BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Summer Job One is Done

Today was the last day of our writing camp. Each summer for the past several years I’ve been an instructor at a writing camp affiliated with our local university and the National Writing Project. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also work.

This time around we had ten kids in our section (there are three sites and several sections). Our group ranged from kids entering third grade to kids entering eighth grade. People always wonder how that works, but writing is a marvelous thing… we each approach it from where we are. A third grader and an eighth grader and an adult can all respond to writing challenges, albeit on different levels. Actually, we had an eighth grader whose writing is extremely mature and complex, so you can’t necessarily decide that age limits people.

Today we invited parents in to our end of the session showcase, and each young writer took the microphone and shared a piece they had written, revised, edited, and practiced. The kids were poised, confident, and proud of their writing. I was proud of them, too. Several parents commented that their kids loved the program and that it was helpful to them as writers. I couldn’t ask for higher praise than that.

Now I’m preparing for my next summer job tomorrow, proctoring a high-stakes professional exam. This one is only for a day, but what a LONG day it will be. Then next week I’m off to the east coast for a week-long professional conference on teaching – wait for it – writing. What a busy month June is. And that doesn’t include last week’s visit to Texas or the trip to my niece’s high school graduation at the end of the month. I need a vacation from my vacation!

People who say teachers have the summer off probably don’t know any real teachers. Just saying. Enjoy any time off you may have, I know I will.

teacher-wellness

It all sounds so simple.


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Testing Time Again

It seems like I’m always writing about state testing. Maybe that’s because it always feels like state testing time.

Today the little munchkins are taking a writing test. They will read articles at, or above, their reading ability, then write some type of adult inspired essay on whatever topic they’re given. I feel for them.dpgcjz9_5cdv8cshq.jpg

This task is hard. Sitting in one place is hard. Being quiet is hard. Doing one activity for an extended period of time is hard, especially if it isn’t an activity you’ve chosen. And if it’s one where you don’t feel confident? Well, that’s just torture.

I’ve tried to prepare them for what they’re about to encounter. I’ve tried to give them lots of opportunities to write and learn various strategies and techniques. I’ve tried to build their capacity and confidence as writers. I’ve tried. But the thing you have to remember is this: they’re little kids. Give them a break. Give me a break.

If you really want to see kids write, let them write about worms and aliens and Pokemon and colonies of warrior hamsters. Let them write about the time they went to the beach or the way their aunt does their hair or their favorite video game. Let them describe their dream birthday party or bedroom. Let them examine an ordinary object up close and write about what they notice. Let them be playful and imaginative in their writing. Don’t make them write about the benefits of recycling or the contributions bees make.

Let them tell you about the time the power went off during a summer storm, or the time they went camping and forgot the bug spray. Let them write about their favorite stuffed animal or their favorite dessert. Or how about this? Let them write about the time they had to live in their car for a while or about how their uncle shot himself or how they found their mother dead in bed. Yes, all those things have happened to students in my care. You want to give them another state test? Fine. But let them be kids, please. They’ll grow up soon enough.


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No November

unnamed.jpgI’m shocked at myself. For the past several years I’ve participated in NaBloPoMo, that crazy challenge to publish a blog post each day. Not only have I participated, I’ve been successful. This year, however, I did not. And by not, I mean NOT. Not one single post has graced this blog since October, and now here we are knee deep in the winter holiday season.

Of course there are reasons, but none of them are terribly compelling. I could have done it. Maybe not a post a day, but at least one post sometime during the month. But nope, I did not. In fact I hummed along day to day more of less ignoring the fact that I even have a blog. A blog which I’ve nurtured for the past five and a half years. A blog that I’ve poured my heart into, not to mention quite a few hours of my life. And yet, there it sat, neglected.

Well, I’m here to apologize. I apologize to anyone who has wondered where I’ve been. I apologize to my poor lonely blog (as if it has feelings). I apologize to myself. I deserve to take the time and spend the energy it takes to sort out my thoughts and share them, even if nobody reads them. I’m back, and hopefully I’ll be around for a long time to come.