Monday Morning

A Story and a Prompt for You!

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

It’s Monday. It’s summer. There is a laid back feeling even in the times of the Corona virus.

Yesterday was filled with writing, running, a coach session, and great conversations. It was also a reminder that I am too hard on myself and I am impatient.

One of the takeaways from my coaching session yesterday was that I light up when I talk about the workshops that I teach and the adventures with my kids. I will be sharing more about those two areas of my life in my newsletter and this blog in the coming weeks.

If you still need to sign up for my newsletter, you can click here!

This week we are taking the kids canoeing on the Wisconsin River. We have tried to go before but have run into obstacles like a too high river in Indiana. Hopefully, no issues this time.

One of the best parts of the adventures with the kids are the crazy things they say that I write down. Every Christmas, we make a photo album of the year’s adventures. These are not always trips either. We play games and create things inside the house as well. The book is also filled with fun things everyone has said. Often you will hear someone say, “Put that in the notes!”

While in the car last week my youngest said randomly from the backseat, “It illegal to die in some places.” Which, of course, was met with, “WHAT?” In fact, this is true, and he learned it on YouTube. Someplace they were running out of graves and made it illegal to die, at least on the books. Then he called the graves, “grave houses.” This comment led to a discussion of how in New Orleans they bury people above ground.

I have a writing prompt for you today.

I have a book I ordered during the lockdown called Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. I finally cracked it open last night and dove into an exercise. Every couple of pages there is a new prompt. I did one pertaining to surrealism by Laurie Foos. It is noted you can do this exercise with a group, or alone.

If you do the prompt on your own, you are not allowed to look ahead!

Choose a verb that ends in -ing, then a body part, and an inanimate object.

Go ahead…I’ll wait. Now write them down before you read on!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now, put your words into this sentence: After a long day of verbing, he/she discovered that his/her body part had grown insert inanimate object.

I had fun with mine and after a long day of transcribing my character had a mirror that had grown out of his arm. It led to a weird little story about being to infinitely able to see into illusions and dreams.

I have published my book on Amazon. You can check that out here.

Holiday Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by Max Andrey on Pexels.com

Welcome back to the weekend! It is the 4th of July weekend. For some reason, the 4th always brings back strong memories. I remember the year it was cold and we wore sweatshirts and jeans and were still freezing. I remember being very young and feeling the powder from the fireworks fall into my eyes. I remember the ones where I stayed inside and watched the fireworks through the picture window (Which I prefer). I remember the one where I lit my first roman candle.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we finally got the boat here. It is such a relief and was such a long day. While we were coming through Illinois there was a rainstorm like I haven’t seen in years. It was so much water I am certain rainstorm isn’t even the word. The universe dumped buckets of water on us. I was thankful to get home after 8 hours.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I spent one day dealing with paperwork and trying to get loose ends tied up. I hit some obstacles along the way but put a plan is in place. Now I have to wait for others to do their part.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero program is right on track. I am fasting, logging my food, and exercising every day. I am seeing progress in myself and in the way my clothes fit.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the 100 day project is coming to an end soon. Sunday is day 90. I can hardly believe it. Now the real work begins with the next step. I will read the sentences in the order I wrote them out loud and then will hear what story emerges. Then I begin the work of chunking and changing the order to make a short story. My writing prep course is also ending on the 10th. Endings mean the opportunity for new beginnings.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a dynamic conversation with a writing friend this week. I was so glad we made the time to chat. I think we learned some great information from each other and our friendship was strengthened after realizing even more how much we are aligned.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to have a medium do a spirit guide reading on me. It was interesting and thought-provoking. There were a lot of general statements but a couple of the statements resonated me with and gave me chills.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid in less than 24 hours. It was such a good read and so well written!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I visited a botanical garden which was beautiful. We saw a baby deer tiptoeing through the plants and nestle down in front of a tree. It was magical.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have BIG NEWS! I finally made the decision to publish my first short story collection. You can check that out here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you episode 9 of my podcast is live as well. If you would like to listen to The Accidental Inspirationalist you can click here.

I wish all of you safety, some fun, and remembrance on the holiday!

Library

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

I miss the library. The holds I can place on whatever strikes my fancy. The book tasting and feasting of current obsessions. The comfort of the paper within this glass and concrete building itself. To walk the writing section and be thrilled to what I see on the shelves. The pined after short story collection that was waiting for me the day I wandered in A gift I still have because the books are sheltering in place and are practicing social distancing too. I miss the weight of the stack in my bag and my hands. The ever-changing stack next to my bed.

I can breathe in the library. It was the first place I came when I drove into this new town. A place to gather and hold.

Reading and Publishing

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Welcome to Friday!

Today is an exciting one! Big things are happening and my story is published at Storgy! You can read it by clicking the link below.

Artist Folly by Tammy Breitweiser

Throughout the TwowritingTeachers.org challenge (and through the year on Tuesdays) I watch for certain posts to come to my inbox/feed. Here are some of the teachers I read every day:

https://litcoachlady.com/

All three write beautifully and have their own style. Another thing in common is they all are inspiring.

Who are your GO TO follows/reads?

Do You Have a Hunch?

db4de-slice-of-life_individual

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Blog Challenge. If you would like more information about this challenge click here.

Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

This question always strikes me as odd because I do not have a hunch about how I will die. I hope that I live a long life. I take care of myself and eat well so I hope my body decides to stick around. I am always learning and keep my mind sharp too. I would be more upset if my mind starting going then my body honestly.

There are people who think about their death more than I. There are moments of course. There are plans. I want to be buried in a forest with a tree as a headstone, not in a traditional cemetery.

I read The Immortalists several years ago (highly recommended if you haven’t read it) and the children had learned the date of their death from a fortune teller. The story follows the lives of the 4 siblings and how this data informed how they lived their lives. It was fascinating and you cannot help but think how you would react.

The Immortalists by [Benjamin, Chloe]

In my life I have found that how I think I will react to a situation is sometimes different than when I am in the middle of it. I have learned to not make assumptions and judgements and be a little more graceful with myself and others.

Do you have a hunch about your death?

This might be a question to take to your journal!

https://mailchi.mp/5b56d4ab80fb/lifelonglearningPosted byTammyB

Reading is Controversial?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Support me as a writer and please read this article here.

In the US Read Across America day is celebrated on March 2, Dr. Seuss’ birthday. As an elementary reading specialist, I took advantage of all of these special “holidays” created around reading to promote books and fun to my students. (Another one is read for the record day which began with Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpillar)

I used to facilitate a school wide rotation of Dr. Seuss centers. At the time, we had an early childhood vocational program that helped create centers for the event for several years.

I have dressed up as the Cat in the Hat more times than I can count. If I look hard enough, I can probably find the newspaper clippings proving it.

On Tuesday evening while in the car I was listening to the Creative Kindergarten podcast and she was talking about how Read Across America day has changed from a Dr. Seuss focus to a more diverse focus this year. NEA had gotten complaints in some fashion about the connection to this author.

I do not have an objection to it being changed to be more diverse. We need more diverse books in classrooms. As my friend Lisa Vahey says, we need to have books that are windows and doors. Children need to see themselves in the text and they also need to learn about people different from them.

Personally, I like to read to learn about how others think. I want to know how characters would handle a situation I have never been in. I feel it prepares me if I ever AM in that situation.

I have always thought about Dr. Seuss’ characters being universal especially the ones that are …animals? As I write this I struggle for a word that describes Sneeches and the Lorax accurately. Larger ideas can still be discussed when reading Dr. Seuss.

As a writer, I am fascinated that Green Eggs and Ham was a writing dare to Seuss. He was challenged to write a book with 50 words or less. I love a prompt of a list of words to construct a story and I am certain I have given that prompt to students.

All of this controversy makes me wonder about people. The conversation needs to be had and the addition of more authors and types of books is a step in the right direction. But does name calling need to occur? Does being nasty about it make it more memorable? That idea is NOT what we want to be modeling for children.

Let’s keep the fun and the wonder. Let’s keep the positive and forward moving parts and then add where we are lacking with respect and kindness to everyone whether you would eat green eggs and ham with Sam I am or not.

5 Education Reflection Questions

I love questions. I love to ask them of others and to reflect on them in my own writing and mind. I have a question collections from reading and also from podcasts. The end of the year is a great time to think about which questions I want to ask more regularly.

Here are 5 Questions I am pondering lately:

  1. What gives me life at work?
  2. What wears me out at work?
  3. Is there anything I can do to eliminate or diminish the effects of #2?
  4. What do I truly want to change?
  5. What do I miss from my teaching life?

Number 5 is the one that is popping out to me the most lately. Being a coach I am often just outside the teaching. I co-teach with others and model lessons but there is something different about having students that are my own day to day.

Student action and reactions to what I plan is exciting to me. I truly look forward to the discussions I have with students.

One thing I did recently was to make the notecatcher for students look like sketchnotes. My model on the large chart paper looks like the student version.

I want my 7th graders to be motivated and I was thinking about how I would like notes to be more fun.

In my own classroom I used to take risks and ask kids in my class all the time to evaluate our practices and reflect. My goal was always to give them strategies they would use forever, not just for the next assignment or test.

I miss the day to day schedule and the micro movements to change students behavior and academic action. I miss family meeting time, the group written chart story and mini-lesson, the independent writing time and conferencing. I miss the many real alouds a day and writing practice time.

I need to incorporate a time blocking schedule to my coaching life. The schedule between 3 offices gets tiresome some weeks. I need to dedicate certain days to certain tasks to keep myself on track and get more focused work completed.

Questions 1, 2, and 3 had me thinking about my first teaching job and a life-changing conversation. A good friend and I in the first building I ever worked in, had a discussion about what I missed about college. She asked me specifically what I missed with the idea that I could incorporate those missed experiences into my life now. The idea was to take the essence of the actions and make it real again. I took that to heart and made some changes that were wonderful.

Question #4 had both a small and large impact on my thinking today. The small impact is a self-editing idea that I learned in high school. A teacher advised reading my piece one sentence at a time, starting at the end. Taking the sentence out of context allowed me to focus on the sentence itself without the content of the story surrounding it. I would be less likely to skip over important details this way.

I would love to be able to work from home a couple days a month but not sure that is possible with the new schedule.

I am always trying to improve my practice!

Please read this piece here.

The Writing Store

Creativity sparks often from unusual places. As writers we are required to pay attention as part of the job.

I am continually writing down ideas in notebooks, apps on my phone, my hand, or doing the “I will repeat this phrase until I find a pen”. I do not recommend the last one.

I started composing a “List of 10” over a year ago. Shaunta Grimes does this, Austin Kleon does this too. With daily lists you always have something to write about.

I write what strikes me as funny, unusual, appealing or something I cannot stop thinking about.

Authors will tell you to keep a notebook of ideas. Most of us have several notebooks.

Here is a list of places to shop for ideas for those little worlds of paper:

  1. Tarot cards — just use the images on the cards or use spreads
  2. Open 30 random books and write down the first phrase or sentence that pops out to you
  3. Keep a collection of words

Please click here to read the entire post.

Also click here to read my article ENGAGEMENT: Invite vs Direct

During this past week, I have had many life-giving teaching conversations.

We are piloting a new curriculum for literacy and it is the most excited I have ever been for a program. Immersion is the word that comes to mind when I think of all the experiences which are created.

Students are immersed in a reading writing workshop where the pace is quick but not hurried. Every time I visit a classroom I forget about the time. Late last week I was in a 7th grade room where the students were working with character related to the setting in a novel.

In the debrief with the teacher I made the observation that students do not have a problem discussing what they are supposed to during the turn and talk portions of the lessons. Traditionally, if the routines are not clearly established students will go rogue with their conversations and talk about lunch or the neighborhood instead of what they are supposed to. It is often a struggle for teachers. In this program, I have not seen that at all. There might be a side comment but it is always AFTER they have discussed their point in relation to the materials. I asked the teacher why she thought that might be.