Workshop Wednesday Recap

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Last Wednesday I hosted Workshop Wednesday during team times. The invitation was specifically sent out to the English teachers but everyone was welcome as always. The email informed the staff the topic was Independent Reading. This meeting is voluntary so I always let staff know ahead of time so there is no surprise. I was pleasantly surprised myself when my content teachers showed up as well.  Their attendance really showcases how dedicated they are to the new reading culture in our middle school. 

Last year there was not consistent Silent Sustained Reading, Independent reading, or choice reading. It doesn’t matter what the label was, but there was not enough time or support it seemed to pull it off.

It was decided with the new block scheduling this year there was time to implement Independent reading time. Now is the time where teachers have tried various components and how to differentiate for their classes and students.  I am so proud that all of the teachers who keep the choice piece sacred. All the decisions made were around that central idea.

The purpose of the meeting was to celebrate reading in our building and the culture they are all perpetuating. It was also to make lists of what was the reality of the reading time and what we want to make consistent across the school. To make a school wide definition decided by the teachers – not anyone else. 

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It was a great discussion about conferencing, book talks, reading identity, first chapter Friday and what it looked like and sounded like in their respective classrooms.

We talked about what they needed and how to make reading spaces more inviting.

There was celebration about reading memories, students asking for more reading time, and books disappearing because the students want to read them so badly.

Taking inspiration from THE ART OF GATHERING by Priya Parker,  I had my version of “15 Toasts”. I had silly plastic champagne glasses with sparkling water. Everyone had a toast to make in the area of  a reading memory or the first memory they had of reading. One teacher shared she sat in the back of her third grade classroom because it was where the bookcases were and she could snatch books and read no matter what subject was being taught. There was one book that she loved so much she stole. She still has it! After the meeting she came to show me the book!

I also incorporated the Google Jamboard which I had never used before. It is designed to be used on an interactive white board but I just used the post it note function for everyone to share something exciting going on in their classrooms. I hope to foster some relationships between teachers to visit each other’s rooms and share ideas that are working. 

Here is the shared Jamboard

I am excited for the conversation when I can get all the stakeholders together and make some decisions for the achievement of our teachers and the students!

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FMF: Still

In the past I was hardly ever still. This has become a newly acquired skill. I used to drag myself out of bed no matter what to run. No matter what else was going on, no matter how tired I was. That is not the case now.

I like being still now. I feel I need to commit to meditation but haven’t yet. Writing ideas usually come then so it is beneficial. I try moving meditation which is calming.  

I am still here.

I am still learning.

I am still loving.

I am still writing.

I am still reading…BUT…have been in a slump. I listened to the Secret Library Podcast and heard the author Mary Laura Philpott talked about being in a reading slump herself and some of the books that helped her out of it. 

When are you still?

Reluctance and Reading

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I am a reluctant reader….sometimes.

My students are reluctant readers…sometimes.

Unfortunately, some students are labeled RELUCTANT READERS as their primary reading identity and it needs to stop.

In the realm of education, the phrase reluctant reader gets thrown around a lot. I believe there is some truth in this phrase. I also believe that some students have not found the right text to make them into a reader.

I say text purposefully because it isn’t always a book. It could be a blog, a graphic novel, tweets, articles, etc.

Different factors make up our reading identity. Reluctance a small part of a reader’s identity no matter how old you are. I have an inbox of school emails that I am reluctant to read. I can procrastinate for as long as I can but I have adult deadlines. I have put some of this reading in my bullet journal and there are arrows moving certain tasks to the next day for DAYS. Can you relate?

I have to read a 20 page article for a meeting on Thursday. Am I reluctant? YOU BETCHA!

I too am a reluctant reader.

Am I a reluctant reader all the time? Absolutely not. Neither are our students, and we need to stop saying it.

I can be a reluctant reader for book club too – a book I am supposed to like that I am not enjoying as much. Can I appreciate the character development? Yes. Can I talk about it and notice the positives? Yes.

This is not the only factor that gets a bolded capital label for students. Reading level is another issue. These factors are part of the process of how we become a better reader. We need to remember to look at the whole child, not just numbers.

Labels can be helpful and dangerous. I am trying to find the new balance for where I stand.

Most of the time, I would rather be reading. That is part of my identity too.

What are your thoughts?

 

Grateful Tuesday

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  1. Writer friends that talk writing

Superstars from Storyaday

My real life group that meets at the library

Other writers that are not connected

2. Beta readers

It is nice to have someone to trust

3. Skype and Zoom

4. Fall flavored coffee – Starbucks Fall Blend – Hearty with Spice Notes

5. The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

6. Writer notebooks

7. Stories

8. Cooler temps – thankful it is October!

9. Libraries

10. Love and acceptance

 

What is something you are thankful for today?

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Welcome October!

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To celebrate the month of October I found a copy of Neil Gaiman’s version of Hansel and Gretel.

 

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From a writing perspective, Storyaday’s Julie Duffy talks about the Hansel and Gretel structure of story. You can listen to her take on it at this link here.

There’s something about fairy tales that seems very autumnal for me and this Neil Gaiman version has these wonderful illustrations done by Lorenzo Mattotti which gives it a spooky feeling.

I also love the short story by Neil Gaiman for October too:  Click Clack Rattlebag

Does anyone have any spooky short stories they can recommend to welcome October?

 

I am combining challenges this October. I am combining the word prompts from Inktober and Kate Motaung FMF Five Minute Friday .

Today I am writing a story inspired by POISONOUS and STORY. I started dictating while in the car  – it is going to be FUN!

 

I started The Dinner List and couldn’t be more excited! I also found out On Writing by Stephen King is an audiobook.

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#happywriting #happyreading

It’s A Book Tour!

 

I was honored to be a part of the I’d Rather Be Reading Launch team for Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy. I received an advanced copy of the book for being part of the team.

You can find the link to the book here: https://www.idratherbereading.com/

 

I love books, especially about books. If you are familiar with Anne’s writing and work or this is your introduction you will love this book.

The format is pleasing and is a collection of essays which can be read from cover to cover or in random order. Some of the essays are expansions from hints of stories Anne mentions on her podcast or her blog. One of my favorite chapters is The Books Next Door. I am completely envious of one of her houses situated next door to the library! The visualizations that are conjured in my head are exciting.

In Confess Your Literary Sins Anne talks about how people tell her their bookish secrets – books they have claimed to read or other book misdirections. My confession time: I was encouraged to read The Catcher in the Rye by a friend who recommended it to me. I had not read it and have made more of an effort to read classics that have been overlooked. I do not understand why people like this book at all.

There are loads of book recommendations sprinkled throughout this book and many of them I have read. Of course, many others are on my TBR list and some I even own copies of. Some are new and of course, are searched on Amazon and the library and are currently on my wishlist.

In the essay,  I’m Begging You to Break My Heart the writing is about books that make you cry. Where the Red Fern Grows is a classic that I love that is discussed as well as Me Before You and  The Fault in Our Stars. A more recent book that made me cry is Ms. Bixby’s Last Day which is a Young Hoosier Nominee for this year.

As I read this book I wrote in it and filled it with my annotations. Many of the notes are a simple YES! and others are snippets of words to remind me of a personal connection. It was FUN to read.

As a devoted reader all my life, Anne’s words and sentiments have encapsulated exactly how I feel,  which is not an easy feat.   The stories are heartwarming and funny and worth reading. There are no essays that I wanted to skip which is a rare occurrence for me to say that about an essay collection. Anne’s voice is a delight to read.

The book is not only a great read but also makes a great gift for any reader. It is the perfect book for any busy reader in your life. The format works for snippets of time and the size is great to pop into a bag and read on the go. It is also the perfect book for that warm fuzzy feeling curled up in your favorite reading chair with a blanket nearby and a nice beverage.

Pop over to any bookseller and get your copy!

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#idratherbereading

 

 

Hello September!

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September Goals:

I am going to try to keep September simple:

Write one story per day motivated by STORYADAY
Attend at least 1 IRL writing group meeting.
Post at least once a week on the blog.

I am starting some new writing projects and groups with 7th graders at work this month and I am super excited about the program creation and execution.

I have not been reading as much as normal lately. My reading diet has consisted of short stories and blogs mostly. Winter is coming though so I will have more time soon…maybe! ha ha

Goals that were publicly stated for August:

3 blog posts a week – Yes! Done.
2 articles on Medium – Yes! Done.
Revise 4 stories (at least) – Yes! Done.

Submit 5 stories– goal is to have 5 out at all times – Only submitted 3
Mine my notes in my GOOGLE DOCS – Yes, I also updated some folders. I need to get my notebooks under control. They are everywhere. I use them for different purposes but I feel I am losing things in them being scattered.
Go to writer group at least once a month – I went to both meetings

Short Story Share

As a writer of short stories, I try to read a plethora of short stories.

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I recently purchased the PushCart Prize 2018 edition which contains the story I read:

“The Home for Buddhist Widows” by Blair Hurley

This story has a theme of grief and how we deal with it. In the story, a group of American women has gone to live with the monks to deal with the grief of losing their husbands. One of the women go missing and the group struggles to find her.

Some favorite lines:

It is looking at art or listening to your favorite songs and feeling puzzled by them, those things you loved suddenly bereft of meaning. 

Anger has always helped me survive, she says.

But the moment someone becomes a widow, the world wants her to stop in time, to freeze exactly as she was.

 

What were the Buddha’s last words?

All things are changeable. Nothing is lasting.

 

I married young, and marriage was a benevolent monster, eating me gently from the inside. I never had to be anyone at all, as long as there was the monster there to care and feed. 

 

This story causes me to reflect on what I would do if my husband passed away. How would I deal with his death? Would I want to travel halfway across the world with strangers? Maybe. I would more than likely find a tiny house and fill it with books and paper and be alone. When trauma strikes my life it is what I tend to do, I retreat.

It also makes me think about how when life changes there is a struggle of perception between you and those around you. The idea of the line above that when someone becomes a widow the expectation is to be frozen as that person.

What comes to mind for you?