Wednesday, June 22, 2011

9 Rights Of Every Writer_Chapter 6

Writing comes from who we are, modeling must begin with sharing ourselves and what interests us - rather than asking students, "What interests you?" Instead of interrogating them right off the bat, let's put ourselves on the spot. Let them see who we are first, and how that translates into what we write. (p. 81).

Writing is most authentic when it represents our real lived experiences - from the exciting to the absolutely mundane. For our last blog post let's delve into the type of topics that make us such unique writers.

Please list at least five topics that you could consider writing during the Summer Institute. You can either provide 5 keywords, phrases or sentences that represent areas of interest that interest YOU! Consider this quality "think time" towards writing your first piece that is due next Tuesday morning (remember to bring six copies for your Writing Response Group too!).


  1. 1. Technology in schools – Putting new tools in our students’ hands versus enhancing direct instruction. I’d like to see more focus on the former.

    2. Using writing portfolios to assess student proficiency in writing (as opposed to one on-demand writing assessment)

    3. The rewards and challenges of teaching in a school that primarily serves students from affluent families compared to one that primarily serves students living in poverty.

    4. Starting an environmental awareness club to encourage students to correctly sort trash and recycled materials at school, raise environmental awareness among our student body, organize beach and creek cleanups, etc.

    5. El Lechoncito’s Last Ride – the true story of a young pig’s fateful trip in (and out of) the back of a delivery truck

  2. Spandel Chapter 6

    This chapter triggered a memory from long ago, spring boarding back 17 years ago, my first summer as a new teacher. I spent the weekend with a friend, then a college comp professor. The NYT had a writing contest, to “finish” a story by Nicholson Baker. I think the final word count couldn’t be over 150 words. I sat on Douglas’ Laguna Beach terrace, writing and revising and counting, adding, cutting, CUTTING, changing, compressing,reading it to him, changing, for a three- day weekend interrupted by sprints to local delis and walks in the hills.
    I submitted my entry, didn’t win, but kept every single draft,. When I returned to teach in September, I found some large oak tag in the art room and made an accordion-style book, with each draft and a few comments about what I’d done to each one. I think there were 14 versions.

    Well, I’ve changed classrooms seven times since then, and somehow that artifact has long ago been misplaced or tossed, but it freed me up from any misconceptions about what revision was. It’s harder work to persuade and show incoming middleschoolers, whose idea of ‘revision’ is ‘fixing.’
    What’s broken?
    Like a bicycle: mechanics. But that’s secretary work. There’s writer’s work too, and that’s what’s new. The year becomes a dance, a pas de deux, a tango, a waltz, between students as writers and students as secretaries, and the messiness of all that. The awkward encounters with peer reading and revision, with reading your final draft aloud, and finding 9 more things you need to fix, or change…
    Modeling my process, rather than the product, even when the product is a 14-version process, is always messy work, but it’s also when I feel like I’m really earning my keep, doing what feels like ten things at once, using all my senses and sensibility…and students have always been kind. Like the narrator in npr’s StoryCorps today, telling his students he was gay, and thanking them for their compassionate and encouraging responses, I feel out when I write with and for them. Out and alive, and doing something no computer can do.
    (Sad when I have to start measuring by that dubious yardstick, but it’s true.)

    Here’s a link to today’s story:

    So my topics:

    1. Writing as a social activity; controverting the isolation we believe it seems to require.
    2. Writing in other communities- for example, the fragrance blogs I follow but don't participate in!
    3. Technology in the classroom - what a false panacea it is, what it can't do that are necessary conditions for learning.
    4. Feedback and conferring, making a meaningful difference in student writing,
    5. Something personal and reflective; I need to dig deep and feel like I've moved, even if it's a snail-like crawl across the yard...

  3. 1. "The Girl who Sings." A storybook for my niece.

    2. "Family: Fact? Fiction? Science Fiction?" Wherever that one takes me.

    3. "The Teachers Union...What Did We Ever Do With--- It?" A look at how teachers unions affect new teachers.

    4. "When Did Neighborhoods Stop Smelling Good?" Writing about how eating dinner with our families, at home, at a table has sadly become archaic.

    5. "When 'MAN' Meant Something More than Cyber Dork." A look at how men have gone from Warriors, to soldiers to video game addicts in two hundred years.

  4. Topics for SI Writing:

    Technology: e-books for classroom use, student’s use of smart-phones daily in class pro/con, Apps to teach.

    School experiences: How can I be a better teacher from the experience I have had?

    What is a Writer?: Taking chances, looking within, pushing forward.

    Nature: Poetry forms, exploring the beauty around us.

    Writing assessment: What is important in learning how to write? How do we best assess it? Grammar? Conventions?

    Holly French

  5. This was harder than I thought it would be!

    1. Cabo

    2. Annika

    3. Family

    4. Traveling

    5. ???

  6. 5 Topics that interest ME!

    1. Love
    2. Critical Thinking in the classroom
    3. Writing to soothe, clarify, and confirm
    4. Grants for educators
    5. Direct Impacts of student success

  7. Part 1:
    Here are my thoughts on possible topics:

    -> End-of-Life Laws, restrictions, protocol: I lost my brother, John, in October of 2009. Technically brain dead after an accident, we had some difficult choices to make as a family regarding his care such as how much support to give him, whether or not to withdraw food, etc. For some reason, I have been thinking about his passing quite a bit in the last several months. What I learned during the time we waited for him to die was that different states and provinces have different parameters regarding end-of-life protocol. Maybe I just need to write about my brother.

    -> The pressures of trying to fit in: I have coached track and field and cross country for 11 years now. This past May - not long ago at all- a hazing incident came to my attention that I had no choice but to report to my administration. Significant consequences were meted out. I have personally struggled with what happened: why would a young person want so badly to fit in that he would tolerate such humiliating treatment? Why didn’t anyone stand up to say “no”? What is the best way to handle hazing so that it can be a learning experience? I have struggled with my role as well, but ultimately believe that I did what was right and moral. Unfortunately, people I thought were on my side were quick to throw me under the proverbial bus. I don’t understand this emotionally. Sure, I can rationalize, intellectualize, and even hypothesize, but never expected people to be so ugly and vindictive. These feelings are really fresh for me. Not sure what will come out of this, but it may be a good thing to write about.

    -> Dyslexia: I have spent the last several days with my head buried in Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf. Aside from examining reading and how it “works” in the brain, Wolf discusses dyslexia, it’s causes, manifestations, and interventions. She also effectively captures the social, cognitive, and personal impact dyslexia has on an individual. I was recently asked by a parent to help her son with his reading difficulties. While she tried to convince her son - whom I know - to give tutoring another chance, he resisted mightily. Zach has learned that nothing works. He has accepted that, he is resigned to the fact that school will be a struggle. How many people go through life just like Zach? How can I reach Zach and others who battle through dyslexia? How do they feel?

  8. Possible topics: Part Deux

    ->Continuous Partial Attention: My wife calls this absent presence. If you teach, you know the battle you face with students constantly wanting and needing to be wired in. A phrase coined by writer Linda Stone, I seriously worry that we are moving towards education that is digital rich and print poor, that books will be displaced by tablets, that the richness of language will be subsumed by text messages and tweets. I believe that the wiring of our students brains and of students in the future will be different than the brains of today. Do students know how to construct knowledge through the use of all these digital literacies? Can they reflect and be “long in thought”? Can they cogitate? Or are they destined to respond in “text-ese” or tweets or in social forums?

    -> Music and memory: I love the associative qualities of music. Why is it that I relate significant events in my life to the music of the time? Why is it that I find myself singing when I am most happy? Why when I retreat into myself , when I am most introspective, do I listen to music from my past? Why is it that when I am really down, I don’t listen to music at all? [I didn’t realize this until my wife brought this to my attention]. Of course, I have my favorite musicians that bring out different emotions for me.

    ->Growing up the youngest of nine: We write from experience. One of my richest sources of inspiration, information, and ideas is my family. From fun memories - growing up (until 7) in a suburb of Montreal, moving to Cape Cod, the faith of my mother - to the bad times - loss of my mom as well as two siblings, sibling drug addiction and suicide attempts - my family, who I love and adore, is a rich source on a variety of topics. I do marvel at times that despite my successes, I am still the “baby” in the family. Some of my siblings treat me like I don’t know what the hell I am doing because, hey, I am the “baby” in the family.

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  10. 1. The MAC counter
    2. Drawing/Art
    3. Narcissism
    4. Pirates
    5. Behavior/Classroom Management

  11. My 5 topics

    1. 2011 weekend at Donner with Childhood friends
    2. Parenting
    3. My bucket list
    4. Quotes and sayings from kindergarten children
    5. Teaching from the heart??????

  12. Cherie’s list of possible writing topics
    1. Pelicans
    2. Family/Colette
    3. Dogs
    4. Fitness
    5. A Plan for 2011-2012 writing using Jeff Anderson’s strategies.

  13. My life is full of so many things to write are a few I might delve into...

    1. Turning 30
    2. Getting married
    3. Writing in kinder
    4. Starting my lit review for masters
    5. narrative about childhood
    6. My fitness plan/journal
    7. district versues charter

  14. Topics to write about:

    1. Bilingual education- Past, present and future
    2. Teaching Service Learning through writing and research
    3. Making a “World Aware” classroom through news stories, environmental education, etc.
    4. Creating self-awareness and self-esteem in students through writing about a their own history, culture and dance.
    5. EVERYTHING else! Family, friends, dancing, love, etc., etc., etc.

  15. 1. Technology in the Classroom - My experiences piloting an Apple iPod Touch 1:1 program.
    2. The negative impact of unionization on education - how to promote change in a system dominated by powerful unions
    3. Creativity!!!
    4. Social Media in the Classroom - Facebook in the classroom really isn't that scary.
    5. The impact of infusing Art/Music into core curriculums

  16. 1. Stories to Inspire Children -
    "The Selfish Shellfish"
    A series of fables for my niece and nephew.

    2. Concert Ticket Roulette
    A journey retracing the adventures of the musical lost nights, people, places, and venues.

    3. First Love Narratives - not necessarily about relationships - pet, location, food, friend, music, etc...

    4. Combining art/photography and poetry

    5. Writing poetry for performance - ie: Slam

    I look forward to tackling all these and more! I cannot wait to hear all of these amazing topics mentioned come to life!