Thursday, January 23, 2014

Celebrating Writers - Reflection #1

I'm so excited to share I just read Celebrating Writers, From Possibilities Through Publication by Ruth Ayers with Christi Overman and it is the focus for the Literacy Connection group here in Central Ohio. I feel very fortunate to have a local professional group that believes in spending time studying a text together.  The time we spend helps foster conversation, thinking, time to try and apply ideas, and time to reflect.  I have to share I had a little sneak peak of this book while at a writing retreat with Ruth, in the summer of 2012.  I remember she shared a small section and we were each suppose to respond to her writing, in a small group.  However, I can't remember what part of this brilliant book that was.  I remember reading it and thinking this is such smart thinking I can't wait to read it.  I also remember I spent the entire writing retreat trying to focus on writing and watching her out of the corner of my eye.  All the while pinching myself because we chose to write on the same cabin porch for a bit.  If you have every had the opportunity to meet Ruth she is genuine, adorable, sweet and thoughtful about helping writers of all ages.  This book represents Ruth well and I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous of Christi Overman who co-authored this book with Ruth.

Chapter one is about expanding writing celebrations and right away I felt this book was a comfortable read. Classroom stories guide the content and message for the teacher.  Classroom stories show the ideas presented by the authors in action.  The classroom stories are all scenarios we have probably experienced at one time or another.   This book is about stretching what we do and ways to embrace writers.  


I love these two statements that both start with sometimes.  "Sometimes the things left unsaid are more powerful than ten teaching points put together." Also a little bit later, "Sometimes space, although difficult to give, is best." These are good life lessons for us to think about in our classrooms and out of our classrooms.  In a hurried and rushed school day with lots of students it's easy to forget not everyone likes to be engaged with others all the time and it's okay to be a bit quieter to process and think.  Essential thinking is established and grounds the reader in the first chapter.  


Publication and celebration are not the same. Publication is making the writing public and celebration is about the success writers have on their journey towards publication.  You must read the second paragraph on pg. 5.  It has more thinking about publication vs. celebration.  Ruth and Christi conclude this paragraph with, "Celebration is essential to the livelihood of young writers."  

Something I've changed this year during our writing workshop is a mid-workshop teaching point, which is more often than not a celebration of something I have seen while conferring.  Ruth and Christi share the objective of celebrations is to encourage and fuel the writer.  I have seen that in my room.  After each celebration, the room seems to return to a hush with writers focused on the important work they are creating.  I hadn't really thought about celebrations as a way to work through the hard parts of writing.  I am also thinking about the message celebrations send to my emergent writers after reading the five celebration messages Ruth and Christi share in the book.  

I tweeted Ruth when I finished reading Chapter 1, asking or seeking confirmation with their word choice for the three factors needed to make celebrations genuine.  Of course her reply was the word choice was very intentional. Celebrations need response, reflection, and rejoice.  The first chapter also clearly sends the message that celebrations are small and by being small big growth can/will happen.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I Create. - Slice of Life

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.    
- Elder Uchtdorf


Today I was sewing and reflecting on why I like to create things.  It's something I've always done.  I think it's easy for children to create.  I remember turning my bed into a camper and making up stories with my sister about adventures.  I still have my Lincoln Logs and loved how they rested and alternated a pattern as I created buildings.  I have my first 4H sewing project; a matching pot holder and apron in a purple gingham.  

I grew up with family that created.  My mother was a master seamstress and knitted.  Her mother also sewed and enjoyed doing woodworking projects.  My other grandmother also knitted and made homemade Christmas ornaments each year.  Both grandmothers created with their gardens and yards.  My father could build things.  He created building structures and staircases as an iron worker and did a lot of the work building our second family home.  

Growing up creating was a means to show someone you cared.  
Growing up creating was a means to save money.  
Growing up creating was a way to pass the time and keep busy.  

Creating is one of the ways I learn new things.  It also takes my mind of worries in life.  I've been taking a sewing class once a month since school started this year.  I'm learning new things with each project; shortcuts and techniques.  Today as I was sewing a fabric flower for my swing tote bag, I realized when I create I am applying knowledge from various domains.   I was reading directions, a piece of information writing in a how to format with diagrams. I had to reread it several times for clarity.  I had to measure my fabric and use two measuring tools to help.  I adjusted my stitch width, applying my mathematical knowledge for a second time and then a third as a measure my gathered strip of fabric and a fourth time, as I created a circle shape.  I used a simple machine today, a seam ripper when I removed a few stitches.  I used quite a bit of background knowledge as a I created.  Sewing is just one way I create and make things.

I've come to realize in my classroom I am most happy and my students are most happy when they are creating.  Creating is often an easier way for students to show what they understand.  Creating fosters engagement.  I believe creating fosters a purpose.  I am so excited to use my new bag and when I was done I ran around showing it off to my girls.  Creating naturally fosters sharing.  I have been struggling with creating in my classroom to be honest with time and the long list of things to learn or try and figure out.  However, today reminds me creating allows a student to learn new things, make mistakes, apply what they know, and explain what they did through sharing.  Essential components for learning.


Thank you to Betsy from Two Writing Teachers for hosting Slice of Life today.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Slice of Life...I put myself in a timeout.

I was trying to work downstairs in the kitchen to plan some content learning around the properties of materials.  I was trying to reserve books from the public library after seeing my Amazon cart was over one hundred dollars in paperback books that would great for teaching this unit.  My environment included a scientist trying to make her own homemade bubble solution in one jar and a crazy concoction of spices with bubble solution in another jar.  A budding pretzel chef.  One husband in the dining room who was also off for the day because it was too cold to build cars in the plant., trying to make a work phone call.  A returning from a breakfast date daughter, that well lasted a couple of hours through the lunch crowd, reporting in on all the news about water line breaks and areas without power.  They were just sitting by the fireplace at Panera and just talked to each other and lost track of time.  

I still wanted to be part of the family and still be on vacation.  I needed to get some planning and thinking done for school and thought it would go very quickly and had grand plans for getting back to vacation business. Obviously, I wasn't getting much done and put myself in a timeout in my bedroom.  As I sat up there working, things quieted downstairs.  I went down for a cup of tea to discover my three girls settled in with a computer game, the oldest played a lot.  I went back to work and settled back in to my quiet setting.  All of a sudden I heard the song, Brown Eyed Girl being sung by a choir at the top of their lungs and giggles galore.  My oldest is our only brown eyed girl and she loves to sing this song.  I sat in my quiet setting and thought, sometimes I have to step out of the picture to allow them to embrace sisterhood.  

Thank you Betsy at Two Writing Teachers for hosting this week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

One Little Word 2014

Happy New Year 2014, better late than never and I wanted to share with you my One Little Word for 2014.  Instead of creating a New Years Resolution and always wanting to have many I've chosen to participate in the One Little Word project and ideas from scrapbooker/storyteller Ali Edwards.  If you haven't read anything by Ali, I highly recommend you stop by her blog.  The past six years I have chosen enjoy, aware, nuture, discover, change, and create.  Create was a lot of fun because I really focused on making things again and different ways I could create.  I could create with my sewing machine, my technology tools, my bicycle and running, I could create thinking with my reading, and various other things.  I really think I thought longer with more intention about my word last year.  

As I began thinking about 2014 and what the year ahead holds for me there is a list of known things.  I know my oldest is going to graduate from high school and leave in August for college.  I know my middle daughter is leaving middle school and going to high school.  I know my youngest is leaving elementary school, the building I teach in and going to middle school. I know things will change in our home.  I know I have a new Honda mini van coming with some upgrades, thank you honey.  I know our seven year old rabbit is getting old.  I know next August my own coming and leaving work will feel very different without any of the girls with me.  

I know I want to write more via my blog, my Choice Literacy work, and my own personal family writing.  I know I want to read more professionally and books my daughters are reading to help stay connected and foster conversations.  I know I want to continue taking a sewing class here and there in hopes to offer more help when fair projects roll around.  I ran my first and only 5k last year, I know I want to repeat that or more this year.  I know teaching is going to throw some curve balls and demands that might make my arm hair stand straight up and give me the chills.  I know going down from third grade to kindergarten was quite a curve ball and a game changer.  I know I'm ready to straighten out that pitch and make some necessary changes in what I do and how I think so my heart is happier.  

I am welcoming the word - EMBRACE for 2014.  I just created this "logo" with a photo I took earlier this week.  I love the  message of embrace.  A beautiful blue sky on a cold crisp day with paths of white leading somewhere.  The trees are bare ready to embrace the current weather and the daily, seasonal changes ahead.  It's interesting how embrace is within my blog title but didn't surface to any of my thinking when making this word decision.  I can't wait to share my journey with you.