By Kelly Virgin
It is estimated that 2 million blog posts are written everyday. That is over 10 million per week.
The sheer amount of content makes learning about and teaching this writing task daunting. Nevertheless, my students and I faced this challenge head on as we worked together to craft and publish the first of what will hopefully be many posts on our new blog – khscreativewriters.edublogs.org. The following is the step-by-step approach we used to get comfortable and confident with blogging.
Step 1: Write!
Before I introduced the blogging writing task, I wanted students to have a wealth of ideas to pull from for their first posts. So, we spent a few class periods writing to gather ideas. First, we curated expert lists. Students had five minutes to list as many topics they considered themselves “experts” on. After we listed and discussed some of our expertise, we returned to the items and brainstormed types of writing we could do on the different topics. For example, one student who considers himself an expert on backpacking realized he could write a how-to guide or keep a journal of his backpacking trips.
Another list we created Read more
“Write down three words that come into your mind when you hear the word ‘transition’.” This is how we opened our first PAWLP Continuity session of the fall season. (You might want to list your three words now.) The follow-up suggestion was to simply share the three words with a partner. What naturally emerged, though, were extended and rich conversations about the reasons and feelings behind the words that were listed. We then asked participants to highlight the one word from their list they would be most likely to write more about. This encouraged everyone to reflect on which of the words held the most energy, significance, or tension for them. (If you have written down your three words, you might want to highlight one now.)
In our whole group sharing, people thoughtfully shared a variety of reactions to the idea of transition. One way of looking at the responses is that they could be categorized according to a binary of positive, e.g. exciting, new, opportunities, and negative, e.g. uncertain, overwhelming, scary. I’m wondering how else we might organize them, though.
Some people highlighted the word that seemed to encompass the others on their list. Others chose the one that stood out for one of the reasons mentioned above. Each of the words that was shared, whether it was the highlighted one or not, represented a story, or multiple stories, waiting to be revealed. Within the layers of those stories are questions waiting to be explored. (Look at your highlighted word again. What is the story behind it? What question or questions does it raise?)
by Lynne R. Dorfman
As new technologies, new staff, and new initiatives cycle through every district’s education system, change is inevitable. While teachers and administrators are approached with changes, appropriate response is vital for successful implementation. Choosing to respond rather than reacting to change will enhance the success of any endeavor. When you react, it is easy to feel helpless and frustrated, but if you respond to change, then you accept what is and choose to let it affect you positively. Three rules that will help create a positive experience with change are:
1. Be clear on how you want to handle change.
2. Set realistic goals for change.
3. Let change open new doors and point us in new directions.
By Paige Britt
As a writer, one of the most difficult parts of my process is time. There’s never enough of it! How do I finish my never-ending to-do list, both at work and at home, and find the time to write?
When I first started getting serious about my writing, I thought my time had to be spent, well, writing. Butt in chair, fingers on the keyboard. If I wasn’t writing—filling that white space with little black letters, watching my word count rise—then I felt like I hadn’t been productive.
I had taken what I’d learned from the corporate world and applied it to the writing process. In one of my jobs at an Internet startup, I had to log everything I did each day in fifteen intervals. I was constantly on the clock, trying to achieve measurable results.
When I started working on my first novel, part of me felt like writing was supposed to be that way, too. That I had to work fast and be efficient. But then one day my husband brought home a book by Brenda Ueland called If You Want to Write. In it she said, “The imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”
Dawdling? Puttering? Moodling? Did I really have permission to do that?
by Lynne R. Dorfman
Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.
In the beginning…It’s important to begin to know who we are as writers! As we return to classrooms at summer’s end, think about your own writing identity as teacher writers. Writing to help us discover our identity as writers. The writing community needs a teacher who is willing to take risks and write in front of their students. The core belief we must articulate to our students, our colleagues, and to ourselves is that we are teachers of writers who write. Spandel tells us, “Almost nothing does more to sustain a culture of writing than a teacher who writes with students, thereby underscoring the importance of writing and allowing students to see the process – one writer’s version of it – as it unfolds.” (The Rights of Every Writer. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 42-43).
We must commit to a writerly life to provide the high-quality support our students need to move forward as writers. Writing for our students allows us to make our thinking visible – to explain the thinking behind the choices that we make. When we write ourselves, we engage in the same struggles as our students, so we are better problem solvers and better at conferring and feedback. When students see teachers as fellow writers. They are more open to suggestions and more open to explain their thinking in greater detail. The conference is not teacher to student but writer to writer. According to Regie Routman: “Take the plunge: They will appreciate your risk taking, and you will have a much clearer idea of what you are actually asking them to do.” (Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations and Result While Simplifying Teaching. 2005, 25).
When we write our own stories, poems, and memoirs and share them with our students, we learn to enjoy writing, and at the same time, we become more real to our students. Modeling must begin by sharing ourselves and what our interests are. We write to capture our lives, and that’s what our students need to see, how who we are translates into what we write. In Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature (2017), co-author and PAWLP fellow Rose Cappelli and I explain that writing is not a spectator sport – you must jump in and play the game! We believe, “To treat our students like genuine authors, respect their abilities, and understand their struggles, we need to write so that we can call ourselves ‘author.’”
by Kelly Virgin
Throughout the school year I have the ability to push my students across that threshold on a regular basis. We visit the school library at least monthly and since I line my classroom walls with bookshelves, they literally walk into a library every school day. However, as the end of the school year looms, I grow increasingly concerned for their literary lives over the summer. To ease my worries, and to nudge students to cross that magic threshold on their own, I take the time to introduce my students to their local library.