Sunday, July 18, 2010

Writers Workshop

Recently, Bill and I participated in a writers workshop that was jointly sponsored by our district and the Clayton school district. I signed up, eager to learn about the writers notebook, the writers workshop, and to work on crafting my own personal writing. I can say, without a doubt, that the workshop was everything that I hoped it would be. Very, very worthwhile. Bill. Well, Bill says that he signed up because he was, as we call it in my district, voluntold. Voluntold, for those of you not familiar with the word, is when you think that your participation is a voluntary but it is not. Happens all the time in my district. So the workshop? Not off to a good start for Bill. But he went with a positively neutral attitude, after all, we were also getting paid to attend. Still, I think that he enjoyed it. And, his writing was some of the best received during the two weeks. Thinking that he might have had a change of heart about the experience, I asked if he would go again next year. You can probably guess what his answer was. If not, here it is: NO.

If you are interested in reading more about writing, the writers notebook, or the writers workshop, these three books listed are a good starting point.

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg - This book is a great place for the beginner writer, or even one in need of a refresher, to start thinking about the writing process, specifically the creative, getting-going part of the writing process. Goldberg gives the reader useful advice, encouragement, and inspiration. When I finished her book, I felt like I could write anything. But, as a warning, I should mention that Goldberg can be a little warm & fuzzy and philosophical. Initially, I found her style a bit off putting but I got beyond it and enjoyed what she had to say.

The Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher - Ralph Fletcher is a big name in the world of writing and the writers notebook so I thought it fitting that I read at least one of his books during the workshop. In this book, Fletcher talks writers notebook - what it is, what it isn't, how to use it, how not to use it. Very, very helpful information if you are considering starting/using a writers notebook. Fletcher's book is geared toward teachers of elementary-middle grades but don't let that stop you from reading this even if you're not in the target audience. It is a quick, easy, but worthwhile read.

Nonfiction Craft Lessons, Teaching Information Writing Grades K-8 by Joann Portalupi and Ralph Fletcher - If you teach nonfiction, informational writing this is a great resource. It's written for the elementary/middle grades but the material and lessons are universal. In the first part of the book, the authors set up the nonfiction writing process. Lots of useful step by step instructions with great descriptions and suggestions for teachers. Even if you consider yourself sufficiently schooled in the art of teaching nonfiction writing, this book is a solid reminder of the process and how it should be done. The second half of the book consists of mini-lessons that you can use in the classroom to scaffold kids writing and help them become successful writers of nonfiction. This part is divided into two parts, K-4 and 5-8. I only read the 5-8 section and found the information to be very relevant to me on a professional (teacher of 11th graders) and personal (writer of nonfiction) level.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tower Grove Farmers Market

We finally made it to the market for the first time this summer! In July! I can't believe that it took so long for us to get there. Great experience as usual. Fresh produce, fresh cheeses, fresh meats, and freshly made food, coffee, tea, and other other edible treats. And, I can't forget the great artisans too! The market's grown a lot over the years. More vendors and larger crowds. They also have yoga outside at the back side of the pavilion at 9am each Saturday. I've never been but I hear that they've had nearly 100 people every Saturday. That must be an amazing sight to see! There's also entertainment; today a bluegrass band was playing. I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the wading pool and fountain. The pool and the possibility of running into school and neighborhood friends is the only way that we can get Willa excited about going. We mostly looked around today. Since we garden too there isn't a whole lot at the market that we don't already have growing in our backyard. Today, we brought home fresh goat cheese, green beans, corn, and peaches.