#SOL19 Day 13 Spark! Headlines

 

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Headlines Spark!

I remember as a child we used to bring in and discuss current events. What I wouldn’t give to remember what some of our conversations were around the day’s news cycle. Each day we are living what will become history for someone else. We treasure primary sources that reflect on the personal meanings extracted from world and local events. We could help our students (and ourselves) be creators of those primary sources. We can document not only the current events, but our unique personal perceptions at this moment in time. This can be tricky because of our polarized society, so if national news is too controversial for your students, give it a try with local news (although that’s not free from controversy) OR remember quick writes do not need to be shared, so invite students to reflect personally on events without the fear of judgment or reprisal from others.  Use newspapers, magazine covers (Time or Time for Kids are great), or a news video clip to SPARK our students’ thinking.

Here’s a headline quick write I wrote recently:

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I want to remember important stories, but also document in real time how I felt about events. Our thoughts and reactions can change over time as we gain perspective or more information comes to light. I think it would be fascinating if we helped our students understand that they are living through history and encouraged them to connect with it. A 5 minute quick write could be that first step.

 

 

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#SOL19 Day 12 Spark! 12 Pieces of Gratitude

 

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Gratitude to Fellow Slicers

None of my slices will be stories( in a strictly small moment way) this month. Perhaps they are more pieces than slices and I may have to reconsider future participation in the story challenge.  Because even though I love that genre, I am on a bit of a mission to expand our definition of writing so that every one finds a place at the writer’s table. There are many ways to tell a story I am also passionate about encouraging fellow writing teachers to be teachers who write. I want them to find their voices and share their ideas creatively, authentically, and passionately. The Slice of Life has been such a great way for teachers to do this and share with one another and I am filled with admiration and gratitude for everyone who shares.

I have learned so much, and continue to learn so much each time I click on the permalink to a blog post and enter the world of that slicer for a few moments. I love that we support one another without judgement or an assessment of our abilities, but with appreciation for our courageous acts of writing and sharing. As we hit the 12th day I wanted to share 12 Pieces of Gratitude for SPARKing my writing life this month. I’ll try to quick write them if I can!

Thank you for…

  1. The book spine poetry to remind me how connected reading and writing can be.
  2. The haikus that remind me how a few choice words can convey such big, bold ideas.
  3. The streams of consciousness that let me walk around inside the head of someone who probably gets where I’m coming from but sees with different lenses.
  4. The passionate posts of advocacy that raise my awareness about the concerns that others have, some that I share and others for which I am unaware.
  5. The snapshot in words capturing special moments cuddling kids, caring for parents, or cozying up with pets.
  6. The doodles and comics reinforcing that writing is, at its essence, a series of lines and squiggles that convey meaning to a reader.
  7. The personal photos that remind us a picture IS worth a thousand words sometimes.
  8. The Rules for life, love, and other meaningful circumstances.
  9. The Recipes for life, love, and favorite family foods that tie tradition with narration.
  10. The free verse poetry that liberates our lines from fixed convention and emancipates our ideas in free spirited fashion.
  11. For quick writes that courageously put pen to paper or fingers to keyboards without filters or fears: often surprising writers with thoughts they didn’t know they ‘thunk’.
  12. For any band-aid, format, or form that gets people writing and walking the talk of writing teachers. Voice and choice are at the heart of living a writerly life.

You have all re-affirmed for me the importance expanding our definitions for writing and legitimizing the many ways humans can convey their experiences in writing. I am so grateful for all of you, stepping up to take on this huge challenge this month. 

 

 

 

 

#SOL19 Day 11 Spark! Be Present

 

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Be Present

A simple quick write SPARK to encourage greater mindfulness is to stop and jot what you are experiencing in a given moment. Tap into your senses and notice where your mind takes you. This meditative quick write can be quite relaxing in a natural space or stimulating in a more chaotic space.

Yesterday I woke before my family (who hadn’t adjusted yet to the time change) and noticed the morning sky. I grabbed my bedside notebook and for 5 minutes immersed myself in the present moment:

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This quick write is a lot like morning pages that I sometimes do, except that this is 5 minutes instead of 3 pages. I often can’t find the 30-40 minutes to incorporate morning pages, but I can easily find 5 minutes to quick write.

I get a very different emotional and sensory feel from a Present Moment quick write during my lunch break at school or even after I get home in the afternoon. The fun comes from not knowing where your mind will take you and what words will emerge as you put pen to paper. Sure I could do this on my computer, but there is something special about watching those words form from your hand and not feeling fully in control of what comes out! It’s kind of magical.  Give it a go this week and see what you discover in your present moments.

#SOL19 Day 10 Spark!

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.28.56 PMFor the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Special Delivery

The other day I talked about quick writes as fan mail. Today I’ll share a quick write that has become a regular habit for me…notes of appreciation for colleagues.  I am lucky that I work with so many amazing teachers, and a lot of their day can be pretty isolated from their peers. I get to regularly visit their classrooms and see the great work they do. I want them to know that somebody sees and appreciations what they do every single day. I try to quick write a few notes to staff each week to let them know I notice. Sometimes it is a secretary, a librarian, a lunch lady, an administrator, or an ed tech as well as a teacher.

Appreciation Quick Writes

I found some cool envelope-shaped post-it notes that I use to create these mini letters of appreciation. You can see they are meant to be short and sweet-like a quick write. They fold up and seal just like an airmail envelope.

This week at our staff meeting, our principal did a similar quick write activity. She had slips of paper with everyone’s names on it 3 different times.  We were to draw out 3 names and quick write a note of encouragement or compliment to these colleagues. It could be anonymous or we could sign it. Everyone left the staff meeting with 3 encouraging notes written to them. Our principal is going to post them in the staff room so we can continue to feel the appreciation for one another.

This quick write activity takes less than 5 minutes but the positive effects can last a long, long time. If you don’t have fancy post-it notes don’t let that stop you. I invite you to try at least one “special delivery” quick write each day this week and spread some much needed loving kindness in your school (or community).

 

#SOL19 Day 9 Spark!

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Word Sparks

Words are a vessel for meaning. A single word can conjure up thoughts, stimulate memories, and/or stir emotions. Providing a single word as a quick write spark can demonstrate the power of a single word. It need not be profound like Patriotic, it can be as simple as Chair, in which thoughts of snuggling with a loved one, or shopping for a family one, or being forced to sit in one as punishment might be conjured in a flash.

You can find words in a dictionary, randomly point to one in a text, or use my friend Jennifer Laffin’s Word of the Day on her TeachWrite Facebook Page. She also has an Email List with tips, ideas and inspiration for teacher writers. Here’s a word from one of her recent posts and my quick write:

Rebel

Is it an action or an identity? Are they separate. I suppose I could rebel at an idea that I found unsavory without being an outright rebel. But there are certainly times when I feel like a rebel. When we are discussing our upcoming state tests I feel like a rebel because I care so little about those results. I’ve been working with teachers on an ASSESSMENT PREPARATION unit the past week or so but my attitude has certainly rebelled against the conventional thinking. I see these types of tests as a genre of reading. So my goal is to help teach students the skills and strategies to be successful with a genre that they must read at least once a year. I think of it as functional reading/writing. The way we want to teach students to read a recipe, or directions, or schedules, etc. we can teach them to read a state test. And then I think about the results as how well they can simply read THAT genre and not a larger measure of their skills as a reader, because COME ON!! That is not the type of reading I care about or that matters, and I am hoping there are other rebels out there who feel the same way. Maybe one day we will have—-

So as you can see, one word can open up a can of proverbial worms! Also, I stopped after 5 minutes, MID SENTENCE. That is what I ask kids to do as well. The idea being that they can pick up that idea at any time without experience writers’ block. Works every time.

Let me know if you try this spark. What word did you choose?

#SOL19 Day 8 Spark!

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

Lift a Line

Though not a new idea, it is a powerful one that is worth remembering. Borrowing a line from another author and seeing where it takes you is a great way to realize the endless options that can spring from a few words. There are poems, stories, articles, even environmental print that can provide that spark. Here was a recent Facebook post from a friend.  I lifted the first idea and took off with my own quick write:

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May we raise children who love the unloved things- the crows whose song isn’t pleasing to the ear, the toy that sits in the bottom of the toy box waiting for eager hands.

Children who see the marginalized and left out and never think twice about welcoming them to the center-and if that center is too hot will move to the cooler margins and and chill with them.

And one day if they find themselves sitting in those margins may they, too be welcomed by others, so

maybe their children will live in a world with no margins

 

Ok, clearly this needs some revision-it’s a bit wandering. I thought I was going to go off in more of a nature-theme but then toys crept into my mind as I remembered my brother when we were young and we tried to make sure our stuff animals didn’t get left out in the toy box. He was a pretty sensitive kid. I think that was a prelude to his way of welcoming others who might feel left out. So in 5 minutes I started to explore these ideas. Not polished, but somewhat perceptive.  Give it a go! Take any piece of writing and see where your thinking takes you.

 

#SOL19 Day 7 Spark!

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.28.56 PMFor the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions. I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

MUSIC 

I’ve curated a selection of instrumental music pieces from classical to contemporary to share with students to Spark their imaginations and appreciation. Here’s my Padlet, but I would encourage you to create your own cache of eclectic music. (It’s important to be aware of our personal favorites/biases and stretch out of our comfort zones to expand our students’ appreciation for a world of different musical tastes and traditions.)

 

 

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Here’s my Quick Write. Can you tell which piece I am responding to?

I don’t know if I should be waltzing about my room or lying my head on my pillow as I breathe in this sweet melody. Each touch of the keyboard strikes a chord in my soul, and makes me wish I could play the piano. I alternate between images in nature, a dancer on the stage, and gazing up at the heavens. My mind cannot settle on a single image, but my heart has a constant pulse of calm joy. I guess this isn’t a composition to overthink, just to feel. Just as I settle into a calm, the tune dives into intensity and then drifts back into a melancholia. Yes, it is dreamy, but not entirely sweet dreams. It is not a lullaby but a prayer perhaps. As the day draws to a close I can recount the highs and lows and release them into the ethosphere. Music plays such an important role in my life and sometimes I don’t give it the attention or appreciation it deserves.

Ok, a bit rambling. But that’s a five minute quick write for you. What piece of music could you write to? (Did you guess mine?)

#SOL19 Day 6 Spark!

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions.I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

FAN MAIL 

When I ask students who they looked up to, it is very enlightening. There are the obvious singers, performers, and athletes, but I am stunned by the number of YouTubers that students are fans of. I have no idea who most of these people are, but I’m learning about them and about my students. There’s nothing  like drafting a handwritten note to someone who’s work you deeply appreciate but I often take a photo of the letter and reach out via social media instead of snail mail. Since it is no secret that kidlit authors are my heroes and their books are such a huge part of my life, I’ll take this opportunity to let one know with a letter “slice”.

Donna Gephart is the author of several kidlit books that I admire.

Here’s my quick write:Fan Mail to Donna Gephart

I could send this as is in a tweet or Facebook post, or I could revise if I chose. Just snap a picture and tag them on social media. They are always so accessible to their readers and I know would welcome some appreciation for their hard work. The idea is to express gratitude with intention, whether or not it ever gets sent. But a bonus to this quick write is that it spreads some love-and we could all use more of that.

#SOL19 Day 5 Spark!

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions.  I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

REFLECTING ON IDENTITY  Our identity is the combination of how we see ourselves and how others see us. How often do we purposefully take time to reflect on our identity? Choose some aspect about yourself and quick write whatever comes to mind. You might make some interesting discoveries about yourself.

Here’s my Quick Write for today:

I’m the kind of reader who…

  • Tends to choose books that are recommended to me. Sometimes a book grabs my attention from a display, but there are so many books out there and so little time I tend to read the books recommended by others.
  • Tracks my reading on Goodreads and social media. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes from this. I’ve created a history of my reading life and that is very satisfying to me.
  • Love to give shout outs to the authors. I share their books as I said on social media, but I’ve also created a hashtag #DeliciousWords where I celebrate the words I wish I had written or that linger with me as I’m reading.
  • Hates to abandon  books, they tend to stay in limbo with a bookmark jammed in between pages or returned to the library but lingering on my TO READ lists-waiting patiently for my return.
  • Reads lots and lots of kidlit. Yes, I do enjoy “grown up” books, but I cannot consume them as quickly and thereby visit as many worlds. I cannot share them with my students or have conversations with them that motivate them to create a reading life.
  • Still loves picture books. They are modern day pieces of art to me. Have you seen some of the illustrations these days? I mean, Matt Tavares is blowing me away with his realism.
  • Has more books on my TBR list than I can possibly get to in a year, and I keep adding more.
  • Checks Twitter every Tuesday for book birthdays

Ok, there’s more but you get the idea. Think about your identity: I’m the kind of friend, teacher, mom, dad, daughter, son who…   Give it a go!

#SOL19 Day 4 Spark!

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For the month of March I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers Blog. Each day I will be sharing a Quick Write as my way of slicing. The idea is to offer a SPARK that will kindle thinking and then write as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes. No filters, no revisions.

I’ve been curating a collection of Sparks and will share some with you all month. It’s a great way to ignite your writing life.

PHOTOS:  A picture’s worth a thousand words-or at least as many as we can write in 5 minutes.

I have also curated a collection of photographs I have taken over the years to SPARK thoughts, emotions, and creative ideas. I have put them together in a GOOGLE PHOTO ALBUM. You can collect the photos of others, but sharing your own with students creates connection. Students are more curious and engaged when we share a part of our lives with them. I am happy to share my collection, but then I encourage you to create your own. You don’t have to be artsy. The idea is to freeze a moment in time or narrow the perspective of a view so that it invites thinking, reflection, and creation. I think you’ll notice I tend toward nature. What would YOU tend to capture?

Here’s one of my photos and my Quick Write for today’s slice.

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I am fascinated by bridges-they are purposeful structures to connect bodies, and also metaphors for the same. This photo invites me to consider, “How well have I preserved the bridges from my past?” I’ve built so many over the course of my life; every relationship, experience, or event has led me to this place in time. Sometimes I stay connected to those experiences and the bridges are strong and stable. I can travel back and forth with ease and frequency. I may not even give any thought to the connection-it’s just a continuum of where I am at this point in time. It may be seamless and understood.

But there are other bridges that have been abandoned-some might even have been burned.  I’ve created barriers to parts of my past that are somewhat difficult. There are reasons for this: self-preservation, personal growth, or even neglect. Sometimes those bridges are purposefully destroyed. Other times they may have simply been forgotten and have fallen into disrepair.

Life has a way of triggering moments from the past and only then do we contemplate the preservation of those bridges. Can we safely navigate those bridges? Do we need to rebuild some bridges? Do we need to blow up those bridges? Only we can make that choice for ourselves, but it is important to remember that we have that choice. We always will.