Thursday, June 30, 2016

Blog the Day 6/30/16

Opening Moment
"Hope is a renewable option: If you run out of it at the end of the day, you get to start over in the morning." - Barbara Kingsolver

We began the morning with Jane's opening moment, which was a reflection of Barbara Kingsolver's video reflection titled "On Writing"

Kingsolver discusses her process for writing and revision: "My first drafts are full of clunkiness, be assured that the first time I wrote that sentence it didn't sing on the page. Mostly they come and splat on the page and you say oh dear and move on... and then you revise and revise and revise. It's like being a musician and you have this enormous piece to play... you don't make it all perfect on the same keep at it, you attend, you listen, you read your words aloud to yourself. The great thing is that nobody gets to see my junk. I have the great luxury of keeping a work until its exactly the way I want to put it out to the world... Every time I start a novel it's clunky. I'll get in there and muck least now we have the delete key." -Kingsolver

Teach Me Tech with Jane
VoiceThread is an online collaboration app that uses multi-media, most of all student voices to create, edit, revise projects, papers, presentations, and more.  There are multitude of uses for Voice thread.  Below is a link to a PDF explaining some of the educational advantages for using VoiceThread:

If you have a VoiceThread account please click on the link below:

If you do not have an account please sign in using:

Password: ISFI16

VoiceThread taps into the idea that audio is the first mode of communication and can be very useful, but we often forget about its usefulness. VoiceThread creates a platform for sharing ideas via audio.

Jane showed us how we could login and create identities on her page as if we were students. With a few laughs, tech glitches and identity scrambled, we fumbled our way through VoiceThread to explore how to view and contribute to audio files as a group.

"The idea is so that they can hear their own voices and have a conversation." -Jane Fullerton

Fellows talked about how they use VoiceThread (e.g. Bobby uses for IB students to record their reading of a poem and then to respond to students' recordings. Students can also do critiques of their own or others' audio recordings.)  

Writing Across the Curriculum Workshop
Kelly Crockett, a teacher from Raymond Middle School shared her ideas about integrating writing across the curriculum with us.

What does writing across the curriculum mean to us and how do we feel like we are part of writing across the curriculum?
-every classroom teacher is a writing teacher and integrating writing in all classes, writing is a shared responsibility
-tension with content teachers around time (E.g. focus on teaching students how to write a lab report at the expense of covering content)
-presumption that English teachers are the only ones responsible for teaching writing
-finding common ground around expectations for writing and teaching writing
-math is a language and writing can be a focus there too

Ideas in Prezi (from Content Area Writing: Every Teacher's Guide by Daniels, Zemelman, Steineke):
-writing helps students become more actively engaged in subject matter
-writing can save classroom time while deepening comprehension of the subject
-writing is the key to differentiation
-when students make their thinking visible in writing, test performance often increases
-writing skills are a predictor of academic success
-never add anything new in your teaching schedule unless you take something away (get rid of what's not needed)

We did a carousel brainstorm activity where we wrote down our ideas on chart paper responding to different ways to incorporate writing to learn for that content area (Math, Science, Art, Phys Ed, Health). We moved around to each posted and added our ideas to the existing list. Here are the photos of the Carousel Activity. We were then asked about what ways we'd use the Carousel brainstorming in our classroom.

We then did a Walkaround Survey, where we read an article titled "Cutting Cursive, The Real Cost" and took notes on it to find "a couple of essential facts".  We then wrote down those 3 facts that we annotated into a graphic organizer chart. We then paired up and shared our facts with others to add to our chart. The point of the exercise was to accumulate and share new info. gleaned from the article by walking around and discussing our findings with others who read the same article. We were then asked about what ways we'd use the Walk Around Survey in our classroom.

We then watched a video called "Our Story in 2 Minutes" which depicted an interpretation of our human history & evolution through images and were asked to write down our thoughts, questions and reactions. We passed our responses to the left and added our thoughts to the paper in a Write Around.

Finally, we discussed Exit Slips & Admit Slips:
-Exit Slips are quick responses to a question about the day's learning
-Keep the question simple
-Allow the 5 minutes at the end of class!
-What do you want to know about what students are learning (or not)?
-read the Exit Slips that day to help drive/guide your instruction in a timely way
-Admit Slips are given as an assignment to bring in the next day
-can be similar to an Exit Slip

We finished with an Exit Slip in the form of the following: One thing I learned today about Writing Across the Curriculum is_____. Because of that I plan to _______.

Book Discussion: Teaching Writing Category
Sarah Collins facilitated our book discussions for our Teaching Writing Category books. She reviewed the protocol for discussion with us first to explain the steps. In our groups, we discussed the book's best selling points (including a specific writing strategy) and shared our findings in 3 minute presentations with the larger group.

The first group presented a video book review for Fletcher & Patalupi's Craft Lessons.

The second group shared a Google Presentation for Kelly Gallagher's Write Like This.

The third group  presented their teaser Animoto review of Crafting Writers by Elizabeth Hale.

The fourth group shared their thoughts and review of Barry Lane's After The End.  

Afterwards, we did a quick whiparound, sharing our thoughts on what we liked and how we might apply our takeaways from these books to our classrooms.  

Eleanor Morse, Guest Author Talk
Eleanor discussed the idea of "radiant moments" in writing or in a story and the "power of details to create transcendence." Morse offered that her "desire to capture these moments is one of the reasons that I write. I'm talking about moments we might say are beyond words - moments that are euphoric, luminous, transcendent, holy, awe-inspiring."  

One of the reason for "the arts" is to capture those moments.  Morse stated that we would focus on how "well chosen details can support those radiant moments." Morse reflected on a childhood experience leaving her family's lake house in New Hampshire and pressing her face against the car window to see the final glimpse of the lake and a stream of light coming down through the clouds.

"Awe prompts people to redirect concern away from the self and toward everything else." -Jake Abrahamson

How do we write about those things that fill us with that sense of wonder without that "gosh, golly sentimentality".     -EM

"Without these moments of awe literature feels arid and without music." -EM

"Idea that it takes 3 generations of monarch butterflies to return to the same spot where they started. Part of the process of creating something revelatory in our fiction is to believe that there's something within us that's asking to be released." -EM

Stanley Kunis' "The Wild Braid" talks about the writing process in relation to gardening in his garden.  

"If the terrain were familiar the poem would be dead on birth. The path of the poem is through the unknown and even the unknowable, toward something for which you can find a language. It is that struggle, of course, that gives the poem its tension. If the poem moved only through the familiar, it would be so relaxed that it would have no tension, no, mystery, nothing that could even approximate revelation, which is the ultimate goal of the poem."  

Eleanor asked us to share our own radiant moments: Jane shared her experience of seeing a double rainbow, and a hummingbird.  
Shawne described the feeling of being in a bee suit and pulling out the queen and all the bees surrounding her in a calm humming.
Chris described seeing his shadow during a full moon.
Brigid described the shift in the air before a storm coming and the sky turned green and you could feel the electricity in the air.
Darren shared his experience flying to Japan and the sunset over Mount Fuji and suddenly feeling the awe and wonder of arriving across the world.
Rebecca shared the image of yellow gingko trees all falling at once in the sunlight after a rain storm.  

Eleanor then read to us several excerpts of radiant moments illustrated through descriptive details from several of her favorite authors and texts.

"Details are the engine that bring your reader inside your world" -EM
Importance of showing not telling.
Adjectives and adverbs tend to act as covers for writing. Example: He walked joyfully through the park. (tells vs. shows)

Eleanor passed out writing prompts on strips of paper and we each took 3 and passed them to our neighbor. We had the choice to integrate 1, 2 or 3 of the prompts into a writing response, focusing on integrating descriptive details.  

How to nourish these radiant moments in your own writing:
  • Make Your Ego Porous
  • Notice, Observe, Stay Awake - noticing is the first act of writing, so pay attention to everything around you. Pay attention to your voice as a writer and value and respect it because you are the only person in the world who will be like you
  • Make Space for Silence and Mystery - make language from silence in order to move into something that hasn't been created before
  • Love the Questions Themselves- "Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language." -Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Have Courage and Be Open - be willing to have your heart open and broken

    "May your heart be broken and open with radiant details." -EM

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