Thursday, November 14, 2013

Celebrating Writers Blog Tour

Years ago I began following blogs. First I would visit the blogs I loved each day. Then I began using Google Reader *sob*, and now Feedly, to keep track of my blog reading life. With over 150 blogs subscribed to, I can’t read each post every single day. Usually I skim the titles, look at the brief writing shown, and make decisions how to spend my time. However, there are some blogs I read every time there is a new post. I know the writing will move me no matter what the topic. Ruth Ayres’s blog is one of those must reads for me. When Stenhouse asked if I would like to be part of the blog tour, I gladly accepted. 

You can follow the Celebrating Writers! Blog Tour all week:

Nov. 15: Nerdy Book Club 

Ruth inspires me each time I read her work. Once I heard about Celebrating Writers, written with Christi Overman, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I knew it would be a book to treasure because it is full of Ruth’s writing. When Ruth writes, you can feel the honesty pouring through. She writes in a quiet way, but a way that makes you want to be a better person. I desperately wish she lived in my town – so we could walk and talk and I could absorb all of her wisdom. I wish she lived here so she could teach my own children how to write – and teach me as well. Since she doesn’t want to uproot her family, the next best thing is to read her books - and Celebrating Writers will make you glad you did.

Ruth began talking about this idea of celebration a while ago, and I liked what she said. When I originally heard it brought up I assumed she was talking about publishing parties at the end of a writing unit. And while she does touch on how we can celebrate at the end of a unit, this book is so much more.

Stenhouse posted Celebrating Writers online for you to preview (HERE), and that is the way I first read it. I cannot wait for my copy to come, though, because I want to highlight so many lines. What I think is so important here is that the act of celebrating does not have to be some crazy big party – but there are celebrations in the quiet moments as well. Here is where I believe the strength of celebrating truly lies. In the first chapter Ruth and Christi write, “The writer is more important than the writing.” Their words were swirling in my head this week.

I have a student in my class who began the year telling me how much he hates writing. He struggles in all areas that you would think of in regards to language arts – reading, writing, spelling, grammar, you name it. Normally when given twenty minutes to write after a mini-lesson, I check-in with him, make suggestions, let him go, circle back, see a blank page, and repeat. I have had this book on my mind over the last week as I have tried to celebrate small accomplishments during our workshop.

Friday I taught a lesson on internal vs. external in our personal narrative stories. As always he was looking at me with his earnest face as I taught. I gave example after example and shared my writing. And then, they were off.

I noticed that he got to work immediately and I did a small celebration in my head. Then, after fifteen minutes, he came up to me. I looked in wonder at his full page of writing. I could have focused on what needed to be fixed: spelling, paragraphs, capitalization, etc. However, what I first saw was this: an entire page of writing; a story about his football game – a seed story; deliberate choices he had made in regard to spelling, capitalization, and punctuation; dialogue used correctly; internal and external details. And more, and more. I glanced up at the shining eyes looking at me and smiled, and then he did too. One more thing to celebrate – pride. We had our own celebration party right there.

This is the brilliance in Ruth’s work. She will cause you to see the daily opportunities for celebrations. These opportunities will bond you closer to your students and make you all grow as a result. There is no question in my mind that I am a better person every day that I read Ruth’s blogs. I am also a better teacher as a result of her blogs and this beautiful book. I highly recommend it.