Friday, February 6, 2015

59 Reasons to Write

Teachers Write changed me. It changed my life - as an educator, as a blogger, as a writer, as a person. I'll never forget when Kate Messner told me she mapped out a plan for a virtual summer writing camp for teachers while on her morning bike ride back in 2012. 

The first thing I thought was Kate Messner is amazing. 
And the second thing I thought was Hooray! 

I had been writing but I wasn't sure what I was doing, how I was doing, or where I was going. I was writing but I was lost. And then Kate dreamed up Teachers Write and I didn't just feel found, I felt wrapped up in a writer hug - safe and secure, supported and taken seriously. I know now that when someone takes you seriously, it's a whole lot easier to take yourself seriously. And when someone else believes in you - stands next to you and supports you - you can't help but feel safe and secure. With Teachers Write, I had what I needed to write more, to explore what worked and what didn't, to try new things, to think about how writing myself would help me know how to better help student writers. The Teachers Write community helped - and still helps - me immensely. Kate and Gae and Jo, the generous, book-related people and all the teachers taking risks in writing have all touched my heart. 
Me and Kate Messner - Our Amazing Teachers Write Leader

Now, I get to celebrate Teachers Write in a new way - by sharing Kate's new book 59 Reasons to Write. The GoodReads summary shares this description: "Throughout the book she offers mini-lessons, writing prompts, and bursts of inspiration designed to get you writing every day, whether on your own or as part of a group. Dozens of guest authors also share their writing processes and secrets, from brainstorming ideas and organizing research to developing characters and getting unstuck from writer’s block." Fabulous, right?

Kate points out what writers do - how teachers might do it, too - and then how students might as well! It's perfect. Kate talks about how writing along with students impacted her writing instruction. How she looked at texts as models but how her own writing became a model for students as well. She talks about the process and how writing scared is good - maybe even great. Kate explores plot and character, fiction and non-fiction. And she asks her writer friends to talk about these things (and more) as well. 59 Reasons to Write gave me ideas for my session for Day 1 of NerdCamp Michigan and I'm sure you'll find ideas for your own writing and for your students. Every one of the 59 reasons is great. 

I believe in writing with students and helping them have an authentic writing experience instead of fixing sentences in workbooks or finding figurative language on a worksheet. Here's what Kate has to say:

"Writing this book has reminded me of the joy in the journey,
the importance of celebrating process, 
for ourselves and for the writers we teach.
When we write alongside them, we are more than teachers; 
we are mentors and travelers on the same 
rocky path of the writing process." (p. 196)

The process is a journey and there is so much to learn along the way. I couldn't agree more with Kate, traveling with our students is critical. Whether you already write with your students or are ready to embark on the journey with them, I hope you'll read 59 Reasons to Write!

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