Monday, June 25, 2012

Slice of Life – Writing Communities



 Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

I’ve just returned home from another wonderful conference in Warsaw, Indiana – All Write. I went last year on a whim. I had met a few people on Twitter and we all decided to go. I looked at the presenters and was impressed; so many of my favorite authors for professional development were going to be there. It was more amazing than I had imagined.

See, the presentations were excellent. Jeff Anderson, Terry Thompson, Cris Tovani, Katie Wood Ray. My mind spun. My company was amazing too. Friends from Twitter I had spoken to over the past two years. I left All Write last year with a burning desire to write.

NCTE in November gave me more of this feeling. It’s the reason this blog began. The first post on here goes into some detail about it. I remember being so nervous to write the first post. I wasn’t sure what others would think of my writing. Would my voice come through? Was there something I really needed to share beyond what was already out there?

And now I’ve just come home from my second time at All Write. As always, I learned a ton. One thing that really got me thinking was from Donalyn Miller’s session. She was discussing reading communities and how we need to teach kids the habits of strong readers because once they leave our safe haven of our classroom it isn’t as easy to keep reading. The people around you matter.

It was one of those moments where I was thought,  “That’s it!” I remember as a child I wanted to write but never thought my writing was good enough. There was no workshop model then at my school. The only writing we did was when it was assigned: topic assigned, rough draft, edited by teacher, final draft. I didn’t know any writers. I didn’t really believe I could be one.

Then I met all of these wonderful teachers. Some write for kids. Some write for teachers. Some write for their blog audience. All of them are amazing cheerleaders. And the funny thing, when I was around them, I began to believe I could write. I watched Penny Kittle pull out her writer’s notebook while sitting next to her at NCTE.  I listened to Donalyn Miller talk to Mindi Rench about her new book. I watched and absorbed many conversations around what friends were writing. And I began to write.

One year later I’ve written one hundred and forty three blog posts for my blog. There have been thousands of comments. I’ve written for Nerdy Book Club and Choice Literacy. I’ve written guest posts for friends’ blogs. My writing journal is becoming used more and more each day. I am part of Slice of Life and did the March challenge (and completed it!). I joined Teachers Write for summer writing. And I’m beginning to get serious about writing a book. I trace all of this back to the people I surrounded myself with. When surrounded by readers in the classroom, children become avid readers. Surrounding myself with writers I found the same to be true. I am grateful for my friends and grateful for this community. Let’s write! 

25 comments:

  1. Exactly! You are so enthusiastic Katherine, you make me smile every time I read your posts. I know your students must feel the same way. I agree so wholeheartedly. Surround yourself with others who do what you do, and you will continually be inspired. Thanks for the thoughts.

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  2. So, so exciting ! I just read your Choice Literacy about your book club in the summer. Next year...I want to go - I heard Jeff Anderson will be there- I definitely need his assistance :) xo nanc

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  3. Aw, thanks so much Linda. Loved your post today about your granddaughter.

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  4. Thanks Nancy! Jeff will be there next year! He was last year and it was so awesome. Also Kate Messner, Terry Thompson, and Penny Kittle. Can't wait!

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  5. Hi, I just found you and am really enjoying your blog. Everyone blogging about the All Write is making me want to go too!
    I just started a blog this summer and am having fun writing.
    http://www.thirdgradecafe.com

    Kathy

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  6. I think the best part of writing, however and wherever one chooses to write, is to enjoy the process and feel oneself grow with every entry, every slice every post. What a great writing adventure you have been on!

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  7. Such a true point - the community makes it so much better (and more possible). I am so happy that I stumbled across the Slice community this year and can stalk great professionals over Twitter. It makes all the difference in my teaching and learning. So jealous that you could attend those great workshops.

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  8. Thanks Kathy! All Write was amazing. Congrats on starting your blog. I'll make sure to check it out.

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  9. Tara, I completely agree. I love when I can look back at a piece of writing - see what I did well and how I've grown.

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  10. Thanks Dana! My main problem is that I have so many workshops I want to go to and my district will only pay for part of NCTE. So I save and save and luckily my husband is super understanding.

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  11. The people around us matter. So true. I like that it is not determined in childhood whether we are writers or not. I am glad that you have found the desire, the joy, the learning opportunities and the right people around you to become a writer. Write, write, write!

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  12. I can connect with this so well! I have been thinking about that same idea from All Write. It DOES matter who you surround yourself with. I taught once with people who would never have encouraged me to write and who would never have told me and shown me that people wanted to hear what I had to say. But now I do surround myself with those who support me. I like those people. They are my courage when I'm having a rough day; my courage when I doubt myself. They are the gentle nudge I need to find the joy in writing, in teaching and in life. Because of the supportive people, I am able to let go of the others and let go of caring what they think. Hopefully the students in my classroom will feel that our room is a safe haven where they can grow and try new things too. Hopefully the classroom, the students and I will be the supportive encouragement that we all need.

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  13. You have summed it up perfectly! We need that reading and writing community, even as adults and especially as teachers! Amazing how those two groups overlap too - thanks for being a part of my reading and writing community! Congrats on your progress and successes as a writer! Write on!

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  14. Everything that you wrote rings true with me as well. Having a community of writers who support you is so important and the same holds true with readers. I love how you tied in your person experience with the classroom experience. Good luck with your writing and enjoy the journey.

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  15. I have to agree with you on this one. In my secret heart I've always been "a writer" but my muse takes extended hiatuses. Being involved in a community here (doing Slice, inching along on a story while following the cool prompts for Teachers Write) helps me get motivated again.

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  16. And I said, "Woot,woot!" Let's write! All right! You are a cheerleader Kat! I am making a lot of connections as a writer-to be a better writer you have to be in the company of writers and do what writers do-read also! I am so glad to be a part of the learning community as well. Thanks for your inspiration!

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  17. Woot, Woot! I agree, let's write!

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  18. Man, those muses are difficult to find at times. Glad you are writing now!

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  19. Thanks Valerie! Good luck to you too.

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  20. Thanks to you for being part of my community as well. I'm so glad I found Slice of Life!

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  21. Those gentle nudges are so important, aren't they?

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  22. I agree, grateful I can still become a writer - whether I'm 8 or 38. :)

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  23. During March I mentioned to a friend I was slicing, When she read my blog she told me she enjoyed my stories. Wow! I was so flattered. Great feeling. One I want for my students!

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  24. I am a new teacher in an old lady body. I have owned my own theater company for the past 25 years and have written hundreds of plays. I find myself in a new teaching position at a middle school where each child will have a mac notebook. I want to find some projects that intigrate technology for my students. I am excited to teach language arts but already feel not so inspired by a population of teachers who want to teach with work sheets and old school books. Help me to inspire these kids. I have always had confidence in my writing, more than I should - I just need to match my confidence with some technology/teaching. Can you help?

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  25. Sure, what would you like? I think if I was in middle school and kids had macs, I'd start a classroom blog or classroom Twitter account. Kids are really struggling with understanding digital citizenship. Obviously you can use the macs for many things - writing, Animoto for videos, Edmodo for classroom assignments and quizzes. Start small so you don't overwhelm yourself!

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