Enveloped in Words

I love words. I really do. And right now I have the luxury of spending my days enveloped in words: writing, reading and writing some more. Much of it, outside on my deck.

I’ve been reflecting on my process too. A few things I’ve noticed?

  1. Reading fuels writing. I continuously move back and forth between the two.
  2. I’m working even when I don’t look like I’m working. Those midday walks with my dog are deceiving.
  3. I thrive with multiple projects on the go. Near the end of the day with non-fiction, I turn my attention to fiction for a surge of creative energy.
  4. Praise can be motivating. That email from an editor last week inspired me to keep plugging away…
  5. And when I’m really hard at it, I seem to nibble while I work. Go figure!

Of course, I realize that the creative process varies from person to person. But, I wouldn’t be a teacher without considering how these thoughts on process might be applied to the classroom… I’m sure you’re doing the same!

Class Journals

Looking for an authentic writing activity for your class from now until the end of the year?

Try introducing a few class journals. The format doesn’t really matter: coiled notebooks, extra scribblers, dollar store journals. These shared class journals can have various titles: Favourite Moments of the Year, The Day I Will Never Forget, What I’ve Learned This Year, or The Best Thing About 5B. You get the idea.

What a wonderful way to encourage our students to read and write, to hear the voices of their peers and to help them reflect on the school year.

P.S. My students always liked to draw for them at the end of June…

Starting Over

I grew up in the same city, on the same street, in the same house for the first twenty years of my life. I always felt safe: thoughts of brutality, violence or war never crossed my mind. My parents never considered packing us all up and travelling to a new country to begin a better life.

And yet, this is the reality that millions have faced in years past and still today. It is a reality I simply cannot imagine. To leave your job, your home, your country – to leave all you’ve ever known – and start over.

We saw a performance at the Citadel Theatre on Saturday night entitled Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. Consider this lyric: “Where are we welcome? Where will we thrive? Where are we going? Will we survive?” 

The journey itself can be treacherous and many do not survive. And those who do face the shock of a new country and all that goes along with it: the people, the culture, the climate. 

The refugee story is replayed time and time again. Stories from our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. Stories from the family next door. Stories from the children in our classrooms. From different countries, cultures and specific circumstances, sure. A similar story all the same. Stories of fear, heartbreak and loss. Yet also stories of hope.


Lost and Found in Books

I had the pleasure of a few days in Banff surrounded by two of my favourite things: the beauty of the mountains and people who love words as much as I do. I came away feeling rejuvenated and energized: my purpose reinforced and renewed.

Many of those speaking at the conference referred to the power of literacy (not surprising considering it was a language arts conference). Penny Kittle spoke of how books enable us to make a place in the classroom for everyone. We can choose books that reflect the cultural identities of our students. We can choose books that help our students realize that their experiences are not entirely unique and there are others in the world like them. We can choose books that help our students explore themselves and find themselves. Books can teach our students: “You matter.”

In The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller explains, “The uninitiated might say that I am lost in my books, but I know I am more found than lost.”

Get lost in a good book and you just might find your true self…