Monday, August 27, 2012

Responding to Text? Responding to Life?

Two Writing Teachers
I love my children's teachers this year, the way they encourage deep and fun literacy in the home. This weekend (and every weekend this year) I will be writing my third grade son a letter to respond to the weekly letter he writes me in class. The teacher won't be reading our letters; he will just be helping us communicate and write to one another. Already in my first letter I told Michael things I don't often tell him out loud. I think this letter writing might be good for both of us.

My kindergartener Sarah's fun literacy activity was to bring home a mentor text and the class animal (the mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). We had so much fun with the mouse, and we penned our version of If You Take a Mouse to Sarah's House to put in Mouse's class book.

This makes me reflect on my classroom literary experiences this year. I think my literacy focus is solely on textual evidence and deeper reading; therefore, I am afraid I am losing some of the connections that make literacy and writing personally meaningful. My students seem to be enjoying the change and the challenge of exploring the deeper meaning of text. The problem is, though, that I have little time to help them find their own voice, that one that makes meaning out of life, that memoir voice, that poet's voice. I must find a place for that in my curriculum.  Responding to text is a necessary skill we must all have; however, responding to life is equally if not more important. 

Given the state units to implement and given the new CC curriculum, I am trying to find a way to keep what is sacred to self-discovery while adding what is necessary for college and career readiness. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thoreau was Right

On my cell phone I blog,
ending another day too late
after staying awake,
not to grade as intended,
but to plan-- to make things better...
To prepare for tomorrow,
To practice my European geography,
To work on my map,
And to fix the obnoxious colors
on my school website,
To remove some clutter
from my computer,
To check my Facebook,
To research a proposal
for some leadership writing project thing.
Sleep comes too late.
Thoreau was right.
My life is frittered away by detail.
Not enough sleep,
not enough exercise,
not enough time with those that I love.
Maybe tomorrow I will fritter less
and be present more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Almost Midnight

11:40 PM
Almost midnight,
no blogging yet,
deadline approaches,
I don't wanna write.
Too tired.
Brain drained.
Time for bed.
Too much to do.
Need sleep.
No deep writing thoughts.
No pontification.
Empty words
filling the space of a screen.
Another box checked.
Blog completed.
Now I'll sleep.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hopeful Anxiety

"I was full of hopeful anxiety." This was my heartfelt sentence crafted after leaving the data team meeting when I quickly tried to craft my imitation sentence to go with this week's mentor sentence  from Paulsen's Hatchet, "I was full of tough hope."  

You can read my blog from last school year about mentor sentences. I love them. I love the warm up style of inquiry into craft. I enjoy finding the sentence that is well crafted and related to a skill or craft I need to teach.

This week my 6th grade students have noticed pronouns, the shift in point of view from Paulsen's sentence to mine, unusual word pairings, forms of hope used as different parts of speech, and much more. Tomorrow my students will write their own sentences. I look forward to seeing their unusual pairing. 
What I am enjoying with Hatchet is trying to write like Paulsen writes pairing unusual words together to emphasize meaning.

Hopeful anxiety expresses much of what I am feeling now at the beginning of this school year with too much to do, too little time, changes in administration, increased expectations, more emphasis on test scores, a new leadership position, and my continual OCD tendencies that have me planning well into the night (and sometimes AM) to make things just right.