1. your comments on wonderfarm’s birthday post. I didn’t want to add another post because it was a hoot to have so many of you show up and chat with me. Thank you, especially those of you who don’t usually leave comments. You made me smile at my computer screen. Many, many times.
2. house guests. Beloved friends from Portland. Which meant a lot of laughing, walking, drinking and eating. Sourdough pizza (you can always count on it if you’re here on Friday night), tacos with rajas and margaritas, banana-cocoa nib smoothies and Janet’s muffins. Not at one meal. Also Homeroom and Burma Superstar! We visited Andy Goldsworthy’s art at The Presidio and watched Tumbleweed Wanderers play in a huge steel tube in a somewhat unsavory part of Oakland. (TW is the band of one of H’s oldest homeschooling buddies; they just released their first album last week. Movin’ on up!) Oh, and we watched a hilarious Norwegian “documentary” on troll hunting.
3. speaking engagements. I’ve spent a lot of time prepping two new workshops which I’ll be giving at the HSC Adventures in Homeschooling Conference in Sacramento this weekend. One is an interactive version of my How Do Kids REALLY Learn to Write? article. The other is a workshop version of #5 below. I love this conference. I’ve been going since the summer before my oldest would have started kindergarten. Now he’s starting his junior year of college. Holy cow, that makes sixteen, count ’em, SIXTEEN years of conferences! Any of you going this year? Please let me know! And let me get you riled up about writing on Friday and Saturday morning!
4. anniversary tripping. I’ve been married even longer than I’ve been attending homeschooling conferences! (Which I suppose makes sense now, doesn’t it?) Twenty-four years! We celebrated by heading up to Sonoma for a couple of days, where we did more of the same from #2 above: lots of laughing, walking, drinking and eating! (No troll hunting.) Finally got to Fremont Diner and thoroughly enjoyed the farmer’s toast with sweet and sour Horn of the Bull peppers and crescenza on farm bread. Sitting at the bar at The Girl and the Fig at 3:00 on a Monday afternoon, having pastis and matchstick frites made us feel like we were really on vacation. So did walking alongside rows and rows of grapevines, and eating an anniversary dinner at Glen Ellen Star. All I needed there was a bunch of divine veggie sides and the malted milk chocolate ice cream. (It’s pretty much been all eating, all the time ’round here lately, if you haven’t noticed.)
5. this! That’s the cover of my book on facilitating writer’s workshops! I was determined to finish the book in time to have some advance copies ready for the conference. It took a whole lot of friends willing to host my kid for days on end to get it done, but done it is! What started out as a simple guide turned into a 100+page beast with writing exercise ideas, a crash course in what makes literature work, testimonials from former workshoppers and more. I’m giddy and can’t wait to share it with you. Next week I delve into publishing details. Originally, I planned to release it as an ebook and PDF, but one morning it occurred to me that some folks may want a version with flippable pages, so I’m working on publishing it as a tangible book as well. I have grand schemes in mind, including perks for those on my email subscriber list; if you’re not on that list, click on the little envelope at the top of the right sidebar and add yourself!
If you’re at the HSC conference this weekend, please find me and say hello! There’s nothing like meeting you readers in person!
What’s been keeping you busy?
i just saw this on twitter and wow!!!!! so excited for you. cannot wait to get my hands on a copy so please keep us posted.
Thanks for the enthusiasm, Amanda! I’m sure I will keep you all posted more than you’d like to be posted. 😉
Ooooh! You can’t publish this soon enough! Just today I committed to dipping my toes back into the classroom waters teaching “writing/English/language arts” to 9th/10 graders at the school where I previously taught full-time for 11 years.
My beliefs about teaching and learning have shifted significantly over the last couple of years, and as some of the parents of the students I will be teaching feel that their children’s writing instruction has been lacking, they are going to be expecting “RESULTS”.
I gave writing workshop several sincere tries with varying degrees of un-success at different grade levels when I was still teaching full time. What I found most frustrating was the apparent lack of student motivation to write anything at all. As this is a private school with parents spending their hard-earned money to send their children there in the first place, they probably aren’t going to be overly excited about me trying out my “radical” writing ideas on their children, even if I fully intend on using them on my own sons (3.5 years and 4 months) in the future.
Any ideas for things to “safely” try without ruffling too many feathers? Advice for working with unmotivated teen writers?
I eagerly await your book, and until then, I am working my way through all of your wonderful posts/comments from the past on writing and homeschooling.
What an exciting challenge, Wendy!
My book is, I suppose, at odds with a “results”-driven culture. My belief is that if you want kids to write well, you need to give them as many opportunities as possible to write about what matters to them, and in forums that inspire them. If you can engage kids with writing, I believe that their writing will improve over time–no doubt. But it may not happen fast enough for folks who measure things by standards and testing and “results.”
So will my book be helpful to you as a teacher? Honestly, I’m not sure.
Then again, I’ve read some fantastic stuff from teachers who know how to manipulate the classroom setting enough to allow kids to write about what matters to them, and in intriguing formats. So let me share those.
Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys, by Michael Smith and Jeffrey Wilhelm. This one is directed at teachers of boys who have lost interest in literacy, and is all about re-engaging them. (And if you can make it work for boys, I’ll bet it will work for girls as well, as they tend to stay more engaged with reading and writing as they get older.) http://www.heinemann.com/products/0509.aspx
The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks. This is all about using technology to engage kids. Great stuff for helping kids get excited about writing via blogs, social networking, wikis, etc. Teens are so immersed in everything digital–may as well turn that to your advantage! http://www.heinemann.com/products/E02674.aspx
Expository Composition: Discovering Your Voice by Tony Romano and Gary Anderson. I haven’t actually read this book, to be honest. But I’ve gotten to know Gary Anderson via Twitter, and I’ll tell you: I wish my own kids could have had him as an English teacher when they decided to go from homeschooling to high school! He seems to have a handle on what high school kids need to be motivated to write, and it looks like this book is a nice encapsulation of that. http://www.emcp.com/product_catalog/listonline.php?GroupID=1446
Oh, and I love But How Do You Teach Writing? by Barry Lane. Just a good one for helping you look past the system, to see what kids really need to become engaged with writing. http://www.discover-writing.com/
I’ve been able to find some of these titles via my inter-library loan system.
Best of luck to you, Wendy! And please keep me posted on how things go!
Thanks so much for the great book suggestions!
Dave Eggers (who co authored this book) has a pretty interesting book out called Don’t Forget To Write that might have some ideas for Wendy. I can’t say that I used many of them with my own homeschooled teens but I did like the ideas and the goals the book authors present.
Congratulations, Patricia. Rather than always checking in, I am going to actually subscribe to your blog! LOL It has taken me long enough, but then, I don’t subscribe to any others!
You’re welcome, Wendy.
Cathy, I love Don’t Forget to Write! I have it listed in my Recommended Reading section in Workshops Work!
I am honored that you subscribed to my blog when you don’t typically subscribe. Funny how many people have clicked on that little envelope once I mentioned it in this post–although it’s been up there since I redesigned the blog!
Thanks, Cathy, for the additional book idea!
Congratulations on the book. and the speaking. and the good food.
Thank you, thank you, and yes, it was very good.
Congratulations on the book! And 24 years!
Sounds like a wonderful flurry of creative activity and fun. The book cover looks great, and I’m glad you’re going to go for a tangible book I can hold in my hands, too. Hooray!
I love Andy Goldsworthy’s art and am so jealous you go to see some of his work in person. Have you seen the documentary about him? I think it’s called Rivers and Tides. Worth checking out if you haven’t seen it.
In terms of what’s been keeping me busy, I’d say it’s primarily been canning. Every day this time of year, I try to put up a little something–Michigan peach butter today, heirloom-tomato salsa the day before, pickled peppers the day before that. Can’t wait to open a jar in January and taste summer again!
Carrie, I will be sending a PDF of the book your way soon. Thank you for your very helpful contributions to it!
Yes, we’ve seen Rivers and Tides and loved it. Such an inspiration–especially for kid artists!
Pickled peppers! Those sound so good, as does everything else you’ve canned. I’ve been so busy this summer that I haven’t canned anything. It’s time!
Yay! Life sounds good in your world. I am super excited about your book (and happy you are going to publish a hard copy!) & 24 years is wonderful!
Last week Fionna (almost nine years-old) wrote her first sentence (about her upcoming birthday and her chickens) out of the blue. It was awesome to see her running around the house gathering the books she needed to spell the words she wanted. She spent the afternoon writing all kinds of sentences about all the things she loves. I get giddy just thinking about it. So great!
Hooray, Dawn, a new writer is born! I love hearing how Fionna gathered books to help her with her spelling. Very resourceful! It’s so neat to see kids excited about writing, and doing it because they want to, isn’t it? That’s how it should be. I’m excited for her–and for you!