Posted in Writing Workshop

Writing Philosophy

As a future educator of, hopefully, a fourth or fifth grade classroom and an individual who has always been more drawn to the subjects of reading and writing more than anything else in my own education, I feel a little more pressure when it comes to teaching the subject in the classroom because of my desire to get it right.  My most challenging but important task in teaching writing is to implement a daily writing workshop in my classroom schedule.  I believe one of the most important characteristics of a writer is to get into the habit of writing and that this cannot be done with a writer’s workshop that is only once or twice a week.  Conferencing is a must because writer’s workshop must include some type of feedback system that provides specific, celebratory, and constructive feedback.  It is an important part of both building confidence and advancing as individual writers.  Hopefully as the year goes on, I can entrust the students enough to incorporate peer conferencing.

Another aspect of writer’s workshop that cannot be overlooked is the importance of allowing students choice—choice in what they write, how they write it, and where.  Prompts will be suggested to those having a difficult time thinking of a topic of their own, but I want to give the students as many opportunities as possible to feel a sense of ownership and having voice in their writing.  When it comes to how I want my students to write, I would like to offer my students the option of either getting their words on paper with a pencil or typing their writing—especially for those who have a particularly difficult time writing with pencil and and paper.  I also want to offer my students a variety of different seating options around the classroom during this time as long as they understand the expectation to write.  It is similar to what one would see during a reading workshop where, oftentimes, students are allowed to choose any spot in the room where they feel they can focus on their reading best.  I believe that this same concept can be translated to apply to writer’s workshops as well.

I certainly do not want writing to be limited to only one part of the day but also a tool for inquiry in all subjects because not only is this an expectation as far as standards go but it also forces each student to reflect and communicate their own understanding.  I want my students to write fictional stories based on and opinion pieces about real historical event, current events, and scientific phenomena.  I also want students to use writing as an opportunity to reflect on how their own lives connect to various topics being discussed across subject matter.  While written artifacts of learning will not be the only acceptable form of assessment in my classroom, it will always be a choice for my students.

Ultimately, I would like to create a positive classroom environment in which students can feel safe in expressing themselves through writing.  I want to create not only exceptional writers but also a community of writers in which students learn how to respect each other’s work and opinions.  I understand that this will require expectations to be explicitly and repeatedly stated in the beginning, but these expectations will be heavily tied to the overall classroom norms that the students will all have a part in contributing to in a democratic process.  It is the responsibility of the teacher to maintain a level of consistency, structure, and organization in the classroom so that the students can sense stability and feel comfortable in roaming more freely within the set boundaries.

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Posted in Writing Workshop

Mindy/3rd Draft

I love Mindy.  When I first saw her at the Atlanta Humane Society seven years and some months ago, I did not.  At first glance, she unnerved me out with her unwavering stare into my soul that she gave me from her pen that she shared with a rambunctious German Shepherd.  I passed by her to look at the other puppies, but I kept looking back at her to see if she was still looking.  And of course she was. Again, I looked away and looked back…only to see the lunatic German Shepherd about to mount her.  I immediately ran back to her pen to intervene.  I picked her up in my arms, and I never put her back.

Mindy was not mine.  Not completely, anyway.  He wanted a bigger dog to run with, but he was just a big talker.  He asked me to take her when he realized she was too much to care for.  He eventually gave up on us for the same reason, but that’s for another time.  She certainly knew how to take up space in your life.  Waking up early in the morning to tend to her needs was particularly a struggle for my undergraduate, stay-up-until-4AM self. No couch cushion or trashcan was left un-gutted and no heel was left un-chewed.  She did not feel safe around strangers–humans and dogs alike.  It was quite embarrassing to take her out in public with her barking and baring her teeth.  There were many days where I would sit in front of her crate crying and truly weighing the option of quitting being a dog owner because I was terrible at it.  If she were with another owner, I thought, she would not be such a bad dog.  Then, she would stare at me with those eyes that looked into my soul to tell me that I am all she needs.

Mindy kept me grounded.  She got me out of bed every day, even on the worst of days.  And on the days where I felt I was uncertain of even the ground being solid beneath my foot as I took my next step, she was a constant in my life that I could dependent on.  Her quiet company as she followed me about my home felt reassuring and safe.  She certainly made sure that my priorities were in check, meaning there were probably days when she probably ate better quality food than I did and that was okay.  Ultimately, her presence forced me to also be present and aware of my surroundings in reference to her—a purpose beyond my own well-being.

Mindy learned.  Slowly, but surely, she learned that shoes are not a choice for snack-time. She learned to wait until I woke up in the mornings to get the longer walks.  She learned that the outside world was relatively safe and that not all strangers are a threat.  Food is never left on the counters and the kitchen trashcan is now behind closed cabinet doors, but she also learned that my purses are a good place to start look for forgotten human snacks.

I learned.  I learned that it’s okay that I will never get all of the dog hair off of my clothes.  I learned to look for cues in Mindy’s face and body language to know what she needs.  I learned that she thrives most when I make her feel safe.  I know now more than ever that love is hard work, but through her, I learned that I don’t give up easily on others.

Mindy loves me?  There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I have my suspicions that she does.

Posted in Writing Workshop

Fragmentation.

“While traveling the path (inward), change begins to take place inside our being and also in our bodies. We begin to see and experience life from a greater vantage point, from a greater depth of meaning, from an inner place of belonging. There is an inner surrendering to the beauty of the Tao or ‘the plan’, divine wisdom, or cosmos. This inner surrender has its counterpart in the relaxing, surrendering, and healing of the body. We have a body we cherish and care for, and yet we are more than our body” (Rosenberg, Body Self and Soul).

Yoga: The Roots of Body Psychotheraphy

Posted in Writing Workshop

Haiku

The expectation:
To go over and beyond.
Help them reach the stars.

Ask the right questions.
Guide the next generation.
Read between the lines.

The ultimate hope:
That they will be empowered,
That they be our hope.

The reality:
Always running out of time.
Falling through the cracks,
Burn out together.

Posted in Writing Workshop

Morning Routine.

It is 6:30 AM.  My alarm is ringing.  This would be my third alarm that went off on my phone, but it is my first one that I turn off consciously.

What would happen if I didn’t get out of bed this morning?
Why in the world am I alway so tired?
Is this how it is going to be for the rest of my life?

I get out of bed and go to the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Did I really read about a lady in Moscow that walked into the metro station with a severed head of a child that she was babysitting?
How are the parents dealing with their grief?
Didn’t the babysitter also burn the apartment down before fleeing the scene?
Why…
What am I wearing today?
Is it going to be too cold for the outfit I laid out?

I check the weather and change my clothes.

Did Daniel wake up in time for work?
What are the dogs doing now?
Is Mindy taking advantage of an empty house and lounging on the couch?
What should I eat for breakfast?

I go downstairs and I eat my breakfast of yogurt with strawberries and oatmeal.

Why is my sister texting me about wedding dress shopping so early in the morning?
When is Easter weekend?
Will mom be able to make it up to Atlanta that weekend?
What is she doing now?
Do I have time for some coffee?

I drink half a cup of coffee.

Will Cheryl be on time for my observation today?  
Do I have all the materials that I need?  
Will my students show interest in what I have prepared for them?
What will I do if they tell me that they are bored like they did last week?
What time is it?

I grab my keys, tote, and cellphone, and I walk out the door.

Posted in Writing Workshop

Fable 2.10.16: The Young Flower and the Rain

As the clouds rolled in, the rain began to fall.
“Why must you take the sun away from me, rain?” said the young flower.
“It is not in my control, flower,” said the rain.  “I only land where the sky drops me.”
“But you are crinkling my petals” cried the young flower.  “And you are weighing me down.”
“But don’t you see, young flower?” said the rain. “You and I must be destined for one another.”
“If this is destiny,” declared the young flower, “I want nothing to do with it.  Please, bring back the warmth of the sun.”

Suddenly, the rain no longer replied.  The skies cleared, and the sun shone down on the young flower once again.

“Oh, how I missed you!” exclaimed the young flower to the sun. “The rain wreaked havoc on my nerves and my posture.”
“But don’t you see, young flower?” asked the sun. “Don’t you see that you now stand much taller and much stronger?”
“Perhaps…” replied the young flower.  And upon more reflection with its encounter with the rain, the young flower understood.

The moral of the story is that there must be some rain in order to grow.

Posted in Writing Workshop

Writing Workshop 1/20: Horse & Bear

Context: 4th grade classroom mini-lesson about punctuations & fables

  • it’s the middle of the night
  • it’s the middle of the countryside
  • there’s a road running through it
  • a horse is coming down the road and meets a bear
    • Paragraph 1: write what the horse says to the bear
    • Paragraph 2: write what the bear says to the horse
    • Paragraph 3: write what the horse says to the bear
    • Paragraph 4: a big storm comes up suddenly
    • Paragraph 5: write what the bear says to the horse
    • Paragraph 6: write what the horse says to the bear
    • Paragraph 7: write the moral of the story (aphorism)

“Good evening!” said Horse.  “What are you doing awake at this time of year?”

“My joints were sooo achey that it woke me up,” groaned the Bear. “There must be a big storm coming.”

“Oh, Bear,” Horse said shaking his head, “you must sleep walking.  There’s no storm coming this way.”

Suddenly, lightning streaked across the sky and a large storm came upon Bear and Horse.

“Run, Horse! There’s a tornado coming this way!”

“There’s no time, Bear!  Run for that ditch!”

[Edited] The moral of this story is that some will groan and others will say nay, but the only thing that will save you is to take action.