Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Slice of Life Tuesday: 12 Word Book Invitations

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We have about two weeks left of the 2017-2018 school year. That means one more week of instruction (this week) and one week of finals (next week). As I type this post, it is warm and steamy on the second floor of my mostly windowless high school building. It is not even 8 AM, yet I find myself sweaty. I know it will be a long day.

As the school year winds down, it is tempting to provide my high school seniors with busy work for the rest of the week. However, I know that this is not best practice and will not serve my students in the best way that I can. Recently, I saw this post on Twitter from Judy Wallis, which reads, "A plea...please use the last days of school to try out new practices you hope to put in place next fall, immerse kids in book talks for summer reading planning, do book pass and book shopping; please don't give kids test practice packets by the pound. Grow readers!" 

It has been my goal all year to promote a positive culture of reading with my high school students, especially my seniors. (You can read a little about my journey here and here.) Unfortunately, independent reading has not been a common practice in many of my colleagues' high school ELA classes, but I made it the norm in my classrooms. When I saw this post by Pernille Ripp about how she used 12 Word Summaries with her middle school students, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to try something new, involve my students, and help continue to grow readers (yes, beyond graduation!). 

We are still in progress of writing 12 word book invitations, but these are my steps so far. 
1. Last week I invited my students to think of the best book they read this year. 
2. As I read about in Pernille Ripp's blog post, she used a short Cozy Classic book to begin. I read this Cozy Classics book out loud, emphasizing that sometimes it can be effective to summarize a story using a short amount of text.
3. I instructed students to jot down words they thought of when considering their favorite book they read this year. I gave them a few minutes to come up with a 12 word promotion for their favorite book. 
4. This was a slide that I shared with students as part of my instruction last week:
5. I noticed that many of my students emulated the Cozy Classic book and simply summarized their books writing twelve different one word sentences. Although I don't feel that this is wrong, I can imagine that it might not encourage other students to want to read the book. Here's a student example: 
6. Based on what I saw many of my students produce last week, we are returning to our 12 Word Invitations today, and I will invite my students to make revisions to their book invitations. Using one of my favorite books I read this year, Tell the Wolves I'm Home, I wrote an example that I will share with them today: 

I am excited to see how this turns out. My hope is that we will have a collection of book invitations to leave with my senior students (this year's seniors and next year's seniors). 

Ultimately, I needed that nudge to continue to try new things, even in our final weeks. After all, I want to continue to grow readers. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Slice of Life Tuesday: You are Orange

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I have been enamored with the book Poemcrazy: Free Your Life with Words, written by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. Although I am about half-way through it, I love that so much of it emphasizes playing with words, phrases, and ideas. This book has helped me play in my writer’s notebook with different kinds of writing and exploring new words.

Susan Wooldridge shares that she often begins initial workshop sessions (after participants have collected words) by asking participants to write down in a list the first things they think of in response to this question:

If I were a color, what color would I be?

I began drafting a list in my notebook. I jotted down phrases like petal droplets, lilac blossoms, sky ribbons, daffodil surprises, and tulip stems (can you tell that I have been noticing signs of spring around me?). I conjured some fantastic images in my mind. However, I did not end up focusing on a specific color. Yet, for me, it was notebook play, and it is probably a list that I will maybe return to someday.

A peek into my notebook

My ten-year-old daughter, sitting next to me, peered at my list, and asked me what I was doing. I told her the exercise I was trying. I wondered what she, as a tween, would come up with. Here’s a snip of our conversation:

Me: If you were a color, what color would you be?
Daughter: I would be yellow. A bright yellow, not one that is faded. Because yellow is a color full of sunshine and joy.
Me: What kind of color do you think that I would be?
Daughter: Hmm... definitely not blue.
Me: Really? You know that I like blue. I wear SO much blue.
Daughter: I know, but blue is a cool color. It means sadness. You aren’t sad.
A few quiet moments pass.
Daughter: Oh, I know. Orange. You would be orange.
Me: Orange? Tell me more.
Daughter: Orange is a warm color. One of comfort and warmth. You are orange.

Orange has never been one of my favorite colors. To me, I think of blaze orange for hunting or construction cones. For me, it signals a warning. A caution. Yet, suddenly I thought of sunsets and sweet oranges and times spent in front of a campfire. Even in listening to my daughter’s explanation, I don’t always feel orange - full of comfort and warmth. Ultimately, I love knowing that right now, this is how my daughter sees me. Our conversation made me feel warm. So I don’t mind seeming orange to her.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Slice of Life Tuesday: Junior High Physical Education Uniform

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As the school year comes to an end, I am inviting my high school seniors to reflect on school experiences through micro writing. Below is a 100 word story I wrote to provide as a model to my students. As shared on this week's Slice of Life Tuesday Post, "If we are asking students to take risks, we have to model risk taking" (shared by Meredith Sinclair at the first Connecticut Council for Teachers of English Convention, 2018).

Check out one of my school experiences below in exactly 100 words:

Although over twenty-five years have passed, the required physical education uniform still makes me recoil. All females were required to wear one piece gym suits. No exceptions. Red shorts attached to red and white horizontal striped tops. Durable, itchy polyester. Each girl's last name was carefully printed in thick black sharpie on the left shoulder - a ceremonial duty bestowed by the physical education teacher the first day. On the last day of eighth grade I happily chucked it in the school dumpster. Raised in a fairly frugal household, it was the only item of clothing I ever remember throwing away.

I found this image somewhere on Pinterest.
Although this is not exactly like our gym suits, it is similar. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Double Haiku: On Motherhood

Me (bottom left), my older sister, my older brother, and my mom.
Some time in the 1980s

Raising humans...is

complex - abundance of love
while sifting through ache.

Parenting nudges
Humility, grade - soul full
Of paths Mom bestowed. 

Double Haiku, May 2018 ©Trina Haase

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

SOL Tuesday: Writing Funk

Lately, I have been feeling in a bit of a funk, especially in my writing through a professional lens. I have not been able to silence my inner critic. This is poison, ruminating through my veins.

I recently finished reading Jane Yolen's Take Joy: A Book for Writers. Although this book focuses a lot about writing stories, I still loved the wisdom from Jane Yolen. This passage really resonated with me:


For several years now I have a handwritten sign over my desk that reads: "Value the process, not the product." I put it up there one New Year's to remind myself that books are not products, that what I enjoy and do in joy is the writing. If a book is a result, good on me. 

I offer that sign to anyone who needs it.
Write out your own.
Pin it where where you can see it when you lift your eyes from the keyboard.
Read it once a week. More often if the week is a bad one."

Thanks, Jane Yolen. Most of my writing is done in my notebook, so I wrote this on a post-it note and slapped it on the cover:
A much needed reminder from Jane Yolen
I am not out of my funk, but I am grateful for this reminder. 

What do you do to get out of your writing funk? 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

SOL Tuesday: Takeaways from Participating in C3WP

Last night, as I was looking for a starting point in this blog post I began with this Haiku: 

creating, sharing
collaboration - trademarks
of Writing Project

I recently completed a year-long advanced writing institute through our local National Writing Project Site, Fox Valley Writing Project. The focus of this institute was on argument using National Writing Project's C3WP's Cycles of Instruction

As usual, I took more away from participating in this writing institute than I initially anticipated. I learned more about argument and how to better teach the moves of argument to writers. This work guided me in creating better mini lessons, knowing better what possible next steps with students could be, and having richer conversations with writers. 

My major takeaways of participating in C3WP included:
  • Being introduced to Joseph Harris' Rewriting: How to Do Things with Text (Utah State University Press, 2005). This book helped me better understand the moves writers make, including illustrating, authorizing, borrowing, extending, and countering. It's a resource I plan to return to again and again, not only as a teacher of writers but also as a writer myself. 
  • Although this isn't unique to argument, I learned how to layer my thinking more effectively using texts. As I have realized before, when I try the same task as I am introducing to students, I find that my teaching has more clarity and is more effective.
  • Using the C3WP Instructional Resources and implementing several mini units in my classroom. 
  • A reminder of the power of discussion and collaboration with other practitioners. Although our group was comprised of educators from different school districts, roles, and levels, I always appreciated hearing experiences and insights others shared. I left each session with new ideas and possibilities rolling in my mind. 
Overall, I love the community within a National Writing Project cohort, the work of learning through doing, collegiate conversation, and reflection. I am confident that I will begin the next school year utilizing even more of what I learned from C3WP. This will not only be better for my teaching, but it will positively influence my students.

Slice of Life Challenge #21 Day 31: Easter Preparations

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