Tag Archives: Stenhouse Publishers

Blog Break is Over!

If you follow my blog, you may have noticed an absence of posts since the Slice of Life Challenge ended in March.  Though I haven’t been blogging, I have been writing. A week ago I finally finished and submitted the last two components for my National Board work.  Being a National Board Certified Teacher has been on my bucket list, and now it is in the hands of the NBPT assessors.

Anyone who has been through this process can appreciate how grueling and yet how rewarding the work can be.  It is certainly not for the faint of heart. One of the hardest parts is the waiting. (Tom Petty was right).  I won’t get my results until December-that’s SEVEN.LONG.MONTHS.

So to fill that void, left by the nonstop work on my boards, I am happy to announce I have a new project.  My latest book proposal was just accepted by Stenhouse Publishers and so I will be busy working on that manuscript.


The tentative title is Quick Writes: Unlocking Potential in Every K-6 Writer and I’ll be exploring the role of more low-stakes writing for helping students to discover the writer inside and develop skills without the stress of grades or judgement.

And I am eager to return to my blog where I play with ideas, share experiences, and document my teaching journey. But it’s dance recital and Mother’s Day weekend so this one is brief.   Have a great week.

What’s On My Book Radar

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 8.44.41 AMThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Occasionally I drift away from kidlit land to the world of grown up books, and on a recent trip I downloaded this to my kindle. What a timely tale! When we read about attempts to curb the press, limit women’s choices over their own bodies, and ignore science, facts, and reason we can see the groundwork being laid for a dystopian society like Gilead. Offred is a handmaid in Gilead whose tale was discovered in Bangor, Maine 150 years after she recorded it. She tells of a life stripped of humanity for the sake of law and order and adherence to strict observance of theocracy. I can see why so many people are reading this book right now and I am certainly glad I did.

Back in the Saddle

Handing off my manuscript to the most amazing editor, Maureen Barbieri

I hadn’t meant to stop blogging, but time became a premium commodity this winter as I worked to finish my first book. My priorities became my family, my teaching, and the book. So when I turned over the manuscript last week to Stenhouse Publishers, it was such an incredible feeling of relief and exhilaration. I have always believed in Donald Graves’ advice that teachers of writing should be teachers who write, but this experience was more enlightening than I could have ever imagined.  My empathy for writers has grown exponentially and my appreciation for good writing and talented authors has soared.   I cannot look at a piece of writing the same way again.  Each book, article, or text I have read recently presents itself with layers to explore.  I savor word choice, contemplate the turn of a phrase, marvel at the organization, wonder what was edited out, and imagine the writer during those moments of creation.

I watch the students in our classrooms engaging with the writing process and feel compassion for their struggles and joy for their successes in deeper ways.  I listen more openly to their thoughts about the process and their ideas with a genuine desire to understand before “teaching”.  I am much more sensitive to how feedback might resonate with a writer.  They pour a piece of themselves onto that paper and want it to be loved ‘as is’.

But I also know the satisfaction that revision can bring to a writer. It’s a bit like sculpting a piece of stone.  Each time we revisit and rework the piece it has the potential to reveal something new and more refined-sometimes things we could not anticipate. Feedback from others (editor, colleagues, friends) is like  precision tools that helps chisel and polish the work toward its final form. I want our students to experience that satisfying sense of accomplishment by embracing revision rather than dreading it. This process has helped me contemplate these possibilities more sensitively.

So for the dozen and a half people who read my blog, I am back in the saddle! Happy to “think aloud” each week on topics that are dear to my heart and my teaching.  I am also thrilled to have time to get back to another of my most favorite activities…READING!

What’s On My Book Radar?

Finishing my book was like ending a second full-time job, giving me time to devour some books!  Two that have been on my bed stand for months were finally read and LOVED!

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Jennifer Nielsen (The False Prince trilogy) has created another hero we can follow- Nic Calva, a slave in the mines of Rome in her latest tale Mark of the Thief.  She starts us off with an amazing escape and keeps us on the edge of our seat throughout.  Nielsen is a master at creating characters who overcome impossible odds and her writing always includes twists and turns that I do not anticipate.  This series will be a hit for kids who love adventure, mythology, and smart writing!

Liesl Shurtliff is a gifted reteller.  She takes stories so familiar that we cannot imagine anything more could entice us, and spins a tale that is incredibly engaging. Her first book Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin  gave us a different perspective on a much maligned character and her new book Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk offers us an equally imaginative version of a classic tale. The land at the top of this beanstalk will surprise you, as will getting to meet Jack’s family and neighbors.

Put these two titles on your summer reading list and you will have some ‘happy hours’ as you vacation to these distant lands.