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

 

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.

 

 

 

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!

Brown Girl Dreaming…

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..catching up on some blog entries….

Brown Girl Dreaming, the award-winning novel by Jacqueline Woodson, is so many things to me. As a teacher, I see the countless possibilities for deep discussion, thoughtspots for writing, endless possibilities for visual and emotional expression. As a writer, I am invited into the genre of memoir in powerful ways.

I had recently purchased BGD when I was coincidentally asked to visit an Encountering Cultures class at the college, to share my thoughts on keeping writer’s notebooks. I’ve been writing snippets for several years about my two grandmothers; BGD quenched my thirst to continue my memoir piece on my grandmothers. I shared snippets of my memoir with the Encountering Cultures class and invited them to choose a powerful place in BGD and write. They did; their sharings were amazing. BGD is memoir at its best.

I assigned BGD to my preservice literacy students last semester. They met in book club groups to share the novel. They brought responses to their groups—an open-ended assignment for which I encouraged their imaginations to soar.

While you cannot enjoy their descriptions (so compelling) of their responses, you can view them below. Without question, they were as captivated by this wonderful novel as I.

 

Brown Girl Dreaming Animoto

Amazing fun with Animoto

Each semester I have my preservice teachers create book trailers using Animoto software. (Animoto is tagged on this site) While Animoto offers FREE accounts to all, if you are an educator you get a FREE account for up to 50 students and you can renew it every six months. No trouble to you at all–they send you a renewal notification. I’ve used other slideshow software but none compare with the ease of use as Animoto. The educator FREE account allows your students up to six shows, each up to 10 mins in length. My book trailer assignment resembles a “book talk,” where the speaker invites a reader into the book without giving away the ending. Following our class presentations we talk about the educational possibilities of digital software such as Animoto. Here are some ideas this class suggested:

Teachers–you can create an Animoto to introduce a new content topic or theme–be original–hook them!!

Students–you can summarize content, reflect on content, create original responses to content.

Teachers–NO subject content area is left out–Animoto is not just for reading teachers–imagine the following:

Students write poetry and attach images and music…students react to historical events, summarize historical events, or current events….students create Animotos to introduce or summarize Science content…etc!!

As promised to my students, the following book titles were Animoto-ed by the class:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Becoming a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The Short Bus by Jonathon Mooney

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Trouble by Gary D Schmidt

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff

Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Bird Child by Nan Forler

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

…The Book Trailers follow…

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

Hatchet (1)

Hatchet (2)

Trouble by Gary D Schmidt

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff

Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Bird Child by Nan Forler

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Becoming a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Becasue of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

The Short Bus by Jonathon Mooney

ENJOY!!

The Clever Comma…another Ted Ed favorite

The Clever Comma

I love Ted Ed, for many interests in my life, but especially for teachers. Check out this Ted Ed video clip on why, how and when to use the clever comma! So much more interesting than a boring, useless rule chart hanging on a classroom wall!

Sparks of Creativity and Workshop Delights

A beautiful August day ended with a summer evening workshop with my Mom and Daughter friends. The promised goal–to show the many ways we can make books and booklets to hold words from our writings. As always, when I offer and show suggestions, I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of creativity. Thank you to all for the inspiration and friendship. Here are some pics of hearts to hands— 

    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
The most treasured gifts are from the heart. My heart is full–at the end of the evening I was gifted with these treasures brought from my friends’ homes. I couldn’t wait to show them all to my husband. Here they are—simple gifts that mean so much to me 💕 

 

Requested thoughts on writing workshop with earliest writers

Not my usual age group on this blog, but at my workshop last evening my friend (DVD) said that she has a friend who teaches first graders and she hoped maybe DVD would learn some helps for that age group. Well, it’s not likely that she did, but I do have a tried and true suggestion for K-1’s when you wish to have a writing workshop structure. In the case of the process I suggest a picture is truly worth 1,000 words, so I am adding pics as I go along. I got into old files and luckily found “Corey’s Writing Folder.” Corey was enrolled in a summer lab program that was taught by my preservice students. I wanted my students to lead writing workshops, so I launched this idea and it took off like wild fire–with all of the kids. I have since suggested it many times over the past decade.

Corey attended the lab in the summer prior to first grade. Still at the stage where his drawings tell his stories. But, during share time, his verbal skills were amazing and his stories, fascinating–and long.

So that he (and the others) would participate in an authentic writing workshop structure where the teacher time to launch the workshop is minimized and the majority of the time is spent with student engagement in authentic writing–followed by sharing sessions.

The teacher provided Corey with a two-pocket folder (no prongs). And, a stack of blank paper and writing/drawing utensils. Corey was asked (over the first few days of writing workshop) to draw one picture a day of something he loves/really likes. The teacher brought a picture she drew to begin each session. During share time, Corey and the others shared their picture of the day and told stories about their pictures. Each picture went into the left side pocket of the folder. After a week, when writing workshop began Corey was asked to remove ONE of this pictures from the pocket, close his folder, place his picture in front of him and use as much paper as he needed to “write” some story about that picture. The finished story (stories) went into the right side pocket. During share session Corey shared that story of the day.

Included below are pictures and I notate each one:

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These are the things Corey loved: sea creatures (esp sharks and dolphins), dinosaurs, his Gramma’s 3 cats and 3 dogs, the entire insect world, and going to his Gramma’s farm where he got to feed the chickens and play with all of the animals. These pictures went into the left side pocket. Corey wrote MANY stories for each picture over the course of the summer. I had to beg and wheel and deal to get him to let me have two stories. He allowed the original Dolphin story you will see below, but would only let me copy the dinosaur story, which was so elaborate! Back then, no color copiers so my copy is black and white and not so great. He let me have his original pictures–said he could draw more–but he was really proud of the stories and wouldn’t part. Awesome. So–below you will first see the dinosaur story in sequence. If it shows up please note that he has noted Beginning, Middle and End! A short dolphin story follows. Though only two pages, the story was quite elaborate.

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Corey’s open folder:

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Structured in this way, the earliest writers can learn the organization of a writer’s workshop. I’ve never seen this process NOT work over many years of introducing it to teachers.

Dear Poet…..

Dear Poet is a Academy of American Poets invitational challenge to students in grades 5-12 to write a letter in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. The multimedia project (LOVE that it is multimedia) extends through the month of April, National Poetry Month.

Instructions for students may be found on the Dear Poet link above.

Teachers—if you are interested in using Dear Poet in the classroom, poets.org has worked with a curriculum specialist to design a series of activities, aligned with the Common Core, especially for you. Here is the link to Lesson Plans. The lesson plans are intended for middle and high school students, but can be adapted for a younger group.

LOVING this!!! Hope you will, too, and challenge your students!