My top 5 reasons for keeping a writer’s notebook…

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…Seeing your life as Story can be the heart of finding your identity

…Our identities are ever-changing–shift-shaped by who we meet, where we work, where we live–the predictable and unpredictable events, the connections we make

…Looking back on our lives, we don’t see what and how we have lived in an orderly, linear sequence. Our look-backs break events into related chunks that can become Story. Some of of our lived-experiences we can name: happy, sad, hilarious, crazy, puzzling–others are harder to label

…A writer’s notebook can hold the raw material from which your Stories will emerge

…Every lived moment has potential for a writer’s notebook entry

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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

No Words? No Problem!

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Wordless picture books, believe me, are for ALL ages! In class, the preservice teachers shared wordless picture pictures in small groups. While it would seem a picture book without words would target early childhood or elementary, my students saw (and suggested!) the possibilities for middle grades and high school students. Here’s a short list of their thoughts:

Reading comprehension:

-Even without words, students sequence a story line…Great way to develop what is often referred to as a Story Mountain, where the plot is developed from problem through climax to solution…Inferencing possibilities-no limit!…the strategy of Synthesis!…Summary!…Monitoring Comprehension!  We worked all semester with Ellin Oliver Keene’s Mosaic of Thought, 2nd ED Unknown where seven reading comprehension strategies are presented. I like to save the Wordless Picture Books day for the end of the semester, after students have worked separately with each of the seven strategies (monitoring comprehension, activating schema, inference, questioning, visualizing, determining importance, synthesizing), so they see how each strategy is at work in comprehending the story line of a book with no words.

Writing:

-Students could work together to sketch out a story sequence…to sketch a character map…to add words to each page…the possibilities are endless–

What I enjoy best about this day in class is the conversations in the small groups. The swapping of thoughts, the AHA moments, the laughter, the questioning…IF you teach middle or high school, wordless picture books are a wonderful resource!

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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!!

Visual and Emotional representation

So, how can we respond to complex texts and more specifically to stories that move us? Each semester I ask my literacy students to bring a visual representation of a response to one of two short story selections by Sandra Cisneros: “Salvador, Late or Early,” or “Eleven.”  My purpose– to have students engage in the kind of response for which words are not needed. When they bring their visuals and talk about their meanings, I am both amazed AND affirmed that allowing opportunity for creating is important. Here is the work of my fabulous learners!! If you know the two short stories you will have fun inferring. If you do not know the stories, it is not necessary to appreciate the depth of emotion experienced by the students. 
   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

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!