Good writing/Great writing–a visual

Well, I’m a strong visual learner so this recent post on the Brain Pickings blog kind of fascinated me. See if you don’t agree that visuals can help explain complexities.

Explainer–Elucidator–Enchanter

 

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Just thinking about stories…

A dear friend shared a pic of her elderly daddy yesterday, playing his harmonica during his sharing of stories to a senior church group. My friend drove well over a hundred miles to take her daddy to this church, to share stories with a groups of seniors. I cannot express how deeply my emotions run. I am almost panicked into wondering what will happen when the “voice” in face-to-face meetings diminishes and gives way to twitter and snapchat and other social media outlets? Will the social media generation ever know the life-changing emotions and impact of storytelling, in person?? I have many elderly family members. I devour their stories. I want more of them. Dementia and health issues diminish the days where I sit happy, excited, questioning, always wanting more. And I know I’m a hypocrite. I twitter. I have this blog. And others. I don’t snapchat despite my granddaughter’s attempts (futile) to teach me how to “quickly” save the pic. *groan* *fail* But, still, I remain haunted by my friend’s shared post of her daddy, driving him many miles away to share stories. It won’t let go of me. I have no solutions, being caught myself in the web of technology. But, I do know that stories define us, make us more human, less robotic, more-connected, less removed.

That’s all. Just kind of a confessional/rant.

…Start out Well

How do you Start your school year Well? An NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) shares how she starts them out writing, right away. Read her piece and MORE at Literacy & NCTE, the official blog of National Council of Teachers of English…

Starting Well

Back to School with Teachers And Writers Magazine!

My email newsletter came today from Teachers & Writers Magazine–the online zine of Teachers & Writers Collaborative. It is loaded with wonderful and imaginative ideas for teaching your writers. You can subscribe to this wonderful magazine (I think I have mentioned it somewhere before on this blog) for free–however, T&W Collaborative is sustained by donations.

T&W publishes Teachers & Writers Magazine as a resource for teaching the art of writing in kindergarten through college and also in non-classroom settings. The online magazine presents a wide range of ideas and approaches, as well as lively explorations of T&W’s mission: “educating the imagination.”

Here’s a taste of what they offer you in the Back to School edition. Visit  http://www.teachersandwritersmagazine.org to sign up for this great magazine, and share with your colleagues!

From the Aug 2016 edition (but also check out the archives for great ideas and lesson plans):

http://www.teachersandwritersmagazine.org/travel-poetry-lesson-2847.htm
Travel Poetry

http://www.teachersandwritersmagazine.org/just-write-2925.htm
Just Write—a daily ritual in a middle school classroom…Also loaded with good writing tip starters.

 

 

 

A writing challenge…

Don’t we all love challenges! I’ve recently signed up for the 100 Day Challenge (Instagram#100DayProject) where you choose something to “make” and repeat the making for 100 days straight. Since I love photography, have zillions of photos of the natural world, and I love the simple beauty of Haiku I am challenging myself to 100 days of seeing my natural word through 17 syllables and visually representing with photography. Each day I will upload my PhotoPoem to the 100 day instagram site, where I will also enjoy the creative challenges of others who join the project. I will upload some, as well, to my HaikuNorth blog site.

So…why this post? As I’ve commented in previous entries on this blog, I love the challenge of numbers. Some of my published writer’s notebook entries are number challenges…Home in 6 sentences…My life in 7 stories….Writing small in 50 words….20 observations….10 observations a day…6 word memoirs…The challenge of a number is exciting and setting a number limit helps one drive to cross the finish line.

Students love the challenge, as well. Years of reading the amazing writer’s notebooks of college students confirms this—-to a student, they grab the number challenge invitations. I think that creating a 100 day challenge in writing classrooms would not only be great fun, but writers would discover their voices, as well. If not 100 days, then lower the limit—make it a monthly challenge, or 20 days, or 50…whatever works.

Imagine the possibilities of writing on the same topic, or in the same genre each day—“making” something “anew” with words and visuals if desired, for a set number of days. The challenge lies in making 100 (or whatever the limit) of “something,” so why not with writing?? For several years when I taught 6th graders, we did the Moon Journal project (just google it—it is still ongoing everywhere and I did this back in the mid-90’s), for the month of October, where they kept a Moon Journal and each evening at relatively the same time, they went outdoors, viewed the moon, captured noticings about the qualities in the natural world—air, sounds, sky; they wrote in the journal and sketched what they saw. Many turned their words and sketches into watercolors. The Moon Journal project was much like the 100 Day Challenge—it was both finite and creative. And, they loved it and discovered that they could look at that same old moon each night and find new words with which to describe both what they saw and what they felt.

Writing is thinking. It is living, experiencing. Any way, any path you choose to get creative juices flowing and imaginations widening is a good thing.

I know the end of the school year is nearly here, but wouldn’t it be great to “challenge” your students to a summer project, to keep writing juices flowing?

The #100DayProject started yesterday, April 19th. Here are my posts for days 1 and 2. I’m already loving this!

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Day 1  A walk along the icy pier on a frigid day rewarded us with this beautiful image. Note the bird feathers ruffling in the wind. It was so cold!

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Day 2 The one clinging oak leaf on the bare-branched tree and near perfectly centered, as if posing for my camera. The bluest sky on this mid-April day as a backdrop to the beautiful trees–Spring gifts.

National Poetry Month

Every April, I highlight National Poetry Month and encourage teachers to take full advantage of all of the amazing resources available to you on the Academy of American Poets website,   Caution! You can get lost in the good stuff on this site :0)

Of special interest to teachers, check this out: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/materials-teachers.

Poets.org is also on youtube and twitter. A twitter feature I especially like is the April highlight called Teach this Poem. If you twitter, you can link to a poem and add YOUR great ideas for teaching.

Poetry lives in and emerges from our souls. To me, every month is poetry month, as it is my favorite genre. Each April I am grateful that poets.org encourages everyone to celebrate how poetry touches and enriches our lives.

I hope you will visit and explore this wonderful site!

Poetry is good food…

Poetry is good food…

I belong to the Teachers and Writers Collaborative —the Spring issue of Teachers & Writers magazine is chock full of “nutrition” for writers of all ages. In this article,  Peter Markus, senior writer with InsideOut Literary Arts Project of Detroit,  tells and shows his students that poetry is good food! The language he uses to convey this powerful metaphor provides me sustenance. Hopefully, you too!

The Setting and the Story: Joan Didion’s “The Santa Ana”

For Secondary teachers, especially! Why I love this—I LOVE nonfiction writing…and writing of a place, a setting you know well is the kind of writing to which all students can make amazing connections. Secondary (and middle school) teachers would benefit from immersion in this blog! So glad I found it just to lose myself in the contents.

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

VivianWagnerVivian Wagner is an associate professor of English at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. Her essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Zone 3, McSweeney’s, The Pinch, Silk Road Review, and other journals, and she’s the author of Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music.


Every time I read Joan Didion’s description of the hot, dry Santa Ana winds I get homesick. I’m a native Californian, but I’ve lived for many years in a village in southeastern Ohio, and we just don’t get winds like that around here.

Didion’s Los Angeles is, for many of my students, a foreign world. Yet I’ve found that her essay, “The Santa Ana,” inspires them as they describe their own Midwestern and Appalachian worlds. It’s an essay, in short, about the importance of setting, and about how the place where a story happens cannot be separated from the…

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Teacher? Writer? Then check out this resource…

Teacher & Writers Collaborative supports creative writing programs at community sites and schools in NYC and surrounding communities. They rely upon funding from individuals, corporations, foundations and government to continue their amazing work. They also–which really brings me to this post–publish a wonderful digital newsmag, Teachers & Writers Magazine which is free to you and an amazing resource. Subscription to their digital mag is free (through they would love your contributions).

Follow the link above and see what the January issue offers, and while you are there, explore the archives. You will not be disappointed!

TedED interview with girl with Asperger’s

Excellent TedED interview!

She’s highly successful, a recent speaker at a 2015 Women’s Conference, an undergraduate student, and she suffers with Asperger’s. This is a compelling read, for her words as well as the excellent resources she suggests/provides. Found this on my twitter feed; so glad that I did!