Monday, February 19, 2018

Inspired by Possibility by Krista Senatore


On National Writing day, Paula Bourque (the wonderful Litcoach Lady) asked that we tweet why we write. Her request led me to reflect on the role writing plays in my life and to set the intention to make it a daily practice. Though my tweet was one line, I’ve expanded the reasons I  write below. I write because writing helps me to:

pay attention to life, to show up and be truly present in any given situation.

take a breath, be aware of how I am feeling and respond with care.

process life’s difficulties and celebrate its beauty.

ponder, reconsider, ask questions.

evolve in my thinking.

hold myself accountable. 

share my thoughts and ideas.

connect and bond.

live a joyful life.

Revisiting and adding to this list fuels my daily writing and gives me the courage to take my writing out of my notebook and share it with my writing tribe.


Krista Senatore is a literacy coach in Schuylerville, NY where she collaborates with teachers and serves students in grades K-8. She specializes in balanced literacy, supporting struggling readers and using technology in literacy. Krista is a certified yoga teacher and enjoys bringing mindfulness to teachers and students. You can connect with Krista on Twitter @kmsenatore.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

What's In Your Little Black Book?: Collecting Inspiration to Write by Jacie Maslyk

The Little Black Book was the name of a 2004 romantic comedy.  It’s also known as the place to write the addresses and phone numbers of your past girlfriends or boyfriends. 

My little black book is the place where I collect all of my writing ideas.  I jot down curious quotes or phrases that strike me.  Sometimes I write a word or two and other times I fill pages.  My notebook is a collection of ideas that I revisit and tinker with.  Often times, it serves as a place of reflection and rejuvenation, while other times it is a stumbling block.   
I carry my book with me most places that I go.  You never know when you get hit with an idea!  I’ve been known to write things down when I’m sitting in traffic or in a meeting.  My notebook helps me to capture new ideas.  It gives me inspiration for new blog posts or topics for articles.  The book is a compilation of bulleted lists, sketchnotes, and paragraphs.  It serves as a reminder that I have set goals to write regularly, for myself and for others. 
   
My little black book is a way for me to collect my inspirations in one place. I guess I’m old-fashioned in the way that I write everything down on paper, but it keeps me on track with all of the ideas in my head.  It allows me to organize and categorize my wonderings and consider the pathways to extend these thoughts.  Some ideas stay in my book, while others turn into blogs posts, educational articles, or even a proposal for a new book.  Any journal or notebook will do, but find a place to collect your ideas to inspire your writing.

Jacie Maslyk is the author of STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom.  She blogs at Creativity in the Making at https://jaciemaslyk.blogspot.com/ and has been a guest blogger for Corwin Connect and ILA’s Literacy Daily.  Her website www.steam-makers.com houses a variety or resources for educators.  Jacie hosts a monthly Twitter chat called #STEAMMakerChat.  Follow her on Twitter @DrJacieMaslyk

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Saying My Magic Word by Mario Kersey


When Billy Batson, a boy, gets in a jam, he utters the magic word Shazam! and is instantly struck by a bolt of lightning which transforms him into the mighty muscled Captain Marvel.

I wish I had a magic word to give me an instant six-pack and a cool costume.  However, as a teacher-writer, I do have my one little word which gets me out of a writing jam: Grandma. Remembering my grandma, Martha L. Thomas, keeps me inspired when life appears to ready to thwart me from carving out time to write.

The life of a teacher-writer (I call myself a writer-teacher) can be daunting when teaching high schoolers.  The other duties and responsibilities of a teacher can crowd out other thoughts.  Much like Billy, I whisper “grandma”, and I am in that proverbial happy place.  It takes me back to those humid summer evenings under Uncle Oscar’s pecan tree telling stories to grandma.  Before I ever met Aristotle, grandma unknowingly taught me story structure and how to keep the pages turning by asking “then what took place?”  Today, if I’m stuck on a project or attempting to begin one, I say my magic word, and I begin writing.

Also, I realize the word puts my inner critic on mute for a while. I think by tapping into those memories my childhood with Grandma makes me slightly more insouciant about time deaf to my inner critic’s dirty taunts. Thank you, Grandma.


Mario Kersey currently teaches Advanced Placement Literature and Composition and British literature.  He finds time between the ticks of the clock to write poetry and micro plays. He can be found on Twitter as @syntaxpaladin.

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The #TeachWrite Twitter Chat Blog is dedicated to providing a space for our community to connect and share their voices about writing and teaching writing.  We are looking for guest bloggers who would like to blog on topics related to being a teacher-writer. Educators and writers of all levels are invited to join us in this space. More information can be found here. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Writing Inspiration is a Two Way Street by Sandra Stiles


Inspiration can come from many places. I want to be one of those teachers who inspires students to love writing. I love hearing students who have told me they hate writing, declare that writing is fun. I have a special student who has told me how I inspire her to write. She is a fabulous writer. She often is my inspiration. She shares her writing with me daily.
           
As teachers, we must find a way to connect with students and writing. Round robin writing is one way to do this. Students are given a prompt or story starter. They begin their story and then after a few minutes, they pass their papers to their neighbor. They read their new paper and continue the story putting their own spin on it. This continues until there are ten minutes left. They get their paper back and then finish their story. 

Another thing I do is find pictures for writing prompts.  I collect them from the internet, magazines, or even their textbook. They can even mix and match the pictures to create their story.
           
For me, nature is an inspiration. Sitting in my swing, on a beach, or taking a walk in the park can give me ideas for something to write. I try taking my students to different areas around the school for writing inspiration. Even setting writing goals is inspirational.
           
Sometimes just spending some time with students discussing their writing is all it will take to inspire them to write.

Find what inspires you then write.

Sandra Stiles is a teacher at Johnson Middle School in Bradenton, FL. When not working to inspire others to write she loves to read and write. She is the author of the book ”Steps to Courage”, available on Amazon. You can connect with Sandra on Twitter @skstiles612, Facebook at SandraStiles or her website SandraStiles.com.

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The #TeachWrite Twitter Chat Blog is dedicated to providing a space for our community to connect and share their voices about writing and teaching writing.  We are looking for guest bloggers who would like to blog on topics related to being a teacher-writer. Educators and writers of all levels are invited to join us in this space. More information can be found here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Finding Opportunities to Write by Michelle Olson


Goals and motivation go hand in hand. One must have the motivation to work towards achieving goals. When I think about writing goals, my number one goal is to write every day. This can be any sort of writing from texts to emails to journal entries to poems to stories and the list could go on. Writing is a form of communication that takes on so many forms. We are all writers!

Writing every day is something that I encourage my students to do. When given consistent opportunities to write, many students learn to love writing every day. Their motivation becomes intrinsic as they learn to find joy in writing. I have seen this happen with several classes that I have worked with during this school year. When I say, “Let’s go be writers!” students move quickly to get started on their writing! Students have learned the value of writing and have learned to enjoy the writing that they do each day.

Here’s to a year full of finding time to write each day. That is my goal. My motivation is being a role model for my students as well as my two young girls. What is your motivation for writing?

Happy writing!


Michelle Olson is a reading specialist by day and wife, mom, and Usborne book lady by night. She recently earned her doctorate and focused on students’ attitudes towards themselves as writers and their own writing. You can connect with Michelle on Twitter at @molson414.

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The #TeachWrite Twitter Chat Blog is dedicated to providing a space for our community to connect and share their voices about writing and teaching writing.  We are looking for guest bloggers who would like to blog on topics related to being a teacher-writer. Educators and writers of all levels are invited to join us in this space. More information can be found here

Monday, February 12, 2018

Writing Heals by Sarah J. Donovan


“im sorry your mom wasn’t their for you…”

This was blog comment on my poem left from a seventh-grade boy who frankly gave me a pretty hard time last year. It was my tenth poem of the month (a third of the way into our thirty poem challenge), and Jesus chose my poem to read that April morning. He was enticed by the title, I guess: “Confession: I Am an Orphan”. 

When I noticed Jesus was reading my poem, I knelt beside his desk and asked him if he knew what an orphan was.  He said he knew but was confused because my mother was still alive. We talked about how my father had died, and my mother broke-up with me, in part, because of that. He wasn’t sure what to say in that moment, so he wrote a comment on my poem instead. I was moved by his compassion. I was moved so much that I wrote a lot of poems that month about my family and growing up the ninth of eleven children.

When our thirty days of poem-ing came to an end, I began to feel what I can only describe as withdrawal. The daily engagement with words and lives in the virtual space of our class blog and the physical space of sharing them in class nurtured me psychologically and kinesthetically. The mental and physical work of creating poems impacted my well-being. So when I felt that withdrawal, I looked for ways to re-engage with poetry beyond the classroom and discovered that within my collection of poems rested pieces of a story. I decided I would write a verse novel that summer, imagining and reshaping my past into fiction.

When one makes a decision, a commitment, the world seems to respond in rather beautiful ways, and, for me, it was in the form of people:  Gae Polisner read the first pages of my book and, encouraged me. My husband, who is not a reader, began to read my book -- the first book he’d read since high school -- and we had lovely dinners discussing the kissing scenes. I shared the book with four of my seven sisters, and we Skyped to discuss the characters and how they helped us make sense of our own childhood. I began to really experience the way writing heals the writer and, in some cases, the reader. Such a privilege and responsibility to create.


Sarah J. Donovan is a junior high ELA teacher and adjunct professor in teacher education at DePaul University. She is the author of  Genocide Literature in Middle and Secondary Classrooms and a young adult novel, Alone Together. She writes a weekly blog, www.ethicalela.com, where she shares stories about the ethics of teaching English and some YA book reviews. Follow Sarah on Twitter @MrsSJDonovan, Instagram @donovan_sd, and Facebook. 


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The #TeachWrite Twitter Chat Blog is dedicated to providing a space for our community to connect and share their voices about writing and teaching writing.  We are looking for guest bloggers who would like to blog on topics related to being a teacher-writer. Educators and writers of all levels are invited to join us in this space. More information can be found here

Friday, February 9, 2018

Just Write Something by Tynea Lewis


Setting writing goals is a little intimidating, but it wasn’t always that way. Years ago, my goal was to write 2,000 words each day. I even participated in National Novel Writing Month a few years in a row. I wrote 50,000 words in a month, yet it didn’t feel overwhelming to set that goal because I knew I’d be able to reach it.

My season of life looks nothing like it did in college. Juggling work and kids have changed things, and I haven’t made the time to write like I used to.

But 2018 is the year to make a change. My passion for writing has always been there, but it’s time to make it a priority instead of something I get around to whenever the other items on my to-do list are checked off. Who am I kidding? My to-do list is never complete. 

It’s time to allow myself to get lost in the written word.

It’s time to find myself in the written word.

It’s time.

I’m making this change by writing a little bit every day. It doesn’t have to be the 2,000 words I set for myself when I was in my late teens and early twenties. It doesn’t even need to be 500. I am writing a little bit each day. Even if that means it’s only two sentences. Writing something is better than writing nothing at all.

A few years ago I started a blog. It has been a place to share my heart with others and be an encouraging voice to those in a similar season of life, but I’ve allowed every season to distract me from what I set out to do.

My goal this year is to post regularly. I’d like to post once a week. I know there are going to be challenging weeks, but it’ll keep me writing. Aren’t goals meant to stretch us?

Writing is my form of self-care. Some moms go out with friends, get pedicures, or take cooking classes. Writing is my escape from my everyday demands. It’s what refreshes me, so when I don’t do it regularly, I’m not my best self.

This year it’s time to make writing a priority. While it won’t look like it did in college, I’ll still write. I don’t have a handful of hours each day to devote to a large project, but I can steal five minutes here and ten minutes there. For too long I’ve kept myself from creating a writing habit because it felt pointless if I couldn’t do what I had done in the past. I was discouraged that I couldn’t keep up with my 2,000 word goal, but I need to keep reminding myself that the smallest amount of writing is better than no writing at all.

Join me this year and start writing. It doesn’t have to be much. It just has to be something.

I’m excited for this journey to rediscover myself.


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, 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 or on her blog at tynealewis.com.

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The #TeachWrite Twitter Chat Blog is dedicated to providing a space for our community to connect and share their voices about writing and teaching writing.  We are looking for guest bloggers who would like to blog on topics related to being a teacher-writer. Educators and writers of all levels are invited to join us in this space. More information can be found here

Write for Us!

The #TeachWrite Twitter Chat Blog is dedicated to providing a space for our community to connect and share their voices about writing and teaching writing. We are looking for guest bloggers who would like to blog on topics related to being a teacher-writer. Educators and writers of all levels are invited to join us in this space. More information can be found here.