A Slice of Life!

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This week in my writing methods course, I introduced my pre-service teachers to the idea of writing about a “Slice of Life.” Many blogs do “Slice of Life” challenges in March, and I used the Two Writing Teachers blog for examples of slices. During our weekly independent writing time this Monday, I had them all write “Slices.” I was reading through them today and my goodness, they really understood this genre. I was really into all of their pieces–some of them made me laugh out loud. They have such unique voices! I want to ask them if I can post some to this blog; hopefully they agree. Many of them are too good to share.

Independent writing time in a methods course is going well. I was nervous that they would think it is lame or that they wouldn’t see the point of it. A student today said she was really enjoying my class because of the independent writing time– she called it “peaceful.” The only “complaint” I have received so far is that one girl wrote that she didn’t enjoy the Madonna song I was playing during writing time. I think it’s going well, which makes me feel good since this is the first time I have taught a “writing” methods course as opposed to a “language arts” methods course.

In my own writing world, I finally submitted that lingering piece yesterday and it felt very good to get it off my plate. I just needed to sit down and devote a couple hours to it and finish it up, but I was struggling to make myself do it. I finally buckled down on Tuesday and it felt great to send it off. I have another journal article now that is in the polishing stage and then I can send that one off too– hopefully this week. My collaborative proposal pieces are starting to take shape as well.

This was a good writing week! Let’s hope I can keep it going!

Writing Ruts

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My goals for January writing and #nerdlution were very ambitious, I know. I actually made pretty good progress. But then I decided to get to one particular journal article and I got stuck.

I often get into these writing ruts–I’ll work on a piece for a long time and get excited about it, then get to a place where I am out of ideas. I put it away with the intention of getting back to it sooner than later, but it always ends up being later. Now, here I am, knowing that I need to pick it up again and I am dreading it. I am dreading it mostly because I still don’t have any ideas about how to fix it. I know that the best way to write myself out of a hard place is to just write, but my brain is pushing back on this. How much do I listen to my head, and when do I push through?

Here are my writing goals for February:

1. Finish that lingering piece. It’s about economics instruction in the elementary grades and using the inquiry arc/approach to do this. I am stuck, but my first Feb goal is to get unstuck.

2. Finish that civic engagement piece from January. This one should be easier to write, since I have already written chunks of it and outlined the order for these chunks. Now I just need to put them in place and polish them up.

3. CUFA proposals. The annual conference for NCSS is in Boston this fall, and I have three ideas for proposals for CUFA, the research part of the conference. I am excited because these pieces are collaborations and I love writing with other people. However, these can sometimes take longer because they involve talking with other people, and usually I conceptualize writing in the car or the shower–hardly the best places for collaboration.

I’m keeping my goals to three this month (but really #3 is 3 pieces in and of itself, but whatever). Let’s hope I get out of my rut and get back in the groove.

Mentor Texts: Borrow or Buy?

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I haven’t blogged in quite a while, I know. Lots of personal things going on have kept me from writing as much as I would like, and blogging about NOT writing probably wouldn’t be all that interesting to read. I have made some progress on my overly-ambitious January writing goals, but I haven’t accomplished everything I would like. I’ll set February goals and share those soon.

The biggest thing I’ve been doing in January, when I haven’t been interrupted by polar vortex snow and cold days, is teach a couple classes of my writing methods course. I’ve also been teaching my social studies methods course as well. The last few weeks in both classes, I’ve brought in children’s books. In social studies, I wanted to show how teachers could use text sets to teach certain social studies concepts in ELA, and I just packed a huge bag of books for Monday’s writing class on mentor texts. 

Whenever I want to bring books in, I run into the same dilemma– I don’t have nearly enough children’s books. I mean, I have a decent amount (especially for social studies) but I always envision stacks and stacks of books to bring in for these classes and I don’t have stacks and stacks. So, what to do? Do I buy more to add to the collection or do I borrow?

I never know the right answer. I don’t have a ton of money to spend on books. I have asked around about funding options at work and have hit a few dead ends (most of the funds I have available are for research, not books). I am not giving up on finding funding, but even if I did find money to spend on books, where would I start? There are so many options! And I would want to stretch my dollar the best I could–where would I purchase them?

So borrowing from my local library is nice and free, but lately I have had some specific titles in mind that aren’t available. My library is quite nice, but it can be a pain stopping in every week to check out a new stack and then taking them back when I’m all done. And borrowing books just means I have to keep revisiting the well every year and I don’t get to just pull from my shelves.

What approach do others take? Do you spend a ton on books or borrow? If you buy, where can you get the most bang for your buck?

And not bringing books to class just isn’t an option. The smiles on everyone’s faces when I walk in with a giant box or bag of books is too good to pass up!

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