We all need someone who inspires us to do better than we know how. ~ Anonymous
Last week I had the immense pleasure of co-facilitating a graduate class at West Chester University entitled “Strategies for Teaching Writing.” It never ceases to amaze me the quality of discussion, and writing that pours forth from this class each year. I left on Friday afternoon feeling quite inspired!
My first inspiration was my fabulous co-facilitator and partner in crime, Gregory Maigur. Greg is a Social Studies teacher and storyteller extraordinaire. The way he brought history to life made me want to go back to Middle School (a fate worse than death) to experience American History through his eyes. I learned a great deal from him, and he gave me a lot of food for thought. I hope we get the opportunity to teach together again.
Next were the sixteen dedicated participants (mostly, but not all, teachers) who spent the week working alone and together creating a personal or fictional narrative, meeting in response groups, taking part in writing strategies, thinking about how they could use each strategy in their particular situation, and designing an implementation plan for use in September. The quality of their ideas and the enthusiasm with which they presented them made me want to up my game for September as well.
Inspiration also came in the form of two wonderful presenters. Jolene Borgese helped us navigate the world of revision, and Brian Kelley challenged us to a new way of thinking when it comes to responding to student writing. My notebook is filled with priceless gems that I will be doing my best to implement in the fall.
On our last day together, we shared our narratives. There were tears and laughter, admiration and pride. Again, I was blown away by the depth of the writing and the willingness to be vulnerable exhibited by the class. Some of them have been writers all along. Some of them did not consider themselves writers when they walked in on Monday morning. All I can say is each of them were inspired by their response groups to do better than they thought they possibly could and the results were breathtaking.
I am inspired to spend the rest of the summer learning and growing, planning and revising and coming up with the best plans/activities possible to inspire my students in September.
Thank you teachers for a terrific week!
The desire to write grows with writing. ~ Desiderius Erasmus
Right about this time of the year I often get a little weary and it is easy to start listing what hasn’t gone right and start planning in my head for next year.
But today I got the shot in the arm I need to finish out the year with the same enthusiasm I had when I began in September. I got to spend the day at MCIU with Jeff Anderson. He gave us an introduction and small taste of three of his books – 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know, Mechanically Inclined, and Revision Decisions. I took notes feverishly.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day. Jeff was informative, inspiring, and funny. These are some of my favorite take-away quotes.
- Teacher you’re a firework. You are the spark. Bring joy to your students.
- The death of creativity is wanting to it to be right.
- What mark will you leave behind by what you say or don’t say, what you do or don’t do?
- Create a space where writing behaviors happen.
- Until you know what your focus is, you cannot choose the right details.
- Sentence combining is the most important part of growing writers.
And my most favorite…..
- Think of grammar as a creational facility rather than a correctional one.
I wish every professional development day could be as inspiring as this day has been!
Thank you, Jeff Anderson
The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action. ~Herbert Spencer
Best. Day. Ever.
Everyday in the month of April my ELA class begins with a mentor poem. We read the poem. We notice things about the poem. We imitate the poem. We share our results. Eventually, the students will create their own poetry anthologies and choose a poem to read or recite to the class.
I have been doing this unit for several years now with a few changes to the poems I present to the class. I usually get some of my best writing during this month. I am not sure if by April, my students are just better writers or the poetry form is less threatening, but I don’t get too much resistance.
Today, our mentor poem was “Foul Shot” by Edwin A. Hoey. It is filled with action and suspense. The classroom protocol is that I put a mystery amount of minutes on the timer, and the students are free to remain at their desks or move around the room to work. When the timer when off today after about 10 minutes there was a rousing sigh followed immediately by voices begging for more time. Who am I to stand in the way of creativity? I gave them more time to write.
As if that wasn’t enough joy for one day, our next activity was reading a text set about Wild Horses. The students worked with partners to read the articles, create a claim, and list evidence they could use in an argument essay. They only had to develop an outline, not write the essay.
As I meandered around the room, I heard lots of good conversations about what should be done with the wild horses that can no longer sustain themselves on the lands where they roam. So what’s the big deal?
When the class was dismissed and was walking to their next class they were arguing their claims!
Can’t get better than that!
Enjoy every moment; you never know when things might change. ~ Natalie Imbruglia
Sometimes when you don’t plan you end up having the best time. Take last Saturday for example. My husband and I kept tossing around ideas for what we were going to do once we tackled a few things on our “to do” list. Much to my surprise one of my colleagues emailed me saying she had two extra tickets to the Phillies/Marlins 6:05 game. I told Chuck of the offer, and we looked at each other a couple of times before deciding to seize the moment. What was our hesitation? Well you see the weather was not exactly baseball worthy. It was cold and a little windy.
We bundled up, packed a cooler bag, and set off for Citizens’ Bank Park. We looked more like we were going to an Eagles’ game just in red rather than midnight green. We were decked out in hoodies, hats, scarves, and winter coats. I even took a blanket! The drive down was uneventful, and before you know it we were entering the stadium and receiving a free t-shirt! We only had a short walk on the concourse to get to our seats in the right-center field. We were only a hop, skip and a jump from the bullpen. There really isn’t a bad seat in the whole ballpark!
The best part of the night was that the Phillies won 20 -1, and we got to witness two grand slams! So glad we decided to brave the weather and go to the game, if not we probably would have been asleep on the couch before the game was over.
#SOL18 Day 31
Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. ~ Unknown.
Dear Fellow Slicers,
We made it! Thank you to each and every one of you for helping me complete this challenge.
Many days I perused your blogs in search of inspiration, and I always found a new idea, format, or topic on which to hook my keyboard. You are an amazing group of writers.
Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. I learned more about giving feedback myself. There is a big difference between commenting on the work of my students and commenting on the work of accomplished writers.
Many people in my life asked me why I was doing this challenge; they didn’t quite understand. So I found myself asking myself the questions, “What is a slice?” “What are these things I’ve been writing about?” This is what I came up with.
S – something large or something small
L – lifted from lives of one and all
I – inspired by individuality or imitation
C – cause for concern or celebration
E – ending with a sense of accomplishment
I won’t promise, but I am going to do my best to remain part of the SOL community by posting and responding on Tuesdays. I hope to see many of you there. If not….see you next year!
#SOL18 Day 30
Today I am trying my hand at a 34-word story. Inspired by Kelly Gallagher and Fran Haley.
From Bethlehem to Nazareth she watched Him grow. Mary knew His life would change the world. Her Son. She silently watched as Jesus carried his cross to Calvary where He died for our salvation.
Whether you are celebrating Easter, or Passover, or nothing at all, I wish peace, and joy, and the feeling of hope that spring brings to us each year.