The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, August 2, 2013

Writing...It's a Sticky Thing

         I just finished leading a two-day workshop for teachers (from two schools) in my school district. It was exhausting  rewarding and fun.

       The workshop centered on teaching writing in math, science and social studies. The new Common Core Standards  will officially begin in our state in the 2014-2015 school year. The Common Core will replace the state tests for most of the country and will signal the demise--at the end of this school year--of the idiotic unrealistic  too-tough current MAP test, which is what Missouri students and teachers have had to endure use as far as assessment for too many years.

       Hey! Writing should not be done only from 11:00-11:20 anymore. That's was our theme song for the past two days.

        Writing is stickier than math (there's always a correct answer and a set way of finding the answer in math). It's more elusive than science or social studies, too. Knowing how to nurture a student's creativity, and figuring out how to teach students to loosen the reins on their writing voice...that's something that often flummoxes teachers.

       The mind-boggling thing about this workshop was how many talented voices emerged. This workshop was underwritten by the Gateway Writing Project, a National Writing Project site, and writing is always a part of every workshop/meeting/national conference--it's never pure lecture with passive participants with the NWP. Over the past two days, teachers wrote "I am from" poems and memoir vignettes and a variety of other pieces. The talent and distinctness of their voices was amazing. Often, teachers are sometimes reluctant to share their personal writing, but this time, it was not the case.

a student writer...

       If you're a writer, when did you first figure out you enjoyed writing? Or do you--like me--still find it to be a grueling, hair-pulling screamfest (at times)?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Today's Kids

        Folks who make blanket statements about kids today aren't getting to know the kids of today.

       For example, the kids living next door to us greet us first when they see us in the yard, saying, "Good morning." They're polite, well-mannered children.

       Another example--a young man who (in May) graduated from one of my district's high schools, is now working in a local restaurant--as a pastry chef. As the owners were renovating (since January), he came by every week, looking for a  job.  They kept telling him no. On the day the restaurant opened, this kid showed up with his apron and his pastry chef tools, ready to work. (He was already a shining star of the high school home ec department.) They finally gave him a try, handed him their pie recipes, and from what the owners say, his apple crumb was prettier of than the owners, and out-of-this-world delicious. 

        One of my students this past year did something very selfless, and was a great friend in the process. Moved by what he did, I wrote a story about him (entitled "Help By the Bagful") and submitted it to the Chicken Soup: For Positive Kids I just got news today that the story about him had made it through the first round of editors. Although my friend Lisa Ricard Claro warns me to not count my chickens until they're hatched--she's known too many people who had their story booted out at the last minute--but if I have to, I'll just smash the eggs and chalk that up as one of my many rejections.

         Speaking of eggs, the WWWPs are a bunch of good eggs. They helped me immensely with the story--if I had submitted it before I got it critiqued, it would not be under consideration right now.

          What is your opinion of kids today?