#TeacherPoets is Back!

teacher-poets-2015

Happy April! Happy #TeacherPoets!

Saturdays ◆ 11-Noon Est ◆ April 11, 18, 25

 

#TeacherPoets is a free, online community/course/experience/cheering-crowd-of-enthusiasm that is joining together for four weeks this month to write, reflect and rejuvenate.

We meet in a live-streaming, creative writing workshop over Saturdays in April. Anyone tuning in can interact using #TeacherPoets on twitter and by visiting our Google+ Page.

Two Ways to Join!

  • Viewing and Tweeting: 
    • Attend our sessions by following along on this page for updates of poems of the week and links to the live stream. Tweet feedback during the sessions, using #TeacherPoets. Interact on our Google+ Page.
  • JOIN THE NEW 2015 LIVE COHORT!

    • YES YOU! Apply at TheEducatorCollaborative.com/TeacherPoets
      • But act quickly, it is only available through April 6th!
    • Join virtually, from a wired ethernet connection, and interact over your camera and mic with Christopher Lehman, members of the new cohort (and perhaps a special guest).

Should you apply?  YES!

Really? YES!

 

I loved working with the 2014 cohort, and it feels like we’re all family! I’m looking forward to working with you this year!

 

Archived Session from the 2014 #TeacherPoets Cohort

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#TeacherPoets – THANK YOU!

teacher-poets

Hi TeacherPoets.

Thank you from the very bottoms of my feet up through the top of my head for joining in this fun four weeks of reading, writing, and rejuvenating.  Selfishly, you gave me an excuse to write poetry for a whole month, to laugh, be moved to near tears, and in general marvel at what an amazing community of educators we have.

A huge thanks to our live on-air poets:

Betsy, Michelle, Laurie, Markette, Audra, Crista, and Margaret (and from afar, Jason, who needed to attend to family).  Your generosity of time, risk taking, and collaboration means so much. Plus, you’re pretty great writers to boot!

And a tip of the hat to my friends at Booksource who are donating books of poetry to this great group of educators in thanks to them for giving up Saturday mornings to write together. Booksource has also put together these lists of poetry books (Elementary, Middle, and High School) to support you in filling your classrooms with poetry.

Thanks as well to all of you who have joined our online Community Page or tweeted live, along with us, each week. Your energy and contributions were felt for miles, they certainly reached me.

 

Watch Old Episodes Anytime

The magic of the internet means all four episodes of the live series are available, in a full Youtube playlist, for viewing anytime (up to nearly 600 views!).

It’s a Poetry DVR:

 

 

Recap of Week 4: Concrete the Concept

For our last week we moved from little to big. Instead of aiming to simply retell an experience or explain a feeling, we talked about really taking on an intellectual project – giving ourselves our own writing assignment to attempt to put to paper a larger concept.  Through this we also talked about the essential need in revision to “let go” of a first draft and pick up a whole new one.

Mentor poems:

  •  A Hymn to Childhood by Lee Young-Li – please click the little play button on this link and listen to Lee Young-Li describe his “preoccupation” before he reads his poem.
  • r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by e.e. cummings – think of the project he has given himself and imagine the decisions he had to make.
  • Last Night I Saw the City Breathing by Andrew Fusek – step into his shoes and consider what goals he may have had as he wrote.

We then workshopped original poems from our final two TeacherPoets, Laurie and Audra.

 

Thanks again for these fun four weeks.  And thanks for all you do for children and for one another.

Chris

 

#TeacherPoets – Week 4 “Assignment”

teacher-poets

Hi TeacherPoets.

This series has been such fun–uplifting, inspiring, and just great to steal some time from busy schedules to write.  It is also shocking how quickly time flies! It feels like it was just moments ago when our first session was starting online, now we’re already in our fourth and final week together!

If you have missed any of the series or care to catch up, you’ll find the full video playlist here (our sessions have been viewed almost 500 times to date):

 

Recap of Week 3: Idea are Puzzle Pieces

During this past Saturday’s session we talked about specificity and zooming in, but this time looked at how poets often string together these little moments to tell a larger story or share a bigger idea.  I showed how we can study mentor poems by drawing boxes around moments–to see where their pieces are.  Then shared a draft of a poem piecing together different puzzle pieces (in my case: my daughter chewing the noses off her toys when she was little as one piece and Geppetto and Pinocchio as the other piece).

We read:

We also workshopped three more original poems from the TeacherPoets live group and through that experience touched on a few more tips for ourselves: don’t shy away from telling more of the “who” (our readers seemed to really want to know that each week), and consider how you control time or give more clues about time shifts (another comment that often has come up).

Assignment for Week 4: Concrete the Concept

For our last week we’ll go even larger. Instead of aiming to simply retell an experience or explain a feeling, we will talk about really taking on an intellectual project – giving ourselves our own writing assignment to attempt to put to paper a larger concept: “I want to try and represent…” or “I have been thinking a lot about…”.

Mentor poems:

  •  A Hymn to Childhood by Lee Young-Li – please click the little play button on this link and listen to Lee Young-Li describe his “preoccupation” before he reads his poem.
  • r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r by e.e. cummings – think of the project he has given himself and imagine the decisions he had to make.
  • Last Night I Saw the City Breathing by Andrew Fusek – step into his shoes and consider what goals he may have had as he wrote.

Workshopping This Week:

This Saturday we have our final two TeacherPoet’s original poems! Please download each of these, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments live on Saturday.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

And remember:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop. Wait until Saturday to share your feedback!

Session Four Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Three’s live streaming session on 5/3 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:

 

Thanks for all you do!  Happy writing!

 

#TeacherPoets – Week 3 “Assignment”

teacher-poets

Hi TeacherPoets.

Thanks for another great Saturday session!  The highlight for me was Betsy and Michelle sharing their poems with us, and the caring, thoughtful responses from all of you. It was inspirational to have we, educators, come together over a love of writing.  Thanks for that gift.

I want to make sure I mention the great contributions many of you are also making to our TeacherPoets community page. Links to original poems, published poets, even whole conversations are popping up even in comments you are leaving each other.

If you haven’t looked around recently, I highly suggest getting lost in there for awhile (shout outs to many of you, including Jennifer’s supportive comments, Catherine and Fran’s recent revisions they both posted, Sheri’s holy-cow-you-took-notes-as-poems(!!), and Kevin’s always-coolness in combining great writing and awesome tools).

Everyone is welcome, no prior poetry writing experience necessary to join in the fun.

 

Recap of Week 2:

During the second Saturday session we talked about specificity again, this time in descriptions of things. We looked at how evocative poems can actually be quite literal in the way they detail objects. It is the micro-details, the specific ways of calling our attention to bits of these things, that brings them to life. So often the poet’s gift to us is helping us notice details we may too often overlook.

The archive of our first and second live Hangout on Air is here (the videos have already been viewed more than 300 times!):

 

 

As I mentioned at the start, we also workshopped two original poem from TeacherPoets. What I love about these conversations is that we not only help to improve one poem, we also learn more about how readers receive our written words.  It’s a process of helping others while also helping ourselves grow as writers. Betsy and Michelle were our brave first time sharers, and the community – including those of you on twitter – did a terrific job with specific, caring feedback. It was an awesome experience.

Assignment for Week 3: Ideas are Puzzle Pieces

A Writing Invitation:

  • Try on the writing exercise we practiced last Saturday.
    • Pick an object, a photo, or something else to observe.
    • Then, describe the small details. Aim to not be mysterious, instead say exactly what you see (see the video).
    • As you write, try to capture surprising details others might miss. Play with language, but again be clear. Don’t leave your reader confused about what you are describing.
    • Write a new poem (or revise an old one) with this strategy.
  • If you’d like, post a link to your poem (or leave the full text in a comment) on our TeacherPoets Community page, file it under “Session Three”.

Mentor poems to read:

  • Mosquitoes by Aimee Nezukumatathil (second poem on this page), for how she connects a few concrete experiences to tell of a larger experience
  • It Took All My Energy by Tony Wallace, for how he leaves some mystery for us as readers but grounds this in a series of very clearly described events
  • Also, share links to other poems you love that dive deeply into specific descriptions.  Add them to our TeacherPoets Community Page.

Workshopping This Week:

This Saturday we have a three more TeacherPoet’s original poems! Please download each of these, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments live on Saturday.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

And remember:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop. Wait until Saturday to share your feedback!

Session Three Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Three’s live streaming session on 4/26 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:

 

 

 

See you Saturday! Happy writing!

 

 

#TeacherPoets – Week 2 “Assignment”

teacher-poets

Hi TeacherPoets.

Saturday was a lot of fun! Every moment of our conversation, the tweets coming in, most of all the passion and joy of everyone participating.  Thanks for helping me rise up out of the blues of March into this great new spring. It was much needed inspiration for me and I hope for you, too.

Recap of Week 1:

During this first session we talked about the power of condensing time and emotion into manageable bites. That taking on huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad. Finding the smaller the pieces – almost like finding focus in a research topic – helps our writing become more specific. The more specific our writing the more universal the feelings and ideas really can become.

The archive of our first live Hangout on Air is here:

 

Assignment for Week 2: The Magical Specifics of Things

During this Saturday’s session we will talk about specificity again, this time in descriptions of things. How deeply evocative poems can actually be quite literal in their descriptions. It is the micro-details, the specific ways of calling our attention to bits of these objects, that brings them to life.

So often the poet’s gift to us is helping us notice details we may too often overlook.

A Writing Invitation:

  • Try on the writing exercise we practiced last Saturday.
    • Think of a big topic or emotion in your life.
    • Then, locate a sliver. You could use the concentric circles exercise or make a timeline or other strategy (see the video).
    • Write a poem about that sliver. Carry your big emotions with you, but write through a small, specific experience.
  • If you’d like, post a link to your poem (or leave the full text in a comment) on our TeacherPoets Community page, file it under “Session Two”.

Mentor poems to read:

Workshopping This Week:

Last week we practiced “workshopping” Dorianne Laux’s On the Back Porch (if you missed it, check out the video to see how).

Starting this Saturday, we will workshop 2-3 of our TeacherPoet’s original poems each week! Please download each of these poems, write all over them, and be ready to share your comments.  These poems are in draft form and ready for your input:

Comments can be given live on Saturday via twitter using our hashtag #TeacherPoets.

Important:

Kinda like Fight Club: don’t talk about the TeacherPoet poems outside of TeacherPoet workshop.

While you may want to strike up a conversation with any of our poets, it is best to wait until we’re all in the safe, sharing space together and collecting feedback as a group.  So keep good notes, but wait to share them until we’re live again on Saturday.

Session Two Live Stream

Here is the direct link to Session Two’s live streaming session on 4/19 from 11-noon EST.  All you need is an internet connection to view:

 

I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing profession with all of you.  Happy writing!

 

 

Yay #TeacherPoets! (Archived Video of Session One)

teacher-poetsHere’s a quick post to first just thank all of the Live teachers poets and the ton of you viewing online and tweeting along with us. If you could have seen the screen that I saw, it was a rush of tweets and Google Q&A comments.

This experience was the caffeine I needed. I’m leaving today’s session feeling joyful and energized, my hope is that we collectively gave that give to you as well.  Thanks all.

Here is the archived video of our first session.

  • We introduced our group.
  • I led a writing strategy and shared some of my own revision process.
  • We then “workshopped” a published poem.
  • Finally, I set up our work for next week.

 

 

Feel free to share the video with your TeacherPoet friends. Then, join us live (or recorded) the next three Saturdays from 11-noon EST.

Until then, join our Google+ TeacherPoets Community to share with fellow educators.

Also, on Wednesdays the new “Assignment” will officially post. I shared this upcoming week’s assignments at the end of our session (see the video), but the official post is Wednesday when the EXCITING addition will be the original work of a few of our TeacherPoets, which you can read and prepare to “workshop” on Saturday along with us.

Thanks for all you do, all you give, and all you believe in.  Happy Writing!

#TeacherPoets – Assignment Week 1

teacher-poets Hi TeacherPoets. We’re gearing up for our first live session, this Saturday (4/12) from 11:00-noon EST. Join our community page to join in the conversation that has already started, to catch the live stream from that page (or the direct stream below), and to catch weekly “writing assignments.”

 

Each week on Wednesday, I’ll post a reading and writing “assignment” for the week.  These are invitations to engaging with poetry and our work together.  Take on as much or as little as you’re able.

Assignment for Week 1: Slivers Are Big

During our first live streaming session we will talk about the power of taking on manageable bites.

Our lives often interact with huge emotions (joy, fear) or giant topics (love, death) but trying to take them on can be not only an overwhelming task as a writer, but can also lead to writing that is too broad for a reader.

The smaller the piece – almost like finding focus in a research topic – the more specific our writing becomes. Then, the more specific our writing becomes, the more universal the feelings and ideas can come across to readers of our poems.

 A Writing Invitation:

  • Starting next week these invitations will be specifically about writing poems. For this week your invitation is to respond to this question: “Why Poetry?”  A few sentences, a poem maybe, or a quick comment. Please leave your response on our TeacherPoets Community page.

Mentor poems to read:

  1. The Summer I Was Sixteen by Geraldine Connolly, for the one moment in time she uses to reflect on the huge topic of adolescence and growing older
  2. Making a Fist by Naomi Shihab Nye, who takes a universal fear and packages it in a tiny scene and an even smaller movement of the body
  3. You’re invited to post on our TeacherPoets Community page links to other poems that take on a large topic through a small, specific time or action

Workshopping This Week:

Starting next week, original poem’s from our Live Group educators (the folks on camera with me) will be posted in this section. As practice, this Saturday we will “workshop” this poem by a professional poet.

  • Please follow the link and print out this poem (or download a mark-up-able copy to your device):
  • Read and write all over it, prepare comments as if you were talking to this poet:
    • Compliments: Which parts were particularly strong to you? Why? How did it effect you as a reader? Where were you delighted? Happily surprised? Moved? And so on.
    • Questions: Where did you find yourself confused? Lost? Where did your reading become choppy or confused? Which points did you want a little bit more? A little less?
    • ConsiderationsWe can’t write the poem, that is the poet’s task, however we can raise considerations: I wonder if there are actually two poems here…  I wonder if we could hear more from… I wonder if the second stanza could… I wonder…
  • On Saturday we will then practice “workshopping” this poem, so bring your written-all-over copy.

If you would like to read an example of responding to a poem through “workshopping,” then read (or listen to) Workshop by Billy Collins (in which he workshops his own poem as he’s writing/reading it… it’s pretty funny stuff.).

Happy reading, writing, reflecting, and rejuvenating!

Join Us Live! Session One of #TeacherPoets this Week!

Here we are – yes in the midst of standardized testing season, yes in still pretty rainy and still somewhat cool April, but also yes in Poetry Month!

To pull ourselves out of the doldrums and return to our enthusiasm and passion for teaching and learning, join me and some fellow educators for #TeacherPoets! We’re an online community/course/experience/cheering-crowd-of-enthusiasm that is joining together for four weeks this month to write, reflect and rejuvenate.

teacher-poets

Each week for 4 weeks we will meet online on Saturdays from 11-noon EST to do a little poetry reading, writing, and then work together in a poetry workshop, giving feedback to our fellow TeacherPoets.  April 12, 19, 26, May 3.

 

How to Join

Super simple!  We will stream live on YouTube. (I told you it was simple.)

Grab your pen, paper then watch and write along with us. On Saturday you can come back to this post and click the little play button on the video down there (try it now!):

 

 

During the broadcast tweet us at #TeacherPoets to share your insights and ideas.

Want to Get More Involved?

You can join our TeacherPoets community page.  There you can join in on posted “writing assignments” and interact with fellow educators. Each Wednesday the new “assignment” will be posted.

You can also ask questions and leave comments each week before live broadcasts, by going to the Session announcement and clicking the little “Q&A” on the video screen: here’s Session One.

If you applied to the Live Writing Group (on camera!) those confirmations have started going out, you will receive an email today or tomorrow at the latest.

If you registered for the streaming video (or didn’t but still want to attend) you are all welcome! Just join the TeacherPoets community page or simply watch the live stream on Saturday.

 

Looking forward to joining together! Happy Poetry Month! Happy Writing!

Apply Now: TeacherPoets Workshop Series

teacher-poets

 Wondering what this is?  Here’s the flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement and a previous post.

Here are the links you’ve been waiting for!  Be sure to select the ONE you are interested in.  If you run into any trouble, no worries.  They will stay live until Saturday at noon:

Live Group application

To apply for one of the limited seats in the Live Group: click here.

If chosen, you will interact live with me and other participants! Additionally, during one week you will submit a poem in advance and receive live feedback on air!

Q&A: What will your technology experience be like?

Visit the Google+ Hangouts on Air page to get acquainted

And here’s a way-too-in-depth, but none the less really helpful video on being a “guest” on a Hangout On Air.

Q&A: Will my technology work? I’m nervous.

If you are selected we’ll find a time to test out your technology with you before our first meeting. And at the first session plan to arrive 30 minutes early so we can “green room” before we go live.  No worries!

Viewing the Streaming Video (without Talking Live) Register your Interest

To register your interest in viewing the live Streaming Video: click here.

We will use your contact info to connect you with our TeacherPoets Google+ Community and send you invites to each session.

Alternatively, you can forego sharing your personal information and simply check for the Hangout url which will be posted on the community page and on my blog. (be sure to subscribe to this blog to receive updates – click the “subscribe” button on the right sidebar).

The week of April 7th all of the how and where info will be posted.

I’m so excited!

Thanks for all of your interest and enthusiasm. I’ve had lots of tweets and hundreds of readers of the initial invitation post.

I can’t wait to write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Join! Let’s Rejuvenate with a Poetry Workshop

I tweeted yesterday that I stumbled upon inspiration. Deep in the murky weather, just as schools across the country are marching towards standardized testing season (here in New York the first round begins on Monday), I – like I’m sure many of us – have been feeling a bit gloomy.

One piece of inspiration was when my friend Monique tweeted with the hashtag #testprepdetox.

Yes!

 

Test Prep Detox!

 

 

The other is that I opened my subscription to a professional magazine and right in the center was a fold out poster about poetry month.

 

Yes!

 

Poetry!

Writing Poetry in the Company of Others

A little known fact about me is that I was a few credits shy of double majoring in creative writing, poetry to be exact. I studied with incredible poets – Quan Barry, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and others (I’ve even been in the same room as MacArthur Fellow–“Genius Award” recipient–Alice Fulton. Amazing.).

While this English major eventually turned, instead, to education. The process of being in adult writing workshops, in the company of other writers, to this day inspires my work.

“Workshopping” a poem, story, or play is similar to, but not exactly the same as, a school-based “writing workshop.” It does, however, shares similar threads.

It’s a representation of what the writer-reader relationship really is… you write but then turn over everything to your readers, they now make their own ideas. When workshopping a poem you get the unique opportunity of being able to hear your readers (other members of your workshop) and then make revisions with those voices in mind. You learn so much about how your words are received and how to make your purpose and voice clearer.

I found those times were inspiration packed, soul-filling, and reflective. I think it’s a big reason why I love writing and studying responsive writing instruction with educators.

 

An Invitation to Our Own Poetry Workshop

This April, in honor of #testprepdetox and Poetry Month, I’m organizing a four-session, online, adult poetry workshop I’m calling TeacherPoets.

Here is a downloadable flyer: TeacherPoets Announcement

Who Should Join? Educators and authors involved in K-12+ education interested in writing and talking about your own poetry.

Be ready to write poems, share them openly with others, revise with feedback, and share your passions and talents with fellow educators.

We’ll use the hashtag #TeacherPoets and here’s a button you’re welcome to add to your social media:

teacher-poets

What We’ll Do

From 11:00AM-Noon EST on 4 Saturdays:

  • April 12,
  • April 19,
  • April 26,
  • and May 3

we’ll join together in an online poetry workshop.

We will not be focusing on the teaching of poetry to students, per se.

Instead, our focus will be on fostering our own adult writing lives through weekly writing exercises, sharing of our work, and the hallmark of our sessions—interactive feedback conversations called “workshops.”

These sessions are designed to keep us actively writing, exploring, reflecting, and, above all, inspired.

We’ll be using Google’s Hangouts on Air – their newest incarnation of Hangouts. It’s like a Skype call only on steroids. As in Oprah has done one.

 

How to Join

Involvement is free. I’m donating my time because I love the power of poetry to help us reflect and connect and because I need this battery recharge as much as you do!

There are two ways to join:

  • Watch the video streams live and tweet along with us. I’ll post how during the week of April 7.

or

  • Apply to be in the Live Group. You’ll be broadcasting live (from the comfort of your laptop or device) with me and fellow TeacherPoets! During one of the 4-weeks a poem you submit will be workshopped live, receiving feedback both from our Live Group and online viewers. (Did I say how excited I am!)

Google has strict limits on the number of on-camera participants, so to be a Live Group member please apply.

The application will go live THIS WEDNESDAY AT 10AM EST on my blog and will remain live for just a few days. Application reviews will be done on a first come basis.

Here is the downloadable flyer once again: TeacherPoets Announcement

 

I can’t wait! Let’s write, reflect, and rejuvenate together!

Archive from tonight’s #DonGraves chat

What a moving conversation tonight for the #DonGraves chat. Thanks to Penny Kittle and Tom Newkirk for this project.  It was fun hosting with Donalyn Miller and Penny and seeing so many of you come out to talk about Don’s legacy, his vision, and to share inspiration.

The archive is below, I plan to look back between that, the book and DVD for new insights.

Listening matters, conversation matters, and it’s great to have both with all of you and this vibrant education community we are within!

Chat Archives

Storify version of the archive

Google Docs version of archive (thanks Sarah Mulhern Gross for your help with this!)

 

#DonGraves trending on twitter…

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Summer Reading, Writing is a Habit (and No One Likes Habits)

by puuikibeach used under Creative Commons Lic

The end of the school year is fast approaching and as educators our minds turn to the obvious celebration of this glorious time of year, the end of a year of hard work, students growth, and this amazing sunny season: assigning summer homework.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuzzzzzzzkill.

Assigned book lists for the in-coming grade. Essay prompts to write. Sometimes even packets to complete. A lot of which many of us secretly reveal we barely read or do anything with in September.

It’s all well meaning. We know that students over summer can drop reading levels if they don’t read. We know that September can feels like the September of the year before, not the continuation since June if students are not actively thinking. We want our students to carry with them the work of a year so we can hit the ground running. We do this out of love.

What we are really asking students to do is to take on new habits, to make the work of the year part of their daily lives.

Here is the problem. Most of us hate new habits.

New Habits are Horrible

by kevin dooley used under Creative Commons lic

My self-directed summer assignments include: eat better, exercise more. Could you think of anything more terrible? This will, as it always is, be hard to maintain and tough to make time for. Enjoyable and amazing when it goes well and frustrating when I skip the gym for two weeks and just eat everything.

New habits are not made from book lists handed out on the last day of school. New habits do not come from assignments.

New habits come from self-drive and from a community of others. Think how you will use these last weeks of school to continue to build both.

Habits Helpers: Drive and Community

  • Summer reading club or reading partner lists, instead of simply book lists: Have students begin to organize now who they will be reading alongside, who they will talk with about their reading. As simple as phone numbers or email address, as complex as setting up book club meet-up dates.
  • Begin writing for self now, instead of just relying on a prompt: Have students begin exploding with writing, any genre, any purpose, any technology. Then just as with reading clubs, help them think about who they will share writing with. When will they check in?  Or even who could they be writing with? A google docs epic sci-fi adventure written by three classmates could fill an entire summer with writing.
  • Find a writer or reader you want to be: When we want a habit of better health we often look to people we admire: celebrities, family, friends. We learn about their routines and try to emulate them. Have your students write about the readers and writers they plan to admire over the summer. It could be you, classmates, professional writers (You could even draw connections beyond literacy, like in my guest post What the Kardashians Taught Me About Reading Instruction (No, For Real).

Think beyond summer assignments to engaging students in the real, tricky, exciting work of developing new habits.

Happy summer! Happy growing!

 

________

Christopher Lehman blog sticker-01Follow Chris on Twitter and his Blog. Learn how to have him work with your school or organization.

Stop lying: Writing is so hard.

I was writing with my friend and current co-author Kate Roberts at her home on Sunday.  At one point late into the day, at an official “wait, when did it become 6:30?” moment, we started talking about how hard writing is.  How it’s fun, exciting, but also exhausting. We are well into revising mode yet the little line-by-line work and the big nope-that-lesson-didn’t-go-well work both take so much time and energy.

As we were talking… yes mostly to avoid writing for moment… we quickly switched our conversation to thinking about how students write in school and wondered out loud if we as teachers of writing are bringing lessons from our adult writing lives into our rooms.

Revision is horrible until it’s beautiful until it’s exhausting.

I told Kate about a conversation I had about a month ago, I can’t remember exactly where, but a few teachers brought up the point that students seem to hate to revise.  I began with my usual stump speech and practical tips and then stopped for a minute.

I had a flash of myself, in front of my laptop, at 1:38AM, on a work night/day, revising and quietly cursing in my head, “why aren’t the thinks I’m thinking getting thunk on the page any faster?!?”  I then flashed to a heated debate with Kate over a section (of a now very old draft version we have long since improved upon) that at the time neither one of us was totally emotionally prepared to give in to the other on. I then flashed to a moment of turning on the television and refusing, absolutely refusing, to even turn my computer on because I was just so drained from a day of work I couldn’t even face the screen.

I remember looking up at those teachers and saying, “You know what, if I really think about it, of course your students hate to revise.  Writing is a terrible, emotional, time consuming–sure, at times wonderful–thing.”

i am writing

Revision is as revision does.

Kate and I started reflecting on what it means to commit to revising in our adult lives and how it does or does not look in classrooms.

  • Revision involves thinking of audience and a clear purpose. Carl Anderson has written about this, I have even done some of his lessons on this with students.  Heck, the standards even say we should care about this. But I don’t bring this up enough with students.  Yet, every single word I write and all of the hundreds upon hundreds of nit-picky rewrites I do are all with some reader in mind. “Will this make sense? Are they going to understand my point? A list of three questions stylistically reads more fluidly than just two right?”
  • Revision involves heart-ache and letting go. I am convinced you haven’t really revised anything until you’ve taken something you absolutely love that you wrote and deleted it.  I do so much teaching of what students should add to their drafts that I do not think I do enough teaching into what they should look for to cut.
  • Revision requires other eyes. Hallelujah that I am lucky enough to have great editors in my life.  I have learned so much working with each of them. My friend and editor Tobey is always terrific at seeing just what isn’t working as well as it could and suggesting cuts, changes, and needed explanations. What makes her a special talent is that she doesn’t write the book with us, she never says, “in this part I would write this.”  Instead she is much more of a writing teacher than editor, she gives big ideas, raises larger issues and then lets go.  I always aim to support teachers in leaving students with big strategies — I wonder, though, if I work enough on having honest (not harsh just honest) feedback about issues in writing that need addressing.
  • Revision takes time. In our conversation Kate pointed out something that has stuck with me, that I can’t figure out a solution for just yet, but that has really stuck.  The simple fact that it can sometimes take hours just to revise one small section of one page.  Yet, in classrooms, even in ones that give students time to revise every day for a week, the sum total of in-school revision work is perhaps two and half hours, maybe pushing three. I see the need to keep types of writing going and lots of opportunities to publish.  I think there is value in that.  I also know that when revision feels painful to students any day spent on it can feel like an eternity.  But I still wonder, are we – can we – provide the time needed for students to even feel the power of revision.  To get through their own stages of grief to acceptance?

My thoughts are racing with reflections.  “Duh”s and “Hmm”s and “What if”s.  I guess the biggest idea I will be carrying with me is if I am humanizing writing instruction enough for students. Do I expect them to do miracles that most adults find hard to do? Do I share my own struggles enough?   I’d love to hear some of your own lessons from your writing life and what they mean for your teaching of writing.

Happy anxious feelings of dread… er… writing.

 

________

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Listen!: My Education Talk Radio Interview

I just finished my appearance on Education Talk Radio with Larry Jacobs which aired live today at 11AM EST on Blog Talk Radio.

I will admit at about 10:48 I was reeeeally nervous. Way more nervous than I am used to. I present frequently and honestly love to talk (as those who know me know all too well). But 12 minutes before the show my stomach was in knots. The first great help was tweets and messages of love and support coming from so many of you. THANK YOU. The other great support was that Larry was a terrific host – funny and thoughtful.

Here is the link to the archived interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edutalk/2012/11/12/common-core-and-re-energized-research-instruction

We talk about my book Energize Research Reading and Writing, why I love Library/Media Specialists, the Chris Lehmann/Chris Lehman confusion (with a shout out to Kate Roberts), seeing the CCSS as habits not check-boxes, with a backdrop of laughter throughout the show.

If you don’t follow Education Talk Radio’s blog, you really should. No really. Larry has AWESOME guests. Wait, that wasn’t big enough…

AWESOME GUESTS

Here are just a few podcasted shows with people you love:

Thanks for listening! Happy researching!

SmartBlog on Education Guest Post: Bullying Prevention is More About Listening Than Talking

Today’s guest post on SmartBrief’s SmartBlog on Education is a personal one. Full of my own struggles and my deepest hopes.

Find it here.

Then continue the conversation.

Thanks for all you do for children.