Category Archives: #TeachersWrite

Postcard

When was the last time you sent a postcard to someone else? Remember trying to write your message in the tiny space provided, scrunching your letters and even curving them up the side to avoid the “DO NOT WRITE BELOW THIS LINE” section reserved for the mail service scan code? Did you pause before writing, realizing your elaborate details would need to be concise with brevity? 

Today’s TeachersWrite quick-write is inspired by guest author Madelyn Rosenberg (who is also a fellow Virginian like me!) The challenge is a fun writing prompt called “Postcard” that even students can complete: Using only 10 words, describe the scene around you, then write each word on a separate line like a poem. This is a great warm-up for students to have them focus on sensory descriptions or simply hone in on a particular scene of their writing.

Here’s my “Postcard” for today:

Pine

Musk

Rocks

Crisp

Clear

Climb

Altitude

Clouds

National

Park
Any guesses where I am today? Comment below and add your own 10 word “Postcard” to showcase your surroundings!

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Character Voice

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Today’s #TeachersWrite task, provided by Phil Bildner, encouraged us to explore a character’s voice through thought/speech bubbles. Fun! It was a creative challenge I couldn’t wait to dive into… then I realized I could make the task into a presentation instead, showing other teachers and students how to do the same thing using technology! (I am a tech integrator, after all!)

I decided my tool of choice would be Google Slides (instead of pencil/paper) and I got to work. It didn’t take long at all to select an image and create a character’s voice. Best of all, it made learning enjoyable!

If you would like to do this task with your students through integrated technology, check out my simple, how-to slideshow. Feel free to share with your students as well!

Character Voice How-To Guide

Special thanks to Phil Bildner for this innovative task and Kate Messner for hosting another year of fantastic writing experiences!

Tuesday Quick Write – Week 3

imageThe noise got louder the closer we came. “C’mon, Sara, we’re gonna be late and they might run out of my favorite pizza!” I watched as my best friend since second grade walked ahead of me, her cute little ponytail bouncing behind her. Jeannie had no fear. She would dive into an ocean filled with sharks if she thought they might have something she wanted. “Hurry up!” she shouted, with one last turn of her head, before I lost her in the crowd of hungry students. I tried not to panic, holding the strap of my book bag tighter so it wouldn’t slip off my right shoulder. The sea of people crushed together, everyone cramming through two doors with peeling blue paint, an entrance meant for two, not twenty. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and the panic started to rise again. “One… Two… Three… Breathe…” The counselor’s calm and steady voice whispered in my memories as I started to feel the floor sway beneath my feet. “Don’t you dare pass out on me,” I whispered to myself, but it was too late. The dark perimeter of my vision closed in and I sank to the ground.


Today’s Quick Write inspired by Megan Frazer Blakemore’s #TeachersWrite post, challenging us to write a cafeteria scene as we “feel back to childhood.” As an elementary school educator (and a mom of three), I find myself surrounded by children constantly, but it takes a bit more effort to become a child again and write from that perspective. I’m finding that writing for younger readers is an area of interest and I look forward to making my characters’ voices and experiences more authentic!

 

 

I Am But One

image

I am

only

one person

but

I can

cultivate kindness

through actions and words,

mold memories

with passion and love,

shape student success

to learn, grow and be,

without

apology

apathy

atrocity;

I can

create change

in all that I do.

I

am

an educator,

a learner,

a leader,

a mom;

I

am

all these things

and

more.

I am,

I can,

I will.

 

Today’s poem inspired by Jo Knowles’ Monday morning warm-up for #TeachersWrite which can be access here: http://jbknowles.livejournal.com/487496.html

To view Kate Messner’s #TeachersWrite Mini Lesson with Mara Rockliff, visit http://www.katemessner.com/teachers-write-7-11-16-mini-lesson-monday-with-mara-rockliff/

 

 

 

Flaw or Fortitude?

opposites

Ahhh… I can feel the cool refreshment of the clear, sparkling water as I dip my toes once again into #TeachersWrite summer camp. Today’s assignment, from author Lisa Papademetriou, the author of A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, encourages us to experiment with characterization. We are to write a scene exemplifying a character’s virtue then rewrite it as a flaw. I’ve been toying with the art of fictional writing, so I’ll complete today’s assignment with a character I’m developing in that realm: Marissa.

Character Virtue

It is only dusk, but Marissa sees the fireflies appear, their golden orbs blinking as darkness envelopes her shoulders with a wisp of cooler air. She stretches her long legs away from the bench, pulling herself up to walk back to the cabin. She already knows what to say. She will be gentle with her rebuke, her words of kindness wrapping her daughter, Erin, like a soothing salve for the open wound left by her daughter’s friends. “Time heals all wounds,” she whispers to herself as she approaches the walkway now shrouded by night.

Character Flaw

“You ALWAYS say that!”

The door slams as Marissa stares perplexed at the space that once held her daughter. There were no hugs. No head on her shoulder, no shared mother-daughter bonding. The stifling silence is an impenetrable wall of anger, an unexpected quandary that freezes Marissa’s heart to the core.

What had she done wrong? She always knows the right things to say. Her daughter, Erin is an open-book when it come to skirmishes with her friends. Typical teenaged angst, usually about bodies or boys, always healed by a few words of a wisdom and a double scoop of mint chocolate-chip ice cream piled into a delicately laced waffle cone.

This time is different. The anger is real. The door is locked with silence and hate. Marissa no longer holds the keys of comfort, her words absorbed by the wooden door separating mother and child.


So tell me, fellow readers, which scene resonates with you? Can a character’s strength also be a flaw? Does this entice you as a reader to turn the page? I would love for you to share your comments below!

#TeachersWrite Day 3: Character Sketch



Wednesdays are usually Q & A days at Teachers Write, where we have the opportunity to ask published authors questions about the writing process or other aspects of writing/publishing. Sometimes there will also be a writing prompt, as provided today by Melanie Crowder.

We are challenged to create and expand a character sketch, which is new to me as I rarely write fiction. I am stretching myself as a writer through this summer camp, so here’s my contribution:

It was the sparkle of blue that caught her eye as she brushed the dirt from her grandmother’s walkway. A glimmer of stardust, gold band stuck in the dirt, lifting the sapphire between the blades of grass long overdue for a trim.

Blue. Another sign. Jessie crouched down and took a moment to admire the contrast of dull and bright. It would need a good cleaning for sure, but definitely a keeper. She knew the ring would never be worn, but join in solidarity with the other blue signs her grandmother had sent following the accident five years before.

The walkway discarded for now, Jessie made her way to the car. She needed to hide her treasure lest the perfect moment of revelation dissipate in the humid heat. Hiding meant safety. Blue meant love.

I’m not sure where this story may lead, but I was surprised how quickly the storyline played out in my mind; the words flowed from my thoughts as a diversion from my own reality, as I sit here in this hospital waiting room. This summer writing camp has been a welcome reprieve already and we’re only three days in!

#TeachersWrite Day 2: Character Quick-Write

Waiter1

Today’s writing task is from author Phil Bildner, challenging us to develop characters from observing those around us. Oh my, if this isn’t a southerner’s dream assignment! Being TOLD to people-watch for the craft of writing… why yes, I do believe I can accomplish this goal!

ISTE Crowd

I’m a people-watcher by nature. The act of social observation is something that flows through my veins like water rippling down a stream. It’s the purpose of people-watching that changes over time. I used to people-watch out of curiosity, intrigued by characteristics that vibrantly stood out against the crowd: the spiked porcupine hair, the ripped shirts and fall-to-your-knees baggy pants. Then I people-watched out of boredom, waiting for my daughter to be released from her ballet class; dance moms eagerly vying for position, nearly scrambling over one another to spotlight their darling virtuoso.

And then my purpose shifted. I was no longer interested in the external cloak strangers wrapped around their souls. Their clothes, their hairstyles, their speech; it was all a disguise, a defense, a deterrent. These characteristics merely shrouded their core beauty, a dank and musty shell of their divine calling. Who were these people who sat mere inches from my seat?

It was then that I sought their eyes: making contact, reaching out, extending a smile. Connection. The moment is always brief, fleeting. But in that moment you gain a glimpse of someone’s soul and the beauty that reflects back is breathtaking.

And then… they are gone.

The characters change, the props shift, another act begins. Yet, there is a piece of them now connected to you, a thin fiber woven into your spirit. These fibers create a tapestry of kindness, beautiful colors and fabrics that permeate every ounce of your being.

This is how characters develop, one thread at a time.

#TeachersWrite Day 1: Wonder List

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Today begins the first day of my favorite summer writing camp – Teachers Write! Created by Kate Messner, this camp encourages teachers of all disciplines to be brave with their writing and share with an authentic audience which includes other teachers and published authors. For more information on Teachers Write click this link: http://www.katemessner.com/blog/. For those participating, make sure to share your blog posts on Twitter using the hashtag #teacherswrite so we can share in each other’s writing!

Last summer was the first time I had heard of this virtual writing camp. I was a Twitter newbie still trying to figure out the difference between a hashtag and a handle. I was invited by my friend Greg Armamentos to join in the fun and WOW – what an experience! It was the first time I had ever contemplated putting my writing “out there”, for public consumption, to be chewed, digested, and possibly spit out.

I had to be brave. I had to take a chance. I had to make that jump.

Photo Jul 02, 6 40 41 PM

Now as I reflect on the past year, I find myself with laces tied, arms outstretched, ready to make that leap again.

Today’s Teachers Write challenge asks us to make a quick list of all that we wonder, just to let your mind wander and document your thoughts. This prompt gets my spirit excited because it’s the exact challenge I want to give my students as we dive into #GeniusHour next year, finding inspiration for our #PassionProjects. What a perfect way to delve into writing topics that engage and excite!

Here is my wonder list for today:

I wonder why five year olds have an innate ability to know when I’m sneaking away trying to write.

I wonder why those same five year olds are always hungry.

I wonder who created Perler beads and how they realized they could create images from melted plastic.

I wonder when my mom will be called back home, her time here on earth complete.

I wonder what inspires teachers to have a growth mindset.

I wonder how I can be everything to everyone at all times.

I wonder why I can’t let that one go.

I wonder why some colors match and others do not.

I wonder why there are Girl Scout cookies still sitting on my counter.

I wonder what passions people are repressing.

I wonder how to encourage, inspire, support.

I wonder if I am meant to write in first person or third person.

I wonder if anyone would purchase a book I write.

I wonder why ocean waves roar and sinking sand shifts.

I wonder if my spirit really can soar like eagles.

I wonder.