Saturday, July 30, 2016

review: use your words

Hey all y'all! It's the BigTime Blogging Challenge. I'm writing every day in July to celebrate my blog's three year anniversary! Join me - write your post, link it up with mine, leave some love for blogging friends in the form of comments!

Good morning! I'm so awful - I didn't post yesterday. But I just couldn't. Have had friends in town all week and all the "fun" finally caught up to me!

Today I'm back with a little reivew of Use Your Words: A myth-busting no-fear approach to writing by Catherin Deveny. I got about 2/3 of the way through but there is still so much to share from it!

First of all, her voice is awesome. She's straight to the point and peppered with explicatives. One chapter is called, Thinking your writing is sh!t, and in it she says, "You level up as you grind." You get better at writing as you do it. So important to remember, especially as teachers. We have to create space in our classrooms where kids are practicing writing daily, because with practice comes growth.

In another chapter entitled Don't Take Directions from Anyone she says, "When you find yourself longing for feedback, remember: you probably just want someone to say, 'It's brilliant, you're a genius: just keep going. Tell yourself in stead.' This one stood out to me because I was just reading in a book about *teaching writing that kids are with their work alone 95% of the time, and that we have to teach them to be more self-directive. And here the author is telling us the same thing. We have to cheer ourselves on and keep on grinding with the writing. Kids too.

By far, the best chapter I read is chapter 15: Stop Fetishising Books and the Printed Word, which goes on to say:
Literacy has always been used to enforce class distinctions and preserve privilege, encouraging in-group loyalty and out-group hostility. The educated elite have access to power, decision-making, money and leisure. They support those like them and ostracize those outside their circles to protect their privilege. It's not privilege if everyone has it. Think about it: historically, women, the poor, and the non-Caucasians have been purposely excluded from or disadvantaged in the education system. They were often not permitted to go to school - or not for long - meaning fewer of them learned to read or to write, let alone got published. In the case of women, education was seen as a waste as they would end up having babies, keeping house, and basically being slaves and incubators for the patriarchy.
She goes on,
The  education system's obsession with rote learning, spelling, times tables, and 'staying inside the lines' has been a huge waste of our brainpower and educational time. And a massive obstacle to creativity and innovation.
Seriously. Have you read Literacy with an Attitude (Finn)? Says some of the same, how school can be a place to create compliant citizens who don't question anything (just wrote about that from a Taylor Mali book) or we can create schools that liberate and empower children - empower them to be creative, to innovate, to share their ideas and thoughts with the world, to question things that seem off, to become active involved citizens of their communities, which begins by creating a classroom where students are active and involved.

That's my goal as a teacher. Empower students to be active members of their communities.

Please check out one more post I did about this book: motivation follows action. I was so inspired a few weeks ago I had to write!

This book was/is really great. I'm excited to read the third part next, about the writer's tools. I'm sure she'll have a lot to offer, to me, and to any students I get to work with in the coming school year!

What have you been reading lately? Share about this book or another!


  1. Thank you !!! All these book mentions look great and I can't wait to check them out. Yes our students need to be empowered!

  2. Oh I ADORE this book! I want to go back and read it all over again! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it!


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