By Janice Ewing
My grad class is small this term, a seminar-like community with lots of conversation and sharing of ideas and experiences. The comfort level among the group is a welcome respite at a time when everyone is striving to fulfill end-of-year requirements and scrambling to reach unmet goals, while keeping up with grad school and family obligations.
Recently, a few of the teachers shared experiences that were unexpectedly positive and rewarding. For example, Anne (names have been changed) teaches in an alternative high school for students who have previously dropped out or taken other detours from the traditional path to graduation. Most, if not all, have had struggles and negative experiences with reading, robbing them of the pleasurable experience of getting caught up in a book. By chance, Anne acquired a large enough collection of Walter Dean Myers’ Monster to accommodate her small class. She had not read the book, but had read reviews and commentaries and it seemed like a great fit for her students. She decided to jump in without reading it ahead, which was not her usual practice. Next issue: a well-meaning colleague pointed out that there were related “packets’ available, which would provide questions, prompts, discussion points, etc. An inner voice told her to forgo the packets, and she listened to it. Read more
By Janice Ewing
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
Mary Oliver (from “Sometimes”)
These are among my favorite lines from Mary Oliver, and I think that these “instructions” apply to poetry, too. Once again we find ourselves in April, Poetry Month. Many of us have considered the value of giving poetry its special twelfth of the year, versus reading, writing and enjoying it all the time. This year, I’m feeling a little more mellow about that issue. I’ve come to believe that we can immerse ourselves and our students in poetry through all seasons, and still take the month of April to celebrate it with fun and fanfare. Read more
By Frank Murphy
Recently, Lynne Dorfman wrote a Teacher to Teacher post about using my newest book, Take a Hike Teddy Roosevelt, as a mentor text to help guide the instruction of teachers of young writers. (Of course, I was, and still am, flattered!!) Soon after, on a Saturday in January, we co-presented on the same topic for some dedicated members of the Capital Reading Council in Harrisburg, PA.
In a nutshell, I started the event off by sharing the story of how Teddy became so dedicated to environmental conservation; then Lynne went about analyzing how she could use this book as a mentor text for elementary school student writers. (If you’ve never seen Lynne present – she’s like a literary surgeon on Skittles!!). She focused on many things, from strong verbs to exact nouns. Even artful sentence fragments! (I hope she thought that one was artful!) All of Lynne’s analysis forced me to recollect so much of the writing and rewriting and imagining of writing that I did over the last few years of constructing and crafting this book in collaboration with my editor, Anna Membrino. It also made me reflect on a recent lesson that I taught to my current sixth grade students that I’ll discuss later. Read more
By Kelly Virgin
A few years back one of my real life friends asked me to be her virtual friend on yet another social media site. I was already lagging with my tweets, feeling overwhelmed by my newsfeed, and completely out of touch with current hashtags, so I was leery of signing up for anymore social media tasks. However, when she described it as “a Facebook for readers,” I knew I had to give it a shot. Since I accepted her invitation to join Goodreads.com in February of 2009, I have extended that same invitation year after year to over 300 of my students.
By Janice Ewing
Most PAWLPers don’t wait until New Year’s to engage in reflection and goal-setting; nevertheless, this time of year especially lends itself to those pursuits. For example, one PAWLPer said, “I firmly resolve to write something every day that is not just a compilation of events, but actual insights of life that I’ve noticed and contemplated.”
Here’s a sampling of some more of our Writing Resolutions, collected at our December Continuity and Leadership meetings: Read more
by Aileen Hower
Digital tools that have proven helpful in supporting students on the autism spectrum to express their thoughts better in writing are those that allow them to create comic strips and videos. Likewise, digital tools like QR codes, podcasts, and interactive sites like BookFlix and TrueFlix can support a student’s reading more efficiently and effectively. Read more