Kicking Off Teachers Write 2018!


*wild applause*

You're here!

I'm here!

WE'RE HERE!

Welcome to Teachers Write! 

Are you ready for another awesome summer? I sure am. When Teachers Write rolls around, I know it's time to connect with amazing educators who are passionate about learning more about writing and writing instruction. Whether you are new here or have been around since the beginning, have been teaching write for a long time or just starting or somewhere in between, I believe you'll find that this is a great community. We learn together, share ups and downs together, grow together, and support each other along the way. This is truly what a writing community is all about. 
I'd like to introduce myself super quickly in case you don't know me! My name is Jen Vincent and I'm an Instructional Coach for a Mundelein District #75 which is a K-8 district in a northern suburb of Chicago. I'm a mama to two boys who are 8 and 11, a sweet pup named Perdi, and a bearded dragon named Zeke. My partner, Chad, is a PE teacher. We met in college when we lived across the hall from each other in the dorms. He keeps us all busy and we're always up for the adventures he takes us on. My biggest challenge in life: socks.

I started writing fiction in 2011 when I tried (and failed) at NaNoWriMo. The good news is that I kept writing and then finished the first draft of my first young adult novel during the first summer of Teachers Write in 2012. I've been writing ever since, was in Pitch Wars in 2014, and signed with my agent Danielle Smith in 2016. While I write YA contemporary romance, I also write fiction and nonfiction picture books. This summer I'm planning to draft another YA novel.

If you are new to Teachers Write or need a refresher, Kate has all the information about what happens each day of the week. Sunday is the day that Teachers Write comes to Teach Mentor Texts where I host the weekly check-in. This means you can stop in to reflect, celebrate, and plan for the next week. I also share ideas that I hope you can take back to your students. 

Let's get started! I invite you to introduce yourself, share what you are most excited about, what you are most nervous about, and what you hope to get out of Teachers Write this summer. 

Don't forget! Teachers Write is all about you. Participate as much or as little as you want, join in everyday, catch up over the weekend. No matter what, we are happy you are here! Don’t stress, just do what works for you and know we - meaning the whole Teachers Write community - are here for you. 

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:
 Introduce yourself!
What you are most excited about?
What you are most nervous about?
What do you hope to get out of Teachers Write?
What's your biggest challenge when it comes to teaching young writers?

P.S. Thank you for replying to each other's comments! 
While I read them all and do my best to reply and 
reply as soon as possible, it doesn't always happen.
I so appreciate you cheering each other on through Teachers Write! Keep being awesome!

Comments

  1. Hey Jen, so glad to be a part of Teachers Write again. I love this time and look forward to all the support and ideas. My name is Martha Willey and I work in a school library as a para. I love to read and write YA is my passion but right now I am querying an adult fantasy. Nerve wracking time for sure. Am also plotting a new YA to keep my mind off the querying wait. �� I wish all of you a great Teachers Write experience.

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    1. Hi Martha! So glad to have you back! Hooray for querying! It's sooooo hard but I definitely advocate for writing as a way to keep your brain busy while you query.

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  2. Hi Jen! I am SO excited for my first Teachers Write! I am excited about getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new...that is also what I am most nervous about! ;) I hope to find out more about myself and stretch myself more than I could doing it alone. My biggest challenge in teaching young writers, is that I do not feel fully prepared yet. I am almost done with my Ed program with only one year before student teaching, and I feel clueless! Hoping to pick up some tips that I can save and use! Thanks Jen! See you soon! <3

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    1. We didn't even talk about this at Nerdcamp! I'm so excited that you are joining in! It's super fun and honestly, I'm not sure you can be fully prepared. You just have to jump in. Writing is how I figured out what people do when they write and what works for me. I'm still trying to figure it out too! There just isn't a wrong and a right.

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  3. Thanks to you, Kate, and Jo, Gae, and all the additional authors who give of their time to share their process with us each summer!

    I teach German, ELA, and a reading intervention at Lake Orion High School in Lake Orion, MI. Lake Orion is about an hour north of Detroit. I've been teaching 20 years, and the fluctuation in my schedule has taught me tons. Next year, I'll be teaching German in the AM and coordinating and coaching ELL and staff across the district in how to support ELs. I'm sure it will be an adventure as well.

    I'm excited about writing every day for me and gaining even more empathy for the different kinds of writers in my class. I'm also excited about learning from all of you. I'm nervous about "keeping up," so thanks for including that there are many ways to do this in your rules! I'm also nervous about not having a WIP. I hope to become a better writer and learn more about how writers write differently. My biggest challenge in teaching writers is making sure I have personal and appropriate goals for each of my students.

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    1. Hi Jen! Welcome! You're job sounds fascinating and exciting but also challenging. To me, it sounds like you already are off to a great start by realizing that there are all different kinds of writers. Too often, I think teachers tend to push students into one way for how to write instead of offering different options. As far as not having a WIP, that's totally okay! There will be lots of exercises and you can explore writing from day to day. Who knows, maybe a WIP will find you. And for having goals for your students, I would think about looking at for resources for conferring with students. When you meet individually with students, you can better meet their specific needs. Oh! And I would definitely suggest doing Friday Feedback with Gae because it will give you the opportunity to feel what it's like to be the student and to get feedback. I believe that's the best way to work on giving feedback because it helps you feel what a writer feels!

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  4. Hi Jen and others, This is my 3rd or 4th year attempting to participate in Teacher's Write. I seem to have problems actually sticking with this because it happens at the same time as the County Fair. We are a 4-H family and I am also in charge of the Creative Arts Open Class for the adults. I teach high school ELA (sophomores) and this year I will be adding Honors to my classes. I am looking forward to teaching the honors classes. Sadly, I am not to big of a writer, even though I know that as a teacher I really need to write more so that I can write with my students. I am hoping beside actually keeping up, that maybe I will learn some things that I can use with my students to help them with their writing.

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    1. Hi Colleen! You are not alone. There are lots of people who start strong but don't continue through the end. And that's okay! The good thing is you can always go back to the posts whenever you want. I'd say try to make some kind of habit that works for you...and maybe that isn't everyday but something else that works for you. Also, I'm wondering if you have a notebook or another way to capture your writing. I know that helps me think more like a writer because I have a place to put stuff. Just an idea!

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  5. Hi all! Up until a year ago, I was actively involved in the online reading/writing community and then I took a personal hiatus when I started back to work in the classroom full time after an 8 year (!!!) hiatus. It was enough work just to keep my head above water with our new normal, but entering year 2, I'm striking a little more balance :)

    I currently teach 5th grade in a special education inclusion setting. My population, in addition to having several students with special needs, also includes mostly low-income, ELL students. My goal is to reconnect with my writer self (and maybe reopen that WIP that's been woefully awaiting revisions for a year with fresh eyes), and also to rediscover how to make writing fun and real for my students who struggle so much with the English language. So...hi, y'all!

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    1. Hi Maria! It sounds like you made choices that worked for you but I'm glad you are back. And I'm sure that WIP is there waiting for you!

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  6. Hi, I’m Andy Starowicz and I’m a Teachers Write lifer (and proud of it). During the day, I am a sixth grade school teacher. In the evening, I am a taxi driver for my four kids, a youth lacrosse coach, a school board member, and a homework helper for three of my four children (the second grader is in complete control of her schooling – she is the youngest). I teach sixth grade ELA, and this coming school year, I will sport the lab coat when I teach science (I have been teaching social studies for the last 18 years). I will still supplement social studies curriculum in ELA (and hope that the social studies teacher appreciates it).

    When I’m not teaching or parenting, I can be found running the streets of my neighborhood thinking about things to write about (last week, I ran five miles in hundred degree heat without any problem – I wrote a nice short story when I got home and my writer’s notebook still smells like sweat). Oh yeah, most important for this introduction, I love to read and write.:) I hope that everyone gets as much out of Teachers Write as I have over the last few summers. Happy reading and writing!

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    1. ANDY! Great to have you back! It wouldn't feel like Teachers Write without you. I'm always so impressed with how busy and driven you are and still make time for writing. Can't wait to see what you write this summer!

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  7. Hello everyone! I'm Stephanie and I'm switching from being a Library Tech to a classroom teacher (grade unknown, as I'm still interviewing). I'm in an intern program, so will be continuing classes during my first two years of teaching.
    I'm most excited about learning how to take writing and make it fun for my students and to get them more involved and enjoy it more than when they first walked into my classroom.
    I'm most nervous about sharing my writing. I tend to write more for an adult audience, so I feel I have to use a filter when I'm sharing my writing in public. That and the idea of sharing my writing in general is still a new concept (only one friend has ever read my writing).
    This is my second year participating in Teachers Write. By participating, I hope to gain more confidence in sharing my writing with others. As stated previously, I'm also looking for tools and ideas in presenting writing to my students. I also hope to be able to share directly what we learn here by sharing posts with my students directly so they can learn from the authors as well.
    Being a new teacher, I'd say its the unknown of how to teach. No matter how many classes you take before stepping into the classroom, it feels as though you are still walking into the unknown in designing units and lessons and using the curriculum and how to supplement it. I'm also sure that there are students who are not going to enjoy writing, and I'd like motivation on how to encourage them.

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    1. Hi Stephanie! From what you've shared, I think Teachers Write will be a great resource for you! If you're willing, I'd really share some of your writing with Gae at Friday Feedback. You don't have to share much but you'll get feedback and it's powerful to feel what it's like to be on the receiving end of feedback. If you are going to use writer's workshop, I'd start from the beginning and consistently make time for it because it's sets the stage and you can build that community of writers. I'll be sharing ideas for encouraging writers this summer so I hope you check back in!

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  8. Hello, friends. I am super excited to meet you and write with you! This is my first year with Teachers Write. I've put off my summer writing far too long, actually, I have huge gaps in my writing all year long. My biggest struggle is writing with the kids because I end up patrolling over-sized high school English classes to keep kids on task. Lame excuse because obviously I didn't engage them well enough.
    Right now, my bigger challenge is figuring out where I'm going. I'm stuck between the classroom and... something else. Looking for a new job, would love to work with kids, but I'm so done with testing and classroom management! So I'm hoping this little retreat will draw my focus to my strengths, then I'll know where to point myself.
    Looking forward to all the talent and sharing out there. Cheers!

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    1. Hi Kristin! Welcome to Teachers Write! Being in between can be tricky but exciting. I've been in positions where I don't feel like I'm using my energy well and writing definitely helped me. I did an activity where I finished the sentences: My life is ideal when... over and over again to zone in on where I wanted to focus my attention. I wish you the best!

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  9. I'm Marcie Atkins, elementary librarian, and writer. I'm excited to be kicking off the first full week of Teachers Write with both of my kids in camp this week (first and only time of the summer). I have a huge revision to undertake this month, and I'm writing full-time all week this week! Can't Four hours already done! More to come!

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    1. Hi Marcie! I have to admit, I'm a little jealous that your kids are in camp and that you have dedicated time to write! You're going to rock that revision work this week!!!

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  10. Hello, all! I am Jennifer Newkirk, a library media specialist in Oklahoma. I am excited to be joining in on Teachers Write again this summer. The last couple years I have peeked in, but this year my goal is to get a draft of my first picture book. I am definitely not a full time writer, with three kids at home, but I am hoping to put in a little more time this year. I am super excited to learn from everyone.

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    1. Hi Jennifer! I'm working on some picture book drafts this summer too! And I hear you on trying to fit in writing with kids off for the summer. Maybe they can write with you! For picture books, I always share Debbie Ridpath Ohi's amazing resources. There's so much information here: http://debbieohi.com/pbcreation

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  11. Hi, Everyone! I'm a returning TW camper (although I didn't participate in Year 1) and so happy to be here. I'm a high school librarian in Upstate NY, a mom of two teenagers (a girl and a boy) with a side gig as a substitute public librarian in the local history and genealogy department (my life-long hobby). This past year my life became even more complicated when I entered graduate school again, with the goal of obtaining my CAS. I'm still not sure where that road will lead me, but I'm (sort of) enjoying the journey. On the writing side, I've managed to combine my passions for reading, writing, history, and genealogy into a WIP based on my grandmother's childhood spent in an orphanage. I'm excited to be focusing on this manuscript again, but afraid I'll never finish it! I'll most likely be playing catch-up every week.

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    1. Hi Wendy!!! I wish I could promise you that you'll finish it...but I can't. (Sorry!) What I can promise is that it will only get written little by little so just keep plugging away. Have you heard of Pacemaker? I love it when I'm drafting because it helps me see the progress I've made and motivates me to write more. https://www.pacemaker.press/

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  12. Hey Jen, I am excited about another Teachers Write summer! I teach gifted elementary in South Louisiana. We will be starting back in early August so I am soaking up all I can of my last weeks off. I am working on a biography in poems about the first African American woman in Louisiana to get a medical degree. She has never been honored before and a friend of mine is doing many things (a historical marker, a play, etc.) to bring her name to the forefront. It's an exciting yet daunting task. This summer I released a children's poetry book, Bayou Song, that combines poetry, nonfiction text, and writing and drawing prompts to help readers appreciate the bayou as a unique habitat. This summer is not only about writing, it's also about promoting which is a whole other ballgame.
    Teachers Write always gears me up for another year of teaching writing to young children. I also love meeting new people and networking with other teacher-writers. It's a great place to hang out on a hot summer day.

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    1. Hi Margaret! We start in mid August so I completely understand! As soon as I finally feel like I'm in the summer groove, it's time to go back to school. It's all good though. I love the idea of a biography in poems. Have you read Twelve Rounds to Glory with Charles R. Smith Jr. with illustrations by Bryan Collier? It's a picture book poetry biography that I absolutely love and might be a possible mentor text for you. Oh! And also When Paul Met Artie by G. Neri with illustrations by David Litchfield is another one!

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