Saturday, October 21, 2017

I Celebrate Middle School Writers!

Yesterday was the National Day on Writing! It's my favorite holiday...well, maybe other than National Notebook Day in May. We were busy writing and celebrating writing in room 734. 

We started with a read aloud. It reminded us about the importance of telling our story. The new picture book, "Malala's Magic Pencil". I shared magic pencils with the students and we were off!

Choices included graffiti wall writing about #WhyIWrite or about books about writing. Students could write with unusual tools including blocks, play-dough, magnets, or a letter board. Some students wrote stories together, some wrote poetry, some created quotes and others found their own way.

We tweeted our writing like crazy! The excitement was palpable. One student said, "It's so much fun, it feels like the last day of school!" 

The rest of the story will be told in pictures. There are lots of pictures. I tried to capture as much of this day as possible...

Friday, October 20, 2017

Why I Write

Today we will celebrate writing in room 734. We are writers. We will create new writing. We will share our writing in new and creative ways. We will celebrate ourselves as writers.

Writing is powerful. Words change the world. Our time together will begin with the story of a writer who changed her world and soon the world beyond her own, Malala. The picture book, Malala and the Magic Pencil, is a perfect read aloud for this day. 

I celebrate writing.
I celebrate our writers. 
I celebrate magic pens and pencils. 

Please come back to see the results from our day of celebration. How will you celebrate today? 

Made with Padlet

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Four Years and 600 Posts

Four years ago (on October 22), I clicked publish here for the first time. Encouraged by the brilliant Penny Kittle, during an NCTE Twitter chat, I decided to add my voice to the blogosphere and tell my story. That means most weeks, I've been showing up here and writing for FOUR years. Four years. It's a high school diploma...a college career. Four years and six hundred posts later, here I am. What has blogging taught me? 

I've learned and lived the words, "I have a story to tell." When I sit down, the doubt I felt that very first time has dimmed and I believe that my story is valuable and worthy of being shared.

That lesson was learned from the powerful support I receive from my readers. Readers who show up here, read my words, and reply. Readers who hold me up when I need it and who challenge me when I'm not sure. Readers who have become friends.

The most unexpected thing that's happened since I began blogging are the relationships I've developed. So many of you reading these words met me through my blog, or your blog, or twitter and so many of you have become friends. We meet in real life sometimes, but the encouragement and motivation and support that's provided over the internet has changed me as a teacher, but more importantly, changed me as a person. My life is richer because of you!

Blogging teaches me...
...the value of my story and my responsibility to share it. show up and listen to everyone, especially when their story is different than mine.
...the power of audience.
...that friendships come in all shapes and sizes and can thrive even if the friends live in another part of the world.
...writing is powerful.
...writing is necessary.
....writing is hard and sometimes scary.
...writing is always worth it!

To You...
Thank you for showing up and reading. 
Thank you for helping me, more than you'll ever know.
Thank you for changing my life.
Thank you for reading!

Hope to catch up with so many of you in November at NCTE in St. Louis!

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

An Apology and a Journey

It's been too long since I've written in this space. I've been writing. I've been writing a lot, but blogging has slipped away for a few weeks. I'm back and I missed this space. Writing feeds me. Lately, I've been writing pages and pages in my notebook and I've been working on my book, so the time slipped away. What's missing from those two other kinds of writing is an audience. I miss sharing my words with others and receiving feedback. Here I am today, showing up and writing. 

This year I set a goal for myself to work on developing the reader's notebook into a more meaningful and engaging tool in our classroom. As with any goals, it's a journey. We are working hard with our reading and showing up to our reader's notebooks a few times a week. I want it to be a daily commitment, but I know we can get there. 

This week, we were discussing different kinds of conflicts that we witness as readers. I invited the students to create a notebook page with information and examples to help them remember. I encouraged them to design it in a way that included color and images. Here are some of the results...

We used our notebooks to respond to read alouds too. Here are some responses to the picture book, Come with Me...

Students wrote letters to me about their reading goals...

I celebrate these sixth grade readers and their notebooks. I celebrate the journey we are on as readers and writers and thinkers. I celebrate blogging today. 

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space for sharing our celebrations.
Please join us and share your own!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Words to Live By

It's early on Tuesday morning. My brain isn't fully awake yet and I'm struggling to find a slice to share. What do I do? I'll lean on some advice I give to my students. Find some words that inspire and let those wash over you. Listen to them. Sit with them. Find your words. I found some words this week on social media. Here are some of those words...

These are good. Inspirational. Thought-provoking, but they still don't grab me on this early morning. Here's the one...

I found this final image on Instagram ( I love the phrase, "follow your bliss". I believe those words and I try to live those words. These words. These ideas...they feel true. 

I'm working on a book about writer's notebooks and using them in the middle school classroom. I'd put things aside in the busy-ness of opening a new school. I let fear take over. I'd gotten down on myself and frustrated with my progress, or lack thereof...until last week. Last week, I returned to my draft. Last week, I wrote again. Last week, I felt like this is the book I have to write. 

In the days following that experience, I had multiple unexpected opportunities to share my ideas and perspective about notebooks. These opportunities popped up out of nowhere. I shared my ideas and again I saw a need for this book. I'm writing this book. 

My dream is to get it published, but that isn't even the most important part to me anymore. I am going to follow my bliss. Writing is my bliss. Notebooks are my bliss. I'm going to let the rest go and see where this journey takes me. 

As an aside, using quotes with students is a powerful way to invite writers to begin. My sixth graders love quotes. A few of my students add a quote to their daily writing, isn't that a great idea? It's one I think I may start using. 

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Celebrating Notebook Writers

We've launched notebooks. We write in our notebooks every day. 

I collected notebooks for a first check. Spending time in these pages inspired me. 

I get to know my sixth-graders as writers and I get to know their interests and passions. Notebook writing and reading their writing is certainly something to celebrate today! 
The rest of this post will be pages from their notebooks. They've given me permission to share. You are in for a treat! Enjoy...

Thank you to Ruth Ayres for providing this space for sharing our celebrations.
Please join us and share your own!