Wendy's Writing Project Blog

On Today’s Agenda: The March of the King of Laois June 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 2:55 pm

My bagpipe instructor had a stroke last week. At 94, he drove himself to the hospital and collapsed. He has moved into a room at a nursing home facility and is doing amazingly well. His speech has greatly improved. With therapy, he may be able to move back into his apartment.

Tonight, our small group of pipers will have their first concert without him. The pipes became too difficult for him to play. Even before the stroke, he found he was getting too winded. I’m pretty sure it was just a leaky bag, but who am I to argue with a 94-year-old.

I am performing a solo. Solos allow other pipers to catch their breath. We all take turns between sets. After a short two years, I’m far from ready, but it seems only fair that I try. Mr. Lynch feels it is an important step toward improving– playing in front of others. When I practice, I’m always playing for others– like it or not! The tune I’ve chosen is called The March of the King of Laois. At our last practice, Mr. Lynch insisted that I sing the tune in order to improve my phrasing. He kept telling me to listen, his hands flying through the air as he phrased the tune for me. He was attempting to get me to hear something I couldn’t. I thought my phrasing was going well. I could feel the ebb and flow. I was disappointed that he couldn’t. When you see me with my headphones on today, you know what I’ll be listening to… over and over again.


Videos 2.0 June 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 8:52 pm

My video project is done and over, but Dan is making me think about what I would do if I were to continue to edit. It is time to move on. I could do more projects. I wish I would interview my grandma on her literacy history, my son on his processes, my 94-year-old bagpipe instructor on his process of learning to play and relate it to learning to read, my dinner party with Tom Newkirk and Lucy Calkins… so much to do!


A foreward

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 6:05 pm

At last summer’s institute I innocently dropped the name: Lucy Calkins. For those unaware, Calkins is highly regarded by elementary teachers around the world and is best known for her work at Columbia’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. To others, she is fingernails on a chalkboard. She is the author of the (what I know now to be controversial) Units of Study.

I wasn’t prepared for the reaction I got. The squirms, shifts in seats, eye contact avoidance, and maybe even an intentional “ahem” surprised me. I’ve heard complaints from others talking out against how hard it is to implement her ideas.

I have since learned of other reasons why Calkins rubs people the wrong way. Some who have met her proclaim her to be pompous. Others in her field are put off that she has marketed her program. There are those who believe she should be followed word-by-word, promoting scripted curriculum. Some feel that her disregard of the importance of fiction in our earliest writers is a disservice.

For me, Calkins’ Units of Study isn’t a curriculum, it is a structure. This structure has many strengths. Her books are chalked full of examples and provides modeling, especially for new teachers or those wanting (or needing) to improve their writing instruction. She offers up units/genres to delve into. Any good writing teacher would be able to use the structure with other genre inquiry, including fiction. As commented in a previous post, it is impossible to teach it all. Educators have to remain diligent when choosing what to teach.

As I finish Newkirk’s Misreading Masculinity, I’m left wishing I could have a dinner party with Tom, Lucy, and Anne sitting around the table. I may be naive, but I think we’d have a good time; and feel they would have more in common than differences.


Society’s Obligation: A Collaborative Writing Exercise

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 4:13 pm

by Steve and Wendy

Society’s obligation to people like Yolanda is to help as much as possible. Yolanda is working hard to make herself a responsible citizen. For a democratic society to work, that society must help her to become that responsible citizen. Society benefits from helping people who try.

Our society is failing Yolanda. There were 12+ resources or agencies involved in her efforts to better her situation and care for her family. Most were failing her. If society would streamline the process, people like Yolanda could move forward.

A quick reflection of the process that led to the paragraphs above…
I agree with what was posted. Steve and I collaborate well. It helped that we had the same viewpoint. Steve was able to help me funnel the concrete details into a broader view. He is such a writer!


UIWP: A Coaches Perspective June 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 2:57 am

My 13-year-old asked me why I would want to do the writing project again, pointing out how “wigged out” I was. He was right. I was stressed to the limit last summer, but I didn’t think twice when asked to return to this year’s summer institute as a member of the leadership team. I may have questioned the wisdom of those suggesting it’d be a good idea, but I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity. I jumped at the chance of benefiting from another summer of good reading and writing habits, growing more comfortable with technology, and reaping the benefits of superb demonstrations. We have, yet again, been rewarded with an exceptional group. I look forward to their sighs, groans, cheers, and tears as we head further into the project.


Dang You, Daddy June 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 4:29 pm

It may seem cruel to pull out a scathing note I wrote my dad on Father’s Day. Instead of bringing up bitter feelings, this 37some-year-old document has brought our family a few laughs over the years. If my story is correct, my sister and I may have been looking forward to some chocolate turtles for a snack that day, only to find out that Dad beat us to them.

I’ve looked at this earliest saved composition of mine through different eyes over the years. This includes insight that I’d struggle with weight issues throughout my life, as well as how I’d have a hard time knowing when to shut up. (Note that I crossed out the ending in order to add a few more thoughts, then ran out of room.) I look through the letter with a teacher lense these days, and am quite enamored with the complexity. It starts on the opposite side…

I wonder if I was intentional with my ‘Dear Daddy’ and plea of how his poor little girl must have been on the brink of starvation. I wonder if I pictured him opening the letter… and WHAM, being shocked by the accusations. My voice depicts that I must have an anticipated that he would deny being a hoglet. Oh, the vengeance of eating the donuts and leaving him with nothing but the crumbs and wax paper! I am intrigued by my use of bold text. I really doubt that is something teachers taught their first graders back then. I noticed that my attention to spelling must have been overruled by my emotions at times– noticing and correcting some mistakes. I wonder if I had a b/d confusion, choosing to consistently write a capital ‘D’ at the beginning of words. It seems that I was fairly secure with my use of punctuation. The isolated “please?” at the top of the page was either an initial attempt, or (by the lack of space at the end) an afterthought to bring him back to see me as an innocent victim– batting my eyelashes for a trip to the store for more turtles.

Whichever lense I choose to use to look at this in the future, I am grateful that my Mom saved it. Have a wonderful day, Daddy. Send Mom go to the store to get you a box of chocolate turtles. You can hog them all to yourself!


Yancey Revisited June 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 6:18 pm

When I first read Kathleen Blake Yancey’s “Writing in the 21st Century”, her perspective interested me. Having never historically reflected on reading and writing, it made sense that reading used to be most prevalent– for various reasons. It caused me to pause and reflect on how we might consider making the ever-changing curriculum best meet the needs of our students. Yes, we should consider successful past practice and incorporate them into our classrooms as we integrate more and more technology. It is also an opportune time to look at things that aren’t working. Are the “multiple models” of writing serving our kids well? With so many different things going on, are we allowing our kids or even ourselves to become well-phrased and practiced? There is always something bigger and better to consider. As this often happens with technology, we might miss how this is reflective of what happens outside of technology in some school districts. This led to a blog discussion with Scott of how, as he stated so well, “We’ve taken a primarily additive approach. They need this. And now this. And now this and this. It, indeed, is impossible to teach it all!” It is a good reminder to make wise decisions when planning.