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Showing posts from January, 2012

Some Days Just Feel Right

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Join other slicers at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday. Last week I presented mini lessons on writing children's books and poetry in class. Yesterday my 40 creative writing students shared their drafts. We share on Google Docs and I can then comment on them as I read their drafts. I would love to always conference with each of them, but the plain truth is, I simply can't get to everyone. By sharing on Google Docs, I can read and comment to all, and they can come to me if they want to talk more. Last night, as I read and commented, I was simply amazed at the work they were sharing. Especially the poetry. That one genre that most kids--especially boys--think they can't write.  Boy, are they wrong! The opening stanza from one young man's hunting poem--he revised this morning after reading comments and talking to me. Got rid of some extraneous words. Focused in on important details. 4:30 a.m Blares in my ear Morning chills run through my veins Sit

How About a Little Cheese With That W(h)ine?

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I got it. You hate to write. You enrolled in this class because the guidance department made you take another class and Drawing and Design was full. I got it. But do you really need to whine those words a million times a class period? You whine about journal writing--even though I give you a topic to write about. You whine when it's time to work on your draft--even though I gave you a topic to write about. You whine when it's time to revise--even though I give you suggestions for revision. You whine. But you know what I think? I think you are lazy. I think you don't want to think. I think that no matter what I say, you think Creative Writing should be a sluff class. It's not. In Creative Writing, WE WRITE  EVERY DAY. Writing makes you think and feel and believe in something.  It strengthens brain muscles. Writing helps you make sense of the world. It lets you explore the world around you. Writing is joyful, and depressing, and illuminating. It

It Doesn't Mean You Can Teach

It's 1975 and I am a freshman in college. Like education majors everywhere, I have to take an Intro to Psych class. I'm excited about it really. Here's a class that  will actually relate to what I want to do with my life. I show up at 8:00am the first day of class. In shuffles my professor.  A wizened man of indeterminate age.  Tufts of hair stand out at all angles (I see it gray in my memory, but the yearbook shows me differently) and he speaks to us in a thick Austrian accent ( I didn't know what accent at first, I just knew he was hard to understand). This is my psychology professor, Professor W. Professor W tells us we will not be using the introductory psych book, instead, we will be using his textbook and learning a new language he has developed. Learning to speak "Aui" will allow us to communicate with extra-terrestrials when they arrive on Earth.  Mind you, this is a few years before E.T  or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He gives us a prete

The Start of a Great Day

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What's the bus doing here so early? Wasn't he told I didn't need him here until 8:45? It's Saturday. Contest day. A snowstorm delayed the start for two hours, but otherwise, everything's a go. I better go tell him the kids won't be here for awhile and we're not leaving until 9, in case he wants to go get coffee or something. I walk out into the cold and head to the bus. Brian lets me on with a smile. "I wondered why there was no one here.  I'll be fine though. I already have coffee and this will give the bus time to warm up." I head back to the building, making a list in my head of the last minute details I need to take care of. MY KEYS! CRAP! Remember, it's Saturday morning after a snowstorm. I look around. There are cars and pick-ups down by the locker room entrance--maybe there are some wrestlers running around to let me in. I pound on the door. No answer. I walk around to the back entrance by the superintendent's

Wings to the World

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Thanks to Storykeeper , I discovered Every Day Poems on Facebook!  And on the web. And on Twitter. And for $0.99, you can subscribe to them and get emails every day!   I'm a little excited, can't you tell? Anyway... Yesterday's photo of inspiration Wings To The World I hope to give you wings to soar above the world spreading your message  of passion, enthusiasm, and love. I hope to give you wings to fly through the world finding those who validate you and  support your dreams. I hope to give you wings so  you may sail through the  troubled times you experience  and rise above them. I hope to give you wings so you may flit and float and flutter for  fun without worrying what the fun-haters think. I hope to give you wings.

He Loves Me

My husband and I aren't the lovey, dovey, gag me kind of couple.  Never have been. But, I know he loves me. He turns off the bedroom TV when I fall asleep in front of it. When people call after 9, he tells them I'm in bed ('cause I usually am!) He tells them I'm busy when they call  on Sunday bath nights He calls and says, "How about we order out tonight?" He cooks. He "lets"  me stay at the lake most of the summer while he has to go home to work. He defends teachers--especially to the "Must be nice to be off at 4" or "Must be nice to have the summer off" people.   District speech contest is this weekend, so as always, he was going to go and visit his brother tonight.  He hates to stay home alone.  But with a  snowstorm coming, he probably wouldn't have made it today, so he went last night. When I got home late from school, the outside light was on so I could see, the shovel was pulled across the cement in front

"Twas the Weeks Before State Visit...."

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'Twas the weeks before state visit and all through the school All the committees were meeting and checking state rules. The posters were hung by the doors with care, In hopes that state visitors would see them hung there. The teachers were prepped by administrative staff While visions of data maps danced in their heads. And principals in chairs and staff in attendance Had just settled in for an inservice nap. When out in the center there arose such a clatter We woke from our naps to see what was the matter. Away from my computer I flew like a flash Shut down my Twitter and opened up my trash. The glow on the screen in the front of the room Gave a luster of midday to brighten the gloom. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a list of acronyms of which I should fear. Now, CSIP! Now, SIAC! Now, SINA and MISIC. On ITEDS and Reading. On, Vision and Mission! To the top of the list! And not just in the fall. Now test away, test

The Fault in Our Stars

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My (signed, yea!) copy of The Fault in Our Stars  by John Green was waiting at my door when I came home the other day.  I made a decision I normally never make--I started it while I was reading another book. I've been reading Stephen King's new book 11/22/63.   I love King's book, but, for me, it's a slow read while I digest what he's writing about. I thought Green's Young Adult novel would be a fast read and I could get it on my book shelf faster  into the hands of kids if I just took a break and read it instead of 11/22/63. And it was, but I may have to read it again. When I talk with students about books, I always tell them that, for me, if I wonder what the characters are doing without me, that's the sign of a good book.  Not only did I wonder what Augustus and Hazel were doing--I wondered HOW they were doing, especially Hazel.  She has cancer, you see.  Although she's had a "tumor shrinking medical miracle", she's still terminal,

...But Ideas Never Die

Essays Test questions Research papers Text messages Status Updates Lists Orders All things written by my creative writing students.  Most of them say they hate to write--FOR SCHOOL-- At home, on their own, for fun, they write Rap songs Poetry Fantasy stories Adventure stories Journals Stories about their lives Lists of their likes and dislikes Letters Blogs They write when they're angry, They write when they're sad, They write when they're happy, They write when they can't talk to anyone else, but things need to be said. And they love it. And they get better at it. Hmmmm As those in power are pushing for more and more testing. Pushing for writing to answer prompts. As people shove students into my class only because they need an English credit.  Because it's "easy". I want them to listen to my students.  They know they need to learn to write for school. They get that. They hate it, but they get it. But Here's the st

Wolf Moon

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Racing through the doorway Bouncing on walls Shouting whatever come into their heads Never sitting Always Touching Always poking Always shoving Brains disengaged Silly questions Random conversations No intelligent thought to be had LOUD movements LOUD voices LOUD laughter Does it happen to you too?   Can you tell there is a full moon  without  looking at the calendar  or hearing it on the news? The following video has nothing to do with my poem or the full moon.  It made me smile today as I head off to school so thought I would share with the people I know will appreciate it the most!

Is It Too Much To Ask?

Friday. I should have been home early tonight, but I stayed after rehearsals to straightened desks, clean my room, and get things ready for Monday. It's crazy, I know. But I'm a little nervous for Monday. I have a "J-termer" coming to my class.  He/She is a student from the college about 20 miles from where I live.  My alma mater.  They are freshmen (usually) and come in January to observe classrooms.  I received an e-mail last night from my J-termer that was so full of excitement and enthusiasm, I'm afraid the experience won't live up to his/her expectations. You see, when I was a J-termer, my experience wasn't so great.  It should have been right up my alley. I was assigned to the only English teacher in a very small school. She taught 7th to 12th grade English--every student in the building.  I don't remember anything about it except sitting and sitting and sitting and sitting and ... Well, you get the picture. I know. "Student Observer

"She Really Gets Us"

I seem to be having those honest conversations with kids a lot lately. Today it happened in English 9.  We are studying author's style and voice and somehow, the conversation turned to what other teachers had taught them in the past (as I have mentioned before, I have been frustrated with how this class has been going, so this conversation was one I had been wanting to have). "We learned a lot about nouns and verbs and stuff. " "Yea--and punctuation.  Yuck.  Please don't do that." "What do we even need periods for?" Yes, a freshman in high school asked why we need periods. Of course, she was also the freshman who thought you had to chew your food up into really small bites when you were pregnant so the baby could eat the food. And she couldn't find her textbook on the shelf today.  Number 66. I pulled it off the shelf as soon as I went back to look. "Unh unh...that's number 99." Really. I couldn't make this stuff up! &

But I Don't Have Weird Friends Like You Do

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Connecting in Creative Writing is a little different than speech.  It's easier in some ways. For one thing, I have had most of these students in class before. We have a relationship of sorts.  I know things about them, they know some things about me. The connecting comes as we work through ideas and write them in our notebooks. In some ways, it's harder. I already think  I know things about them. They already think  they know things about me.  Sometimes, like this morning, it would be easier to just let them come in and start writing...to just go with the status quo. When I came into my room, they were already hard at work on the writing autobiography  I assigned yesterday. But today, because of my OLW-- CONNECT-  I worked a little harder at deepening those connections. I let them work the first part of the period, but with about 20 minutes left, I asked them to put away their computers and get out their notebooks. I began with the simple words, "I am a writer.  Th

How Sucking at Golf Helps My Teaching

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Check out other slicers at TwoWritingTeachers (or better yet, join the fun!) And so we start anew. A new day A new semester A new year I love the start of a new semester and a new year. Life just seems full of possibilities. It seems like I can do anything. Be anything. My plans for today--to begin making those connections with kids. I have 100 new students coming into my classroom. They'll be excited to be back in class, but a little nervous too.  Especially those in speech class. I want to let them know it's OK to be nervous, that I don't expect perfection, and that I want to help them. I model the first speech of the year for them on each first day. It's a paper bag speech that introduces them to class. They are to put three objects in the bag that will help us get to know them. My speech goes a little something like this: I'm Mrs. Day and I'll be your speech teacher this semester.  I know that many of you are a little nervous about this class