Writing Workshop, 5 miles, and Car Trouble

Let’s start with the car trouble. Scheduled to go to a writing workshop with Rick Shelton presenting as part of #NWP early this morning. Engine light on. Check oil. Seems good. But just to be safe put a little in. Oooops. Power steering fluid. Go back to trunk. Get oil. Oooops. Antifreeze. WHAT?????????????????? Did I not just commit an ultra stupid mistake??? And not one time but two?????????? Tears. A few choice words. Sweat. Called hubby. He laughed. Not funny. Waited on him to get home. Stupid car. Stupid Monday. He changed the oil and air filter. Engine light still on. Wiggled some wires. Engine light cut off. WHAT?????????????/ I missed my writing workshop for THIS? Oh yeah. Last session at 1:00. Vroooomm-vroooommm………….. Made it. Thanks, Joe, my DH. Kiss kiss. πŸ™‚

The writing workshop was fabulous. Rick Shelton made me laugh the entire time!!!!!!!!!!! It’s the 2nd time I’ve seen him.

Here are some takeaways:

Write with and for your kids. Can’t teach welding without being a welder. Can’t teach writing without being a writer.

Have you ever known a child prodigy writer? Nope. There aren’t any. It takes time…..

It takes 3-5 years to speak a foreign language and 8-15 to write one. Writing (English) is a foreign language.

Everything is revisable!

Use picture books all the way through high school.

When writing about a text, you don’t have to quote 5 lines. Just quote the right one.

When kids ask why they have to know something-tell them so you can have options in life.

When asking kids to paraphrase-SHOW them. LOTS.

It was a FANTASTIC workshop!!! πŸ™‚

Finally, the 5 miles. I ran 5 miles yesterday in about 63 minutes. With 8 walk breaks. YES-8 walk breaks. There were not sitting stations along my dirt road-otherwise there would have been several sitting breaks!!

And I have a half marathon on August 10? GULP. πŸ™‚

20130715-224051.jpgThese are 5 of my favorite furry friends that ran with me. They kept me going along with a very cool playlist. πŸ™‚

National Writing Project- Day 16

The end. It seems impossible. That 4 weeks have flown by at the rate they have.

We graduated today. It was definitely bittersweet. So happy to be finished with a HUGE sense of accomplishment, yet so sad to know that it’s over.

I’ve learned a lot during this time with the National Writing Project. I’ve learned:

that everyone has questions

that researching what you wantt is invigorating

that no task is insurmountable

that being a teacher means being a lifelong learner

that driving 150 miles a day might cause bedsores

that eating wonderfully prepared food EVERYDAY will cause you to gain weight

that I can do anything I set my mind to doing

So- farewell teacher fellows. I hope to meet up again. πŸ™‚








National Writing Project- Day 15

Sniff-Sniff. Tomorrow is the last day of NWP. I can’t believe it’s almost over.



One door closes and another door opens. I will be leaving the NWP (even though it will remain in my heart and mind forever) and beginning a new journey with Teachers Write 2013.

I’m not sure where this path will take me. I’ve never considered myself a writer really. But I’ve noticed that the more I talk about writing and think about writing the more I want to WRITE. πŸ™‚

I’ve got to start with baby steps though. As in SENTENCE LEVEL. Or even PHRASES. FRAGMENTS. SNATCHES OF THOUGHTS. SNIPPETS OF IDEAS.

I sectioned my writer’s notebook with 2 major sections: MY WRITING and COLLECTIONS

My first thought was that of course since I’m not a writer the COLLECTIONS section will be much larger than MY WRITING section.

One day into it, and I have proved myself wrong. My fleeting thoughts that MUST be put on paper before I lose them have spread to page #2. That’s right. Page 2. πŸ™‚

And I’ve noticed that these word whispers come to me best when I’m driving. Uh-oh. πŸ™‚ So today I just pulled out my iphone, tapped on the super cool app-Dragon Dictation- and the rest is history. I was able to “catch” my thoughts by recording them and emailing them to myself. Neat.

I know that others involved in Teachers Write are writing stories, novels even. Maybe one day. But for now I’ll just be content with these quiet murmurs that come to me softly like a breath of fresh air.


National Writing Project- Day 14

One of the greatest things about participating in the National Writing Project is the FOOD!!!!!!!!! πŸ™‚


Our celebration picnic was today. Lots of conversation and laughter. I’m gonna miss these girls.


Most of our time this week (since it’s our last) has been spent catching up on assignments and working on the anthology which will hold all of our creations.

I finished up Jeff Anderson’s Mechanically Inclined just in time to add it to my collection of annotated bibliographies. If you’re interested in reading about the teaching of grammar within writing then his books are for you! I’ve read Everyday Editing and now this one. Next up is 10 Things Every Writer Should Know, which he recommended when I asked him about the CCSS and informational/argumentative writing. Have I mentioned that HEART twitter?

Everyday EditingMechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's WorkshopTen Things Every Writer Needs to Know

Our Round Table discussion was giving feedback to students and peer editing. I’m definitely incorporating response groups into my classroom for peer editing/feedback purposes. Of course, I asked the question that had been burning in my mind-How is it effective for students to let other students edit their work if the other students don’t know any more than them? πŸ™‚

SOLUTION-give students a checklist as a guide-preferably one they helped to create (ownership)

One of the teacher fellows described her procedures for her response groups:

1. Each response group would get a folder with papers in it. These papers would be from the students in ANOTHER response group. This frees them up to be honest in their feedback instead of being scared of hurting someone’s feelings in THEIR group.

2. Each student would have 3 sticky notes to put on each paper for feedback. So when a student got THEIR paper back it might have 12 sticky notes full of feedback!! Genius!


Also, might want to keep a checklist on each student throughout the grading period. Like a plus/minus checklist. All of these go toward final grade. Writing should be about the process, the improvement, the progress. NOT labeling someone as a C writer or A writer from the very beginning. Makes sense doesn’t it?Β  Still trying to muddle through that for my classroom.

We are on a 6 week grading period. Progress reports (number grades) go out during 3rd week. We have to have 6 total grades by end for each subject. Hmm….

Should my students be publishing 1 piece each 6 weeks? 2? Lots to think about.

Two things that were discussed heavily and have been throughout this NWP are:

1. The use of model/mentor texts. Close reading of them. Read like a writer. Reading and writing go hand in hand.

2. Students need to write ALL THE TIME. Don’t let the “teaching’ of writing interfere with the writing.

I hope I have given you lots to think about. I want your brain to be sizzling and popping just like mine. πŸ™‚

What are your thoughts on giving feedback to student writers?






National Writing Project- Day 13

This is the last week of my #NWP. Boooooo…..

Today’s daily journals were Lynda and myself! She took Rachel’s Earth Science lesson to heart and sectioned her journal with the layers of the earth. VERY cool. πŸ™‚



I used Xtranormal to create a video for my journal. It might not be too funny to you, but if you had been with us last Thursday….well, you would know ALL about it!

My Video

The teacher demonstration for the day was-yep, you guessed it. ME. Boy was I nervous. I mean it’s one thing to teach kids, but to get up in front of your peers! #bitingnails #sicktostomach

My lesson was on writing haiku poems. Here’s a picture of our published haikus:



And in case you have nothing else to do-here is an outline for my lesson.

Teacher Demonstration Lesson Plan Outline

During our Reading, Researching, and Writing time I continued to read Jeff Anderson’s book-Mechanically Inclined.

Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop

He’s got such great and authentic ideas about weaving grammar into writing!!! Definitely a must read!

For our round table discussion we talked a little about AP classes and Dual Enrollment classes. In my opinion, because you asked :), if I was a high school student contemplating which one to do, I would go with Dual Enrollment. Here’s why. For the AP class you have to pass the test. The ONE test. If you don’t you don’t get credit. With Dual Enrollment you have to make a C or above. YOU do the math. πŸ™‚

And on that note, or this note, I just had to take a picture of the secretary’s office for the Writing Dept at JSU. She had her day ALL PLANNED OUT AND ORGANIZED!


She is a godsend!! πŸ™‚

Good night!


National Writing Project- Day 12

Sorry about all of these posts, but I’m trying to get caught up!!! This is the last one on the NWP until this upcoming week. Notice I didn’t say the last POST! I still need to do one for the IMWAYR meme AND Teachers Write which starts tomorrow. I’m SO sorry! I’ve been so behind! πŸ™‚

For the daily journal Rachel made a CUTE little graphic novel using the Photo Comic App.

Rachel also had her teacher demonstration which was an Earth Science lesson titled “The Changing Earth-Layers, Plates, and Quakes”. She introduced it with a power point. She gave us starbursts (yes, adding food to ANY lesson will automatically increase the effectiveness of it!! :)). We stacked them on top of each other and used our hands (and the heat from our hands) to compress them just like the earth’s core is always shifting and changing. Of course, then we got to eat them. BONUS! πŸ™‚


We watched a video on Kids Geo on plate movement. There’s a Seismo App that gives you information on earthquakes.

We worked in groups to make a foldable on the layers of the earth.


We had some reading, research, and writing time in the afternoon. I can’t wait to write a post about all of the AWESOME PD books I have been reading. Well, I can wait to write that post but you get my drift. πŸ™‚

We met with our response groups to talk about our 4th piece of writing-one of the professional ones. I wrote about the Power of Twitter and our Notice and Note book chat!! πŸ™‚

The Power of Twitter

Our round table discussion was on the effects of technology on writing. We had LOTS to discuss so here are the short hand notes I took!!

A pen IS technology.
Kids text all the time so when they write they don’t even know they have made mistakes. It looks correct to them. Abbreviations and punctuation and spelling.
Technology changes WHO can be a writer. Self-publishing.
Students need to understand the importance of writing for different audiences!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We speak differently, too, depending on who we are around. Husband’s favorite saying – I am not one of your students!
Writing differently even within one type of genre like blogging. Personal blogging vs. professional blogging. Have students write in many different modes.
Email addresses hot booty Hahahahahaha Rodney walked in!!
Formal/informal texts, emails, job applications
Technology has changed the way we interact or don’t with each other. Social skills. People eat together and don’t talk to each other.
Students are at least writing because of texting and blogging.
We as teachers MUST talk about audience even though this is a difficult aspect to teach. Have discussions about it. But if we ask them to pretend they are writing to…… But it never leaves the classroom what’s the point? They still see it as being false.
Letters of recommendation, students need to be careful of who they ask and how they acted/performed while being your student.
Social media- we need to teach kids about digital footprint and using it professionally with networking. Be careful of what you post out there. It stays forever. It follows you. Never to leave you.
The right kind of practice makes perfect, otherwise practice just makes permanent.
Study of musicians- best musicians do deliberate practice and then immediately work on one thing they need to improve. Focusing in be be thing. Same with basketball, etc. differentiated practice is what we need to do.
Give overview of things to work on, then students work on what they need to.
Form expert groups and have them teach a mini lesson on the concept/skill.
So there you have it. Sorry for the information overload, but just want EVERYONE else to feel what I’m feeling. Just kidding. Not really. πŸ˜‰

National Writing Project- Day 11

Daily Journals

Tanya- Tiki-Toki– it’s a timeline that you could use as a journal or something. You can print as PDF, embed on website, etc.
Gloria- wrote a fairy tale-It was Β hilarious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Not to mention she’s a great writer) πŸ™‚
This was the Alumni Refresher Day where past fellows of the National Writing Project were invited to come for a “refresher” day.
Gloria talked about things coming up including a workshop in July that will have Rick Shelton as the keynote presenter for the morning and afternoon!! He will be talking about the writing cycle and informational writing. There will also be 4 concurrent sessions with a choice of one. Oh, I WILL be going to this!!!!!!!!!! πŸ™‚
Remixingcollegeenglish.wordpress.comΒ is Tanya’s blog where she always posts her information from sessions where she has presented.
The future of the writing project with what Gloria knows: supposedly by beginning of October we will know if we are funded. Even if grant is awarded by federal government if we don’t get money from somewhere else we will not have a Summer 2014 Writing Project. Insert sad face here. 😦
There will be a board retreatΒ on August 2ndΒ to talk about what kind of plan they can come up with. Need fundraising ideas.
The presenter for the day was Michelle Chesson from Weaver Elementary. Her lesson was titled Writing From the Start- Β the first days of school
What do you do at the beginning of school to get to know your students? Ice breakers? I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t really do any of this because we are such a small school that we already know the students or possibly have taught them before. However, in thinking about this I realize that I might think I know the students but do I REALLY KNOW my students? What they like? How they think?
Here are some ideas that were shared.
1. Time capsule to show different kinds of growth
2. interest surveys
3. write down their goals for the year and look at again at the end of the year
4. I Can flap where they list 4 things they CAN do well
5. telling the teacher about the area like where to eat, etc.
6. elevator pitch is where they have to tell what they can about themselves, but they have to do it in the time that it would take an elevator to get from one floor to the next.
Start the first day of school with writing. Maybe start off year with personal writing and then move into other types of writing.
Looked at Common Core standards. All teachers are responsible for writing. Math, science, history.
The anchor standards show progression through the grades.
Wordles on 1st day of school. Visual poetry that can be used for all types of things.
A power point with a wordle activity “Getting to know your students with wordles ” is on teacherspayteachers. It’s free. πŸ™‚
Apps to look at:
IXL- think this costs money
Learnzillion- Melissa said this is awesome. Will have to check it out.
Grade cam- put the scantron type test under ipad OR computer web cam it will grade the test!
Story start
I diary
We had a nice catered lunch! Look at the napkin roses!
Rodney shared more tech stuff!!!!!! (SURPRISE-SURPRISE!) πŸ™‚
Go2Web20.net-lots of audio online tools
50 best apps for teachers on Scholastic
Puffin- web browser you can use on an iPad to watch flash- it is persnickety though. πŸ™‚
Photon- also shows flash on iPad.
World lands- you can scan text with iPad and converts to another language.
During our writing time we had to write a poem about the writing project. I chose to do a diamantΓ©. Not because its the easiest kind or anything. Wink-wink. πŸ™‚
One thing I have learned as a result of this writing project is that scaffolding is one of the most important things we can do for our students. Writing is hard people. Hard I tell you!!! And yet we expect our students to just do it. At this point I can say that this is one of the most important things that has been revealed to me and might be the biggest change in my instruction and classroom in August.
What do you think about scaffolding????

National Writing Project- Day 10

Daily Journals

Jennifer- A hilarious one pager with us as the characters, a sequence of events, a weather report, round table discussion, quotation, and 3 facts about Jennifer herself.
Marsha- Cute song to tune of I’ll Fly Away
Easy writer lite app– a word type document for iPad/iPhone. Lots of options!
Jennifer did an AWESOME Teacher Demonstration
The 1st thing she did was divide us into groups of 3. She gave us 1 die and 10 paper clips. We had to make up any game we wanted and play it using this instruction slip.
Its time to play a little game.
No two groups will play the same.
What and how is up to you.
The group must choose what it will do.
Use the things that you find here.
It won’t take long; you need not fear.
In six short minutes you’ll share your fame
By telling how you played your game.
She acted as a tyrant queen and made all the decisions concerning our games, etc.
This was a lead into her history lesson about the Declaration of Independence along with her english lesson on Β parallelism.
We read the Declaration of Independence and then had to create our own Declaration of Independence from her ruling. We had to structure it in some of the ways of the DofI. We used chart paper to write it out and sign it. Did this in groups. NOW I know what parallelism is-the high school teachers at my school will thank me for this because it will be easy for me to introduce this to my 6th graders!! πŸ™‚
Afterwards we watched a you tube video of Declaration of Independence for nfl-2008 maybe? They were reading it. It was cool.
It was an awesome lesson.

National Writing Project-Day 9

Holly was responsible for the daily journal.Β She did a narrative poem which was so cute!!!

Marsha did her teacher demonstration on how to utilize a one pager in the classroom. A one pager is a concise response to reading.
Visit here for some good ideas. One Pagers
Could use one pagers with any subject or class. Another way to summarize what has been learned.
She gave each one of us a poetry book to choose a poem from. Then we had to create a one pager using our choice of technology. I was going to use Glogster, but I didn’t have the brain for it. It’s not as user friendly as I would like, or maybe I just need to have a bigger chunk of time to learn how to use it. I went with Padlet. It’s VERY user friendly!!
Here’s the rest of the one pagers created by everyone
And that’s all folks because I forgot to take notes the rest of the day!!!! πŸ™‚

National Writing Project-Day 8


Linda- Aphorisms- Cute

Rachel- Halftone app
Took pictures and screenshots of what we did.
Teacher Demonstration:
Tanya- Gamification in the classroom- we need to figure out why it’s so appealing
Role play writing- This is actually a genre of writing. Similar to fan fiction- Writing own stories on the characters of a certain fiction book.
Role play writing is taking on the character’s person and writing dialogue, then swapping with other character and letting them write.
Students had to pick a role that they would immerse themselves in for whole semester.
Doctors, military, legal uses role play.
It allows us to practice behaviors in a safe environment.
Gamers learn as they play. Writing immersion occurs because writers learn as they write. Gamers don’t listen to lectures to learn how to play the game. Learn from mistakes, knowing how to fix them, and correcting them.(Very true!!)
All writing is performance.
Habits of the Mind– learning how to think critically of the text they’re analyzing.
1. Point of view- who said it and why
2. Evidence- how do you know that
3. Connections- is there a link or causal relationship
4. Alternatives- what if?
5. Significance- so what?
Showed us examples of role-playing.
Criminal defense attorney: She put together a case file on an abduction. For what if she used the newspaper creator for her story. For final project she created an entire website devoted to finding missing people.
Someone used glogster to create an evidence board like you would see in a squad room. Crime scene photos, transcripts of interviews.
Someone created a Facebook page for victim in story. Did this over the course of several days to show his mood leading up to the crime.
They had to interview someone who actually does this role for a living. Then write expository essay on how to think like this person.
We created a padlet display from the role of a psychologist with interview/transcript notes. Put epitaph and picture of Richard Cory.
Other group: Barbie poem- my secret diary app to do journal of her thoughts
Tombstone builder.com to make a virtual tombstone-this is VERY cool
Newspaper creator to make newspaper article
Round Table Discussion- flipping the classroom- supposed to be where more individualized instructino/engaging stuff can take place in the classroom
Doesn’t have to be technology. πŸ™‚ Can be reading information, etc.
Problem I have is that it’s still homework which I’m not a fan of.
Does your brain hurt like mine????? πŸ™‚
This is a picture of our aphorisms that we created. I created mine on toondo. Very easy except it took me awhile to figure out how to save/email/print. Surprised? HA! πŸ™‚