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Posts tagged ‘Don LeBranch’

The Monsters and the Writers (Guest Post)

by Donald LaBranche

The first principle is this: when they walk through the door, take them seriously as writers.  Every decision I make will have to grow out of that ground. Purple hair, ukuleles, gothic jewelry and clothing, surly expressions on the face one day and sweet dispositions the next…take them seriously as writers. Whatever it is, writers are just like that.  

I’ve been teaching this Young Writers/Young Readers class (Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror) long enough so that I have a process that more or less stays the same. I ask myself the same questions every year. Whose fiction should I read so I can renew familiarity with classic stories? (Mary Shelley) Whose fiction is on the cutting edge of what is being written say, in the last 3-5 years? (Ann Leckie) Also, whose work about the craft of writing will benefit my students by learning and practicing what they have to say? Finally, I want to look at student work from the last couple of years in some detail to discern what it is they can do well and what I need to help them do better.

That’s it. That’s the plan as it looks in mid-April.  Read more

The Writing Conference in Nancie Atwell’s Room (Part 3)

By Donald LaBranche

This post is the third in a series of reviews of In The Middle, by Nanci Atwell, Third Edition, 2015. Click here to see the previous reviews.


inthemiddleHere’s the first verse from Robert Bly’s poem “Things to Think”

Think in ways you’ve never thought before
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

When the best teacher in the world is a middle school English teacher, folks who do the same thing for a living might want to sit up and pay attention. When she has written book after book for decades telling us how to avoid becoming mere “technicians” and hold true to what is best in the teaching profession we might ask, “Have I heard what Nanci Atwell has to say?” and if the answer is no, then ask, “Why not?” Read more