Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Slice of Life - Fresh Eyes

I remember becoming a parent. After the exhaustion of the first year or so, the questions began to flow:

Why is the sky blue?

What is that?

Why do you have to pull those plants out of the ground, but not those?

Who made the first chair?

Rather than be irritated by the endless stream of questions, they fascinated me. Ordinary events were new. The marvel that is our world surrounded me. These questions changed me. I began to appreciate more, slow down, and realized how much I love a beautiful sunset.

You don’t have to be a toddler to open the eyes of others. When we moved to our tiny hamlet years ago, my husband delighted in seeing Cardinals. He’d point them out, especially during winter when the male’s red feathers stood in stark contrast with the white snow. I asked him why he was so fascinated – apparently even though they are our state bird, Cardinals are not plentiful in the busy city of Chicago.

These thoughts were swirling around in my mind during today’s run. As I plodded down the sidewalk, bunnies raced off, afraid of the woman puffing along beside them. I had seen a few bunnies hop out of the way of my car when driving a friend to my house the other night. “Bunnies!” she said glancing out the window. I’m guessing that they aren’t as prevalent in Texas as they are in Illinois. My dog, Bally, could give her an entire lesson on where you find the nest of the bunnies in the spring.

Running past the rabbits, I reflected back on All Write. I love conferences. Friends think I am crazy to spend so much of my own money to attend these, but I know it is critical to my well being to go. Not only do I get the chance to see friends who live so far from my town, but I leave with fresh eyes. I am rejuvenated and ready to teach – or will be in a few weeks. All Write did not disappoint. I have many notes scribbled away on snatches of paper and wanted to share a few.

Here are just a few snippets of the wonderful insights I walked away from All Write with. Some are quotes; some are just what I realized while sitting and listening. Thanks to all of the amazing presenters. My eyes are open once again.

Creative, innovative, successful people spend ten thousand hours developing a skill. (Gladwell) Have writing territories (Murray) that we return to again and again helps us become experts in that area. We need to encourage more creativity and initiative amongst our students. Writing Workshop can do that. – Carl Anderson

The idea that I work my tail off helping students to develop their reading lives, I need to do the same for their writing lives. Starting my notebook up again today.  – Penny Kittle

The difference between relevant and related instruction. I think I mess this up often. Also, the realization that I need to do more with word study. – Terry Thompson

A reminder that in writing – as is true in life – the importance lies in the journey, not the destination. – Ruth Ayers

The importance of listening to my students, really listening, when I confer. Also, the idea of video taping myself for reflection. – Penny Kittle

The crazy notion that research can be fun. (!!) Ideas as to how to help my students summarize and not plagiarize. – Chris Lehman.

The importance of the work done by those who came before – listening to Penny talk about the amazing Don Graves and being in awe of all that he accomplished. – Penny Kittle

Thinking through the current state of education and reminding myself that I need to be aware of what is going on in relation to CCSS, Pearson, and more – even when (or maybe especially when) I don’t agree with it. – Chris Lehman

Being inspired and in awe of Lester’s way with words and storytelling capabilities. Realizing ideas take time – seeds for stories are everywhere. “Chasing ideas is not about getting published, it’s about finding what resonates in your soul.” – Lester Laminack. 
Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers


  1. Thanks for sharing your observations and inspirations. I've never been to that conference, but I am benefitting from many slicers who have.

  2. I love quotes and tidbits like this! That is how I write my takeaways, too. Lester is one my all time favorite speakers, too. Such a story teller!

  3. Exactly, Katherine. Thanks for adding to my own memories. It was a terrific time!

  4. Krista DendingerJune 25, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    I too spend a lot of my money on conferences but have found the reward to be great. This year was my first at All Write and it was well worth the money with all the knowledge gained! I look forward to attending next year!

  5. I love the way you tied together your reflection...with quotes...what a great idea

  6. Thanks, Katherine, for your reflection. I've GOT to go to All Write next year - such wonderful people were there! I could listen to Penny Kittle and Lester Laminack all day!

  7. What a collection of quotes. Maybe we should make them into a poster? I'm glad to have seen you -- even briefly -- it is always god for my soul.

  8. I love this set of good advice and musings from the conference. I also spend a lot of my own money for conferences because I feel the same way about them. It sounds like this one was well worth the money.

  9. I like how your thoughts flow from the questions to the quotes. There is a rhythm of running and thinking.

  10. I am with Holly! I HAVE to go to All Write next year! Loved your quotes.

  11. Katherine,

    I knew it was going to be hard not to go to All Write. I knew it would be hard to read the tweets --- yet, I knew they would bring me comfort. I knew it would be hard to read the posts --- yet, I've savored every one.

    I enjoyed your reflections from All Write and the way you see some things with "new eyes" since attending. Thanks for sharing all the insights. There were A LOT of great people to listen to and learn from during the event. I have to agree that Lester Laminack is so amazing. I could just sit and listen to him talk for days. His voice is like music and he can pull me into a story in seconds. Thanks for sharing this from his conversation, "Realizing ideas take time – seeds for stories are everywhere." That will be helpful in the #teacherswrite journey.


  12. I want to continue to be fascinated by ordinary events. This is one of the vital things as a teacher and we are fortunate to have time off to charge our batteries. As I have commented and is true reading your reflections of All Write, as well, I am drinking in learning! Your observations and sharing are rippling out to me. I am thankful.

  13. Thanks so much. It truly is a wonderful conference and I'm thankful I had the opportunity to attend.

  14. It is so difficult not to be at the conferences all of my friends are at - especially when I know there are amazing things going on. That being said, Twitter can be a godsend. I love learning from everyone through it - did that with IRA. And Lester? AMAZING.

  15. Jaana - it is truly a worthwhile conference. Not terribly pricey, especially considering all you get over the course of the two days!

  16. Well worth it! My husband is a saint, I should mention that. Especially since I'm turning around and heading to ALA this weekend.

  17. It was brief but I'll see you at the Choice Lit retreat, yes? Good for the soul is the perfect way to describe everything around this conference - including seeing you.

  18. Penny and Lester were incredible. One thing I've noticed about All Write is they tend to have their speakers on an every other year rotation. So many that I saw this time I also saw two years ago. Donalyn and Franki spoke last year, and will be again next year. It is always wonderful each time I attend.

  19. I'm glad you enjoyed All Write. I do think it is well worth the cost. :)

  20. So grateful I got to meet you, Linda!

  21. Lester is incredible. I think I could just follow him around and listen all day long.

  22. I know, when reading Slices yesterday and today it was like attending again. So much fun.


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