Saturday, October 31, 2015

JOIN: Celebrate This Week - Story Exploratory and NaNoWriMo


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.



Last week, while the kids were at swimming lessons, splashing away in the pool, I bought a domain name and set up this blog, a sweet place for me to explore my story, share my love of writing, and hopefully inspire others.

So here we are.

And I'm so happy you are here to celebrate with me today!

Thanks to the remarkable Ruth Ayres, Saturdays are reserved for celebration. I've been celebrating with Ruth on my Teach Mentor Texts blog for a long time. It's definitely a highlight of my week and I'm happy to bring celebration to Story Exploratory. 

To be honest, making the choice to start Story Exploratory didn't just happen on a whim at swimming lessons. I've been thinking dreaming about how I might share more of my story as a writer for a long time. Writing makes me feel empowered and maybe it sounds cheesy but I would love if others would get to feel that way too. Sharing my story seems like the best way to start. 

That doesn't mean it wasn't scary. But I decided that when something feels scary, it doesn't mean you should give up. It means you have a chance to be brave.
So here we are (again).

Starting Story Exploratory is enough to celebrate but I'm starting on another crazy adventure tomorrow too.

Tomorrow is November 1st and that means NaNoWriMo! Just typing it makes me wince but I already signed up so I'm not looking back now. The first time I tried NaNoWriMo was in 2011. I so totally did not win NaNoWriMo...at all. 

Of course, that's part of what freaks me out about doing it now BUT I wouldn't have a super polished novel that I'm querying if I hadn't started it four years ago. 

It seems worth it to start a new draft...to get as far as I possibly can...whether I win NaNoWriMo or not. So I signed up. 

Last night I worked on my beat sheet, which is my super-skeletal outline based on Blake Snyder's Save The Cat. If you're thinking of writing a novel, I definitely recommend it. I've been thinking about these characters for a couple of years and finally getting ready to tell their story is exciting. Plus the story is set at a pool so I get to "live" in summer even though it will be November. How fun is that!?
I'm looking forward to having so much more to celebrate here. If you're doing NaNoWriMo too, please let me know! We can suffer the torture have so much fun together.

And if not, *maybe* next year. ;) 

No, seriously, if not, what are you celebrating? I've got (virtual) confetti at the ready! Thanks for stopping in to explore with me!

Let's Celebrate Story Exploratory!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

*                  *                   *

This week I'm celebrating Story Exploratory!

*throws confetti*

I'm staring at my screen, taking deep breaths, and willing words to come out.

Here they are

words.

I love words...so I started a new blog: Story Exploratory


I'll still be reviewing books and sharing thoughts here but I'll talk more about my own writing and writing in general at Story Exploratory. I would love for you to check it out, see what you think, and give me any feedback you have to offer. If you like what you see, you can follow @storyxploratory on Twitter and like the Story Exploratory Facebook page

Thanks for stopping by here and there! Starting Story Exploratory comes after lots of thinking and finally pushing myself to take a risk to follow a dream. It's scary but exciting at the same time, which I think might be the definition of courage. And I think that's cause for major celebration. Thanks for being here to celebrate with me!

What are you celebrating this week?

Friday, October 30, 2015

WRITE: Why Are You Here?


Our life is made up of story after story, 
strung together, making us who we are.

A few years ago, after I left teaching for a teacher leader position, was working longer hours, and commuting an hour both ways to work, I looked closely at my life and my priorities. Even though I was excited about my new position, my life wasn't in balance and I knew something had to change.

Writing is a way for me to process so I spent one night pouring my hopes and dreams onto the page. I wrote all sorts of ideas, trying to get to the heart of what I really want in life. At first it was a mess but then I started to see patterns and was able to corral those thoughts.

Thanks to Sage Cohen's book, The Productive Writer, I spent time finishing the statement: “My life is ideal when…” and I found that my life is most ideal when I’m spending time with my family, when I’m reading, when I’m writing and when I’m taking care of myself by exercising, eating healthy, and spending time with friends. Gaining this clarity helped me recognize baby steps I might take to get myself to a point where I spend my life doing what I want to do.

It was glaringly apparent that taking care of myself and my family is what is most important to me but I was spending a lot of time at work instead of at home. I still take my work very seriously and am passionate about supporting teachers but I'm lucky to now be working much closer to home. I get to do drop off and pick up and have so much more time to spend with them. It's a big change that has made a big difference in all of our lives. But I know I wouldn't have been brave enough to make a huge career change if I hadn't realized how much my heart needed it.
If you’re like me, I’m guessing somewhere along the way, while meandering along this journey called life, you have thought about the meaning of it all. I’ve often wondered:
Why am I here?
What am I meant to do?
How can I make a difference?

The truth is, I'm here to live the best life for me. And if I'm true to myself and my heart and my dreams, then I can make the world a better place. That's how I make a difference. 

It can feel overwhelming to want to change the whole, entire, great, big world so instead lets live our best life and together make our little corners of the world better places. A lot of us making better can make a whole world of difference.

Let's Write! Explore what your ideal life looks like. Remember that words like "ideal" and "perfect" are subjective. Your ideal is whatever works for you. Your ideal is perfect because it's yours. Finish the sentence, "My life is ideal when..." and then write down a few actions steps to more towards your more ideal life.

More about the notion of "perfect" next time!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Sunny Side Up

Title: Sunny Side Up 
Author: Jennifer L. Holm 
Illustrator: Matthew Holm 
Publisher: Graphix 
Publication Date: August 25th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel 
GoodReads Summary: From the groundbreaking and award-winning sister-brother team behind Babymouse comes a middle-grade, semi-autobiographical graphic novel.

Following the lives of kids whose older brother's delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos, Sunny Side Up is at once a compelling "problem" story and a love letter to the comic books that help the protagonist make sense of her world.

By sister-brother team Jennifer and Matthew Holm. A 200-page, full-color graphic novel in the vein of Raina Telgemeier's Smile.
  
What I Think: I'm a fan of books that stick with you even after you turn the last page, close the last book, and let out a satisfied sigh. Sunny Side Up is definitely one of those books. I loved the strong but sweet protagonist. She's tough and she loves comics and superheroes but she's vulnerable at the same time. I can see many young readers identifying with Sunny and taking a lot away from her story.
     As a mentor text Sunny Side Up definitely reminds me of Raina Telgemeier's Smile. A few years ago, I was in a workshop where Raina talked the audience through how to tell a personal narrative in six panels (or something like that...). She led us through an activity and then called on a member of the audience to tell his story about the first time he tried Vegemite. It was entertaining to watch but also enlightening. I don't usually draw pictures to represent my stories so it was fascinating to see how the process works. I love that young readers will get a story with a similar feel with Sunny Side Up. That said, they will also get a serious story that might be worthy of a conversation during or afterwards depending on the reader.
     I'm sure fans of the Holms' work will adore Sunny Side Up but I also believe any graphic novel fan won't be disappointed!
Read Together: Grades 3 - 5 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7 
Read With: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin, The Center of The Universe by Linda Urban, Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Snatch of Text:   


Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you had to have a difficult conversation with a friend or family member.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Fear, Pain, Disappointment, Loyalty, Guilt, Courage
I *heart* It:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WATCH: The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


A friend recently pointed out to me that when you assume you make an ass out of u and me. When we don't understand someone else's story, our brain does its job to fill in the blanks. Our brain makes assumptions based on cues and prior experiences whether we are conscious of it or not. It's natural for our brain to make connections to what we already know, desperate to fit a person into our schema, however it can.

But hearing someone else's story helps us avoid assumptions and base our understanding of a person on their truths instead of our assumptions. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shares The Danger of a Single Story in her 2009 Ted Talk and speaks to how important it is to share our stories.


Watch and think about how sharing your story might reveal who you are inside and dispel misunderstandings. What would someone be surprised to know about you that he or she might not realize at first glance or even after a few years?

Thanks for stopping by
and exploring the power of story with us!

Sea Bones #NFPB15







Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Aly at Kid Lit Frenzy. 
Every Wednesday, bloggers link up their non-fiction picture book reviews. Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what great non-fiction books are shared this week!



Title: Sea Bones 
Author: Bob Barner 
Illustrator: Bob Barner 
Publisher: Chronicle Books 
Publication Date: April 14th, 2015 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Author and illustrator Bob Barner makes waves with his signature rhyming text and colorful illustrations in this lush picture book about the sea. Filled with incredible fishy facts about vertebrates, invertebrates, endoskeletons, and exoskeletons, plus an underwater informational chart, Sea Bones will make young readers want to dive right in!  
What I Think: I love that this book doesn't just look at sea life, it focuses on bones and the endo- and ectoskeletons of various sea creatures. The more non-fiction I read with my own two kids, the more I realize how great it is to be able to read the book in different ways. With Little Bean, sometimes we read the headers or the main important parts of the and look at the pictures. With Peanut, I'll usually read the headers and then also the more informative parts of the text. It all depends on the reader and how much we want to read explore. I know this about non-fiction but still marvel at the power of non-fiction to let us gravitate towards the information we want and to take what we need from a text.
    Besides the unique lens in looking at sea creatures that Sea Bones offers, the artwork is beautiful. The images are created from collages of torn bits of paper. The colors are vibrant and accessible while also sharing important information that matches the text well. I'm happy to have this non-fiction picture book in my collection! 
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 3 
Read Alone: Grades Pre-K - 3 
Read With: Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale, Extreme Oceans by Seymour Simon, Down, Down, Down: A Journey to The Bottom of The Sea by Steve Jenkins
Snatch of Text:    
"There are animals without bones that drift with the waves.
Jellies have no bones and no brains, and they 
go wherever the ocean currents take them. 
The lion's mane or hair jelly is the largest jelly 
at up to 8 feet (2.5 metres) wide with tentacles 
120 feet (36.5 metres) long."
Writing Prompts: Write about a connection you made between a fact you read about in Sea Bones and your life, something else you have read, or another experience you have had.
Topics Covered: Integration - Science 
I *heart* It:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The One Where I Proceed Into The Construction Zone #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

*          *          *
For the past couple of weeks I've been reading Terry Thompson's The Construction Zone: Building Scaffolds for Readers and Writers and reflecting on the work students and teachers do in classrooms everyday and how I support them as a technology integration specialist.
Here's how Terry talks about scaffolding, it's "...a pattern of teaching that shifts the level of responsibility for the learning from the more knowing other (you!) to the less knowing other (your student)." (p. 2)

Doesn't he make it sound simple? But it's so not. Teachers juggle so much and make countless decisions throughout the day. But the best teachers are able to break down their practice - reflect on what they do and why they do it. This is the art of teaching and Terry captures it so well.

"Teaching consciously is a practice - moment by moment, day by day. Just like our students, we learn from our success and our failures. Learning to craft effective scaffolds is an ongoing practice that starts now and grows from here. This is where we begin - teaching with intentionality and reflection, in full awareness of what we're doing and why." (p. 11)

In my work with teachers, I do my best to engage teachers in thoughtful conversations that help them think through where students are now, where we want students to go, and then we look at designing learning experiences to get them there. A focus on where we need to go and what the students really need is powerful because it makes it possible to see what is necessary and (hopefully) a little easier to shift because the students and their needs is at the center of it all. 

Terry offers a close look at scaffolding and provides many examples and things to think through in order to best plan support for students that moves them towards independence. He also shares some ideas for questions to ask when planning and how to maintain a focus on students when designing lessons. Teaching is demanding on so many different levels but it's also important work and The Construction Zone is a perfect tool to keep moving practice forward.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/26/2015

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. 


How To Tell a Story Week is Coming!

Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy and I are thrilled to announce the official countdown to How To Tell a Story week! In less than 10 days, we'll kickoff How To Tell a Story week where we celebrate this unique story-telling set from Workman that comes with a book of story-telling activities from Daniel Nayeri and colorful, illustrated blocks from Brian Won. Mark your calendars because we'll be sharing some great activities, interviews, giveaways, and even a way to get your students writing and involved in the fun. Curious already? While you wait for November 3rd to come around, you can watch this video about what How To Tell a Story is and how it works!


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Woo hoo! I finished and loved The Construction Zone by Terry Thompson. I love his candidness about the work teachers do and how we can refocus our intention when it comes to scaffolding. I thought a lot about scaffolding for teachers when I do tech PD. Great stuff. I'm also so so so close to finishing Another Day by David Levithan. Love it too. Peanut and I have been reading The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable. I love the learning that's woven into this series! And Little Bean has requested Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type a few times this week.

Reviewed Last Week:
 
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm excited to finish Another Day and to continue reading The Genius Files. I also have Children Want to Write and Zack DeLaCruz: Me and My Big Mouth by the remarkable Jeff Anderson AND Everyday Editing by the same remarkable Jeff Anderson. I'm not sure I can handle all the fun waiting for me this week!

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!

Welcome to Story Exploratory!

Welcome to Story Exploratory, a place to find your story, nourish your creative mind, set your story free, and ultimately make the world a better place. We're committed to giving individuals, groups, and organizations the opportunity to practice mindfulness through writing and align their work with their values and beliefs. 


Check in here for thought-provoking reads, intriguing videos to watch, opportunities to connect with others, and ideas for putting pen to paper or fingers to keys and exploring the story within you. 

Read posts will share tidbits 
from our very favorite writing resources.

We'll share our favorite inspirational videos for you to Watch.

Write posts will give you exercises or activities to help you
 practice mindfulness through writing and connect to your story.

We'll be sharing upcoming opportunities to Join in with through challenges, workshops, and webinars.

We're glad you're here to explore the story within you!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Let's Celebrate The Second The End!

It's time to CELEBRATE This Week with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.  Every week Ruth invites us to share our celebrations from the week and link up at her blog. What a fun way to reflect on everything there is to be thankful for. 

*                  *                   *

This week I'm celebrating the second the end!

*throws confetti*


Ah. The sweet smell of two absolutely beautiful words. Maybe my two favorite words when you put them together.


Don't they just have a lovely ring to them?

Last summer, I outlined what would become my second novel. I sat in a Starbucks in downtown Boston with my notecards and my flair pens and I thought through all the beats in my story. And then last summer I worked to draft but it was tricky because I was in the middle of major revisions of my first novel. 
Boston Harbor

My notecard outlining session in Boston June 2014

This summer, I spent most of Teachers Write cranking out words of this first draft to get to the end. And I finally did on Saturday night. Up until last night, I had only ever written a 50,000 word novel once before...but now I can say that I've done it twice. 

I can still barely believe it. I'm pretty proud of myself. As I brought the story to an end, thinking about all I put my characters through, I was just so happy. There is definitely work to do but I feel way better about this first draft than my first first draft. 

I don't know, maybe it's not cool to write The End at the end of stories. Maybe we need to help kids know that it's not how we end stories. But after lsat night I want to write The End at the end of everything. At least at the end of every first draft. 

They're just two glorious words. Words worthy of celebration. 

The End.

What are you celebrating this week?


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The One Where I See The Forest #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

*          *          *

Little Bean adores my mom. He always asks to go to Gramma's house and oftentimes will turn to me and say, "I miss Gramma". We'll Facetime Gramma or assure him he'll see her again soon. I'm super lucky to have both of my parents in my life and I'm so thankful that my kids get to know them and grow up spending time with them. 

Today, my mom sent me a Vox. 
(Yes! My mom uses Voxer, she's cool like that.) 
She said:

"I just wanted to let you know
while I'm thinking of it
and before I forget
Danny was watching a show over the weekend
when he turned around and looked at me
and he head tears in his eyes
and he said
'I miss my Mommy'."

Of course, I know he loves me and I'm so happy to be his mom and do the best I can to help him have a great childhood. His face lights up when I pick him up from school and he loves to sit near me and snuggle. As much as I try to notice these moments and cherish them in real time, they still come amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Sometimes I can't see the forest for the trees 
but today wasn't one of those days. 

I'm so glad my mom sent me that message and reminded me again that being a mom is an amazing gift I've been given. 

In teaching, it's easy to get lost in the trees - the paperwork, the deadlines, the assemblies, the homework turned in with no name - and not see the forest. But if we stop and step back, we can see that the work we are doing is powerful and that the forest we've tended is beautiful. It's an amazing job we get to do. And it's worth it. 

Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees
but today doesn't have to be one of those days.
Smile, laugh, take a deep breath, let it out.
Focus on the forest and find fulfillment.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/19/2015

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. 

Announcements:

One Word From Sophia Blog Tour
I'm excited to kickoff a blog tour for One Word From Sophia 
by Jim Averbeck with illustrations by Yasmeen Ismail!
When I read One Word From Sophia, I instantly fell in love with Sophia and am happy to be celebrating the book this week. If you missed it, you can read my review of One Word From Sophia and my interview with Jim AverbeckBut also be sure to check in at all of the stops on the tour to hear what they think of Sophia and her story! Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending review copies for all blog participants.


10/20/2015 - Jennifer at Reederama
10/21/2015 - Franki and Mary Lee at Two Reading Teachers
10/22/2015 - Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers
10/23/2015 - Crystal at Reading Through Life
10/24/2015 - Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy

How To Tell a Story Week is Coming!


Alyson Beecher from Kid Lit Frenzy and I are thrilled to announce the official countdown to How To Tell a Story week! In fifteen days we'll kickoff How To Tell a Story week where we celebrate this unique story-telling set from Workman that comes with a book of story-telling activities from Daniel Nayeri and colorful, illustrated blocks from Brian Won. Mark your calendars because we'll be sharing some great activities, interviews, giveaways, and even a way to get your students writing and involved in the fun. Curious already? While you wait for November 3rd to come around, you can watch this video about what How To Tell a Story is and how it works!


Scholastic Teacher Giveaway Winner:
Congratulations to
 Rhonda Jenkins 
who won a one-year subscription to Scholastic Teacher Magazine!
*Thanks to Scholastic for providing
 the opportunity to offer a giveaway
in exchange for an honest review!*

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I didn't read very much this last week as I was finishing up revisions on my novel. That and the busy-ness that comes with a four-day week made it hard to find time as much as I wish I could have snuggled up on the couch! When I was able to read, I spent time with Another Day by David Levithan and The Cosntruction Zone by Terry Thompson.

Reviewed Last Week:
 
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm taking a redo on last week and still reading The Construction Zone and Another Day. I need to focus on just those two this week!

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!



It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/21/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme ho...