Thursday, July 16, 2015

there's no app for that

I was surfing my blog feed today and ran across a post, Motivate your kids to write with this app! Yesterday I saw a post about math Pinterest Fails - you know, those quick acronyms and tricks math teachers use to get kids to remember order of operations or division steps?

If you're a teacher and you're really interested in getting your kids to love to write and to deeply understand math concepts, you have to come to terms with the fact that there are no quick fixes.

I'm a writer, so let's go there...

If I want my kids to love to write, I have to be an authentic model of what that looks like. I have to make my writing life visible to kids. They need to see my writer's notebook:

They need to see inside, too, and see that it's messy and not perfect. I need to tell them about my writing process and my writing preferences - how I like to keep my notebook with me and in the instance I don't have it, I make lists on my phone of things I want to write about. They need to know about my obsession with writing utensils, including these new Ticonderoga pencils that are now in colors, colors people!

I need to "go there" in my own writing - you know, that scary place where we investigate tragedies and conflicts? Then, I need to let them see what that's like. I need to take the time to research mentor texts and show kids how I study writers so I can mimic what they do, so I can help myself find my own way as a writer. I have to let them in on my own writing insecurities (I'm not as eloquent as I'd like to be) and work to make my classroom a place where they feel safe enough to share theirs. I need to keep up with PD in writing to bring fresh strategies to my students so both they, and I, can write in newer and livelier ways. I need to take time to plan Marathon Writing days so we can marvel in and be inspired by our surroundings and facilitate their planning of Author's Chairs so they can share their best work to a real-life audience. 

Friends, there's no app for this.

While I totally appreciate all that technology does for us: lets us share, allows us to respond to others we normally wouldn't have the opportunity to, and publish our work in new and creative ways, I also understand that it takes more than that to put thoughtful, insightful, beautiful works out into the world.

It takes a writer.


  1. Wait, you're telling me Ticonderogas come in colors now??? Not just yellow? Why isn't this on the front of all of the Back-to-School ads that are already coming out?!
    That's probably not the first response you were hoping for, but I'm sure you understand.
    Love this emphasis on modeling the behaviors you want to instill! When teaching sewing classes I tried to work on my own projects alongside my students whenever possible - telling them it's okay to make mistakes and just try again is much less effective than allowing them to see their teacher ripping out stitches and re-doing a step on something she's working on.
    So much of teaching is showing, not just telling - thanks for the thoughtful post!
    (ps, love the pic at the end!)

  2. I love your writing notebook! Fabulous ideas and motivation and steps for me, the novice writing teacher. Thanks!

  3. I'm a math teacher, but I still love reading your blog. :)

  4. A few things... I just bought those pencils for my kids a few months ago. Love them.

    There's no App for That.
    OMG. The concept behind this post applies to so, so much. Everything in this world has gotten so quick, and easy. But not everything is. Apps and pinterest and google searches don't solve everything. I just love this whole post.

  5. Perfect! I'm sorry I didn't read it until today.


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