Slice of Life, first week of July. Hosted by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers, many link their posts to share what’s going on in their lives, both personal and educational. Time is moving too, too fast.
I wrote about the camaraderie of everyone at All-Write last week, and covered some bits of the first day. I had such a great time getting to know my fellow bloggers in the short time we had together!
This wonder-filled time the first day ended at dinner with friends enjoying Kate Messner speaking. Her talk was about mentoring this time, the importance of it both for teachers and for students. I realize that others have already written about the evening. One important take away that I will repeat is this advice: “Writing for my students provided them with a mentor text. Writing with my students made me a mentor.” And this night, I had a copy of Kate’s book, Real Revision, autographed. I’ve already used parts of this in the past, and this night led me to the first session on Friday, Kate’s session about revision.
Friday morning, Kate Messner, good storyteller, spoke of numerous good tips to do with students, or for ourselves. One I made note of is that she thinks of a first draft as a stem cell, the basic material from which one “grows” a story. She strongly recommended considering different formats in writing, and sharing those ideas in the classroom so that students knew it was all right to do, too. She said that one should think of the writing on two levels, “What’s it about?” and “What’s underneath?” One good source on her website is “65 off draft prompts to help with revision”. Look for it here! Finally, she reminded not to forget graphics, maps and webs to help add information from research and from one’s imagination. It was a terrific session!
Next I traveled to hear the research-minded Chris Lehman, author of Energize Research Reading and Writing: Fresh Strategies to Spark Interest, Develop Independence, and Meet Key Common Core Standards, also co-author of Pathways to The Common Core with Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth. He has a new book about Close Reading coming soon! One idea that struck me is students must be helped to identify where their research actually begins. Sometimes it takes multiple starts to find that place. Learning the background before getting to the core question is essential. His chart reminds me of some of the work Tony Stead has done. It contains 3 columns, of know a lot, know some, and know little. One emphasis that made me wonder how much my teachers do with their students is “after” taking notes, re-read what’s been written. Ask, “Did I do enough?" and “Where else can the information be strengthened?” In addition, he clearly emphasized showing multiple ways of note-taking since students are doing research with a variety of sources. This session, too, was (to use Chris’ phrase) energizing! I did not buy his book, but may have time later to do so, and to read it. I imagine it’s very good!
Next, both in the end Keynote and this session I saw Lester Laminack, whose recent book out (and ordered) is titled Bullying Hurts. He has also written numerous picture books and with Katie Wood Ray co-authored The Writing Workshop: Working Through the Hard Parts (And They're All Hard Parts) My head was already filled and Lester Laminack added so much more. Here are two facts: About 160,000 kids stay home from school each day because someone is bullying them. Bullying ‘NEVER’ happens in the presence of teachers.
Tips to prevent: Teach that “differences make us interesting.” Look for and use Mem Fox’s book Whoever You Are. There is actually a YouTube of someone reading this book! Teach also that all humans have commonalities, and all have differences, and each is still human. He recommends looking for books that help students reach levels of self-actualization by Maslow. If you don’t know about this, there is a good, concise article here! I have used the hierarchy with students before, in conversations about our needs and wants, including the need to be “better”, “bigger”, and “stronger”. And I am reminded of my post a few weeks ago from my workshop with Peter H. Johnston where he spoke of needs also, and both these men include the word “belongingness.” Lester continues to emphasize that changing bullies takes a long time, includes many layers of understanding and includes attention to the “bystanders”.
As I ended last week, I realize when it’s time to stop. There is so much to contemplate in this day, too. I hope you found some parts that will interest you in exploring further! I’ll finish the reviewing next time! Happy summer!