Thursday, June 25, 2015

Easier Than Weight Watchers

I was a habitual Weight Watchers joiner. I new the program inside and out. The problem was, I always quit and couldn't stay consistent. The life-timers would say that logging my points would need to become a habit. They were absolutely right. If I stuck it out long enough, it would become more of a constant in my everyday life.

I've decided that writing is like Weight Watchers for me. I need to be intentional and consistent, just like logging points. Unless I  intentionally write, I will never stick with my goal of being a better writer.

It's strange, I actually am starting to look forward to writing each day. I NEVER thought that I would say that. Kind of like running for me-- I know lots of people who are runners. If you ask them to describe themselves, they would most likely say, "I'm a runner." I admit, I have always wanted to say those words but let's be honest, I HATE running. It isn't fun for me at all. I will never be a runner unless I start small, make a commitment and stick to it (and have a true passion to succeed.)

But, I can be a writer. If you asked me to describe myself, I would say, "I'm a teacher. I'm a reader. I'm a learner." but I would probably not say, "I'm a writer." However, I WILL get there. I will be a writer. I want it to be part of my identity. I'm in it. I've written now for 2 weeks straight. Here's a quick peek inside my notebook.

My brand new notebook that I scored at Home Goods for $1.99. I'm all about being awesome!

These entries were writing in a public place, and 2- word poems I learned from Linda Hoyt.
I made a web about being home in Lubbock and what I want to do in my notebook. 

I wrote some more poems and copied one I liked for inspiration.
This is my reflection after going to the Parade of Homes.

Finally, a list of things I don't love and a poem about sunbathing.

It's a big deal for me to share my writing at all, but I'm here to take a risk. I hope you are challenging yourself as well. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Challenge 2015: Growing Myself As a Writer

So for a while now, I have told the teachers that I work with, I am a good writing teacher, but not really a good writer. I know how to move through a writing workshop. I know how to figure out what mini-lessons kids need. I know how to confer with students. I know how to teach them to read like writers and believe in their ideas. I even know how to help teachers feel more empowered as teachers of writing.

But, I still don't feel like a writer. Yes, I can write better than the students I work with, but I am insecure and unconfident as a writer.

So, I've decided to change that. I am committing to writing each day this summer and working through a book called 59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner. You can link to the book by clicking on it and even preview its pages.

Also, I am joining a free online writing camp called TeachersWrite to build myself as a writer.I would love some folks to join in this challenge if even for a short time this summer. I am going to post some of my writings (although it is scary) and share my learning about who I am as a writer.

I've been writing each day for a week now. It seems to be getting easier. Here are some things that I have learned about myself so far...

1. I am nervous to venture into fiction. It isn't easy for me.
2. I seem to prefer to write poetry.
3. Writing each day is easier than I thought it would be.
4. I find that I actually look forward to writing each day. Imagine that!

So here it is. I'm on a mission to be a writer. What kind? I'm not sure yet, but no matter what, I'll be better than when I started.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Kind of Readers Do We Want Our Children to Be?

I am a reader. I read all kinds of texts. Fiction, picture books, YA novels, magazines, poetry, blogs, you name it, I probably read it. (Well, maybe not much nonfiction, but I'm working on that.) In a recent professional development I was doing with teachers, I asked them to reflect on what kind of reader they were. Typically, when I ask my teachers to write, I do it as well. I started my own reflection and wish I had had more time to write that day. Coming back to my list, I added to it.

I am a reader who--

  • reads for pleasure.
  • gets totally lost in a book.
  • sees books as a relaxing escape.
  • can tune everything out when I read, including, screaming kids in the backseat.
  • has camped out in a store for a new book release.
  • has stayed up all night reading.
  • reads to her children.
  • visits the public library and encourages others to do so.
  • owns WAY too many picture books.
  • prefers real paper books over digital.
  • sometimes has a book hangover after reading a great book or series.
  • buys professional books to learn more. And more. And more. 
  • wishes she had more time to read. 
  • loves to talk to other readers.
  • believes that reading is a valuable, life-long skill that enhances life.

I am a reader.

When the school year started, my daughter would say that she didn't like to read. Now, mind you, she was a great reader, but she didn't like it. I tried everything-- new books, encouragement, audio books, BRIBES. Even the bribes didn't work. She hadn't found her place as a reader. On the first day of third grade, she entered her class and I visited with her teacher. I told her teacher, "I don't care if she passes STAAR, I want her to love reading!" (STAAR is our standardized test in Texas.) I knew that if she loved reading again, she would pass with flying colors.

So on that first day, her class was talking about reading. My daughter announced that she didn't like to read and there was a collective gasp in the room. Her class of readers were now on a mission to change her mind.

In the past, her school had done AR (Accelerated Reader.) AR motivated many of her friends, but not her.  To earn more points, you had to read thicker chapter books. This program did nothing to motivate her.

In comes the school librarian with a new idea...a Reading Bingo challenge! Students were able to earn spirit sticks by reading a wide range of texts, including many free choice books. They filled in a bingo card that encouraged a wide variety of texts. My daughter was hooked. She wasn't just a reader of thick chapter books, she was a reader of a variety of texts. She now loves graphic novels, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, picture books, AND some chapter books. She was encouraged to just read.

Flash forward to the end of this school year. My daughter--who now asks to go to the library, who reads in the car and who reads to her brother--read OVER 100 books this school year!  Yes, she did pass STAAR with flying colors- scoring advanced in reading. But, more importantly, she LOVES to read!

So I ask you to reflect. How are you encouraging students to be readers? What do you say or do, to show your students that being a reader is amazing? My experiences with my own child this year have helped me reflect on how and what we teach students about reading.

Take a minute and ask yourself--What kind of reader are you?