Thursday, April 12, 2007

Visual Writing

It's April - it's freezing - and my furnace broke!

Normally I would be a bit more upset but since my beloved Sabres begin their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup today and I begin my quest for peace, quiet and a tan on Sunday - things could be worse!!

So I am catching up on some Bloglines and have lost myself creating a Scrapblog. This free site allows you to take pictures and create virtual scrapbooks (complete with stickers and voice bubbles) that can be posted online. My sample page using two of the books I have mentioned on this blog is below.

The site is pretty simple to use and it made me think about students who need to visually map out a story before they write. Imagine them taking photos from their own collection or from Flickr and using the scrapbook pages to create a storyboard! Then sharing that story board and getting comments on it!! It would teach them organization and voice!! They would have fun!! They would still be writing!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

iPod Grammar

I've been investigating the use of podcasts lately and was thrilled to stumble across the Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, again via Choice Literacy.

Now - grammar is not my forte, and in all honesty, neither is auditory learning. I found that I needed to write as Grammar Girl was talking in order to see the grammar piece (I was listening to a lesson on run-on sentences.) But -the tone of her voice was friendly and easy to listen to, as was the content. I could see this being a nice library for mini-lessons or an opener for class. (Oh! And I found out at the end that a transcript of the podcast is available!!)

But more than that....I think it is a great model for the podcasts that some of the great writing teachers I work with could write.

Check out Grammar Girl - free from iTunes!!

(Chocolate comma shown above available at Chocolate Lady Treats!!)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Let Go of the Rice!!

I have a million posts running around in my head - but not a one has made it to my blog. Some are on scraps of paper, others just notes jotted in the margins of what I have read. I have tried to set up a schedule for blog writing but somehow my own internal deadlines have not helped.

I've learned recently, through some team building exercises, that I am a "Gold" - practical, sensible, organized, dependable. Not a news flash to those who know me for more than an hour. But something I have come recently to doubt about myself. These are my strengths - I should not apologize for them, nor should they be my crutch. It is me and I must know it and embrace it. Orange - risk taking - was my lowest color.

I think this internal color spectrum represents what prohibits me from writing - or at least writing as often as I would like. I do like to take sensible risks - and I certainly have opinions about writing. But I use this blog with my workshops and in those cases my role is different. I am a facilitator, a trainer, a guide on the side. Members of my organization read this blog on occaision - do I need to be mindful of what I say? Where do my provocative questions fall?

My weekly email from Choice Literacy arrived and it has me thinking about this quandry. Brenda Power writes about a metaphor from one of my writing mentors, Ralph Fletcher:

"If you're scrambling to find time for what needs to be done, consider
the story of the monkey's hand. Writer Ralph Fletcher uses a wonderful
metaphor to describe how we get trapped in certain ways of working or
thinking. In South America, monkeys are caught by an ingenious means. The
traps used to capture them are filled with rice. In order to get the rice,
the monkey places her hand through a small opening in the box. Once she
grasps the rice, her hand can no longer fit through the opening. She is
trapped, because she doesn't think to let go of some of the rice so that she
can free her hand...

The monkey holds on because what's in her hand has value. But if you
free up just a bit of your time by giving away something of value, you may
discover new uses for your time, or new ways of thinking about your time, that
are even more valuable."

I've always had a strange affinity for monkey analogies - just ask my students! - but this one in particular has hit home. I think you'll be seeing some changes around this blog - ones that I hope of are of value. Not sure what they are quite yet - but Easter seems to have brought about a renewal in me as a writer and an educator. So, dear readers, hold on!!