We wrapped up our week-long blog tour for Ruth Ayres’ new book Celebrating Writers. Here are some highlights from the reviews of the book and the interviews with Ruth:
“It is a hard time to stay grounded in teaching–to continue to keep our classrooms joyful places for children. It is easy to lose energy and to fall back on practices that don’t match what we know about children or about learning. But Ruth’s work always gives me the confidence and energy I need to stick with what I know is right. She understands children and writing and teachers and she celebrates every piece of the learning process, especially the messy ones!”
“I think when teachers are writers themselves they realize the importance of genuine celebration. It doesn’t need to be grandiose and it doesn’t have to include forced feedback, rather celebration is the natural outcome of being in a writing community. When we are writers working alongside other writers, we understand how celebration is fuel and we are positioned to make it an integral part of our writing workshops.”
“The same is true in our classrooms. There are many things we cannot control. We cannot control educational mandates. We cannot control fathers drinking and mothers leaving. We cannot control standardized writing assessments.
But we can choose joy.
This is the heart of celebration. We choose joy about the excess periods in a student’s writing, because a month ago there were none. We choose joy about the three meager lines of writing, because yesterday there were crushed pencil points and tears. We choose joy about the misspellings, because all of the sight words are accurate.”
“No matter your grade level, if you are teacher working alongside writers, you’ll want to read this book. Ruth’s book had me taking notes and planning changes for our workshop – changes to bring joy into the time we work as writers.”
“This is the brilliance in Ruth’s work. She will cause you to see the daily opportunities for celebrations. These opportunities will bond you closer to your students and make you all grow as a result. There is no question in my mind that I am a better person every day that I read Ruth’s blogs. I am also a better teacher as a result of her blogs and this beautiful book. I highly recommend it.”
“Living the life of a writer—writing every day—is hard work. As humans, we look for ease and comfort. Writing doesn’t encompass either of these things. So if we’re going to stick with it, even on the hard days, there has to be a bigger reason than because the teacher says so or because I’m going to publish.”
Pre-order your copy of Ruth Ayres’ new book Celebrating Writers and join us on a blog tour starting November 11. Ruth will be answering questions about how to nurture writers, celebrate each step of the writing process, and she will share ideas on how to help student persevere through the development of a written piece.
We are excited to kick off our blog tour for Assessment in Perspective with this welcome from The Sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. In their foreword for the book, they write: “We believe this book is a must-have for all educators. It is the perfect guide to maximize the benefit of assessments. It will help us to truly know, understand, and teach all of our children.
You can preview the book online, order your own copy, and join the conversation with the authors next week on the following blogs:
Check back on the Stenhouse blog on Friday, May 24 for a wrap-up of the discussion. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win a free copy of the book! We will select one winner from each blog!
So let’s kick off this blog tour and see you on Monday!
Visit all three blogs to read reviews and insightful interviews with the authors. Ask a question or leave a comment — one commenter will be selected on each blog to receive a free copy of Assessment in Perspective.
There’s still time to grab your copy of the book and join the conversation!
I hope you all had a chance to check out all four blogs participating in this week’s Math Exchanges blog tour. The interviews with author Kassia Omohundro Wedekind were very interesting and in-depth and there were some really good comments and discussion.
Things kicked off on Monday at Catching Readers, hosted by Pat Johnson and Katie Keier. In their interview they asked Kassia how teachers can stay true to the idea of “teach the mathematician, not the math,” and not solely focus on what their pacing guides dictate. “I think we, as teachers, can make a powerful choice to teach responsively, even in the difficult time in which we teach,” said Kassia. “We can show the amazing true understanding that comes from teaching a child to construct understanding rather than memorize isolated facts and procedures. We can change how people view mathematics in their lives and in the world,”
You can read the full interview here for more inspiration!
At Our Camp Read-A-Lot, teacher and blogger Laura Komos asked Kassia about what changes she should expect to see as she begins to use math exchanges with her first graders. “I think one major shift you will see is in your first graders is how they view themselves, not just as do-ers of the work their teacher assigns them, but as mathematicians,” wrote Kassia. “In a math workshop kids feel ownership over their thinking and work. They feel a sense of pride when talking about the strategies they used to solve problems. They take on challenges and see themselves doing the real, authentic work of mathematicians.”
For Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine, Kassia’s book was the “right book at the right time.” At the beginning of their conversation, Kassia describes how her math workshop changed when she started to focus on “teaching the mathematician.” You can find their interview here.
At Elementary, My Dear, teacher Jenny Orr and Kassia address the very important question of how to be the first or only teacher to use math exchanges in a school. “Start small. Start simly,” advises Kassia. Read the rest of her advice here.
P.S. A note about our giveaway: Each blogger will pick one commenter as the winner of a free Stenhouse blog. You will be contacted by the blogger with details if you are the winner!
Our Math Exchanges blog tour kicks off today with a great post on Pat Johnson and Katie Keier’s blog, Catching Readers. Check out their interview with author Kassia Omohundro Wedekind here and then watch this great video podcast with Kassia to learn even more about her new book.
Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour this week: Tuesday, October 4:Our Camp Read-A-Lot hosted by first grade teacher Laura Komos
Wednesday, October 5:Reflect and Refine hosted by Stenhouse author and first grade teacher Cathy Mere
At each stop Kassia will answer questions and each blog will raffle off a copy of her book (or if you already have her book, your choice of any other Stenhouse book) among those who leave a comment or ask a question. If you order Math Exchanges between now and October 3, you will also receive free shipping on the Stenhouse website. Just use code MATHX.
Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz, the authors of Day by Day were on a blog tour last week, answering blogger and reader questions about their new book.
The first stop of the tour was hosted by Stenhouse authors Franki Sibberson and Mary Lee Hahn on their popular blog A Year of Reading. In the interview Stacey shared what she loved about writing workshop: “I love watching the way writing workshop helps children find and develop their voice. Writing workshop shows students that they have poignant stories to tell and important messages to share with others. In addition, I enjoy witnessing the transformation of non-writers into confident communicators within the context of a writing workshop. ”
On Raising Readers and Writers Stacey talked about the importance of teachers being writers themselves and how to overcome the fear of sharing their writing. ” If you just share once or twice, then your students won’t become more comfortable sharing their writing in class. If teachers share their own writing with students on a regular basis, then it will foster a stronger classroom community where everyone’s writing is valued.”
In an interview with The Write Brained Teacher, Ruth opened up about her writing habits: “I write with my laptop balanced on my knees, usually with music in my ears. This is one of the few constants. I bounce around the house – near the fireplace with train tracks being built around me, in the living room with a game on the TV, in the car waiting for appointments. Mostly, I write in the early morning hours or late at night. Writing is squeezed in around my family life. As far as rituals, I like to reread something I’ve written before I start writing. At the end of a writing session, I like to make plans for my next writing time. Because my writing time is limited, it is important I know what I’m planning to do before I sit down. This way I can be thinking about it in my time away from my computer.”
The last stop of the tour was hosted by Once Upon a Teacher. Blogger Melanie Holtsman set up her trusty Skype connection and camera to interview her colleagues at Chets Creek Elementary in Florida about the questions they had about Day by Day. She also talked to her friends and colleagues at the International School of Bangkok and produced this video interview with Ruth:
The great art of writing is the art of making people real to themselves with words.
—Logan Pearsall Smith
During my fifth year in the classroom, I began to draw inspiration from Don Graves and Penny Kittle’s My Quick Writes notebook, which accompanies Inside Writing (2005). Originally designed for use with high school students, I began adapting some of the writing stems for my fourth graders during times when we had just a few moments to write because of an assembly or field trip disturbing the usual flow of our school day. I also began pulling “Stories in Hand Sparks,” from Jessica Sprague, for my kids to use in a quick-write-like session, which I called “rapid writes.” Essentially, I projected a bunch of sparks or quick write stems onto the projector screen and encouraged students to pick one. I picked one to write too, and then everyone went off and wrote rapidly about the topic they chose for ten minutes. At the end of ten minutes, everyone shared their writing with their writing partner or as a full-class share.
Getting students in the habit of writing about themselves for a short period during the school day gets them excited about the written word. Often students weren’t finished writing when time was over, so they’d finish their writing at home later that evening. Since students had freedom of topic choice during rapid write sessions, just as they do in writing workshop, they were heavily invested in their writing. Often pieces that were written during rapid write sessions turned out to be seeds for published pieces of writing.
Providing students with a semistructured, but short, time for writing outside of the writing workshop, instills a greater love of writing. Students come to see that their words matter and that writing matters since it’s valued at multiple points during the school day.
Challenge: Carve out fifteen minutes of the school day, at least once a week, where you provide your students with time to just write. Consider a list of topics students can write about so they spend most of the short time allocated to writing, rather than thinking about what they could write.
Did you write alongside your students? How did this uninterrupted time for writing help you as a writer?
What were your students’ reactions to this unstructured time for writing?
How will you go about infusing this type of writing time into your daily or weekly schedule while still fitting in everything else you’re supposed to teach?