Sunday, May 24, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/25/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I had a great week listening to Ungifted by Gordon Korman. It was fun when a student recommended it and I could say I was listening to it. Peanut and I are so so so close to finishing Wayside School. I've also been reading Lost In The Sun by Lisa Graff and am so intrigued by the characters and can't wait to read more.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm looking forward to finally making it to the library for new books but also hoping to finish at least one of the super many books I've started over the last few weeks. I've been mostly caught up in end-of-the-school-year fun and working on revisions but am hoping to get more reading time in soon. I've clearly had trouble keeping up with blog posts so I'm not even committing to any this week and we'll have to see what happens. 

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The One Where I Go Around The World With Twitter #sol15


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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It amazes me that all because of Twitter, I have great friends who I can visit with and learn from all over the country...and even some people around the world. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to connect because I truly don't think I would have found all these wonderful people without Twitter or technology.

On Friday, I had coffee with Taylor Meredith, @forfeedback, and we talked about being out of the classroom but still keeping our passion for teaching. Then on Saturday, I ran (and sometimes walked...) an 8k with Greg Armamentos, @dashthebook, and we talked about writing and teaching the entire time. 

I spent all evening driving downstate to visit my friend, Katherine Sokolowski. I'm excited to spend the day in her classroom talking with her students about reading and writing. A couple months ago, I did the same thing in Jilian Heise's class. 

Now I'm in Monticello, Illinois and tomorrow I'll be meeting with another recent Twitter friend, Patience Bertana, @pbertana, back home. 

For the last thirteen years, I've worked in the same district. It's a large district and we have a lot of teachers I've been fortunate to meet and get to know since I have worked there, but I'm in love with how much my world has expanded thanks to Twitter. I have so many different perspectives I can connect with and learn from - whether I can be there in person or virtually. 

Visiting other districts, spending time in classrooms, seeing what the have on their walls, how they organize their time, how they spend the precious minutes they have with teachers has allowed me to add ideas to my teaching toolbox. If your district gives you time to visit other classrooms in or out of your district, I highly recommend taking advantage of this! And if not, I believe it might be worthy of a personal day to see what other teachers to firsthand. 

In Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon talks about how all artists are taking little bits of ideas from different people and putting them together to come up with our own ideas or style. When it comes to writing, this is exactly what a mentor text is all about. But this happens - or can happen - in teaching as well. I believe we are all better when we put our heads together...and if we can, then why not?

Have you had a positive experience visiting someone's else classroom or seeing how another person works? I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/18/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
It took me all week to finish I'll Give You The Sun but I finally know Jude and Noah's story. Honestly, writing (and revising) my own novel makes me appreciate books like I'll Give You The Sun. I found myself paying extra close attention to the characters and their emotions and how Jandy Nelson brings them to life. 

I started listening to Ungifted by Gordon Korman and think I'll finish it early this week. Peanut and I are still reading Sideways Stories from Wayside School. We read Who Wants a Hug? by Jeff Mack and I took it to work for a friend who wanted to borrow it to read to his kids. I love sharing picture books with colleauges.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm sure I'll finish Ungifted but I didn't make it to the library over the weekend as I had hoped so we'll see what comes next! I have a few physical books I need to finish up so maybe I'll get back to those, too! I'm trying my reviews all over again...hopefully this week, I'll actually get them up! 

Last Week's Reviews:
 
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!


Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/11/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I'm so in love with I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson! I'm over halfway through and the writing is so unique. I can't wait to see where the story goes. I'm also rereading Real Revision by Kate Messner as I work through revisions again. Peanut and I finished Fake Mustache and are hoping Tom Angleberger writes a sequel. Then we started Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar and after only a few chapters, Peanut is cracking up. Love it! I also started Lost In The Sun by Lisa Graff.
Last Week's Reviews:
 
Click on the picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Finishing I'll Give You The Sun this week has me super excited. I'm looking forward to reading more of Sideways Stories with Peanut and reading more of Lost In The Sun

Last Week's Reviews:
 
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The One With Shiny New Neighbors #sol15


Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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Guess what!? We have new neighbors! I love new neighbors when new neighbors are friendly and nice and have a baby. We met them when they stopped in last week and then the moving truck was officially here over the weekend. When they told us they were moving in, I felt a surge of exhilaration. I'm such a fan of people in general but this couple seemed like two women I could seriously be friends with and they would be living two doors down. I imagined my kids playing with their six-month-old son, hanging out in the driveway on summer nights, borrowing a cup of sugar from time to time. 

After they went inside, I looked across the driveways at one of my long-time neighbors, threw my arms in the air and silently cheered. She laughed at me, swatting the air to tell me to calm down. I can't help it. I love making new friends but her reaction reminded me that I need to not freak them out by being overly excited. It's hard to help it though; when I get excited, I get excited.

It reminded me of this awesome John Green quote about being a nerd.

"...nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff…Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”

Speaking of uncontrollable excitement. I found out last week that a proposal I'm part of for NCTE was accepted. I'm thrilled to be sharing how teachers might empower students to engage in passion-driven research. After visiting many classrooms over the past three years, I've found that teachers who are sincerely energized and enthusiastic about what they're teaching are the teachers who seem to get the students motivated about learning, too. One of my teacher friends who will be presenting with me at NCTE is totally a teacher who is passionate about her subject and that genuine love of learning clearly carries over into her students. 

So maybe I get a little too excited about the potential of extremely awesome new neighbors moving in, but shouldn't we all have something we get jump-up-and-down, throw-your-arms-up-in-the-air excited about from time to time? And wouldn't everything be more fun if we geeked out once in a while? 

What gets you hop-out-of-your-seat excited? I would love to hear about it!
Why hold back your excitement for anything you truly enjoy?
How might we help students feel free to express their enthusiastic nerdiness?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/4/15

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
We had fun with picture books from the library, especially The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach and Leopardpox! by Orna Landau. I finished I Was Here by Gayle Forman and it excellent and now I'm listening to I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson. It's fascinating so far. I read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon and I would recommend it to anyone and am still working on Our Iceberg Is Melting by Kotter and Rathgeber which is an interesting look at change management.
Last Week's Reviews:
 
Click on the picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm really intrigued by I'll Give You The Sun and we still have lots of picture books to read so I'm excited to find time to read them!

Last Week's Reviews:
 
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The One With Ten Things About My Writing #sol15

Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here

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My writing life has been up and down and fast and slow this school year. I entered a contest called Pitch Wars in the fall and was chosen to be mentored by two amazing women. I worked like crazy to revise my young adult novel to get it ready for the agent round. Since then, I've sent some queries and have even received my first...and second and third rejections. It's still hard to believe how far I've come from the NaNo wannabe I was in 2012. 

This July will be the fourth summer of Teachers Write and I'm so thrilled to connect with the amazing Teachers Write community again. One of my fellow Pitch Wars contestants, Tara Sim,  did a post on 10 Things About My Writing based on a post from Clarissa Harwood and I thought it would be fun to play along. The Sunday Check-In here at TMT during Teachers Write is all about reflecting on how things are going and figuring out what works best for you. So in the spirit of going all meta just for fun, even though it's not summer yet, here are 10 things I've learned about myself as a writer over the past few years.

1. I find characters all over the place. Usually I find someone intriguing and then I start to build his or her story, adding little pieces as I collect observations until I have a clear picture and am ready to write. I love seeing a person and trying to come up with a story for him or her. People are fascinating to me.

2. I let ideas grow before I let them out of my head. I collect my characters, piecing together who they are, what their stories are, how their stories intertwine, and then I start to free write. But it takes a while of them rolling around and growing like snowballs before I let a story out of my head.

 3. I may actually have too much fun describing. I've noticed there are times when I over-describe something and need go back and revise down. I just love the beauty of words all bundled up in pretty sentences.

4. Writing helps me process. When I read The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown, I recognized that I'm a word doodler. I like writing words and tracing over them, or writing something over and over again. It helps me remember but also lets me work through ideas and better understand concepts. Whether I'm writing fiction or non-fiction, it usually helps me refine my thoughts.

5. I can write anywhere. As a kid, (and still) I can read anywhere. It doesn't matter if there's a party going on, a rollercoaster rumbling by, a jet plane landing right in front of me, I can zone it all out and stay in the moment. This works for me as a writer, too. Sometimes, I like to drown out the sounds so I can concentrate but for the most part, I can block out distractions and zone in. 

6. Even though I haven't experienced everything my characters have, I try to build in the feelings I've had and link them to my characters. I love that writing lets readers into the characters' brains. It lets them truly know what it might be like to experience something novel and capturing those feelings means a lot to me as a writer.

7. Blank pages don't scare me. A couple of years ago on a writing retreat with Brenda Power of Choice Literacy, I picked up a card that said, "Bring it on, blank page!" and it was probably one of the most empowering moments as a writer. To know that I can face anything and that there is no reason to be scared by a blank page helped me see more clearly how to embrace sloppy copies and to cherish the process.

8. I couldn't do it without my friends. I'm so thankful for the Teachers Write community and other writing friends I have discovered along the way. I'm so inspired by other writers - other creators - people who do something they love, who share their work, who own the process, who help motivate me. I'm so grateful to not have to meander through this on my own. I realize now more than ever just how critical it is for me to have writing buddies to feed off of. At the same time, I have friends who read what I'm writing and have really pushed me to think through my writing in such a different lens. 

9. The longer I have to write, the better. I used to try and sneak in snatches of time to write and it still works for me but I really love being able to get lost in my words. To just block everything else out and give myself to drafting of revising or whatever it may be. I could get lost in writing for hours if only I could stop time...

10. Mentor texts truly rock. When I started this blog, I knew I loved mentor texts and I used them all the time with students. But now I pay attention with so much more intensity and specificity. I can spot what techniques an author is using and I think about how they might have made a word choice or other craft move intentionally. And any text is helpful to me, from fiction novels, to non-fiction picture books, poetry, prose, any genre, it all helps me and I love having amazing models to learn from.

What I love about writing 10 things about my writing is that it's just me. Maybe you'll read this and see how we are similar or maybe you'll read this and think, I could never do that or I never thought about that, but I think that's the beauty of sharing. Each of us needs to recognize how we work, what works best for us, what motivates and inspires us. And then what if we had conversations with students about what works for them? What if we helped student writers see that there isn't one right way, that their 10 things about writing might be totally different and that would be awesome?