Monday, June 11, 2012

Friday Feedback, Sunday Reflection...on a Monday Morning

You get three blogs today for the price of one.  Three!?! Why that's practically a windfall of blogaliciousness!  Bear with me.  I have three tasks that I'm trying to combine into one.  

1. Feedback Friday
2. Sunday Reflection, in which I was asked to answer the following questions:

  1. How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
  2. What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-fun part?)
  3. What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
  4. What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?
Read more

3. Monday's Mini-Lesson (Outlining)

     Friday, for TeachersWrite!, we were asked to do Feedback on Gae Polisner's blog. This involved giving feedback on the writing she and others posted there and posting something of our own that we wanted feedback on.  So, I read the piece Gae put up and left my comments.  
     I did this, and I felt like I left helpful, descriptive commentary, until I read her very patient reply. In it, she pointed out that some of the comments I had made were based on an incorrect assumption I had made that this was the beginning of the chapter.  In fact, in the post that she wrote RIGHT BEFORE THE WRITING SAMPLE, she explains that it's from the END of the chapter and not the beginning.  Clear as day.  I felt like a total loser. (NOT from anything Gae said. Please note that she was, as always, gracious and kind in her reply.)
     This brought up two things for me to consider about my own responses to my students' writing. 

1) I shouldn't get so frustrated when they don't read all the directions.  Especially when I'm just as guilty of it as they are.  I need to be more patient and leave plenty of time to go back and respond again once they've done their responses as I've instructed.
2) Are my students really hearing/seeing my comments the WAY that I've stated them? Or am I so strident in my comments that they are turned off by my tone?

      I looked more closely at the comments I had left and thought back to the feedback I've been lucky enough to get from other writers in the past.  I felt like my comments were couched in kind and helpful terms, or at least not as helpful and kind as ones that I look at and appreciate.  Would I like getting feedback from me?  I don't know.  There's definitely room for improvement there.
     So, the next bit was that I was supposed to leave a few paragraphs of my own writing in the comments section to get feedback from Gae and the other writers. But, I didn't leave any of my own writing for feedback because I didn't have a piece that I was...I couldn't find a...there was no point really, because...

Okay, those are what excuses sound like.  

      I didn't put anything of my own up there, because I was scared.  (Who ME?)  Doesn't make sense, does it?  I publish my stuff on my blog all the time, right?  What's the big deal?    Well, it's different when you think SOMEONE WILL ACTUALLY READ IT.  I don't blog much, and so I don't have a very large readership, and still feels surprisingly private or intimate to post on my own blog.  But to post my work on someone else's - where people would give it actual feedback?  I'm suddenly gun-shy.  
      I have pieces, relatively recently written, that I'm proud of, but to expose it to other writers?  That's never easy, especially when I don't know any of them personally.  This must be the very same fear my students face whenever I ask them to submit their work to their peers or to me for feedback.  It's not necessarily logical, because in our hearts we know it's because we want to get better as writers, but it still exists.  What if they hate it?  What if I suck at this?
     So this segues into Goal 2 very nicely...

How did I do this week? Did I meet my weekly goal?
      Errr...I'll admit I was late to the party.  I didn't start until Wednesday, which meant I didn't really SET a goal...
That said, I still feel like I learned some important things about my own approach to writing, and I began writing again.  Both of which are important.  So...GO ME!
What was the pit of my week?
      See above. I let my fear overrun my desire to get better.  I didn't submit for feedback.  The tone of my feedback is not what I wanted it to be.  I didn't read the directions.
What was the peak of my week?
      Reflecting on the writing and responses and connecting my own experience to what my students must go through.  I hope to incorporate this new empathy into my teaching in the upcoming year.
What am I looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?
      I'm looking forward to revising my novel The Secret Order of Extraordinary Outcastz, outlining my WIP - The Rude Awakening of Marlon Grunt, and writing this blog.  Plus I have some story ideas for a yearly 10-minute play competition I that I'd like to outline - both as practice for some adaptations of Ray Bradbury short stories I want to do for fall and to get some pieces ready for next year's competition.  And, my youngest nephew, B., has come up with a BRILLIANT idea for a picture book based on Lois Grambling's Can I Have A Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dad? Can I Please?  We're going to try and create his book by the end of summer.

     Alright, I admit it - I wanted to do the character poem on Jo Knowles' blog this morning, instead of the outlining one on Kate Messner's blog using Sally Wilkins' lesson. You know what that means, right?   This is not a value judgment on either lesson. They are both EXCELLENT.  It's me.  I'm weaker in planning and organization than inspiration.  I never have trouble coming up with ideas, but I often have trouble making them complete storylines - beginning to end, and I have trouble pacing them in such a way as to best hook my reader. (It's not YOU, Outlining. It's ME.  I'd love it if we could still be friends, though, okay?)
      Therefore, in the interest of getting better at something difficult for me, I chose to do the outlining.  In babysteps.  I'm starting with two ideas I have for Heartland Theatre's Annual 10-Minute Play Competition for next year (I just attended the showcase of this year's winners - SO much fun!).  However, I know a couple of the judges, and I don't want to stymie my chance of entering a good idea because they happened to take a peek at my blog and it's all right there - it's blind judging and I don't want to endanger that.  SO, we'll start with my nephew, B's good idea for a picture book:

10 Reasons Why You Should Buy Me A Goat

by B.K. & J. Wisniewski

  1. 1.    Page 1
    ·      Dear Mom and Dad,
    ·      I think it would be best for our whole family if you bought me a goat.  It would really improve our lives in the following ways:
    ·      Picture of Mom and Dad reading my letter
    2.    Pages 2-3
    ·      #1 You wouldn’t have to take me to the bus stop anymore
    ·      I could ride him like a me-sized horse.
    ·      I could steer him by the horns!
    ·      Drawing of me riding a goat with a cowboy hat to bus stop - line of kids looking at me in different ways. Sign that says "Goat Parking Only"
    3.    Pages 4-5
    ·      #2 If you ran out of milk and had a meeting, I could go FOR you!
    ·      Fun fact about goats and how far they travel or historically how they were used for travel/pack animals
    ·      Picture of me and the goat at the grocery, goat with baskets strapped on him like saddlebags, reaching for cereal with his mouth, me with a list
    4.    Page 6
    ·      #3 They eat anything! Even pea soup with broccoli! (So I wouldn’t have to.)
    ·      Fun fact about what goats really will eat
    ·      Picture of me+soup=icky face
    ·      Picture of goat+soup=my happy face
    5.    Page 7
    ·      #4 Dad would never have to mow the lawn again!
    ·      Fun fact about how goats are sometimes used for this
    ·      Picture of_________________
    6.    Page 8
    ·      #5 You’d never have to clean the floors again! I could strap a vacuum to his back and some brushes to his hooves!
    ·      Picture of__________________
    7.    Page 9
    ·      #6 He could help serve at dinner parties! Strap a platter to his back.
    ·      Picture of goat in tuxedo, serving drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
    8.    Pages 10-11
    ·      #7 He could teach me to speak Goat or Spanish or Arabic or Swahili or German... It's important to be open to other cultures.
    ·      Fun fact about how many cultures/countries where goats are present as working animals
    ·      Picture of international goats in international outfits all saying "mehehehehe"
    9.    Pages 12-13
    ·      #8 Can goats swim?  If so, he could help me learn to water-ski! Or he could get a job as a lifeguard.
    ·      Fun fact about goats and swimming
    ·      Picture of goat driving boat while I water-ski.
    ·      Picture of goat on lifeguard chair with sunglasses, whistle, sunscreen
    10.                  Pages 14-15
    ·      #9 He could carry Dad’s tools around the garage for him like a walking toolbox when he’s fixing something in his workshop!
    ·      Fun fact about goat strength/how they are used as pack animals
    ·      Picture of goat on slidey-thing underneath car next to Dad
    11.                  Page 16
    ·      #10 Best. Security Guard. Ever.
    ·      Fun facts about injuries caused by goats or what kind of impact they have when they charge at someone/each other
    ·      Fun facts about fainting goats
    ·      Picture of goat(s) in police/security uniforms, one who has fainted, the other saying - it was just a rabbit.
    12.                  Page 17
    ·      Sincerely, B.
    ·      P.S. His name is Albert, and they let me bring him home for a trial run. 
    ·      Picture - letter torn and Albert chewing on it.

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