Summer is for…

This week I participated in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Writing Project Advanced Institute and I joined Teachers Write!, a virtual writing camp. Ambitious, huh? Especially for a person who struggles to find time for writing. I always say you find time for what you value but I have not been living my words. So I decided that this was the summer for practicing what I preach!

My goals for these endeavors are to push myself to reconnect with writing, to develop a habit of writing (find time to write everyday), and to use my writing for publication via my blog and professional journals. It is my hope to have an article by September or at least an outline for an article. I also hope to use this writing for several blog post (this post is one of the several :)!).

Participating in the two events at the same time was a coincidence. I had planned to take part in the Institute  but the writing camp just happened. I learned about the writing camp from my PLN on Twitter. At first I thought that sounds like something I would like to do but I don’t have the time, especially since I am already participating in the Institute.  Also, the focus was on fiction writing and I wanted to focus on nonfiction writing. I tweeted Kate Messner, who launched  Teachers Write! on her blog and she replied that there would be some focus on nonfiction writing. But that was not enough to get me to commit. I shared the information about Teachers Write! with in-service teachers who enrolled in a class I was teaching. Several of the students expressed interest and signed up. Now the pressure was on. If students were signing up, I felt compelled to join also. So I did and I am so happy that I joined the writing camp.

It is the writing camp that opened the space for me to revisit my interest in metacognition. It was the Institute that provided space for me to hone my understanding of metacognition. The writing camp prompts focused on  fiction writing. However, I have been able to spin the prompts to meet my needs. The prompts have jump started my thinking about my writing. I now know that I was hung up with my writing sounding formal and the “formalness” was my road block.  I did not know this on Monday when I started writing. The “Ahh” came on Thursday during the Institute when  prompted to select an idea and list events and experiences that make this idea jump out at me. The joint experiences have pushed me to look at my topic from a new perspective-informal. However, I still have this lingering question-can  informational writing have a formal and an informal tone? I hope that I am not breaking any informational writing codes. Anyway, this is what I have decided to do.

Honestly, this approach has allowed me to do the most writing I have done in a long time and I am enjoying it! I look forward to having the time to write. I think it maybe helping me free up some brain space-helping me to clear some of the clutter (thoughts) in my head. It’s freeing, liberating! I look forward to next week’s discovery about my writing.

So for me, summer is for… writing. How will you complete this sentence? I look forward to hearing about how you are pushing your boundaries this summer.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie Romano
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 21:15:33

    Rhonda makes several important points if we want to be better writers:
    Join a group for feedback
    Set deadlines for articles
    Write every day
    I had the opportunity to speak last week at the Penn State York Literacy Institute. Over 70 York county teachers from grades 1 – 12 spent the week concentrating on how to teach writing to their students. As part of their requirements, the teachers had to do an implementation plan. Doing this Frontloading for next school year will help them know what and how to teach writing.
    I ‘d like to suggest we don’t teach the same thing grade after grade, but rather build on what the students know. My grandson who has just completed 6th grade said they made poetry books this spring…wrote poems…copied them on colored paper …and then turned them in. The poems were never shared with peers, were not read aloud, or revised from first draft to final copy. He said they were all familiar poem forms he had learned in 5th grade (couplets, diamanté, cinquain, list, and shape poem).
    Since he knew all those structures already, I think he and his peers may have been challenged to learn other forms….maybe pantoums or ghazals. For information on pantoums, see page 193 in Lynne Dorfman’s and Rose Cappelli’s book “Mentor Texts” (2007, Stenhouse). Students may be familiar with the song that follows the pantoum form, “The Larger Bowl” by Rush.
    A new book that follows the ghazal form is “Naamah and the Ark at Night” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. The new CCSS emphasize craft and structure. Let’s challenge our students to explore new poetic structures and craft meaningful poems that can be shared with the class.
    In the April/May 2013 IRA Reading Today, there was an excellent article by Tim Rasinski and Belinda Zimmerman entitled “What’s The Perfect Text for Struggling Readers? Try Poetry!” If we want our students to be better writers, let’s guide them to master new forms of poetry rather than it just being an exercise or fun activity to do.

    Reply

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