Sunday, July 22, 2012

TMT Summer Writing Group - Week Eight

It's week eight of our gruelingly fun Teachers Write! Bravo and a round of applause to everyone who is still hanging in there or is joining in now or took a break and is back! The important thing is you are here! Thank you for checking in and helping support me and others. Also, thanks again (because I just can't say it enough) to Kate and Gae for their work on each of their blogs supporting all of us!

On Friday, I spent all afternoon on Spreecast with Gae Polisner and so many Teachers Write friends for our Progress Pool Party. It was the perfect way to end the week! After all this time interacting in blog posts and comments, it seemed like I was just visiting with friends…except we were still all online.
@gaepol, @mentortexts, @kagmoran, and @astarowicz
Gae and I hosted five reading sessions on Friday. There were a few technical difficulties and we feel extremely bad for those who weren’t able to join us but the Teachers Write participants who did seemed to have a great time. There was waving and clapping and lots of feedback given for those who shared their writing. It was like Gae’s Friday Feedback brought to life!
@brianwyzlic, @mentortexts, @alissagrosso, and @gaepol
Before the party, I opened the timer on my phone and started reading, watching the seconds closely to find a 90-second or 2-minute section. When I found a few just-right passages, I then went back to reread them. I practiced changing my voice for the male and female dialogue. I also made sure I knew where I would pause and slow down or speed up or add inflection – all those things good readers do.

Since so far I have focused on writing a first draft, I haven’t revised my writing yet. As I prepared, I found myself revisiting parts of my draft that I haven’t look at since I first wrote them. Parts I haven’t looked at since the summer started. I've already learned to quickly spot changes to make – looking out for words I repeat too often or unnecessary description, like telling the reader a coffee table is in front of me when that’s usually where coffee tables are, duh.

Reading it aloud helped me hear if sentences flowed on their own and with each other. It helped me decide if my dialogue made sense and sounded believable. I remember teachers always recommending I read my work aloud and I recommend it often to students. I suggest they read their writing aloud to see if it makes sense and to listen for mistakes. I tell them to whisper-read if they are in class and want to go over their work. Guess what? There’s a reason to do this. It really does help to see what changes need to be made when you read your work aloud.

Thanks to our Teachers Write Progress Pool Party, I was able to experience what it's like to prepare for a reading and I even learned a bit about revising - I was so aware of my audience. I always have to reread what I have written before anyone reads it - this is true for blog posts or Friday Feedback - but this feeling was completely heightened when it was going to be me reading live and getting instant feedback in the moment from valued friends.

The Progress Pool Party reinforced my strong belief that having trustworthy people to listen and give constructive feedback – the kind of feedback that makes you want to make your writing better instead of making you want to crawl into a hole and eat your WIP so no one else will ever have to endure it - makes a huge difference in my writing. I honestly owe my success this summer in sticking with my writing to Teachers Write and the amazing support of this community. To everyone who has been part of Teachers Write! and has joined in on Friday Feedback and our weekly check-ins here at Teach Mentor Texts: Thank You! I appreciate you and I truly hope it has been as helpful to you!

My rules for the TMT Summer Writing Group:
1. We respect each other and the types of writing we do.
2. We only criticize each other constructively.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Today, in the comments section:
How has being part of Teachers Write influenced your writing this summer?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the not-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The bet part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week of writing!

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