Sunday, July 19, 2015

Teachers Write - Sunday Check-In 4.2

Last week, I shared some of my favorite books about writing. This week, I finished reading In Pictures and In Words by Katie Wood Ray. In Pictures and In Words focuses on building stamina for writing in young students and encouraging them to use pictures in their work and to study illustrations. I love the emphasis on visual literacy, especially after reading The Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown earlier this year and realizing how important it is.

Today, I'm sharing some of Katie Wood Ray's words from In Pictures and In Words as inspiration to recognize that we're writing, we're doing it, but also to reflect (again) about what works and doesn't work for us during the process and how we might share this experience with students. I hope you find some inspiration and keep-going-ness here but also that you add this to your TBR pile as it's full of so many great ideas for lessons with students.
"As long as I've been at this business of writing, I still have that moment of dread when the screen is completely blank and I've got to get something started." (p. 20)

"The central reality of my work life when I'm writing is facing down blank pages and a ticking clock. It takes a certain measure of discipline, and - it occurs to me,  faith - to sit so long in a chair and work at writing." (p. 20)

"With blank paper in front of them, students have to learn how to make something out of nothing, and they must learn to come back and next day and do it again." (p. 21) *and so do we!

"For children to grow up as writers under the care of teachers, those teachers must teach them how to show up and move forward, how to be both the boat and the wind for their forward motion as writers." (p. 21)

"I only know that my ability to sit in a chair and stay focused and go from nothing to something day after day is the most important ability I possess as a proficient writer. It's the truest thing I know about writing - the time spent in my chair in front of a computer. I use my own good measure of persistence, initiative, flexibility, and attention to get my work done. I can't imagine teaching writers, whether they are five or fifty-five without making the development of stamina a prominent goal of that teaching." (p. 33)

"...readers don't see the process behind what they read. They only see the end result of that process. Readers never know the things they see in texts that woke the writers in the night." (p. 37)

"Because process is invisible in finished texts, the only way a person come to really understand writing as process is to engage in the act itself, to go from nothing to something and see how that happens. Teachers of writing, in particular, need to understand lots about how writing comes to be if they are to support children in this work." (p. 38)

"...anyone who writes knows that she will prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish along the way. But the thing is, these aren't steps writers follow, they're just names for kinds of things (sometimes lots of kinds of things) that happen along the way when writers write." (p. 39)

"There is no one right way." (p. 40)

"Text - whether it's composed with words of pictures or both - doesn't just happen by accident. Text happens because someone makes it happen and decides it should be that way, and all that making and deciding is the essence of the process." (p. 42-43)

"Children need to know that if they can imagine it, they can try it - and trying is what will be celebrated." (p. 50)

"...a writer is much more like to notice what another writer is doing than someone who doesn't write. We're all in the same game, after all." (p. 59)

"Because I spend so much of my life writing, whenever I read, I read with the eyes of someone who will be writing again herself, and very soon. I read as an insider and, without a doubt, every act of reading deepens my understanding of the craft (or lack of craft) of writing, whether I'm conscious of it or not. I believe this ability to read as a writer and understand all texts as being the product of another writer's decision making is one of the most important habits of mind teachers can help students develop." (p. 61)


I love her attention to how deliberate writing is. We sit down, we work at it, we make choices that impact our writing, we experience the process, we celebrate and share this with students. It's possible. 

My Teachers Write Weekly Recap:
This week, I decided 25-minutes writing sprints were the way to go if I wanted to add words to my new WIP. I set my timer for 25 minutes, told myself not to worry about what I was writing and wrote. One time I only had 537 words but another time I had 1,300. My goal was to get in 1,000 words a day for a total of 7,000 words. And I did it! I actually made it 7,106 words. I have a little over 33,000 words now and it feels awesome.

The hardest part of this week was accepting that there are some scenes where the words flow and there are others where I stare at the screen before words come. I need to keep reminding myself that it's all a first draft and that any words will do.

The total highlight of my week was meeting up with Greg Armamentos and Michele Knot at a local Starbucks to chat about writing and get some work done. I'm so in love with writing and it's fun to be around others who inspire me.
Michele Knott, me and Greg Armamentos having some selfie stick fun!
I'm going to stick with my 1,000 words a day plan and shoot for another 7,000 words this week. I can't wait to hear all about your week and how it went for you and your goals for this week. Believe it or not, we're halfway through with Teachers Write already! Let's stay strong for the next two weeks. I'm already proud of what you have done but know the next to weeks will be worth it too!

A reminder of my rules for Teachers Write Sunday Check-Ins:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we do.
2. We only offer constructive criticism.
3. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
4. We recognize and maintain this as a safe environment.

Today, in the comments section:
What (if anything) do you understand differently or more deeply 
about writing and the process after two weeks of Teachers Write?
Do any of Katie Wood Ray's words speak to you?
How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
What are you looking forward to and planning for the week ahead?

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