Monday, July 27, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/27/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what your reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Ohmigosh! I'm STILL working on my current book collection: How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Vilanueva, An African America and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz. I need to finish up because I have a lot of reading to do to get prepped for school. I'm on the lookout for amazing, short, mentor texts. Poems, short stories, spoken word, videos...if you have any to suggest, please leave me a note in the comments!

Announcements:


It's already Teachers Write Sunday Check-In #3! One more week to go.

This week's episode of Jen and Ben Go Back to Class is all about the books we have been reading lately! It'll be up on Tuesday and you should be able to find it wherever you listen to podcasts.


Have you seen Josh Funk's new Instagram fun?
 It's called Funk and Friends and you can find out more 
at @joshfunkbooks on Instagram!

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Teachers Write 2020 - Sunday Check-In #3

Welcome to the third Sunday check-in for Teachers Write this summer! I hope you are finding time to write and enjoying the ideas from Kate and the other authors. 

This week Linda Urban talked about notebooks and I loved what she said about having a notebook but maybe not calling it a writer's notebook. I've found that lately I do more journaling in my notebooks but I also take notes and do some thinking. Right now I have four notebooks that I use consistently. 
Each of them has a different purpose! The top left is where I'm taking all the notes for the memoir I'm working on. Sometimes I'm just writing to get my thinking out, sometimes I'm making a timeline, sometimes I'm thinking about a word and the different meanings or connotations it holds, and sometimes I'm thinking about the variety of identities that make me me. You can see snippets of this notebook work below. Right now, I'm just exploring different ideas and seeing how what's there. A few times I have tried to write a scene as if I was back in the moment but the fun part is I'm just doing work. There's no qualification other than putting something in the notebook everyday. 
The next on the top left is where I keep my daily calendars and my to do list. I keep some notes in there but it's more just notes to help myself remember to get things done. The bottom left is a learning notebook. I use that to keep notes based on different things I've been reading or participating in. You can see some snippets from my notebooks below. I joined an online book talk with Megan Stielstra and took some notes, I read the book How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell and took notes, I read a Flow magazine and took notes, I went to a meditation workshop with a Buddhist monk and wrote down my notes. That note book isn't particularly for writing but I do find myself writing my ideas and thoughts as well as synthesizing information when I write my notes. My brain is definitely at work in each of my notebooks!
I'd love to hear about where you do you work and whether you have different notebooks like me or if you keep all of you work in one place. I do take lots of pictures on my phone too. It's kind of like taking notes. I also have some big construction paper that I use to do some work as well. I find that the more I write, the more things I try. I like exploring different options to see what works for me. And I find that different projects require different things while there are some things that overlap. I love having certain things all in one place, that seems to make things easier for me.

Thanks for stopping by to chat and share your writing life with me!


Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Agreements:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we each do do.
2. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
3. We recognize and maintain this as a safe, 
inclusive environment for all.
4. We have fun!
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Ideas for today in the comments section:
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?)
Do you keep your notebook? 
Do you have one notebook for all the things or multiple noteoboks?

Bonus: I'm the co-host of the Words of Our World Challenge with my friend Carrie Baughcum, author of My Pencil Made Me Do It and co-host of Doodle and Chat. You can follow @storyexploratory and @carriebaughcum on Instagram and join us as we combine words + art. This week's theme was joy and here are the typewriters I made!





Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Our World - Interview with Sue Lowell Gallion

Today I'm happy to share an interview with author Sue Lowell Gallion. Her newest book, Our World, came out last week and is a sweet and unique text to share with young readers as an opportunity to explore the world around us.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, about Our World, and what led you to writing this book?

Sue Lowell Gallion: I was lucky enough to have had a grandmother who taught 4th grade and loved books. I majored in journalism and worked as a writer, but it wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I decided to take my childhood dream of writing books for kids seriously. Our World brings together many of my passions: world travel, nature, geography, the environment, connection. My favorite trips as a child and with my own family have been to national parks – seeing the cloud clearing over Denali, snowshoeing in Yellowstone, exploring tide pools in Acadia.

I was at a children’s writing conference workshop when I thought of writing a board book shaped like a globe. It seemed like a wonderful way to introduce kids to the wonders of this world through words, illustration, and the physical format.
 
Our World is a combination of text that runs throughout the book like a story and short nonfiction pieces about the Earth. What did your process look like as these two types of texts emerged or came together? 

Sue Lowell Gallion: The initial concept was a globe-shaped board book with brief rhyming text, introducing young kids to some of the different habitats, landforms, and water features of the earth. When my literary agent submitted the manuscript and concept to Phaidon Press, they were interested in expanding the book to reach older audiences. That’s when I began doing additional research and writing drafts of the secondary text. Our goal was to encourage interaction and conversation. We hope the book invites readers to dream of exploring other parts of the world that are different from where they live.

This book was a hugely collaborative process between me, the editor, art director, and illustrator, Lisk Feng. I like to say picture books are a team sport, but that was even more true with this novelty nonfiction board book. Plus, the Phaidon team had to figure out how to make this globe-shaped book work. For example, they tested all kinds of options to make the front and back cover connect so it would stand up like a globe.

As far as my process, as the illustrations developed, I revised the expository text to make it complement the illustrations along with the rhyming stanzas. We did a lot of revisions on both the illustrations and the text! From the original 21-line poem (just 56 words long) came a 967-word book. Only four stanzas stayed exactly the same.
 
I believe people, places, and experiences shape us. What are some ways you hope readers are inspired to think and hopefully write about their connections to our world after reading Our World?

Sue Lowell Gallion: I hope Our World encourages curiosity and exploration. That can be in a park near your home or anywhere! The first spread of Our World reads:

“Many places to explore,
From mountain peaks to ocean floor.
Look around you, step outside . . . “

This stanza is illustrated by a mom and her child snorkeling in a fantastic ocean setting. I hope all readers imagine themselves in that illustration and in every spread that follows. Every time I look at Lisk Feng’s illustrations I see new details. The concept of “noticing,” both in books and in the natural world, is something that I would love to see students write about. Everyone’s perspective is unique and interesting.

What is the best writing advice you have received and what advice would you give to developing writers?

Sue Lowell Gallion: If you want to write for children, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (scbwi.com.) That’s the single best piece of advice I received and the advice I give over and over. SCBWI’s conferences, resources, and the people I’ve met through the organization have been essential to my writing career and have enriched my life.

There are no shortcuts, at least in my experience. And if you want to write for kids, know that you have more than one book in you. Don’t think you’re going to write just one story and it will be published. That doesn’t happen very often. Everything you write is a stepping stone to the next thing you’ll write. It takes heart and craft. And perseverance.

In this time of COVID, there aren’t the usual in-person opportunities to attend workshops, but there’s great content online. Along with SCBWI, some other excellent resources are the Highlights Foundation and the Writing Barn.
 
Jen Vincent: What are you reading and loving right now (or recently)? What are some ways what you have read influences your own writing?

Sue Lowell Gallion: Some of the books I’ve read recently: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, a new biography of Winston Churchill; Midsummer’s Mayhem, by Rajani LaRocca, a terrific MG debut, Dear Mrs. Byrd by A.J. Pearce, an endearing debut novel set in World War II England; and The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby, examining how the American church has helped to create and maintain racism.

I read picture books constantly, fiction and nonfiction. I learn so much from enjoying and studying the work of other authors and illustrators. I’m really taken with two 2020 releases that I think would be great companions to Our World. My Friend Earth, by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Francesca Sanna, is simply stunning, both as a read-aloud and visually. It’s A Great Big Colorful World by Tom Schamp is another title for all ages. Looking for a creativity boost for you or your students? Here you go.

In everything I do, I'm all about promoting the love of reading and writing. How would you finish the statements: “Reading is…” and “Writing is…” 

Sue Lowell Gallion: Reading is world-expanding. Writing is hard but worth the work.

A big thank you to Sue Lowell Gallion for stopping by to answer these questions and give us some great insight into Our World!

Monday, July 20, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/20/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what your reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Yup, still working on my current book collection: How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Vilanueva, An African America and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz. 

Announcements:

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Teachers Write 2020 - Sunday Check-In #2


Welcome to the second Sunday check-in for Teachers Write this summer! Yesterday I spent the morning writing with these lovely people who joined the Story Exploratory Joy in the Journey workshop. These workshops energize me every time and as soon as we're done, I can't wait for the next one. 
We spent time reflecting on our life. We looked back, took time to center ourselves in the present, and also wrote letters to our future selves. Thinking about my life in the broad sense like this helped me recognize a few things that show the essence of me despite different experiences and where my life has taken me. 

This reminded me of the question Jess Keating shared for Teachers Write this week as she thinks about the people she has written about:

How did their passions and challenges mirror 
the broader picture of their life’s work?

I shared last week that I've been working on a memoir project. I've been writing a lot about myself but also writing about some women in my life and where our stories intersect. Jess' question gave me an opportunity to think see how I have art in common with the women I'm writing about. Our challenges might have been different but I can see an element of trust. We each have listened to our hearts to be able to find a way to persevere through those different challenges but ultimately, trust is there. I'm enjoying thinking about myself and these women in this way and finding inspiration and feeling empowered.

Writing is a way to honor those who came before us. This week we lost a legend when Representative John Lewis passed away. My older son and I heard him speak in May of 2017 and it was an experience I will never forget. He spoke with tenacity and conviction. He only took questions from youth. He urged them to get into good trouble. 

The auditorium was packed and the line to meet him was huge so I just snapped a picture with him in the background and told Jordan that we got to breathe the same air as him. I'm heartbroken that we have lost him but so inspired to have lived and that we got to hear him speak. He left a legacy and he will live on in us.
I hope you know that your words matter! Your stories matter! Every word we write is an act of resistance. Thanks for stopping by to check in. I can't wait to hear how you did this week. 

Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Agreements:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we each do do.
2. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
3. We recognize and maintain this as a safe, 
inclusive environment for all.
4. We have fun!
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Ideas for today in the comments section:
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 legacy do you hope to leave with your writing?

Bonus: I'm the co-host of the Words of Our World Challenge with my friend Carrie Baughcum, author of My Pencil Made Me Do It and co-host of Doodle and Chat. You can follow @storyexploratory and @carriebaughcum on Instagram and join us as we combine words + art. This week's theme was love and I hope what I created speaks to your heart. 






Monday, July 13, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reaidng? 07/13/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what your reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.


Last Week's Book Adventures:
Well...can you believe I'm still reading what I was reading last week? I swear, one of these weeks I'm finally going to finish them all!

Here's what I have going: How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Vilanueva, An African America and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz. 

Upcoming Book Adventures: 

See list above! I'm also rereading George by Alex Gino and relistening to Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds.
Announcements:
It's Teachers Write time! Our first Sunday check-in was yesterday and we had some good discussion in the comments. This summer is such an unusual time for educators but it's nice to connect with others who are making time to write. I hope you stop by!
Saturday is the next Story Exploratory workshop! Our theme is Joy in the Journey and it's about celebrating our stories. We'll do some writing exercises, write a sensory poem, and send a letter to our future selves. For more information and to register, click here.

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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!


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Teachers Write 2020 - Sunday Check-In #1


Welcome to Teachers Write 2020! Teachers Write is a virtual summer writing camp for educators that started in 2012. We've evolved a bit over time but it's still an opportunity to really focus in on my writing life every summer. 

I'm guessing you are here after reading Kate Messner's first blog post with lots of Teachers Write goodness this week. If so, you're probably already signed up for Teachers Write but if not, you can click here to sign up
Really quickly, I'd like to introduce myself! My name is Jen Vincent, I'm a 7th and 8th grade ELA/SS teacher for Mundelein School District 75 in Mundelein, Illinois where I also happen to live with my partner, Chad, and our two sons. We have a dog named Perdi and a bearded dragon named Zeke along with several sweet plants that I've acquired since being in quarantine. 
I'm also the founder of Story Exploratory, a fun and funky writing community where people come to feel seen, celebrated, and empowered.Our goal is for you to use writing to own your headspace and to make the world a better place. We offer monthly workshops via Zoom, a monthly critique group called Feedback Fiesta, small group coaching, and one-to-one writing coaching. Our upcoming workshop on Saturday, July 18th, is called Joy in the Journey and focuses on finding stories from our past, present, and future.

On Sundays, I host our Teachers Write weekly check-in. It's a time to visit with other educators who write, reflect on the week, and share goals. Over the years, I've had lots of different goals for my Teachers Write time. Usually I devote most of my energy to drafting or revising a novel. This year I've been working on personal essays and am now spending time exploring how might stories might fit together for a memoir. 

My goal has been to carve out 20-30 minutes to do work in my notebook. I have a notebook just for this memoir project that I'm working on and I make sure to open it up and add my thinking to it. This week I tried the list like Kate suggested, I wrote some stories, and I wrote some revelations. The peak was finding my way into an essay I'd like to include and actually getting it from my notebook into a document. I don't particularly have a peak because I'm taking it super easy on myself and anything counts. 
I loved Kate's suggestion to make a list of facts I already know. The stories I've been focusing on include both of my grandmothers so I made a list of things I know about them and how they are similar but different. Depending on what you are writing, one of the exercises that Kate and the other great authors shared might work better for what you are working on. This is one of the things I love about Teachers Write! I get so many ideas and have so many choices.
I'm so excited to "meet" new campers and virtually hug returning campers. Below I have some agreements for us here. We always start Story Exploratory workshops with writers agreements and I co-create agreements with my students as well. And then I have some questions for you to answer in the comments so we can all get to know each other and support each other. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Teachers Write Sunday Check-In Agreements:
1. We respect each other and the type of writing we each do do.
2. We are positive and encourage each other at all times.
3. We recognize and maintain this as a safe, inclusive environment for all.
4. We have fun!
**I reserve every right to put the smackdown
on anyone who messes with our positive energy.**

Ideas for today in the comments section:
Introduce yourself! What's your role? Where are you in the world?
What is your goal for Teachers Write? What kind of writing are you doing?
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?)

Thanks so much for stopping by to check in and share this space with us! When I started blogging ten years ago, I  was already in love with writing and the connection between reading and writing. All these years later, it's fun to still be in love with writing and I owe so much of that to the people I have met along the way and amazing communities like Teachers Write. As much as I enjoy living the life of a writer, it's not always easy...but it is easier with friends. 

One more thing! I've been having fun with some typewriter art + words for a challenge I'm doing with my friend Carrie Baughcum, author of My Pencil Made Me Do It and co-host of Doodle and Chat. You can follow @storyexploratory and @carriebaughcum on Instagram and join in. We're using the hashtag #wordsofourworld and share a theme each week. This week's theme was inspiration. Maybe you find some inspiration in one of these pieces. xoxo

Monday, July 6, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 07/06/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing ReadersThe original IMWAYR, with an adult literature focus, was started by Sheila at Book Journeys and is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It's a great way to share what your reading and get recommendations. We encourage you to write your own post sharing what you’re reading, link up below, leave a comment, and support other IMWAYR bloggers by visiting and commenting on at least three of the other linked blogs.


Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week I finished listening to Little Fires Everywhere and started listening to How to Be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. I'm still reading The Art of Memoir and The Water Dancer and then have also been reading My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Vilanueva and rereading George by Alex Gino as I prep for summer book clubs with students. I also started reading An African America and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz. This is the book I needed this school year. I'm so glad to have it, to be taking notes, and to be thinking hard. I have a lot of work to do and I'm glad to have this book to guide the way for me.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 

I'll be reading more of The Water Dancer and The Art of Memoir while listening to more of How to Be Anti-Racist and also re-listening to Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You. I'm doing a buddy read based on the schedule that the @melanatereader shared on Instagram. 

Announcements:
Teachers Write starts this week! Be sure to sign up over on Kate Messner's blog so you get all the great resources and ideas and then join me here on Sundays for the weekly check-in. It's a time to reflect and share the ups and downs of the week. I look forward to Teachers Write every summer and am excited to connect with other teacher writer friends!

Story Exploratory is now offering small group coaching. Our first 6-week program starts on Thursday, July 23rd. We'll guide you towards finding your stride as a writer. You'll develop your mindset, strengthen habits, and learn strategies to help you reach your goals as a writer whether you are working on a manuscript or a blog post. This small group coaching opportunity is for writers who know they have a story to tell and are ready to take the first step and for writers who want to be more focused and consistent in their writing. For more information check out our Coaching page

On Tuesday we're publishing a new Jen and Ben Go Back to Class podcast episode. The last episode Exhaustion AKA #teachertired went up in November...and that tells you how exhausted we were before Covid hit! You can find us on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and other listening platforms. We were both in district level positions and decided to go back to teaching in the 2019-2020 school year. This podcast is an opportunity to discuss and process our experiences and you get to listen in!

What are you reading this week? 
Link up below and check out other blogs to see what they're 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? 08/03/2020

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a weekly blog hop I co-host with Ke...