Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Slice of Life - Guest Post on Running and Writing

My daughter is a senior in high school and is taking AP Composition.  She was sharing with me her lack of an idea for this current writing assignment and then later in the day shared her idea with excitement.  I knew she had found a way to approach her assignment which was to describe her writing process with a creative twist.  I'm not sure she has a true writing process.  I think this is her first piece of writing in a year or more that isn't in response to something she read.  I also think much of her writing in high school has been essay responses on test.  She has a voice! I'm so glad she had this opportunity to be creative and reflective.

She doesn't know I am sharing this piece a bit more publicly than my laptop.  I figured since it's saved on my laptop I co-own the piece and could have her be a guest blogger.  I know there are many of us figuring out our own writing process and many of us dabble with running.  This piece is interesting because she doesn't like to run.  She ran cross country last year but gave it up.  We have been trying to encourage her to be physical and exercise not only her mind but her muscles and body.  Maybe she has heard us lately.  I hope you find something to connect to in this piece, I did.

I Write the Way I Run
            I begin eager and excited. I radiate optimism, filled with high hopes and goals. Before I write I scribble on a piece of notebook paper, trying to keep up with the urgent thoughts and ideas seeping out of my brain. These ideas make me enthusiastic to write because they give me a general idea of what I want to say, which makes me feel confident in myself. Running requires a similar beginning process. I listen to energetic music while stretching to get pumped up and excited to run. I struggle to begin both writing and running if I’m not motivated to do it.
            Typically when I first start typing or running, the words or strides are fast, strong, and confident. But the ease doesn't last for long. I almost always meet the dreaded writers block, or “the wall” as it’s called in running. It weighs me down and I feel discouraged. While glaring at the computer screen or gasping for air, I question why I even bother and desperately want to give up. Writing and running are so similar because they both rely on your mentality. Negative thoughts are all it takes to destroy you. To avoid sinking into a vast darkness filled with insults and jeers, I ease up on myself. I leave the computer area in search of fresh air to clear my head. When running, I slow down my pace and sometimes even walk when the physical and mental cramps become too much to handle. By going easy on myself for a few minutes, I allow the positivity that was with me at the beginning of my adventure to make its way to the surface and consume my thoughts once again. With my regained control over the situation I am able to sit down at the computer or pick up my running pace and complete my goal.

            To me, writing and running are intertwined. Some of my best ideas come to me while I’m running. In fact, I was inspired to write about this during a run. I often find running to be the solution to my writer’s block, or any other stress in my life. The rhythmic sound of my feet hitting the ground is as comforting as my fingers clicking across the keyboard without hesitation. Practicing writing and running keeps my mind and body in shape, and as a result I become better at overcoming self-doubt. Writing is a hard process, but a positive attitude and a longing for success always help me achieve my goals.

Thanks to Ruth and Stacey for hosting Slice of Life weekly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slice of Life - Gradually Sewing

This is a piece I wrote last month and seemed fitting to share tonight because tomorrow is my first day of school with students.

We started a project.  Her arms were flapping.  Her body wiggled.  Her arms would flap a bit more and her body would wiggle a bit more.  Her rate of speech was quick, “I don’t know what that means.”  She would become hesitant and be slow to do or try the next step.  She is an avid reader and reading was part of the project but even this step seemed to bring frustration.  In my head, I was feeling frustrated because she had sewn for 4H the two previous years and had successful experiences.  Yes, this project was harder but we weren't even at that point yet.

I put on my researcher hat and began uncovering a few reasons why we were at this point.  Even though she had sewn before, she hadn't sewn in a year.  I know how important practice and routines are; I would need to think about this.  Reading the layout for a pattern is like reading a map.  Once, I shared this correlation she seemed to understand the visual layout a bit better.  Vocabulary was a big hurdle.  I realized sewing has its own language, its nonfiction and she doesn't read nonfiction by choice.  When I started making these connections I reflected and realized I needed to do what I would do in the classroom. 

I needed to demonstrate, I needed to give her a guided demonstration, and then release her to try on her own.  I needed to use the gradual release model and make sure I reinforced her success.  Patience is needed when sewing and I needed to make sure I modeled this throughout the project.  We had a successful sewing outcome and are headed for the Ohio State Fair.  As we all start a new school year, we need to remember to take the time to gradually release the learning.  The time and patience we invest up front will last throughout the year, fostering success.

Thank you to Stacey and Ruth for hosting this weekly platform for sharing our writing.