Today was the 7th day of school, and already I'm overwhelmed. I could list all the things we have heaped on our plates, but you would think I was lying or at least stretching things a bit, so I'll just digress to something else.
I received a "Circle of Friends" award from Donna. Donna's blog touches upon a variety of topics. If you're a writer, if you're an observer of the world, if you're a grandparent----she has something for everyone. (It made my brain go on an ADD-addled tangent, thinking of one of my favorite movies---Circle of Friends with Minnie Driver. Okay, back on track...)
I've only met Donna once, at a group called "Saturday Writers." (It's a group of St. Louis area writers who meet on a monthly basis.) Have you ever encountered a new group of people and just felt at home immediately? That's the kind of effect they had on me.
Anyway, after receiving this prestigious award (I know there is a huge monetary component to it; I've already got it spent. When can I expect it?) I found out I am supposed to pass the award onto five other blogging friends. That part is easy. However, I figured I would not be able to somehow display the award on my blog, but lo and behold, I was able to right-click my way to success (I think). Here is the award, and I am passing it on to several writers:
Barbara and her purple pen. This is a writer who definitely lives life twice. (One of the Donalds---Donald Murray or Donald Graves said that "Writers live life twice." Barbara might even live life thrice, which is even more nice. (Okay, I'm falling into a 3rd grade kind of rhyme.) She makes ordinary things extraordinary...
The school psychologist and her blog. It's serious. It's light. It helps you look at things from another angle. There is a photo of her, but it's rumored (by me) that the picture is a fake. No one could do what she does and look so...so...perky!
The teacher who is underground. This reminds me of the original movie The Out of Towners (with Jack Lemmon). The humor is dark. (I guess that's because she's underground...)
The teacher with a dream. As teachers, we need to keep our eyes on the prize. The prize? Our students...
And a blog I enjoy reading in a faraway land---India. This writer makes you look at plants differently. He makes you look at life differently. (Check out his archive.)
This week we brainstormed some feelings that would help get us writing. We would come up with an emotion, and think of a particular time when we were incredibly frightened, incredibly furious, incredibly sad, and so on. The students then chose their favorite story ideas, shared with a peer (because we're always writing for some kind of audience) and the peer chose their favorite out of the three. The next day, they began their rough drafts.
Unfortunately, so many kids are paralyzed with fear. They are afraid to write because their spelling skills are poor. They don't know diddly about punctuation. They don't think they have anything of value to write about. It was rough going, and will take lots of one-on-one time to open up the faucet so their feelings can really flow.
(They were all crestfallen because I said I would not allow any Six Flags/amusement park stories, and no birthday stories. Unless...one of the roller coasters went off the track and flew into the air, then I would be interested in the story. If the curtains caught on fire because of all the candles on the cake, I would love to hear that birthday story. I let them know I want to hear a story about something that matters to them---not a report on "and then this happened, and then...and then...")
I also told them I would include some of their writing on my blog, so here are a few beginnings:
February 2007. I saw my grandfather in the nursing home. He was in a wheelchair. he was wired up to machines. Two years later I heard that he died. I started to cry. When I went to the funeral I saw him in the casket. I started to cry again. I loved him so much. I still cry to this day. That was the saddest day in my life... (Okay, the dot dot dot is mine--my fave when it comes to punctuation, but already, this kid knows how to "fastforward" in his story.)
One day a baby was going to be born. The mom and dad were so happy. They went to the hospital. The nurse said it was a boy. They were shocked. When the mom born the boy, the mom went to sleep. Then when the mom woke up and saw the boy the mom was so happy the mom cried. The boy was sound asleep. When the boy was eight years old the mom gave a DSI to her son and they were happy for the rest of their life. (Oh no, it's veered off and become another video game story.)
When I was six years-old my brother went to college. It was his first day. It was winter and it was slick on the highway. I was incredibly worried that he was going to have an accident. (This is all this writer has, but it has a lot of potential. I can't wait to see it as it progresses.)
I am going to end this posting, as it's long, probably an insomniac's dream come true. (The snores that are part of my title? For some reason this afternoon, when planning with a colleague, I kept yawning---more than a dozen times in five minutes or so. Perhaps it's my body's way of telling me that I need to get a bit more sleep?)