writing from the themes of my life

Origami swan on deck

I‘ve mentioned that I tend to bog myself down in perfectionism. And by that I don’t mean that I suffer from being too perfect – haha, no. I mean that I suffer from being too worried about the little things, and from being too hard on myself when I fail to attain some idealized conception of what each little thing ought to look like. Being overly conscious of the details is a double edged sword: sometimes it produces great results; other times it leads to paralysis. The bad news is that I still find myself paralyzed too often. The good news is that I was recently able to use this one of my character flaws as theme fodder for an exemplar I wrote to share with students as they worked on a mini-book writing project. Continue reading


synthesize me

These days when teachers teach concepts and facts and skills they do so in the service of required learning standards. One of the standards particularly important to the subject of Literacy (English Language Arts) is synthesis.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of synthesis is:

the combining of the constituent elements of separate material or abstract entities into a single or unified entity

The photo above might be said to demonstrate synthesis in its artful (subtle, nuanced, clever, careful, cohesive) union of the literal (the eyes) and the abstract (the blotches).

In my classroom students synthesize by, for example, writing a narrative that demonstrates an understanding and combination of several previously taught elements (such as exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution; such as the Six Traits of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions). Or they might research a controversial issue, take notes and synthesize by demonstrating their command of the material (combining all that they’ve learned into a cohesive whole) in a debate.

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social writing for social creatures

I don’t know how old you are, but at this point I’m more ADULT than YOUNG – I’m approximately three times older than my students, which can make it a wee bit difficult for me to warp and finesse my thoughts to a YA mindset.

Given this, one thing that I might have anticipated but in fact I found surprising about the Synthesis Project is how excited the students would get about collaborating. I’ve seen thirteen-year old boys giggle and squeal like thirteen-year old girls and I’ve seen thirteen-year old girls perform impromptu celebration dances because it’s Friday afternoon and not yet time to go home but time instead for another Synthesis meeting.

I had thought that the coolest thing for the kids would be the group’s focus on choice. Continue reading