Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Thursday, December 6, 2018
Friday, November 30, 2018
I used to think the inspiration to write came from some magical lamp found on a far away mystic island only the privileged were only allowed to rub and be showered with its wonders. As I started writing more, I learned inspiration is easier, in a sense, and doesn’t require any magic. Or at least not the one with genies and wizards. It does, however, require a bit of work on the writer’s part. It also requires a tool similar to a magic wand. A pencil! Or whatever you use to make those ideas come to life in writing.
Write, and the inspiration will seemingly follow. But don’t just write; journal. Keeping a journal for whatever purpose, whether for your daily thoughts or starting a new project, has been proven time and time again to be the most effective tool for inspiring writers.
As I continue on this path to becoming an Arab American writer whose goal is to share a story that may or may not have already been told, but despite that, is my authentic story, I look to journaling to help me figure out the pieces to this puzzle. Journaling will indeed help me connect the dots to creating the final masterpiece. Use a journal however you like; for sorting through personal emotions, organizing a writing project, or for no particular reason at all. Make it your own. And allow journaling to become an integral part of your writing life!
Thursday, November 29, 2018
I find my inspiration when I quiet myself and become present in the moment I actually begin to notice things and not just do a drive-by of my day. Now, you might be shaking your head at this point, and wondering how I manage to find time to quiet myself. I am like most of you - a teacher by day, a spouse by night, and a writer whenever I can sneak it in.
For me, inspiration comes in ordinary things; nature, music, an interesting quote. When was the last time you let yourself experience nature? Have you noticed that the clouds are different in the autumn than they are in summer (at least here in the Mid-Atlantic area)? With what furry friends do you share your world? In my neck of the woods, the deer are on the move, and a little family of three comes to feed outside of my classroom window almost every afternoon. Those deer got me thinking about their coloring and how they are camouflaged in the woods. That led me to think about how people hide themselves from others.
I am a collector of words. Each of my blog posts begins with a quote. Sometimes the blog post comes first; sometimes it is the quote that inspires the post. By standing on the shoulders of great writers and thinkers (and some Facebook posts), I can often find a way into my writing or discover an angle I had never before considered.
What will be your muse today? Just look around. It is waiting for you to find it.
Rita DiCarne teaches ELA at Our Lady of Mercy RCS in southeastern Pennsylvania. She is a teacher-consultant with the PA Writing and Literature Project. DiCarne has been published in Today’s Catholic Teacher Magazine and A Cup of Comfort for Teachers. You can follow Rita on Twitter - @RitaDiCarne or check out her blog: Practicing What I Teach at ritadicarne.com.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Instead of picking just ONE book, I decided to throw a few books together to make a writing casserole- take a few ingredients from one book, add in a dash of lesson ideas from another, and BAM! You’ve got a delicious recipe for writing.
59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner. This is a number one go-to if you are struggling to be a teacher who writes. Messner carefully outlines reasons (59 of them) why you should be a writer. It’s great motivation, especially if you WANT to write, but aren’t sure how to get started. (I’d also highly recommend Messner’s Real Revision)
Renew by Shawna Coppola. I just read this gem of a book after meeting the fantastic author at a conference. Coppola challenges us to think about our teaching practices- when did we revise our teaching practices regarding writing? Are we becoming complacent with our teaching? This book makes you think about how best to meet the needs of your students, and the importance of continual reflection and revision of our own teaching!
The Unstoppable Writing Teacher by M. Colleen Cruz. Ever wonder how in the world you’re going to get everything that workshop entails done in such a short period of time? Cruz acknowledges some of the problems that arise with teaching writing- from the concept of the workshop to the range of writers in your room- and provides practical solutions to make you feel...well, unstoppable!
Mentor Texts (Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry) by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli. These are the perfect books to start your collection, particularly if you are new to the workshop. Not only do the authors give a goldmine of mentor text possibilities, but they also guide you through “Your Turn” lesson plans to help you feel more confident teaching a skill.
Joy Write by Ralph Fletcher (or any book Fletcher has written). As the title implies, this books teaches you how to put the joy (back) into writing. Providing choice and ownership overwriting encourages students to become more present and engaged in writing. It’s extremely readable and Fletcher’s advice is easy to implement immediately in your writing classroom.
There are so many more titles to choose from, but I don’t want our casserole to get too crowded with ingredients. This is a great start for teachers at any place in their journey as teacher-writers.
Jen Greene is an elementary school teacher in the West Chester Area School District in West Chester, PA. She is a fellow with the PA Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) and a doctoral student at Widener University. Her tentative journey into blogging can be found by visiting https://GreeneLit.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter @GreeneMachine82.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received has been to write what’s on your heart.
The most truth, passion, and joy will come from writing what’s hidden inside. Don’t worry about what others will think. Don’t try to please them. Sometimes when a message lies heavy on our heart, we need to write it down for no one other than ourselves.
There’s something special in it that no one else can touch. The words sitting in your heart are waiting to pour out.
But where do those ideas come from?
They come from moments we expect to inspire us and moments we don’t. They come from the world around us: the things that make us laugh, cry, and shrink back in fear.
The best writing I’ve done has come from a subtle idea. You know, one that most people wouldn’t even think twice about.
The sound of a distant train whistle.
The ornery look of a child.
The crispness of a fall day.
Snowflakes delicately floating through the sky.
A comment overheard.
The words that float into your mind when you’re sitting in stillness.
Allow yourself to be open to ideas from the most random places. That’s where the best ideas are hiding. They are the ones that might make no sense, but once explored, you will see a treasure chest waiting to be opened.
You have to be open to the ideas. Don’t close yourself off to anything. The smallest spark sets a forest ablaze. The smallest thought, word, or sight can ignite a fire within you that can consume.
Capture your ideas. They are so fleeting. Here one moment, gone in the next breath. Reach out and grab them. Snap a picture. Jot down a word. Anything to harness the moment. Expand on it as much as possible, but also give yourself time to allow it to grow. Just like yeast needs time to make bread rise, our ideas need time to grow.
Explore that idea.
Flip it upside down and turn it inside out.
And you will find a beautiful piece waiting to emerge.
Tynea Lewis is a former Title I teacher from Pennsylvania. She was named a 30 Under 30 honoree by the International Literacy Association in 2016 for her work with LitPick Student Book Reviews, an online reading, and writing program. When she’s not busy overseeing the program, working for Family Friend Poems and Write About, she loves to spend time with her husband and young daughters, write for a variety of audiences, and escape to the quietness of the mountains. You can connect with her on Twitter and Instagram at @TyneaLewis.
Monday, November 26, 2018
When I first started teaching, I was most nervous about teaching writing. Six years later, writing has become one of my favorite experiences I share with my students and some of my best memories of our class comes from a writing activity.
Here are a few of my favorite (writing) things.
Favorite Book About Writing
Colby Sharp’s Creativity Project. There is so much a teacher can do with this book. You could read it for entertainment. You could write to the prompts. My hope is to make a book with my students using his idea!
I like to keep things exciting and new for my students. Some students come into my class without a positive writing experience or not being given the chance to explore writing freely. Here are some events and activities that I do each year.
- International Writing Cup and other challenges through Night Zookeeper
- Marathon writing -traveling through the school and writing
- Picture prompts
- Poetry challenge (poem-a-day)
- Power writing
- Round Robin writing
Showcase and Share
After writing, it is important that the students feel that their work is valued. Hang it up around the room or in the hall. Tweet it. Share it. Take pictures of the process. Also, let them share. We are social beings, embrace the need to socialize and encourage them to read their stories and share their writing process with others.
Alexis Ennis is a 6th grade ELA teacher. You can follow her on Twitter @Mrs_Ennis_OMS, on Instagram @Mrs_bookdragon, and on her blog www.mrsbookdragon.com.
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