Sunday, August 19, 2007

All Written Out and Powering Up

I had four straight days of writing workshops last week so you would think that I have plenty to blog about. I am sure that I do - but I am still trying to process some of the questions/issues that the participants raised as well as what I learned. The reason that I love teaching about writing and teaching writing is that I learn something every single time. So, in the spirit of a new blog that I am reading, I will consider this a Writer's Notebook blog entry. I like their style so much that I'll tag all Writer's Notebook entries as they do- WN - so that I can be sure to come back to them later.

Power of Picture Books: I pulled a number of them off the shelves and brought to share with the teachers. I haven't taken time to really organize them with the lessons but will be fast-tracking that soon. The picture book with the greatest impact was Not a Box and my colleague Chris helped me with an extension activity using pom-poms. Great fun!!

Power of Conferencing: Early in the week, the teachers wanted help with what a writing conference would look like, particularly as young writers bridge pictures to text. Lucky for me - I have a ready and somewhat willing niece who loves to help her aunt and we created a video for the teachers that night. I was far from perfect and Amelia had no problems letting me know when I crossed the aunt line! But I learned a great deal from that conference and the teacher reflection that followed!!

Power of Voice: I am always asked how to "teach" voice - and I answer that it isn't something that can be taught, it needs to be uncovered. But that is not a good answer. The last two days spent with upper elementary teachers has be pondering what comes first - voice in the abstract or the more concrete traits that help to make up voice (sentence fluency, word choice, conventions). I am chewing hard on this one.

Power of Collaboration: The best part of the four days was each time the teachers worked together in grade level teams to make plans for the upcoming year and using their new K-5 writing rubric. They did amazing work and asked incredible questions. Made me miss my classroom more than ever. But I did get to spend all four days with a colleague and get valuable feedback and ideas. We don't take the time to do that often enough and I am putting it on my work plan to do more often.

Power of Writer's Notebooks: I actually chose to call them Treasure Books (as I learned from Primarily Writing). I like that turn of phrase better - makes them be more than just a class assignment and an exercise in compliance and more personal, more authentic. Chris and I brainstormed a workshop on just using treasure books and I think we purposefully integrated them much better in the last two days. While I keep a writer's notebook myself, I haven't spent much time thinking about what I keep or how I keep it. I need to do more of that to model for teachers.

Power of Re-Charging: Seriously - I was exhausted by the end of the week and it felt good to re-charge my batteries. I didn't do anything monumental - cleaned two of the seven downstairs rooms, loads and loads of forgotten laundry, watched movies with the family. I took a break from writing, from the gym, from work - all the things that while they make me happy, also tend to stress me out. I dread Mondays - but maybe this one won't be quite so bad.

Happy Writing!

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