joke that I don’t really admire celebrities – heck, I don’t even know the
majority of people that are inside an US Weekly anymore – but I do admire
authors. They are my superheroes. Friday was a great example of why I feel that
way. As I wrote about last week (HERE), I am beginning a fiction unit in
writing workshop. The students took a field trip to my preschool and we learned
a bit about setting. The next writing day was going to be Friday and I was
debating how to use it best. I knew that it would be our main jumping off
lesson for the unit. Enter Gae Polisner.
Gae through Twitter. Her fabulous book, The Pull of Gravity, won an
award in our first ever Nerdy Book Club awards. She had offered before to Skype
with my fifth graders and I decided to take her up on the offer.
When I sent Gae a tweet to see if she was still interested, she immediately
said yes. We settled on a date and what we’d Skype about – she’d talk about her
writing process, they could ask questions, and if time allowed – she would lead
them in a creative writing activity.
Skype with Gae
started off great. Gae asked them how many students loved to read – and to be honest;
she’d make me leave the room if necessary. Every hand shot up. Then she asked
how many loved to write, only half of the hands went up. When Gae talked to them
she discovered many didn’t enjoy writing because they weren’t good at it, in
their opinion. I will be forever grateful to Gae for the conversation that came
next. She talked about how many times she has been told her writing isn’t good
enough. And how when you are told no, it just means it isn’t right for that
other person at that time. That you
should use the “no” to inspire you to improve. It isn’t an indication that you
are a failure, but that you can grow. She discussed this with writing, art,
sports, etc. What a fabulous message for my students!
Creative writing activity
on to discuss her own writing process, drafts, and more. We did have technology
issues – but we worked around them. At the end she had me lead the creative
writing activity due to tech issues – and I’ve emailed her the results of that
writing. I believe she will be sharing that on her blog soon.
have the chance to bring an author to your classroom, I highly recommend it. My
students were thrilled to talk to Gae, to hear her story, and left inspired to
write. They learned so much more in that thirty minutes than I had ever
anticipated. And if you haven’t read her fabulous book, remedy that
immediately. It is a perfect middle school book.
I had playground duty and as I walked around the playground talking to my
students, my mind wandered to our next writing unit. We were going to begin a
fiction unit and I really wanted the students to be inspired. When I’ve read
their writing in the past, it usually lacks a strong setting. I wondered what I
could do to help with that and then I turned and saw the farm on the hill. One
mile from where I stood was the house I went to for preschool – Farm School.
remember Farm School. It might have been my favorite years of school ever. Many
times in writing workshop I write about my experiences there. One that stands
out is walking down the lane to the woods just south of the property. I’m not
sure why we went there, but when we did I was certain the wood were magical.
They felt special. With that thought in mind, I decided I wanted to take my
students there to write.
down the interurban track to the woods on the hill, just over a mile away. I
smiled as I watched some of the boys race to the top – it was nice to be able
to let them run ahead. With no traffic on this trail we could spread out
without any worry.
finally reached the woods, the kids spread out with their towels and blankets.
I instructed them to stare at the woods, to let their mind wander. What stories
could they tell here? What did they see? Were the woods magical? Did they hide
up and down the line of students. Some read to me what they had so far, some
furiously wrote, some had to be reminded to get writing. J I
watched as one student flagged down my friend and colleague who had come for a
walk with us – he just had to share his story with her. It was amazing.
soon, we had to head back. I glanced up the lane at the beautiful house that
held so many memories. Now it had given me more, this time as a teacher instead
of a student. I cannot think of a better way to spend Earth Day than outside
writing with my class. I can’t wait to see what stories then come up with.
You are talking to your children, maybe having a lecture even. And all of the
sudden it is as if your own parents are in the room. The words you heard as a
kid, that you swore you’d never say, just came out of your mouth. This happens
to me all the time. Chris swears I am an 80 year old in a 39 year old body.
Some things that often fly out of my mouth include –
by your toes
how this happened, but I sound like my mom. Heck, sometimes I sound like my grandmother or
great aunt. And the reverse happens too. As my own children began talking, I’d
hear myself in their words. The word “actually” pops up in their vocabulary all
This week I realized the same thing happens to me at school. I’m on the second
floor of a building that was built in 1894. I used to be on the first floor. I’m
all too aware of the fact that those on the first floor have to listen to the
noise coming through the ceiling all the time. I often caution my students to
be careful, not to stomp or drop things, the teacher downstairs is teaching.
I witnessed the following. A boy was goofing off during study hall and dropped
something on the floor. Before I could open my mouth, I overheard this
Josh – Be
careful! Do you want to go downstairs and apologize to Mrs. Meyer?