Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Writing Workshop Wednesday - Week 2

My brain is overflowing with ideas that I want to share with my teachers after attending the Summer Writing Institute at Teacher's College two weeks ago.  I will be posting about the things I learned a few times each month on Wednesdays for a while.  If you missed the first post, you can find it here.

One of the things I learned is that writers need more opportunities to practice storytelling. If they can think can it, then they should say it, before they write it. We need to teach our writers that it is part of the planning process.   

Young writers benefit from the strategy of telling their story across their fingers.  This helps them define the beginning, the middle and the end of the story before their words hit the paper.  

I have been working on creating small versions of the anchor charts I use with students, since my job requires me to be in several buildings each week.  The chart below is one example that will help me prompt students for storytelling.  All of them will be included in one product that I'm hoping to finish to add to my Tpt store soon.  

Another strategy in the planning process is to sketch the story.  The sketches of the story can be used as a tool to help a child verbally tell their story to a partner before they begin to write the words.

Storytelling is a strategy that helps our writers form narrative stories in their mind and clarify the details for their audience.  During my week at the Summer Writing Institute, many teachers asked if it was necessary to start with narrative units for writing. The experts at Teacher's College agreed that you should start with narrative writing.

Here are a few of the reasons to start with narrative writing...
1.  It values student experiences.
2.  It helps build a community of writers because stories are personal.
3. The ability to retell a story in a sequence is a foundational literacy skill.
4.  Narrative writing is a building block for other types of writing.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writing Workshop Wednesday - Week 1

Last week, I attended the Teacher's College Summer Writing Institute at Columbia University. It was an amazing experience full of learning on so many different levels!  Each day was jam packed with things that I want to share with the teachers in my district.  That is part of the plan, but I decided to also blog about some of it here.  It may be just the next few Wednesdays or it may an effort to seek balance in my life I won't make any promises to myself or others about that.

On the first day of our time at Teacher's College, we talked about the importance of teachers being writers.  The presenter said if you want your students to be writers, then you have to be a writer yourself.  A real one...who writes adult things.  Apparently a grocery list and a thank you note don't count.

Earlier this summer, I began journaling.  I think it started because I splurged on a new set of my favorite pens.  They are Frixion erasable gel pens...DREAMY.  It was also an effort to help me reflect and sort through my reflections.

As a classroom teacher, I did a good job of modeling being a reader.  Daily, I shared my love of books and enthusiasm for reading with students.  My shelves were overflowing with stories that were inviting the little people in my room to love books as much as I do.

Modeling being an adult writer was different for me.  I frequently wrote newsletters, blog posts and samples of things I wanted to model for my students.  Bravely, I will admit that my students didn't really see my adult writing.  Well, there wasn't much to see at the time.  On the hamster wheel of life, I didn't make time to practice writing as an adult.  I wrote things for other people more than I ever wrote for myself.

Now, I am on a mission to change that.  Inspired by the writing workshop experts at Teacher's College, I now realize that I can jot my thoughts, release a story that I've been wanting to tell on paper, write a bit about something I learned, brainstorm my own ideas and share some of those with students.  I want my students to get to know me as an adult writer.  I want them to know that I'm developing my craft and bravely sharing it with the world...just like I want them to do.

Here is one of the journals that I have been filling up this summer.  At times, I fill a page with things I love.  Other times, I use the space to reflect on my goals.  Most of the pages have lots of writing, but below you'll see a few of my brainstorming pages. Now that I'm back from Teacher's College, I'm going to attempt a story that I've been wanting to put in words.

Grab a journal or a notebook that inspires you and your favorite writing tools!  
Write for yourself.
You'll be better prepared to share your love of writing with your students if you do!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Currently - AUGUST!

Seriously, how did this happen?

It's August and I'm trying to cope, while I link up with Farley for Currently.

Oh, summer - I love you.  Hearing my kid laugh, staying up late to watch someone build Tiny Houses, having an empty schedule...oh, I love summer!

I'm leaving tomorrow for Teacher's College in New York to attend the Summer Writing Institute.  I'm excited to learn as much as I can to share with the teachers in our district.  I'm also freaked out that my suitcase might burst open on the scale at the airport.  

I took 2 grad classes this summer.  I'm working on a educational leadership certification. Both of the classes were jam packed with interesting learning and encouraged me to reflect on some improvements I could make personally as a leader and that the district could make in general. However, cramming what is usually a semester long 600 level class into 6 weeks is no joke. My brain is not feeling refreshed.  It's feeling kind of full.  Let me just tell you the major victory related to this summer of intense learning is that I did not drink Diet Mt. Dew once. In fact, I have not had a drop since January 1.  Go me!

I don't really want to learn to mediate, but I keep reading about how good it is for busy people to meditate.  If someone could just hit the off switch on my hamster wheel brain, then I could get started.  Focus on my breathing...I read that in a brain research journal this morning.  I haven't tried it yet.

This will be the first time in 17 years that I have not "set up a classroom" in August.  I thought I would feel kind of "free" from the mountain of laminating and open house packets.  But, my random act of back to school kindness this year is going to be to offer my "Slide on the Side Laminating" services to a few of my teacher friends.  Truth be told...I love cutting out laminating.  I also love to write on name tags.  My SOTSL business will be opening at the end of August and I can't wait to surprise a few of my best teacher pals!

Check out what everyone else is CURRENTLY doing on Farley's blog!