How to Prod Hesitant Writers

Sometimes in first grade the goal of Writing Workshop is to just get the kids to write. Never mind the great stories that we teachers know lie inside their intriguing little minds, never mind the endless tales and stories they tell you while on duty at recess, if you can’t get them to write them down, you have no story, no books to be made, no text to share or publish.
It seems that every year I have at least one of these hesitant writers.
I call them hesitant because they are not unwilling or unable to write, they just are not yet willing to take that scary plunge into authorship.  
So what to do? How do we take them from frozen statues at their desks to enthusiastic writers?
We prod ever so slightly, we model, and we encourage. We make a big deal at of the smallest of details, and we wait, because we know if we are patient enough and encouraging enough then one grand day they will write!
This year I have a young boy that was ever so hesitant. Each day he would leave the group knowing what he wanted to write, but each day I’d watch him sit.
“Go ahead” I’d prod, “you can do it!”
“It’s a great idea write it down!” He’d grin. And he’d sit.
Finally on the third day I motioned for him to come and talk to me. “Do you know what you want to write?” “Yes,” he asserted. “Then why aren’t you writing?” I asked. A glare.
“Can you tell me what you want to write on this page?”
“Yes!” Ok tell me what you want to write just on this one page.
I grab pen and a sticky poised to write. He tells me a great starter to a story about a bird that wants to drive a semi (sound familiar?). “Ok now you go write this on you first page, sound good” Grins all around and he’s off.
The next few days we do the same. One page at a time.
A week later I see him writing and ask if he is ready to conference with his semi story.
Oh no he tells me I’m writing another story about a super hero! Score!
Ok I grin I can hardly wait to read them both, and he writes on.
Writing his thoughts on a sticky note and then sending him off to write gave him encouragement, ownership, and the power to feel successful.
The next time you have a hesitant young writer (or older) try breaking it into small chunks and prodding with a sticky note and encouragement.

It can change that daunting large sheet of blank paper into a doable page of a great story.          

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm linking up for the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge. You should too! You'll be glad you did! 

Tomorrow is my birthday. It is the last year of my forty’s. I’ve never thought much about my age. I’ve always been the baby in my family, the youngest of three. But there is something about the finality of my forty’s that makes me pause and reflect. Is it the age or the era? I don’t know. but here is my first forty-nine in retrospect. Forty-Nine Lines of My Life.   
Born in Tempe.
The baby.
The only girl.
Raised in the desert.
Summers on grandpa’s farm.
Wild about horses.
The dream of one of my own.
Move to the prairie at fifteen.
Oklahoma’s my home.
A horse and a girl the story begins.
High school,
a boyfriend too.
Beauty school,
and jobs.
cutting hair,
a proposal and love.
Twenty brings marriage,
a life just begun.
And tears
But oh so much love
Changes and growth
Pregnant at twenty-five
I never knew what love was before
Baby boy
So much love so much joy
Horses leave
Baby grows
Pregnant again at twenty-nine
Baby girl
Family is complete-my life’s purpose.
Children growing
School, baseball, swimming and more
Old ones die-leaving holes
Twenty-five years of love and friendship
Looking forward to twenty-five more.
College for me
A new chapter, teaching and friends
Children go, grow, and leave
College and now a soon to be marriage too
My life has been a ride.
Forty-nine years of bliss
There is not one thing I would change

Not a moment I would miss. 

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It's a Tough Question

I am linking up with the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Writing Challenge. You should to!!

I had someone ask me the other day about where I see myself five years, ten years from now. I was at a loss as to how to answer this question. It had been a long time since anyone had asked it of me. I was asked numerous times when I was in college. It was of course one of the many questions when I applied for my teaching position. It was even a question I often asked myself, until recently.
As I think back on my hesitance I realize it’s because I have stopped asking myself where I do see myself in five or ten years.
In college the answer was easy. I wanted to be a first grade teacher. As I applied for my teaching position I wanted to teach at my school. But those both became a reality, and for some reason I have stopped asking.
Does that mean I have a loss of vision? I hope not. Does it mean I am destined to be in the same spot I am right now for the next ten years. I don’t know. I am too young to think about retirement and yet too content to want to start completely over.BUt I know I am not too old to meet new challenges. find new adventures, or live new experiences.  I am at that teetering age that doesn’t really seem to have a firm grasp on which way to lean, but am always searching.
And so unbeknownst to this person she has started me on a new path to discovery. I want to discover where I want to see myself in five years, ten years. The personal side is easy. I have my children and husband that are always my destiny. But how can I be true to their future without knowing what I want for my own?
I have a few ideas. I know writing is a big part of it. I see myself writing for enjoyment and a purpose. I have always had, and continue to have the dream of becoming published, can it happen in five years, ten, sooner? Maybe. Something I have always thought about but never voiced was also voiced by this person, and the inkling of it was awakened. 

I have a lot to think about in the next few days. I want to rediscover my vision and then find a plan of action. I am feeling empowered and for the first time in a long time I am invested in my own future. I am excited to see the outcome and find the paths to travel to get there. 
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Football. Connections, and Reading

I am sitting at home alone tonight watching OSU football. Hubby had to go into work and Hadley stayed in Stillwater to be at the game. If you had told my 15,17 or even 25 year old self that I would one day spend a Saturday night with a football game on my TV by choice, I would have called you crazy.
My dad was a huge football fan. Every Saturday, Sunday and Monday night was spent watching the games and yelling at the television as an arm chair quarterback. All I wanted to do was watch a movie or read. My oldest brother inherited his passion for the sport. The middle brother could take it or leave it. But me, I had no use for it, other than the Friday night games on the home field in Tempe which led to a Friday night dance. I couldn’t care less about the sport.
And yet here I am watching a game I really don’t understand, and at times yelling at the screen of my TV- my dad would be so proud.
What’s changed you ask? I believe it’s the connection. The connection of the school as my alma mater, the connection because it is my son’s alma mater, and the college my daughter attends now. It is because of the connection I have with my kids that believe is the biggest factor of my new found relationship and relevance to the game.
As I am digging into my understanding of this strange phenomenon of watching a sport I used to hate, I realize it’s the same for students and reading.
We ask kids to read every day. In first grade it is embedded in everything we do.
“See spot run. Run spot run. Dot the fox can hop. Hop dot hop. A pig in a wig.”
And on and on. They are the stories the kids have to read. They are often necessary for that reading development. 
But, it is not until they make that connection with a book or story that they realize the importance and enjoyment for reading. It isn’t until they feel that connection that they find relevance in what we are doing.
This week in first grade we are going to be working on making connections in reading. Who knows I may even find a few football books to pull out. I’ll bet I have a few OSU fans that will have a huge connectionespecially after tonight’s win! Go Pokes! 
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Mirror and Circle Stories SOL

I'm linking up with The Two Writing Teachers for their weekly Slice of Life story challenge you should too!

I’ve been testing the water with Whole Brain teaching this year. Do you know about it? I read about it this summer and watched the You Tube videos from this teacher. I like some of it, and some of it I’m still not sure of. One thing I can say is my kiddos love what I have done. They love the call backs, and ol Mr. Smiley and Mr. Frowny. We have been working really hard to get to our spots before the teacher settles in to earn that smiley!
Today I decided to test out “mirror” in writer’s workshop. Oh my was IT a hit! Instead of just talking about “circle stories” and our mentor texts this week (Laura Numerolf) before I sent them off to write I had them mirror- “circle stories bring us back to what the author started with in the beginning.” As we said this we mirrored our hands as well in a circular motion. They did it perfectly the first time!
As I sent them off to write, as usual, I asked them each to tell me what they’re working on. As you can bet I had a few circle stories being started today!

It was a good day in first grade!   

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Drama, Ducks, and Dispensers...and a Giveaway!

Whew it has been for-ever since I’ve been on here. School started with a flurry of drama and it hasn’t subsided yet. I wish someone could explain to me why administrators constantly wait until the last moment to spring changes on you, and then act as if it is no big deal; as if there isn’t enough to change already with new kiddos, new parents, new routines, new alarm clock settings for heaven’s sake. 
Of course it isn’t a pain for themjust the ones the changes are being imposed uponi.e. the TEACHERS! I am all about change and usually like it, but I like a little input and warning first but I think it may be all settling down nowat least I hope so.
The first 13 days of school have been crazy busy just like the rest of you. I only have 15 kiddos this year, but woo-wee they feel like 20. They are active and chatty, but tons of fun, I think it’s going to be a fun year.
My btb (bestest teacher buddy) and I decided to go with a Duck Dynasty theme for this year. It has been a lot of fun! The first eight days we went on a “duck hunt” around the school to find the different areas of school. We made “duck calls” from wrapping paper rolls, and followed the clues written on the ducks. The kiddos LOVED it!
We had a different activity each day like sippin’ sweet tea with Si, cooking with Miss Kay, we made beards, wore bandannas, and of course camo. It was a fun eight days!
Here are few snapshots of the activities.

I also want to tell you about my GENIOUS idea. While Hadley and I were eating breakfast at the hotel in Dallas this summer I noticed the kids that were making their own cereal to eat. It was magical! I know you are thinking- “really? She must not get out much.” It’s true I don’t but that wasn’t what was so great. It suddenly hit me that this would be so great in the classroomfor snacks!

As soon as I got home I got on Amazon and I found this and ordered it ASAP. After we made our “duck dynasty” snack mix I put it in the dispenser and showed the kids how to use it. HUGE hit! They love being responsible for their own snacks and I love that they are responsible for their own snacks. They get it themselves, it saves time, it saves the mess, and it keeps their grubby hands off of each other’s snack. LOVE it!

You can find this awesome Zevro dispenser on Amazon. But if you are one lucky comment-er you could win one of your own this weekend!  Blog about it and this giveaway and leave a comment to your post here and I’ll have my handy dandy number generator (umm my hubby) pick a winner Monday evening.
I’m off to spend the evening at my favorite lake with my favorite peeps.

Happy New School Year y’all!

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