Tag Archives: Lynn Plourde

Making Writing Visible

slice-of-life_individualYesterday one of my schools hosted kidlit author Lynn Plourde. If you don’t know Lynn and IMG_9452her books, you really should.  A former speech therapist and educator, Lynn’s books are full of whimsical word play and rich characters,  and her presentation to students is spot on. She’s got the teachers’ touch, for sure.

I first met Lynn when my daughter was starting kindergarten. She came to share her debut picture book Pigs in the Mud at my daughter’s school. Now Lynn doesn’t just read her book, she gets the kids to LIVE it. With simple props and lots of enthusiasm everyone tells the story of a muddy road full of animals in rural Maine. My kids were enthralled and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since.

This year, Lynn published her first middle grade novel, Maxie’s Secrets: Or What You Can Learn From A Dog . I think this will introduce a whole new audience of readers to her talent and showcases her range that also includes nonfiction, graphic novels, and a ‘love letter to the state of Maine‘!

IMG_9438When I wrote my own book (Close Writing) Lynn was one of the authors gracious enough to talk with me about her process and let me share some of her ideas and thoughts about writing. She has attended nErDcamps to share ideas with teachers as well.

Lynn has a blog Make Writing Visible  where she shares some techniques teachers can use with their students-a virtual author’s visit! She is a true writing mentor!

I know KidLit authors are rock stars to me.  I learn so much from them as an adult, I can only imagine what it would have been like for me as a child to meet a real life author.  I desperately wanted to write to Astrid Lindgren (author of the Pippi Longstocking books) but at the time, that wasn’t anything my teachers could help me with. Authors today have never been more accessible. Teachers can help connect kids and authors via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Email, or even Skype visits. (And there’s always good old snail mail).

Students left the library at our school today not only inspired, but eager to write. It’s my wish that every child gets opportunities to connect with the authors who fill their libraries and open their hearts and minds. I want them to get insights into the process and ask questions that will lift their thinking and elevate their writing.

Let’s look for opportunities to make writing as visible for our students as possible. Let’s give them this slice of a literacy life.

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Manuscript Mentors

IMG_1908As I was finishing up the last of the proofreading and edits of my manuscript for Stenhouse (Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6) I solicited some ideas on Facebook from my author friends: “Calling on all my writer friends for any advice on final edits of a manuscript. Any tips on what works for you would be welcome as I venture into new waters here.”
I hoped to get a response or two.  I was a little overwhelmed with the wonderful advice from so many authors I look up to!

Lynda Mullaly Hunt Set a day aside and read the entire thing out loud. You hear things you don’t hear when he read silently. Good luck!

Franki Sibberson By final edits, I’ve learned that I need to let go and know I can’t do everything I want to do in one piece of writing (even though it is a BIG piece of writing!). So I work to make what I’ve already said the best that it can be instead of thinking of all the things I didn’t say and trying to add those in. If that helps at all!

Cynthia Lord Change the font and print a copy. It will look different enough that your eye will read every word again–if it looks familiar your eyes sometimes read what you think it says, not exactly what it does.

Charlotte Agell I love the Cynthia tip. Different fonts make me THINK differently. They are like the clothing of my words – punk, staid, all-purpose, snazzy…

Lester Laminack I find it helpful to put it aside and write a summary/note to myself what I hope the reader leaves with. Then I read the whole thing with that in mind.

Jennifer Richard O’Grady I tackle the smaller edits, the easier things first. That gives my brain more time to chew on the bigger questions. From time to time stop and savor the moment. Your dedication got you to this stage!

Sarah Albee Do a find/replace for words you suspect you use too much. I’ve horrified myself with this exercise, finding I use certain words way too often. Also search-and-destroy too many semicolons, or whatever your personal perils may be!

Kate Messner When I review copy edits, I take a blank piece of paper to cover up everything beneath the line I’m reading – helps me to slow down. Also, read aloud.

Donalyn Miller Appreciate all of the great advice here. I take a close look at really long sentences to decide if they make sense or need to be revised/shortened for clarity.

Maria Padian Hunt down adverbs. Wherever possible, replace them with stronger verbs that don’t need modifying, or give the character a physical gesture that conveys the meaning you’re after. Same with the verb “to be.”

Lynn Plourde My agent taught me this trick . . . you can delete “that” most of the time (i.e. I didn’t know that she lived in town . . . I didn’t know she lived in town). Btw, since I’m at the final edit stage on my MG novel–I’m savoring all this advice you’re getting, Paula!

Gae Polisner The biggest help is to put it away for a month or three and read it fresh then, but very few of us have the luxury or patience to do so.

Melissa Stewart Highlight your verbs in a different color and make sure ewach one is as strong and precise as it can possibly be.

Meg Frazer Blakemore Give yourself breaks and walk around, even if it’s just around your house.

David Lopez Read it backwards in a mirror, turn around three times and then set it on fire. Laugh with glee.

Ammi-Joan Paquette So many great comments here already! I would just add that it’s not easy, taking the plunge to “let go” and launch your baby out in the world. It’s helpful to remember that you have been diligent, and thoughtful, and thorough–you’ve done your best, and it’s GOOD. That’s why you’ve gotten this far. Once you give it that final read, and make any last changes that jump out, let it go with confidence. It’s ready to fly!

I wanted to save (and savor) their sage advice, not only for thisIMG_2205 project but for all writing moving forward.  They didn’t have to respond, but their passion for writing is so evident when they rush in to support another writing.  And so I am feeling thankful today. Thankful that the final proofread manuscript was sent back to Stenhouse, thankful for those amazing people who work there that will turn my words into a book, and thankful for all those authors who were willing to mentor me on my journey. It has truly taken a village to raise this ‘baby’!

What’s On My Book Radar?

23604418I am so excited that our recent school book fair had Kate Messner’s latest Ranger in Time: Danger in Ancient Rome. This copy is sitting by my bedstand waiting for me to finish this blog, log off, and pick it up!  I think this is such a fun and informative series.  I know the painstakingly careful research Kate does for her books, so I know I will learn something new with each of Ranger’s adventures.  If you haven’t discovered this series yet for yourselves, I encourage you to grab a copy of this and Rescue on the Oregon Trail

nErDcampNNE

IMG_5117This past weekend I attended the most amazing professional development!  Created BY teachers, FOR teachers, WITH teachers this “Unconference” in Biddeford, Maine was tailor made for everyone! Dubbed nErDcamp Northern New England (nErDcampNNE) was inspired by nErDcamp Battle Creek which was created by Colby Sharp

So what was nErDcamp?  From their blog  I found, “nErDcamp is an “unconference” modeled after edcamp but the focus is on literacy. An “unconference” means that participants decide which topics will be explored. During the first half hour we will fill a session board with different topics generated from participants. Participants decide which sessions they wish to attend. You are encouraged to move to another session if you are attending one that isn’t working for you. Some sessions may be led by participants who want to share a strategy, tool or idea that has worked for them (ex: Using Evernote in the classroom). Other sessions may be more like round table discussions in which participants discuss and share ideas on a topic (ex: How to engage reluctant readers).”

I HAD to try this!

The evening before the conference the organizers held a Nerdy Evening with the Authors and Illustrators at a local library.  Children’s book and YA authors from Maine and beyond came to greet children, families, teachers and fans.  Talk about an opportunity to network!  Some authors discussed skyping with our classrooms and connecting via Twitter as ways to reach their young audiences.  They all took time to talk and sign books.

I had the good fortune to meet:

Ed Briant, Kate Egan, Cynthia Lord, Lynn Plourde, Megan Frazer Blakemore, Cathryn Falwell, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, J.E. Thompson, Gail Donovan, Kevin Hawkes, Sashi Kaufman and Lisa Jahn-Clough all in one place!

IMG_5115Having a blast with Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Lynn Plourde and Cynthia Lord.

The next day, I joined educators from around the state (and beyond) to create our own conference.  Susan Dee (incredible Biddeford educator) facilitated the auditorium audience as we chose topics and created a Google Doc for sessions.  People volunteered to facilitate sessions and others to take notes to capture the essence and resources in the discussions.   We all headed off to our assigned rooms and immersed ourselves in rich discussions, abundant resources and tons of tips!  I found myself checking out notes being created in other sessions I wanted to attend, wishing I could clone myself to be in more than one at a time!

IMG_5128Susan Dee, kicking off the event and facilitating the session development

We learned how to motivate ‘striving’ readers and writers, incorporate technology more easily into our classrooms, build our booklist of ‘must haves’, connect with authors, organize better book clubs…and more!

IMG_5145Authors Julie Falatko, Megan Frazer Blakemore and Lynn Plourde facilitated a session on ‘Making Writing Visible’

We took charge of our own learning!  Creating our own professional development with a “tribe” of open minded and supportive educators was so empowering!  We made connections with others that will go far beyond the one day event and it was FREE!!!!

IMG_5164Teachers browsing the incredible amount of freebies the committee organized for attendees.

So if your district, region or state is interested in creating their own edcamp they could post questions or comments on twitter #nErDcampNNE, follow their nErDcampNNE Blog, check out Colby Sharp’s nErDcamp in Michigan or follow Susan and the other nErDcamp team on twitter.

IMG_5168The amazing nErDcampNNE committee:  (front) Cathy Potter, Susan Dee, Mary Lou Shuster, (back)Jennifer Felt, Kate Sullivan, Chris Pirkl, Gigi McAllister, Justin Stygles

What’s on my Book Radar?

9780325050843Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts have put together a superb book that provides us lessons beyond literacy learning in the classroom that will give readers a greater appreciation for the literate the world around us.  Close reading is a real buzz word these days, I would recommend this book for teachers trying to encourage deeper thinking within the “4 corners of the page” and beyond. I think you’ll definitely fall in love with it!

I’ve also got to dive into all the books I had signed at the Nerdy Evening With the Authors!IMG_5252

Autographed books by Kevin Hawkes, Cynthia Lord, Lynn Plourde, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Gail Donovan and Lisa Jahn-Clough

Happy Reading, all you nerds!