Monday, October 6, 2014

Learning Important Things-not just about writing

           Time for the Tuesday Slice of Life Sharing at the Two Writing Teachers blog. Come over to read and enjoy everyone's post!

       I've already written two other times about my poetry retreat last week (last Friday & Saturday), & as you can see from the badge on the right, I've also been writing in an online poetry class in September. I'm trying to focus on several things I can share as takeaways for teaching writing (teaching writers) in the classroom. I've written about happiness in finding one's passion, gratitude for people who really listen, and in this final post, want to emphasize the importance of being surrounded by beauty. Here are some photos, and thoughts about connections to a classroom.
A special space in a classroom can mean much
to a student who needs to be alone to write.
                  Looking out a window for one beautiful thing
among the rest is something writers do.



Following a path around our school can be
meaningful to a student looking for a metaphor.

Discovering changes in nature or in the school
building is something to write about.

There is a line in a poem, "looking long", that
I've used when my class has written, sometimes
with magnifying glasses, sometimes with
microscopes or eyepieces.
Starting with the "wide view" of a camera lens allows
the writer to see the whole picture.

Looking for new ways to get somewhere can be
a needed exploration.

I've had students watch sunsets for many days, noting differences,
practicing different words and styles of response.

Weather changes can inspire mood descriptions, and
a different look at the word "beauty". 

Like the first photo, finding a unique place to write is good
for students to discover about themselves.
 
This and the photo below is a writers' garden, with rocks strewn
filled with words to inspire. I used to hide slips of paper in a
certain area of school for students to find, and then to write. A few
shrubs, trees with rough bark for tucking, or taping to a wall will do.


Beauty found specific to the writer is the challenge.
One thing I've done is to have students take photos,
then print & write.

A special place for gathering and eating nourishes everyone.
I kept a big pile of old blankets for the class to carry outside
to eat lunch together on the grass.

This is just me sharing my last view on the way to
the airport. Gorgeous view.


         A long time ago, I read about a famous writer, whose name I no longer remember, who used to keep a "pretty table" in his living room on which he placed things he thought "pretty". Eye of the beholder and all that. So I did this in my classroom, free for anyone to add to, which held things found in nature (tree cones, rocks, shells, insect shells, skulls), created (small drawings, marble eggs, tiny boxes with some picture on them, jewelry), pictures from magazines, and words. I had a bucket of rocks on which students could paint words they loved. This "pretty table" inspired much writing, and connecting to other memories, once students wrote.
         I know it's impossible to create my week away, a week with few other obligations. It truly was a "getaway", yet as I lived through the week, I kept thinking how each part that inspired me could be connected in some way back at school. I hope you'll find some inspiration here too.




38 comments:

  1. I need to add a little basket of lovely things to my desk to inspire my own writing. Love the connections.

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    1. I didn't mention it, but I have 'things' in various places in my house, a basket of rocks, and so on. Nice idea, Juliann.

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  2. I love the idea of creating a "pretty table," both individually and as a class!

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    1. Thanks Jane. It fit my students' ideas for writing much of the time.

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  3. Somehow my comment didn't publish. Hope it doesn't now appear twice. The pictures are amazing and the words inspirational. I always felt that students needed a place to write where they felt comfortable. That is why writing in my classroom didn't always take place at a desk.

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    1. Thank you. Finding comfortable rugs/chairs/hideaways even seems important to me, so encouraging students to think about this is a good thing, too.

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  4. Hi Linda,
    Thank you for sharing your poetry retreat experience. The photographs really made the weekend come alive. As did your words. Now I will create a table for my rock treasures. And keep writing.

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    1. Wonderful to hear, Pamela. I appreciate that you will have your own "pretty table"!

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  5. Ooooh! I LOVE all the ideas you've given us! Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome, Holly. I hope at least some inspire the writing for your students.

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  6. I head up there this weekend. Your words and photos make me so grateful that I'll be up in Honesdale in a few days' time. (Just need to kick this miserable sinus infection first!)

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    1. Hurrah! Will think about you there, Stacey. Wish it wasn't so far away for me. (Get well quick!)

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  7. Linda - that place is just beautiful. I was so jealous when Stacey went there - I WILL go there some day.

    These are great lessons for your students, I think. Very important, big ideas about what it means to 'be a writer.' The photographs will serve as an important reminder to them, too!

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    1. Thanks, Dana. I hope you will make it to the barn some day! It is a treasure of a place.

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  8. The retreat sounds like it was so affirming. You made some wonderful connections for your students. Great photos as well Linda.

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  9. I think I've learned most about writing by taking pictures, inspired by both you and Elsie. You can always find something to write about by looking back at the photos. I love the idea of a writer's garden and keeping a pile of blankets for outside lunches.

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    1. Thanks Ramona, those old blankets served us well for a lot of years. Photos inspire me too, and you add to those along with Elsie!

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  10. Each photograph had its own mood and inspiration. But, I love that stone bench!

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    1. Wouldn't that be lovely in our own gardens, Tara? It is a great place, but as I've emphasized, we all can find them, I really think we can. Thanks!

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  11. I really want to have a "pretty table" in my room. Love this! I have a hands on science area, but this is bigger - much bigger - in concept and very precious. I love all your photos and captions; I think my favorite is "Looking out a window for one beautiful thing among the rest is something writers do." Writing in front of a window is a very special opportunity, no matter what our age. Thanks, Linda

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    1. Thanks Maureen, I'm happy you'll think about having a "pretty" table. I really did think it made a difference. Hope you'll share if you do.

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  12. I want a "pretty table." Love this idea. And having rocks for writing special words on. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Terrific, Margaret, as I've said to others, hope you'll share if you do use some of the ideas.

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  13. Ahhh...just lovely! I like how you made connections to your classroom!

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  14. Ah, even looking at the pictures and your accompanying words make me feel calm. It looks just breathtaking. I remember when Stacey went and how she talked about loving it there too. Maybe someday.

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    1. Hope you do get there sometime, Betsy. You would have been great with our poetry group!

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  15. I love how you thought about how each special piece of your retreat could be re-created in your classroom! You've given me some ideas... as usual! :-) I have missed reading your posts in my time away from blogging!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer, some of these will help your writers, too, won't they? I've been following what you've been doing from your FB posts. So sorry for such an upset.

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  16. I got totally lost in your photos! Basket of special things in the classroom....ideas are turning in my head!

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    1. Terrific, Jaana. With the diversity of your students, there must be a wealth of pretty things to share.

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  17. What wonderful connections to your writing retreat. Where did you find the rocks with words on them? I love the idea of a writer's garden...I may make one for myself and one for school. Your photography is so beautiful.

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    1. The rocks at Highlights were just there. I've seen the for sale in garden shops here in Denver. For my classroom, I just bought a bag of river rocks, & let students paint their choices on them. Thanks Julie!

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  18. I love the idea of a "pretty table." Put that and a wonder wall in a classroom, and kids would never want for things to write about!

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    1. Thanks, Laura-I agree, and know that it works well.

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  19. This may be a repeat. I think I lost my first note that said how much I enjoy these pictures and the comments they inspire, and that I was delighted to share another workshop with you. Thank you again for bringing so much to the event!

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    1. You are welcome David. I'm happy you read this post. It was a 'delight' to write, and of course a pleasure to be with you again.

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Having a conversation is a good thing!