Monday, May 13, 2013

Something New and Terrific!

Tuesday Slice of Life is with Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers!  Come read amazing writing!



       I don’t think I’ve told you that a recent “slice” of my life is that I’ve started a writing group with some of my colleagues.  There are eight of us, and we’re having a wonderful time so far.  Because I live so close to school now, we’re meeting at my house, although this summer we’re going to try to go to others’ homes too.  
       Some of us have been reading The Muses Among Us by Kim Stafford for additional inspiration, although we have also strayed into other ideas.  We send our pieces ahead of time so everyone gets a chance to savor and comment before we meet, and that has worked well.  One of the members has a chapter book going and it takes time to read earlier chapters, plus the “new” writing, so it’s good to get a head start.  Others have shorter pieces, but still the time is needed for their response too.


       We started meeting from 4 to 6 pm, and I provided a few snacks, but we lasted about two meetings that ended around 6, so now it’s more like 4 to 8 pm and a little more.  People take turns reading their pieces aloud and then responding, sometimes more than once.  We are getting to know each other in different ways than our professional relationships and loving every minute.  All of us have goals, and are thrilled with the support we’re receiving.  
        I am reminded of the Roberts Burns line, “"O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!" when I think of the way we’re being helped in our writing.  Sometimes we are too close to the work, and someone else can see the revision that’s possible, and the movement of a line, the turning of a sentence can make all the difference. 
         I believe that the learning involved here can apply to our classrooms too, of course.  We…
·      Prepare for response by reading before the evening.
·      Try hard to be focused with each reader’s writing (thus we eat and take some breaks!)
·      Each member has contributed food without asking. (Would this be a key sometimes for student motivation?)
·      Each has made the kindest, but also astute comments, and often enlightened us as to their own “takeaway” from the writing-most helpful.

       I don’t know where this will lead, for me or for others, but I do know that we’re pleased with what’s happened so far, and are looking forward to summer, more time for writing and for meeting!

39 comments:

  1. What an incredible experience this must be - sort of like the SOL community in "real life time". I can only imagine the impact on each other's writing and on the children you teach. Inspirational.

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    1. It's been terrific, Anita. I think it will help me be a better writer & it's lovely to start knowing each other even better than before.

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  2. Sounds like a very valuable group! Did you invite the other members specifically or just open it up to all the teachers? Just wondering how you all came together.

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    1. I opened it up to the whole staff, whomever wanted to come write with us. There were several others interested, but said they just couldn't find the time. Some of us have taught together for years & some are new to the school-a terrific mix!

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  3. I love hearing about your writing group that seems to still be in the honeymoon stage. My group has kind of fizzled. I hope we can revive it this summer. They are essential to my writing life, as is this online community.

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    1. I expect we could lose one or two, Margaret, but will see how it goes! I hope your group can re-charge!

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  4. This sounds like a great opportunity to stretch those writing muscles. Having an audience to read and discuss your words is powerful motivation. This sounds like a great group.

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    1. It's already been so good, Elsie, a special time for us all.

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  5. What a great experience this must be. I can only imagine how much you will all grow as writer's going through this together. have fun!

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    1. Thanks Deb, so far a pleasure indeed. It's also nice that we're nearing summer and more time, although some will miss because of vacations, etc. It's exciting to see how it will go!

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  6. I'm glad that you are able to have the chance to be a part of this group. I loved the book club group that we were doing as colleagues and often thought that it would be so nice to also have a writing group. We will be moving this summer, so I will miss the book club with my group here, but it sounds like they are going to start a research group in the department of the university where I will be working, so I will want to be involved with it for sure. I hope that we will get to hear more about your writing group soon. I was always so thankful for my colleague who decided to start the book club, so I bet your colleagues feel the same sense of gratitude toward you for taking that first step to get the group started!

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    1. Sorry you will miss your book club! But this new group will help you get acquainted fast, don't you think? Perhaps you can now start a writing group? Best wishes on your move-it's stressful, but exciting too!

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    2. This makes me so happy! I am in awe of the energy of you and your colleagues. You must be committed and feeling successful to keep such long days. And, yes, the food is essential. I know the librarian at my daughter's elementary school, many years ago, served "teas" with the book clubs that tied in to the themes. And the library at UMass said their use has gone up something like 80% once they started letting students bring food -- and coffee -- into the building.

      This sounds so great!

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    3. Thank you Jeannine-your comment and response is much appreciated! I'm also happy to hear that people are being more open about others' needs, even in school! As a group, I think we are excited as well as committed. Much has happened to enervate us already! More to look forward to!

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  7. What fun! I've been trying to start one of these in our school...to no avail! I think writing groups give us such a marvelous opportunity to practice what we preach as writing teachers. I don't think this can be achieved in any other way than in this type of collegial workshop. Bonnie does this through the NWP group she belongs to, and i am beginning to think that i need to join the one in NJ, too. PLEASE post about your goings on, Linda! I will live vicariously through you!

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    1. I'm not sure I have time for a NWP group, but wish I did. I use their site often for lesson ideas & just philosophy. I hope you do find a group. I think this group will just help us get closer and closer! Thanks Tara!

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  8. Your take-aways from your writing group are powerful. Would you consider doing a guest blog post about your writing group on TWT before the new school year starts? (Perhaps it'd inspire some other teachers to start them next year.) Please lmk.

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    1. I'll e-mail you Stacey, but sure, I'd love to. I believe I'll have more to say too after a couple more months! Thank you!

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  9. I love being part of a writing group. I always take away so much from it. I've had groups with colleagues from school as well as my friends from the Columbus Area Writing Project. We are getting ready to start a new one. Who knows what will come from that. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

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    1. Wow-you have lots of experience with the groups, Julie! I might ask you for the approaches you have taken in the past. Would love to hear! And thank you!

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  10. This sounds like a great way to spend an evening with friends or colleagues. I like that you are able to read before you get together. I think that makes your comments more powerful as you have time to think and word them in just the right way. I enjoy when I can read my student's writing before conferencing with them. It allows me a minute to think about which teaching point I will tackle and why.

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    1. Absolutely right, Robin. Even four hours is not enough time if we have to read thoughtfully first. It's so nice to be able to read ahead. Thank you for emphasizing that good point.

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  11. This sounds like such a wonderful experience, Linda! I would love to try something like this someday, except that I'll have to work on squeezing more time for writing into my life before I'm ready to do that! I am participating in my local Writing Project this June, so maybe that will lead to something like this. We'll see! :-)

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    1. Wonderful that you're doing the writing project, Jennifer. As you see in my comment above, I'd love to do that, perhaps next summer? Can't wait to hear about it!

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    1. It's been just wonderful. I hope you will start something. There's never a bad time to start! Thanks!

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  13. Hi, Linda. What a wonderful idea! When I lived in New Jersey, the Dodge Poetry Program (which sponsors the huge biennial poetry festival) had a free spring workshop for teachers. Not only did our own writing grow, but we brought a new appreciation for literature, writing, and discussion to our classrooms. Kudos.

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    1. Oh, Laura, I've always wanted to go to that poetry festival-have read about it every year. Thanks for the positives to look forward to-I just know it'll be good!

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  14. Love the idea of this writing group with your colleagues. What a wonderful way to connect in a different way with one another, to see another side of each other. I love the parallels for the classroom (imagine if we let them eat as they worked - it seems so respectful, really!) I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be if students naturally started working on their efforts for several more hours, as your writing group did.

    Love your Mary Oliver quote at page head!

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    1. Hi Maureen, hope things are good with you! We do let our students eat whenever they want to, but just not a bigger thing like the group does. I used to do poetry group at breakfast time for a few who wanted to come in early & then we took turns bringing goodies. Maybe I'll re-think that! Thank you!

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  15. That sounds like so much fun, and so helpful. Quite a special time for growth! Amazing that you can all find the time out of the week to do this! How many people are involved?

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    1. We are all very committed to doing some 'extra' writing for different goals, so will find the time! There are eight of us, and one may not continue because she's taking another job, but we want her to stay so we'll see. Two more wanted to but are off to other things this summer, so decided not to commit-may join next year! Eight is plenty! I think it will be good for all of us, in very different ways. Thanks Donna!

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  16. I loved the energy of this slice. Makes me want to cheer for your group. Yay!
    I am curious and if it is not a secret: What are you writing and sharing there? Is it the poetry about your family or something completely different?

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    1. Thank you Terje. I'm sharing all sorts of things, but lately some children's pieces I've been writing. I imagine I will share the goodbye poems, at least some of them. I want to hear their response too. The slicers have been so supportive, but it's not a critique group, nor should it be. This time, we're pushing a little bit harder.

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  17. Linda, I continue to be amazed at all the things you do. I thought joining Poetry Friday might be my next small writing challenge. Your writing group sounds like a wonderful experience. I'd like to try this someday.

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    1. Ramona, I'd love to see you come to Poetry Friday-It is an amazing group, with some cross over to TWT slicers, too. I think the group will be a good one for sure!

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  18. How great to have this group, Linda. I love that you are reading the Stafford book.

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    1. So great to hear that you know the Stafford book, but I guess I'm not surprised! It is really so good, so REAL! We've made a good start in the group, I think. Thanks Jone.

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  19. I don't now I missed this post, but I am so glad to know how you began and that you are still going strong. I haven't been able to keep a writing group going in real time,
    Bonnie

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Having a conversation is a good thing!