reading muscles and reach to higher and higher peaks in their ability to read and understand text each and every day!

 

Stink Bug

It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers by linking my slice of life story to their site.  Take a peek.

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Stink Bug

“Ewww!” I mumbled to myself as I was driving across town yesterday.  I overtaken with  this funky smell and I didn’t know where it was coming from.  The road crews were busily digging up the street so I assumed it was related and I continued driving along.

A little further down the road I felt something tickling my neck.  I figured it was a tag from my new jacket rubbing against my skin so I reached around my collar and couldn’t feel anything suspicious and returned my hand to the wheel.  The tickle feeling continued.  As I was searching for the source I felt something on my hand move.  That’s when I glanced over to my hand and realized it was not a little strap but rather a large beetle.  I squealed and quickly flicked the bug off my hand.  Where did he go?  I didn’t want to be surprised again, but I also had to concentrate on the road.  A bug is one thing, but a car accident is quite another!   I was rather distracted with one eye on the road and another looking around to find the mystery bug.  I arrived at my destination and pulled into the parking lot where I spotted the rather large bug was crawling on the front seat.  After putting the car into park I reached across the front seats, opened the car door and swatted him outside.  He made a quick exit out into the fresh air, which made me wonder who was happier to be let free.

As I settled back into my seat I noticed the scent had returned to my car.  I’ve seen these stink bugs around the building at school , but never had I ever experienced the aroma they leave behind.  Despite the many hand washings I still detected the slightest whiff of stink bug on my clothes all day long.  I am not certain anyone could smell the remnants of the stink bug incident, but I certainly judged it as a stinky day!

Stink Bug Facts & Information from PestWorld for Kids

Stink bugs facts thanks to: https://pestworldforkids.org/pest-guide/stink-bugs/

Originally found in East Asia, stink bugs were not even reported in the United States until the late 1990’s! They get their name from an unpleasant odor released when you crush them or when they are protecting their homes.

  • Size: 3/4″
  • Shape: Triangular
  • Color: Brown, gray or dark green
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Yes
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Stink bug
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hemiptera
  • Family: Pentatomidae
  • Species: Halymorpha halys

Diet:

Stink bugs eat leaves, flowers, fruit and crops like soybeans. They also eat other pests, such as caterpillars.

Habitat:

Stink bugs live in orchards, gardens and farms.