Not bad for a fat girl

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Online Summer Writing Camp for Teachers

I’ve written about summer writing camp for kids, and how much I love being involved with it, but today I’m talking about something different. This time I get to be the camper! This is summer writing camp for adults, specifically teachers of students in grades K-8.

There’s a Facebook group run by Jennifer Serravallo (of Reading Strategies and Writing Strategies fame) that invites you to write along. It’s still week one, so if you want to join in, you absolutely can, and really, I think you can jump in on any of the weeks, since each week explores a different type of writing.

This week we’ve been working on a fictional narrative piece. Each day Jennifer posts a short video introducing and teaching the strategy. She models its use, both in mentor texts and in her own writing, then she sets us off to try it out. The videos are in the 5-10 minute range, and the writing time is about 10 minutes too. For twenty minutes a day you’re learning new strategies, writing samples you can use with your students come next school year, and having fun doing it.

Many people are posting their work and comments, too, but I haven’t gotten into that part of it. I’m doing the “streamlined” version, short and sweet.

Have I mentioned how much I love summer camp? Even if it is in front of my phone or laptop.

Here’s the link in case you’re interested:

Writing Strategies Summer Camp


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Writing Marathon


Yesterday we took our kid writers on a writing marathon, and it was so cool! Well, not literally. It was actually very hot, so we started early, sought shade, and ducked inside to air conditioned spaces a few times. Still, it was a great experience, and the kids came up with some interesting writing.

Our group toured the college campus where we meet, finding interesting spots to write. We looked around, found a spot, and got to work. The locations were used as inspiration, but didn’t dictate the writing. Our campus is pretty much a desert oasis, with scrubby brush, cactus, rocks, Palo Verde and Mesquite trees, and desert flowers. There are also grassy areas, and plenty of small animals. We spied white winged doves, quail, bees, ants, flies, sparrows, moths, butterflies, a hummingbird, and a jackrabbit. They’re always there, but sometimes we forget to look for them.

We found a hidden courtyard outside the library, and in the library a very cool collection of anatomy models. Heads, hearts, lungs, eyeballs, and more were available for us to explore. In summer the library isn’t very busy, and the librarians were happy to see us (and provide a band-aid for a skinned knee).

I’ve had the extreme pleasure of participating in a “real” writing marathon in New Orleans; one that took me around that remarkable city over the course of a few days. I learned that people are generous to writers. They give us space and time and sometimes wine and coffee. They are curious about our process and product. Rarely do we see writers up close, even though to a greater or lesser extent we’re all writers.

Taking these young writers on their first (or in some cases second) marathon was a way for me to share my love of writing and my fascination with our world with these young people. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.


These writers are from a previous marathon.

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Free Write!

So right now we’re in the middle of writing camp (almost, it’s day four of ten) and it’s free writing time, which means time to writ about whatever we want. We have lots of pieces started, and we can go back and flesh them out, or revise them, or begin again. Or… we can ignore them all together and work on something completely different. Something new, perhaps. Maybe a blog post, even? Why yes! Even a blog post.



These kids are hard at work on stories, character sketches, setting descriptions, responses to poems, and stories, stories, stories! They are going to town with their ideas, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Two of the three sisters are collaborating on a piece, sister number three is writing near, but not with, her new friend. The teen who we’re not quite sure we’re reaching, is scribbling away, and she doesn’t have her earbuds in! The boys have each staked out their own territories and are hard at work, and the one with the tiny attention span… well, she’s changed spots and decided that she HAS to have her bag of junk with her, but she’s writing too, at least a little.

Writing is hard work, so sometimes we need permission to just play. We did that today too, by writing all over the sidewalk. The kids brainstormed messages before we did it, so they had a plan in mind before they got the chalk in their hands. Once we got to our chosen spot they swarmed. I wish I had a hidden camera to record people’s faces as they read the quotes and words of encouragement our kids wrote. One of my favorites:


Wow. I hadn’t heard that quote before, and I can’t find where it originated, but I sure do like it. Listen to these kids, they have a lot to say.