Friday, June 15, 2007
This week I was able to bring snacks on Tues., present my demo on Thurs., and to give the minutes on Friday. I LOVE that I have those things behind me. Please don't get me wrong. I loved doing those things, even getting this blank look from my husband at his computer when I told him from my computer how much fun doing a Works Cited page was. It's just that now I get to focus on other's demos and to focus more on my nightly writing.
I've got a ton of questions about writing right now. I've felt my inadequecies as a writer in lots of genres this week. I've realized how very much I can learn about being a writer and how great that will be for my students.
I like how our SWG works. Sometimes we don't have enough time for each member's writing. But, I really think it's a matter of time management more than not enough time. I think our group is respectful of each other and I appreciate the blessings and pressings that have come my way this week.
I am totally not fishing, okay? I am a reader who writes only to communicate, analyze, or critique. This institute both intimidates and inspires me--even if my writing is not exactly reflective of the latter (I'm still not fishing.).
Insights about what has made this week so successful: Casey, Janet, and Keri.
New ideas...too many - probably teaching students to have ownership in their writing - the blog spot, not leaving out the "I" in their writing, poetry, great stuff.
Ways I contributed...don't have a clue, maybe blogging our letter to Barb?
Questions raised in my mind. How will I keep my excitement for this going - when I leave here will the blogging, reading other work, writing on my own, and teaching be enough?
Feelings I have experienced. I was amazed at the sentence poetry - there were several poems that were so full of love they really touched me. thanks. also exhaustion, guilt, doubt, power...an interesting week.
Thought I have about how our small group works - I think we are a good group - a good mix and I am always surprised at some of our talks - still learning so much about everyone.
Insights about myself as a writer - one day I come home and think, jeeze I'm awesome. The next....I'm really not that unique - common....I feel like my writing needs time and I need experience. This week is giving me both.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Thanks, Barb, for opening up a door, not just a window.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
One question today was finding book lists for other fairy tales or other genre in general. Here is a link that will take you to one place to locate such lists. Please post comments if you know of other great links for finding book lists, as I know this was desired by classmates.
You all are amazingly intelligent! Thanks for letting me share with you today!
Thank you for bringing us so graciously into cyberspace. We are whole.
You lied to us yesterday -- you are smarter than you are old!
We think that this idea is useful in drawing out conversation among students who may not want to participate verbally in class discussion. We enjoyed having the freedom to "add" to the post by linking music, pictures, etc.
We loved the fact that your class came up with the rules (or netiquette). Because the whole conversation is student-driven, these are very much "best practices." The revision you saw in your students by saving posts. This very much fits into the best practices category. We did wonder, though, how poor netiquette is handled?
Book clubs and questions about assignments seem like great extensions and adaptations of this project.
Could you offer some additional info on time management? This is so cool, that we see ourselves getting sucked into it and burning dinner (like JoAnn did last night - at least she ate).
Do you have any tips on reluctant bloggers, or variety of blogging, duplicate, and so on? Do you come across situations where students just "agree"? Do you have tips to draw out substantive comments and not just "I agree" comments.
We also wondered about facilitating discussion on the blog, making sure that the students have read the work independently and aren't just paraphrasing other students' posts.
Thank you so much for your smart, experienced, presentation.
A favorite writer of mine is Chris Rose, who writes for The Times-Picayune out of New Orleans, which is where I grew up. Following the storm he, like others, struggled coming to grip with what had happened and was continuing to happen. He took some interesting steps to combat this (some of which he mentions in the article), and was transparent through the whole process, letting everything come out in his column. All of this was supremely endearing to his readers, including me, and he only recently made his return to writing after about a six week break from writing and the city.
I hope you enjoy.
You know how when you are growing up you have all these big ideas of what the grown up world will be like and how you will do things like accompany your husband to company dinners and prepare nutritious meals for your kid and plant things in your yard? I often thought about these things when the conversation at the school lunch table was dull or crude or inane. "I can't wait to be around intelligent people when I grow up!" I would console myself.
I am wondering how you set up the whole blogging interface. I understand the posting part but am a little confused on the set up process. Also how to students post in your classroom. Do you have laptops for each student in your classroom? How do you get music?
Now I realized that I probably should have commented on something that we read. While reading Breakthrough I was happy to stumble across Nanci Atwell support on prewriting processes.
Keri says I am a grandma. What can grandma can add an MP3 file on her post. Not Keri!
She also suggests hanging on to literally everything you write--for years. Her advice to young writers is to keep your writing to use when you are older and trying to recapture emotions/voice of earlier times. So I've been thinking about how cool it would be to have these "primary documents" about, say, the pain of being the lead strike-out player on your t-ball team--"The Rainbows"--game after game or elementary school picture day when you had to stand next to the same dorky guy AGAIN just because you were both the tallest in the class.
- The days of the week are named after Norse gods
- Europe is named after one of Zeus' girlfriends
- The Olympics were founded by Heracles
- Words such as "geography", "moraphine", "hypnosis", "music", and the ever popular "hermaphrodite" all reference characters from ancient Greek mythology.
Surprisingly, this is all leading to a point: my demo will center around a technique I've used extensively to get across the major and minor stories of myth and legend. Although I find these accounts fascinating all by themselves, Reader's Theatre provides a great way to get the students interested and excited about the material. So look forward to that.
To colleagues, writers, friends, and all the fascinating faces and voices of the National Writing Project of the Ozarks - THANK YOU!.
This summer's experience is exactly what I have needed - a reminder that I am still a teacher, still excited about sharing what I do, who I am, who my students. I am on a journey to discover that I am not just some overworked workaholic unfortunately incarcerated and drowning in "and duties as assigned." It is time to compartmentalize and remember why I am in the classroom, why I love to learn, and why I love to teach.
I am anxious to know you as teachers, friends, and writers. To eat with you, write with you, share with you. What do you know? I can hardly wait to find out! What do you want from me? Oh, please just ask!
I love to write about interesting characters or quirky situations I have encountered--I love to hear similar stories from my friends. Perhaps you could post here about someone you've met or a situation you found yourself in that was strange or odd or unexpected.
What my students often remember from my class is a story I tell them about a man I tutored in the Writing Center when I was a sophomore at Drury. He was about 10-12 years older than I, and took to visiting me often because he thought I was easy to talk to, I guess. He asked me out a few times (once, in particular, to come to a masquerade party at his mother's house, where he still lived) but I always told him I had a boyfriend. He still thought we had a connection, though, and one day dramatically revealed to me that he had been married before and had a two-year-old son--he wondered if, me being as young as I was, I would be ready to become a mother to his child if things went the way he planned...Another time I was wearing a denim skirt and sweater and he told me I had the "cutest knees" he had ever seen. He waited outside the library on Valentine's Day, calling to me with a "psssst" from a used Linclon he had borrowed from a friend. He gave me a rather intimate poem he had written (about my "smell"--not my perfume but the smell of my skin) with a epilogue reading: "P.S. Yes this poem was wrote by me, especially for you." Obviously the hours in the writing lab hadn't been about the grammar for him.
When I found him waiting for me outside the library yet again a week or two later, asking me to do something that weekend, I finally got the guts to be firm and told him, "I'm not going out with you Saturday. I'm not going out with you ever, and I need you to quit asking me." He backed away slowly and said the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to me: "Okay. Okay. I was a hunter. You were my deer. The hunt is off!" And away he went. I only saw him one other time after that, when I was locked out of my dorm and beckoned to a security guard in the distance to come over and help me in. It was him. He had been hired right after the Valentine poem. Kids always remember that story.
Why don't you post one, too? Maybe it will be the beginning to a great piece or give you something to journal about. Some juicy material...
-- Jan Matsuoka, in "Revising Revision..." p 295
On the way home last night, I thought to myself, "What the heck am I doing?"
I meant as a teacher, as wife, as a mother, as a student.
Today is my 10 wedding anniversary, a whole decade of marriage. I have 2 children that I almost always like. But, on that day, standing there with his father marrying us, my mother sitting a few feet away from me, and all our friends and family watching, I thought, "What the heck am I doing?"
I will also begin my 9th year teaching. It seems that now is too late to be wondering what I have gotten myself into with these degrees.
I started my student teaching the fall after I was married. I got used to my new last name in Mrs. Lewis's 10th grade English class. The first thing we did was a scavenger hunt. We'd sign in the boxes that we could answer correctly. The first 5 students who came to me wanted me to name all 8 parts of speech. No more came to me for that box because word had gotten around that I couldn't name them all. I was so ashamed. "What the heck am I doing?" I thought, not for the first time or the last time. I learned all 8 parts of speech that night, too late for the hunt.
Revision has always been key to me. I loved drafts. Sometimes I would write over 10 drafts of the essay I had due. It was incredibly time consuming. Even though there were so many, each was remarkable similar to the others. I wasn't really revising, just spot checking.
Dr. Carman helped me find the Crap Detector. He said to find the sentences, the phrases, I loved best and dump them. I couldn't believe it. Throw away the best lines, the best writing? As I sat at my computer that evening, deleting through my tears, I wondered, "What the heck am I doing?"
Turns out, a lot of the phrases I had fallen in love with were not as good as the replacements. Though, some were. I had to learn to discern what was worth keeping.
As I look back over these years, I want to see growth, change, success, and even failure. I want to be more a teacher, more a write, more a reflector, more a reviser than I was 10 years ago. I have committed to my topic, my husband, but I want to be a better wife, a better human being, a better mother to my children, a better teacher than I was on this day, 10 years ago.
I throw out the crap, keep the kernels, the nuggets, contributing to the whole essay.
So, "What the heck am I doing?" Learning. Writing. Loving. Revising. Who cares if I shed a few tears along the way?