Monday, September 17, 2012

Take It Slow!


The Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted by Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers.  Go look, and read, and reflect!

On August 15th, Ruth Ayres posted a piece about slowing down.  I don’t print every post I like, but this one I did, and have used parts of it when I talk with my colleagues.  It is mostly about taking the time to tell stories, giving support for everyone that, in Ruth’s words: You have a story to tell.  You have the ability to tell it.  Others need to hear it too.  

Those are important and inspiring words, yet the ones that also resonated with me were to slow down and pay attention to the message we are trying to send.  And there is a poem, “A Lazy Thought” by Eve Merriam shared by the first commenter that ends like this:  It takes a lot/Of slow/To Grow.  You can read the entire poem on Ruth’s post.


In the hurry, scurry of our lives, I see many students who turn to the computer more often in order to “get done” or “finish” and turn in the assignment.  I believe in my own teaching life that my use of writers notebooks and sketchbooks helped students improve in a variety of ways, because handwriting and sketching slowed them down.  If you use a journal or daybook or writers notebook, imagine what happens when you take it up.  You ponder the page, you put down words, sometimes hurried, yet thoughtfully.  You look at the words, cross out, draw arrows and diagrams, perhaps a quick sketch.  You are slowing down, making changes as you think, deciding what you like, how to proceed.  You might spark other memories and stop to think of them, make connections to that earlier time.  You are reflecting.  You might turn to a poem that you remember, and write it down, looking hard at the poet’s lines, wondering what she was imagining as she wrote.  You are connecting your life with hers.  You could be describing a scene in a story, and look back at an ocean vacation.  You remember how powerful the waves were one evening.  You wonder how to describe them.  And you may write about a friendship in your story, drawing on your own experiences-good or bad-to find the right words.  You are crafting. 
           Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at Sharing Our Notebooks has guest writers doing just that, sharing their notebooks, what they look like, how they are used, etc.  Barry Lane is this week's guest.  
Here, and those below, are pics of old notebooks I've kept.






All of the above takes time and thought, hence my argument for using writers notebooks in the classroom, taking time for them, honoring the thoughtfulness that goes with the act of using them.  It’s good practice and encourages the slow, rather than the go.  
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On a different note, I am very excited to have been selected as one of the Round Two Judges of the Poetry Cybil Awards.  You can see the group with whom I’ll be working at this site.  This is a new challenge and I know I’ll learn so much from the others in the group.  

42 comments:

  1. Yes, it takes a lot of slow to grow. I LOVE that. And yay for your post as Round 2 judge! All of you will do a fantastic job, I'm sure... and have fun doing it. xo

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    1. Thank you Irene. The poem's line is perfect, isn't it?

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  2. I feel the same way about notebooks, Linda. "It takes a lot/Of slow/To Grow" rings true. Congrats on being a Cybils judge! I'm sure you'll be terrific.

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  3. I agree, the slow is so important. I think you are right, our students have so much going on they just want to get things done. I tell them the journey is just as important as the final product, but I think that's a rough concept for them. :) And congrats on being a Cybils judge! :)

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    1. It's a challenge, to help students slow down and realize there's more to the journey, just as you said. Thanks, Katherine.

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  4. Congratulations, Linda, on being a Cybils judge! And thank you for sharing your notebooks here - I would like to invite you to share them over at Sharing Our Notebooks too, if you would be willing. 'Just finished Kim Stafford's THE MUSES AMONG US and more than ever am certain that our notebooks feed us and help us discover who we are and what we have to say. a.

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    1. I'd be happy too, Amy. I've been keeping them a long time. I saw about the book on Facebook. It sounds interesting. Thank you.

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  5. Congrats on being a Cybils judge! "It takes a lot of slow to grow..." My favorite line. I've been thinking a lot about slow since this summer. We miss so much when we race from one thing to another. And now that I'm back in school, it's even harder to slow down. And my high school students? They move even faster than I do. Afraid they will miss something...I need to find a way to slow us down and enjoy.

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    1. And, Deb, if you find a secret to getting that 'slow', please tell us all. That is one reason I think writing in notebooks helps, at least for a while. Thanks.

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  6. Congratulations, judge! I love Amy's site - it gives me such hope as a writer to see how others go about this business of harvesting thoughts and committing them to paper. Thank you, as always, for sharing what you do, Linda!

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    1. I'm happy, but not surprised, that you love Amy's site too. Isn't it terrific? Thanks, Tara.

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  7. Your slice just put my head spinning with thoughts. First of all I am excited for you. Congratulations. Then the whole topic of slowing down. Sometimes it is very difficult to listen to my heart saying "Slow down" when I hear the curriculum screaming "Move faster!" Somehow I also feel pressure from the parents to produce more beautiful pieces than to explore and experiment in journals. I have made deliberate efforts to slow down during think-turn-talk (both in reading and writing workshop) by using a stopwatch. Even one minute seems so long. One reason that I love summer is because it is slow. On top of it all I just find it amazing how much learning I do thanks to all the people who share their thoughts, work and resources. Thank you.

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    1. Wow, Terje, I wish we could just sit down and talk. I think we need a strong commitment to this, to knowing that it is good for students to slow down, take their time to record & think & reflect. Teachers feel that pressure here too, but know that the end result is so good. Best wishes to you in your stopwatch slowing!

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  8. Linda, I love the way you are so thoughtful through your reflections. It always gives me something to ponder and then I see where does this fit in my world? Slowing down, something we don't do often enough.

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    1. Thanks Elsie. Always fine to slow down, especially when we have things to ponder.

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  9. What a neat glimpse at your notebooks, Linda! I love the way you connected them to Ruth's post -- I really pondered her post as well. I don't think many (maybe any?) of my high school ELLs have ever had writer's notebooks and we're struggling a little bit with getting going with them. (I feel like we're off to a slow start in the year in general, so I'm hoping to do some more notebook work soon.) That website looks like it could be a neat way to show them how real writers use notebooks. Do you have any suggestions for kicking off the year with notebooks for students who haven't had them before?

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. I don't know the kids, but I do know that I just read Penny Kittle's Write Beside Them late in the summer with some of these slicers, & Kittle is so, so persuasive about using quick writes with students. Here's a link to some, with free samples: http://www.heinemann.com/products/E00838.aspx And here's a brief PDF of a summary of her writing, with free pages about notebooks. Since you are serving a specific population, maybe look at what she does & adapt the topics. That's my best guess without a real conversation. I hope you post about what you do!

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  10. Linda,
    I love reading your reflection. Thank you for the affirmation that writing about story and slowing down matters.
    Ruth

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    1. You're so welcome, Ruth. I really valued that post, as I do many. Thank you!

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  11. Congrats on being part of the Cybils! Awesome news! I loved that post by Ruth. I printed it out and hung it in the classroom so I can go back to it over and over again this year. Such an important message. Thank you for causing me to reflect on it again.

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    1. Isn't it great that others of us liked it too! It really touched me. Thanks for all, Dana!

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  12. Yes, Linda I agree. I think that's why I love taking pictures with my camera on a tripod. Slows me down and forces me to look around in the viewfinder and all around.
    I love moving through your post complete with writing visuals. I love your writing connections and the inspiration you offer your students.
    But for me the keyboard was a gift for a left-handed writer who never got the right support in learning to write with the "wrong" hand.
    Oh well... thank you Steve Jobs for this Apple and thank you Linda B. for writing inspiration
    Bonnie

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    1. You are welcome, & I do agree that the computer is such a gift for all of us, for different reasons. I am working with an online tech/tool class, showing them as many kinds of ways of organization/ways to communicate/share with the words and/or visuals as they can. I hear you about the Apple-I'm on number six-seven & eight if you count IPad & IPhone. For those who really need to use the computer always, I always let them, but for the rest, the notebooks did help to slow the thinking in a good way. Thanks Bonnie for reminding me.

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  13. I, too, really loved the post by Ruth, and have reflected on it many times. I also love your words here! I love writing in my own notebook...it never feels quite as real, rich, or reflective when I am simply using the computer for my thoughts. There are real positives to such "slowing." Thank you for sharing this - so wonderful to know that students are expected to get off the computer and work with their words on a handwritten page.

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    1. Thanks Maureen. There are a number of ways students do to slow down & write, or sketch. I do think they learn to use that time for reflection, at least most of the time. It's quiet and students work, sometimes after conversation or sometimes before. Thanks.

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  14. I have been writing in my notebook more often and the slowing down is very therapeutic. Thanks for sharing your notebooks.

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    1. So glad you think so, Juliann. It does take us to a different rhythm, doesn't it? Thanks.

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  15. Congratulations on being named a judge!
    Loved Ruth's post - I printed it off as well. I need that reminder.
    Thanks for your thoughts as well. I use a writer's notebook with my class and they are feeling so proud of them. I have to learn to do mnore of my own recording as well.

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    1. Thank you Beverley. It is a treat to keep the journals, & I hope all students begin to realize it too. Best wishes in your own writing.

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  16. Linda-
    A beautiful post. I rarely write in a notebook anymore, almost all of my work is on computer. Reading this makes me feel like I need to slow down. Thanks for the reminder! And congrats on being chosen a CYBILS judge.

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    1. Thanks Carol, for all. We have to scrunch time so very much that I think we're losing something, but I understand. I turn to the old laptop too.

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  17. Linda,
    Congrats on being a judge! That is awesome!
    The post, slow to grow...love the theme-great advice Ina fast-paced educational world...we touched on similar themes this week in our slices!

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    1. Thank you, Amy. Yes, we did talk of similar things, didn't we? To be more thoughtful is a good goal.

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  18. By slowing down, we are able to think clearer, have a better perspective. I so needed to hear your gracious words today. Thank you for the peak in your notebook. It does take time to reflect through the motion of script.

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  19. "'Slow' rather than the 'go.'" That's what I always need to write. Congratulations on the second round judging. I need to find out what a "found" poem is! I was rambling in my poem! I don't feel like I did the 4 o'clocks justice, but I didn't want my flowery post to become too informational or sappy! Linda, you are an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks Tam. I really thought some was pulled & used from a seed catalog; it was so true!

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  20. Congratulations.
    My primary teacher colleagues and I have a new saying at our school - we are going slow to go fast. Slowing the pace of our lessons early in the year, taking time to create real meaning - because we've found it helps our students learn faster - not go faster, just learn more solidly.

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    1. Terrific way to say it, Amelia. I'm so glad you told me, & hope you share more about this sometime.

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  21. I love this post, Linda, as I am an avid collector of notebooks. I usually buy one whenever I visit other cities - most of them have not been filled yet, waiting for words to fill their blank pages. But others are well-thumbed filled with these lovely notes. Thank you for sharing these precious pages with us. :)

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    1. Thank you Myra. It takes time to fill them, & most of the time I did the writing when I was with students or to do my 'homework' to show the students that I wrote too. But since I've been out of the classroom, now the writing is what I like, what I want to capture for others, etc. It too has been fun.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!