Monday, June 24, 2013

A Writerly Focus to Begin TeachersWrite! Summer Writing

Today was the first day of TeachersWrite! Writing Camp 2013!  I am PUMPED!  I've got my bug spray, and my swimsuit, and sunscreen, my face paint is ready for color wars, and lots and lots of string to make lanyards...what? No mosquitoes on the internet? Not really a sleepaway camp, you say?  No one actually goes anywhere?  Not even canoeing?


Well, anyway, I'm still awfully pumped to put my writer-hat back on again, and I look forward to all the fun things that the authors will have for us to do this summer.  If you don't know what it is, look at Kate Messner's webpage, and she'll explain it better than I ever could.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.

I knoq, right?  Did you SEE the LIST OF YA and MG AUTHORS she has all lined up to offer us suggestions, advice, and feedback?  Did you see how many teachers have responded already to just the first prompt(s)?  Hey, in case you didn't catch it, there's two prompts on a Monday - one from Kate and one from author, Jo Knowles on her blog.  Yeah, Jo Knowles, author of one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE middle grade books, See You At Harry's.  I'll admit to being an geek overachiever, and so I did both.

Kate's asked for what our writer's notebooks are like.  On reflection, I've been re-inventing tweaking the concept of a writer's notebook for my students every year for the last six years.  They evolve a lot little more every year when I try to figure out what they should include for organization purposes.  It's likely possible that I need to lighten up about this a little.  Perhaps less is more when it comes to sectioning off notebooks, but I HATE when I my students have to struggle to find what they're looking for in their own writing.  My own writer's notebooks have very little rhyme or reason, save The Red Moleskine - it has one definable section - the reading log.

This year will see my students with both a Reader's Notebook AND a Writer's Notebook.  I'm hoping that it will be easier for them to manage.  Here are mine:

Notebook 1: The Red Moleskine - For on the run ideas, reading log, and sudden observations.

Notebook 2: The Green Composition Notebook - This is a back-up notebook for Write Club (our school's faculty writing group) and a place where I keep lists of mentor texts and model pieces of my own writing specifically for my students to see.  There's something comforting and nostalgic and important about that blotchy cardboard cover and bound pages.  I always have one available.

Notebook 3: The Yellow Legal Pad.  I love these.  All my best writing (that doesn't happen on the computer) happens on those.  There's something inviting and less scary about a yellow page, rather than a scary blank white one.  I prefer the heavier weight of paper, and I paper clip things into it obsessively as a I write.  This is my main writing notebook for Write Club.  As you can see, the top page is a map of my memories that was created from a Write Club prompt.  It centers around my experiences during summers at my Grandma Thompson's house in Southern Illinois.

The Pen:  I have, this last year, become a great fan of fountain pens.  Yes, they are messy.  Yes, they are sometimes a tad unreliable.  However, that being said, you can refill and reuse them again and again.  Those of you who have a favorite pen and love the weight of it in your hand as you write or annotate life, know how heartbreaking it is to have to throw away that old friend when it dries up.  A fountain pen stays a friend for a good long time.

Here is my response to the prompt from Jo Knowles.  You can probably infer the question/task from my answer:

Creating the World

This dovetails so neatly with the portion of 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson that I've just finished up today. Love that man. He is a gem! The 3rd "Thing" that writers need is FOCUS. Towards the end of the chapter, Anderson gives examples of having students summarize their point of view to make sure they've maintained focus throughout their piece.

A one-sentence summary of why I write?

Reading is to consume and understand the world around you, but writing is to create the world; and I wish not just to consume, but to create.

So, with that, I leave to read and write a bit more tonight!

1 comment:

  1. Jess,
    The voice of your piece kept me reading all the way to the end. You have a variety of good uses for your notebooks. I love that your faculty has a writing club. Wowza!! That's amazing.

    I look forward to following the world you create here in the weeks to come. I had only picked up paper, my iPhone, and a pen --- oh, and a cup of coffee --- but, you have me realizing I need so much more. Off to collect bug spray, sunscreen, my swimsuit, a Nerf water blaster and all the other things that make camp fun.