Friday, August 12, 2011

Your Child's Writing Life - A GIVEAWAY

In need of some Back To School inspiration? A little motivation? A little mojo for your flojo! (Don't ask about that last one, I thought I had a thing going...)

I recently previewed a copy of Pam Allyn's latest book Your Child's Writing Life and while it is written primarily for parents, it is just the ticket to start your teacher engines. Plus, there's a ton of great information and ideas about how to get your newest little friends totally jazzed about writing. (I'm talking about some ideas to sharpen up your current workshop, some tools to help you remember what's truly important when it comes to the teaching of writing - here's a hint: it's not all about passing The Test - plus some great titles you may want to add to your repertoire. Can you say "jackpot"?)

As I was reading this book, I couldn't help but think of my own writing life. I didn't always love to write. Back in my school days, we rarely wrote except to answer comprehension questions or respond to a very structured prompt. Some day remind me to tell you about the first time I was asked to truly WRITE something in high school. It may have involved some shoe throwing, a temper tantrum and Big Mama Mimi having to Lay Down The Law. But look at me now! Blogger, author, frequent user of the term "douche bag"! I mean, could Big Mama Mimi be any more proud? The point is, I did not know what it was like to truly experience the joy of writing the written word. Cut to my student teaching experience. The teacher had children freely creating and writing their own stories. About whatever they wanted. And I was all, "Where do the five paragraphs go? You mean these kids are totally free balling it? That's madness?!" And then I realized...it was genius.

A few years later, in my own classroom, there was no formal writing curriculum. Wait, there was no writing curriculum. So what did The Mimi do? The Mimi squeezed in a Writer's Workshop every day, closed the door and kept her mouth shut. We just went with it, writing what came to us and learning along the way. To this day, the freedom and love of writing I experienced with those kids are some of my greatest teaching memories. Ten years later, when I was still in the same classroom teaching Writer's Workshop, a former student from that year came back to visit me. He had been one of my most favorite (and most infamous) Naughty Boys. Seriously, boyfriend had some crazy frenetic energy! Except during writing- when we wrote he channeled all that energy into his work. Granted, his toes were usually tapping, bit he was definitely into it. During his visit, he gave me a CD filled with his own original rap music. He wrote the music, he wrote the words, he did it all himself. One track in particular was like a thank you letter to me for teaching him to love writing and tell his life in his own words.

Um, ARE YOU CRYING YET?!

I had this friend in my head and my heart as I read Pam's book. If you like my story, you'll love the stories that pepper Pam's book. She shares beautiful and touching moments from her own classroom as well as from the classrooms has visited around the country and around the globe.

A quote from Pam's book that's going on my cork board at home:

"Let us influence our children to fall so in love with words and stories and ideas that they can't help but want to put them somewhere, like little treasures."

Isn't this what we all want for our little friends? Isn't this what learning to write is all about? Isn't this so much more inspiring than focusing on some test as the end goal? And won't our friends be better writers, citizens of the world and, yes, better test takers, if we allow them the time and space to just write?

I'm lucky enough to be able to giveaway a copy of this fabulous book to one of you lovely readers. Ready for the rules?

* The giveaway begins today and runs through next Friday, August 19th.
* You can enter the giveaway as many times as your heart desires.
* To enter, simply respond in the comments section to one of these creative prompts pulled right from Pam's book:

Write about the safest place in the world to soothe scaredness.

Write about one of your favorite recipes, maybe with a description of the food.

What do you most want to change in the world? What is one thing you could do toward this?

Your entries don't have to be long, just long enough to flex those creative writing muscles! A sentence or two will do or you can really let her rip.

I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner to be fair.

On your marks, get set, WRITE!





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

37 comments:

fwteacher said...

The thing I would most like to change in the world is to remove long-term power/influence from individuals and groups of people.

JenLM said...

The safest place in the world for soothing scaredness would have to be cuddling in bed, under a really warm, fluffy comforter!

sadamo said...

The safest place in the world to soothe scaredness is any Crate and Barrel store. All negative feelings that creep inside are turned to positive feelings the second I walk through the doors and get the first glimpse of bright colors, glassware, and kitchen gadgets.

Vanna said...

I think the safest place in the world for soothing scaredness would be my bed! It is comfy and soothes me! I always feel safe there.

Roxy said...

Am I going to enter this three times to answer the three different questions? Hell yes, I am.

The safest place in the world for soothing scaredness for me is my bed, under a comforter, next to my husband. (Yes, I am a cheeseball, so sue me.)

Roxy said...

My favorite recipe OF ALL TIME is easily Julia Child's Boeuf Bourgignoun (though my spelling is questionable). It is a classic. Not only is it soothing and relaxing to make (for me at least), it is probably the most delicious thing known to man. If I could, I would eat it every day.

pirategirl said...

My favorite recipe is the pasta sauce my husband and I make up as we go depending upon what is in the kitchen. Every time it is a little different and we always swear it's the best. A little onion and garlic caramelized in olive oil, a healthy splash of red wine, anchovy paste stirred in, finely chopped bacon that has been browned to a beautiful crispiness, and a jar of whatever store bought sauce was on sale. Pour over pasta of choice. Sprinkle copious amounts of chopped basil from my herb garden and whatever shredded parm or mozzie we have....and then we chow down with glasses of cheap red wine and foccacia..heaven in a bowl....and sleepiness to follow.

Roxy said...

The one thing I'd like to change about the world is that I would like all children to be able to have safe, nurturing childhoods with places to sleep and enough food for them to eat. In terms of one thing I could do about this, I keep a binder in my classroom with resources so that when my students struggle with this (and they have in the past), I at least know who to point their parents to.

Teacher said...

The safest place in the world for soothing scaredness is snuggled up in the arms of a loved one -- and a giant, overstuffed bean bag chair helps too ;)

Katy said...

Beautiful post, Mimi! YES I'm crying!!

A warm, steaming bowl of creamy curried chicken over rice, enjoyed on a blazing bright but chilly fall day is my definition of a perfect meal. The recipe came to me from a charming, hardworking teenage daughter of a preacher in South Africa. She cooked every meal for her entire family, including the two orphaned cousins that her parents adopted as their own. The meal is cheap, delicious, and satisfying, but what I love most about it is that it connects me to golden hearts such as these.

Bets's Blog said...

For a child especially, though us adults love this too, the safest place in the world to sooth scaredness is inside the hug of someone who genuinely cares about you.

Bets's Blog said...

So often for a scared or confused child the safest place they find is the inside of a hug from someone who truly cares about them.

Clix said...

Actually, I found out that the safest place in the world is stretched out, nestled in pillows, with my head in my husband's lap. Access to Sunkist Fruit Gems is just bonus!

Clix said...

The one thing I would like to change most is for everyone to have limitless access to nutritious food and safe water.

Clix said...

Favorite recipes? Uh-oh. I'm really not good at cooking. Oh! No! I know. One of my favorite recipes is mixing apple butter and cottage cheese in roughly-equal proportions. The flavors complement each other marvelously, and it has the added bonus of looking COMPLETELY disgusting. It is an absolutely delightful concoction!

Mrs Em said...

The safest place in the world for soothing scaredness would have to be in my imagination, floating towards a happy place all of my own creation.

Mrs Em said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bets's Blog said...

Favorite recipe of the moment--I love this summer yummy bean salad that you serve on the inside of a tomato. It is super simple, just white beans, lemon juice, a little olive oil, mint, parsley and lots of dill. Add some super fine minced red onion and voila, a nice cool side dish. Love it!

Miss Rayburn said...

The safest place in the world to me is still with my parents. No matter how old I get, just being with them makes me feel like they will take care of everything.

Miss Rayburn said...

My favorite recipe is probably my mom's potato salad. I could eat that stuff morning, noon, and night!

Miss Rayburn said...

If I could change anything about the world, I would want people to have to work for what they want. No more sense of entitlement for anyone. I try to instill in my students the need to be responsible and work hard for their future.

Mrs. Amy Lester said...

This recipe is from a Duncan Hines cookbook of my mom's from 1939.You can tell that it's the only recipe she used from this book because the page it's on is sticky and dirty. :-) It's very simple and yommmmy.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs--beaten
1/2 cup sour milk
1 tsp soda

2 cups flour
1 pinch of salt
3 crushed ripe bananas

Directions:
Cream together shortening and sugar. Stir beaten eggs into mixture. Mix soda into milk and add to mixture. Stir flour, salt and bananas into mixture and pour into loaf tins. Bake in 350 F. oven for 1 hour.

Ben said...

I long thought that the safest and most secure place in the world was in a loved one's arms, but I now know this not to be the case. Many have died, many suffered, many feared in such arms since the war began. And many have brought their own doom in misidentifying arms as those of a loved one. I now know that the safest and most secure place in the world is the cave I found beneath the bear-shaped mossy rock at the third bend in the glass river after the old highway crosses over. It was sealed before I found it, before the war began, and it is my own now, not some animal's. Not any person's. You can't trust people with the safest place on earth. I could once, but that again was before. Take away what people build their trust upon and you won't always know them afterward. Sometimes I think the cave would be safer if I could still trust arms, let alone be within them.

Ben said...

If I could change one thing about the world, it would be something about trust, but I can't be sure of exactly what. After all, it is the lack of trust which got us here, which gave us this war. Great nations smiling and shaking hands while all the while glancing nervously about, doubting, readying themselves just in case. Call it self defense, or call it paranoia. On the one hand, each party was correct in worrying, as each was equally responsible for the fallout. On the other hand, if you worry too much, you're ready to come out swinging at the tap of a shoulder; worry too much and you're ready to snap at a misplaced or misunderstood comment. Just when we think we understood each other, we realized we didn't fully understand ourselves. I'm not sure which arms I'm talking about anymore. The loving arms of my late lover, or those of my late nation. Both became ugly at the same time and for analogous reasons and maybe even influenced each other. Small actions can have strange ways of reaching far places. Both sent me away, into my cave, and here all I can trust is the cave, myself, and my food. But even food is like a person or a people sometimes -- you don't really know that you can trust it until you apply enough heat.

Ben said...

My mother was a paranoid packrat, but as such I trusted her more than anyone else in the world, and still do. Every now and then I raid the old spice collection from the basement. It's a bit of a walk from the cave, but mother always believed that things you save will eventually come in handy, and she was right. She also believed that if you had enough spices, you can live through any situation with relative comfort. Again she was right. Sealed mason jars full of bacon grease allow me to saute the locusts and cave crickets (after removing the legs), battered in acorn meal. The acorn meal is bitter, but once curried is actually fine. Red pepper and cumin and chili powder allow for a sort of chili. I can sometimes catch a squirrel or a rabbit and skewer it with rosemary from the nearby bushes. I've caught fish and fried them with nothing other than the green onions so abundantly scattered throughout these woods. There are walnuts, raspberries, ants, morels, and with saved salt and pepper packets, taco bell sauce and ketchup, dried oregano, mustard, cloves, thyme, annice, garlic powder, the old Brita filter... I could spend the rest of my life here, away from the strife and the doubt and the flames, the lying smiles and thievery and waking labor, just drawing on these walls and reading the old cookbooks. But one day someone will come and see what I've done of my own will and power, and what I have not done even with my own will and power, and they will either kill me or love me. One day perhaps, with the right recipe, I will have those trusting arms once more and someone to teach these recipes to. Thinking again, I don't know what I could change about trust, or about its safety. It is as ephemeral and uncertain as my daily meals, yet still somehow abundant and satisfying as all the food in the world, if you only know where to look and what to keep.

Kendra! :) said...

My favorite recipe comes from my grandmother. It's sausage casserole and consists of sausage, rice, bell pepper, celery, and onions. We always had it at family birthdays, and it brings back great memories of family. It takes about 2 hours to prepare because you have to chop up all the veggies, but it's well worth it!

Heather said...

The safest place in the world for soothing my scaredness is in my husband's arms. He makes me feel super safe and protected.

23 Things Lisa Smith said...

The safest place in the world for soothing scaredness would be snuggling and talking with someone you love!

23 Things Lisa Smith said...

The thing I would like to change the most in the world is to take the politics out of teaching. This would allow teachers to teach from the heart and empower students to love, learn and grow as individuals.

23 Things Lisa Smith said...

My favorite recipe is chicken alfredo. Not the healthiest, but definitely the yummiest.

TracyF said...

My favorite recipe isn't really a recipe - it's popcorn! I LOVE popcorn with real butter, salt, and sometimes parmesan (sp?) cheese. Add something cold to drink, and either a good book or a good movie, and this is a meal that works for me! It's my go-to recipe when my husband is out of town.

Kathy said...

One of my favorite recipes is my grandma's apple cobbler. Fresh, juicy apples from the tree in the backyard + generous amounts of cinnamon and sugar + a rich, flaky crust = deliciousness! This is one of the things that helps me ease from summer to fall without too much sadness. :)

hblacker said...

The thing that I would want to change most in the world is literacy rates, exposure to books and access to books. I teach in an "at-risk" school, our community is highly populated by hard-working immigrants and single parents. When I first started at my school 4 years ago, we applied for grants for books, while doing this we did a study of the community and have found that an astounding 18% have completed high school and that the literacy rate is about 13%. HOW SAD. As a teacher, with a passion for reading, I want to in still that passion for books in my students. This year, our minister of fisheries donated 1500 books to our school so that each student could take 10 books home for summer holidays. She is also donating 3000 books and shelves to our local community centre to establish a library for the community members. She has been such an inspiration for me! This year I plan to take my students to our public library where they will each receive a library card and can borrow books. We will visit the library periodically throughout the year. I will do my best to make a small difference in the little community in which I work to ensure that students and families are exposed to literature for I wish that all members of our community will graduate from high school as literate members of the society and use this life skill to further their opportunities as active members of our society.

hblacker said...

The thing that I would want to change most in the world is literacy rates, exposure to books and access to books. I teach in an "at-risk" school, our community is highly populated by hard-working immigrants and single parents. When I first started at my school 4 years ago, we applied for grants for books, while doing this we did a study of the community and have found that an astounding 18% have completed high school and that the literacy rate is about 13%. HOW SAD. As a teacher, with a passion for reading, I want to in still that passion for books in my students. This year, our minister of fisheries donated 1500 books to our school so that each student could take 10 books home for summer holidays. She is also donating 3000 books and shelves to our local community centre to establish a library for the community members. She has been such an inspiration for me! This year I plan to take my students to our public library where they will each receive a library card and can borrow books. We will visit the library periodically throughout the year. I will do my best to make a small difference in the little community in which I work to ensure that students and families are exposed to literature for I wish that all members of our community will graduate from high school as literate members of the society and use this life skill to further their opportunities as active members of our society.

Edris Goolsby Harrell, Ph.D. said...

Nothing tastes like summer like a Caprese salad. I slice tomatoes from my neighbor's garden, slice fresh mozzarella cheese and put a slice on each tomato piece. Then, I put basil from another neighbor's garden on top of the cheese. Next, olive oil (I'm loyal to Spain's oil although it's an Italian salad), salt and pepper. I let these all sit together for a spell so they can exchange flavors, and then....yummmmm.

Edris Goolsby Harrell, Ph.D. said...

Spending a semester in Spain, for me, was educational in many ways. Sure, I became more proficient in Spanish and the culture, but I also saw my culture and country from a new perspective. I learned there were different ways of thinking about an issue, reacting to an issue, and resolving an issue, some of which were never considered in the U.S. To change the world I would require that all teenagers spend a year abroad so that even though the power-hungry would still be our leaders, citizens at least would have some perspective and maybe be less inclined to believe propaganda and hype, and therefore be less complacent about destructive actions.

Edris Goolsby Harrell, Ph.D. said...

During a thunderstorm, my children love to escape to my bedroom. We close all the doors and window shades so that the lightening cannot penetrate the room. An air filter masks the thunder, and if the thunder is close, we turn up the air filter. The kids lie on our bed, with the covers up to their chins and our cat in between. Nothing bad can happen!

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