Category Archives: Literacy

Delicious Words

Have you ever been reading along in a book and suddenly the words wake you out of your reading trance? The precise selection, the unique arrangement, or the magnitude of their meaning dawns on you as pure delicious reading. And once you are awakened to their presence you hunger for more-then unsurprisingly you find more. You just needed to be stirred from your suspended animation.

I’ve decided I want to start collecting these delicious words so that I can go back and savor their flavor, but also to share them with others to give them a sample taste. Last week I started a hashtag on Twitter #DeliciousWords to begin collecting lines that caused me to pause and reread, to ponder the author’s process at that moment in selecting just the right words to convey their thoughts so beautifully.  Here are a few from this week’s reading:

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THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE  by Dan Gemeinhart
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SWEEP by Jonathan Auxier
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IN YOUR SHOES by Donna Gephart

 

And then Friday I attended a Heinemann workshop with Penny Kittle and Linda Rief in which they shared their writer/reader notebooks with us. I was totally mesmerized at the way Penny crafted “Beautiful Words” entries into her notebooks. This took #DeliciousWords to a whole new level for me! Now I want to collect even more deliciousness and preserve them in a notebook. Check out some examples she shared (used with permission):IMG_0706IMG_0708So if you are looking for ways to revitalize your writer/reader notebooks, literally take a page from Penny and Linda. They weave the look of Found Poems with the skill of noticing authors’ craft with these beautiful entries. If these creations of art are too intimidating, just start collecting with photos, copying lines, or tweeting out the #DeliciousWords you find.  Share what you savor knowing no two readers have the exact same tastes, variety is the spice of life!

What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 8.36.19 AMSWEEP: THE STORY OF A GIRL AND HER MONSTER by Jonathan Auxier

Every once in awhile you read a book that you simultaneously can’t put down and yet want to it to stay immersed in that world and linger on-SWEEP is one of those books. Jonathan Auxier takes us to the world of child chimney climbers in Victorian London, who are typically indentured servants trapped in a life of cruel and dangerous work. Society turns it’s face away from the horrible child labor because their fear of fire is greater. We meet Nan who was raised by the Sweep, but when he mysteriously disappears she is forced into the servitude of Wilkie Crudd-a Fagin-like master who works his children to the brink of death. When Nan is nearly burned alive in a chimney she wakes to find herself in the care of a mysterious creature. She befriends “Charlie” and learns that he is a Golem sent by the Sweep to protect her. But in this hard life they struggle to save each other and the children that no one cares for. Beautifully told with so many lines I needed to write down to remember. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book-a perfect Dickensian read for the holidays!

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How Can We Encourage Our Colleagues’ Writing?

If you read this blog, you probably know I am passionate about literacy.  It is easy to find colleagues who want to talk books and share new titles.  I’m part of many reading communities both in person and online.  When we ask teachers, “Are you a reader?” they almost always answer with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” and follow with their favorite genres or titles.  When we ask teachers, “Are you a writer?” they often look apologetically and respond with, “Not really.” or  “Not a very good one.

There are a myriad of reasons why this is so, but lately I have been pondering my role in this.  What do I do to encourage more writing from my colleagues? Well, a few things:     

  • I have some sections in my book Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6 (Teacher Mentor Texts p. 66, Teacher Writing Group & Teacher Mentors p. 90-98, as well as Walking the Proverbial Mile p. 229-230) in which I offer support to teachers for their writing.
  • I have hosted Teachers Write get-togethers at a local bookstore for the past few years with teachers in my district to work on personal projects.
  • I have participated in the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers each March and gave feedback to dozens and dozens of writers as well as posting my own slices.
  • I encouraged several teachers from my district to participate in the Slice of Life Challenge and four of them started their own blogs. We had a blast together.
  • I give writers notebooks to every new teacher in our district to encourage them to capture that first year of teaching.

This week I want to try something new.  I know not every teacher wants to create their own blog,  it can be time consuming and offer techie-troubles. So I thought why not create the blog platform for them and encourage teachers to share their writing there? I’ve seen very creative posts from teacher friends on social media that capture the chaos of parenting and/or teaching. What if we collected those pieces in one place that could provide inspiration for aspiring writers and an authentic audience for our work?

So today I am launching the blog Just A Moment. I’ve asked a few courageous teacher friends to share their moments, and they agreed. I’m not sure how frequently the moments will be posted, it depends on who I can encourage to share!  I would love to see my fellow slicers share some of their pieces here too. All you have to do is click the CONTACT page on the top of the post and let me know. Also,if you read someone’s moment, I hope that you leave them some words of encouragement. It would take JUST A MOMENT. 

Click HERE to visit www.justamoment.blog Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 5.33.03 PM

What’s On My Book Radar?

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Magnolia (Maggie) Grace’s mother is divorcing…again. Her stepfather left them for another man and now they are leaving Georgia to live on the farm in Vermont that Maggie’s real father left for her after he was tragically killed. Devastated to leave, she soon finds out what it means to be “home” and what it means to be a family. Slowly she begins to discover the father she never got to know and the mother waiting to break free from “Georgia Rules”.  I found myself sucked right into this charming story and the rich characters Steveson has created as a type of Modern Family meets the Waltons!