Wendy's Writing Project Blog

2014 #pb10for10 August 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 9:34 pm

For the past five years, teachers, librarians, and parents (aka Book Lovers) from near and far have participated in an event called Picture Book 10 for 10 via hosts Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community. Each August 10th, participants share the titles 10 favorite picture books.


What’s the story behind the stories for this year? They are not organized into any theme other than they are ‘new’ (to me) and I haven’t had the pleasure of sharing them yet. I’m not abandoning the books from past lists, I’m just expanding my collection of treasures that I simply can’t live without.



ittybittycoverWe have a new space at school to look forward to, thanks to some serious summer renovations. Itty Bitty will open our discussion of what we might need to make our classroom space comfortable and just right for us. It’ll be the start for more Cece Bell goodness later on in the year.


beingwendy No one told me Fran Drescher wrote a book about me. I’m moving beyond a bit of cheesiness that this book brings to enjoy the message of breaking the mold and being who you want to be.


thepromise I have always been particularly fond of how brilliantly Nicola Davies blends fiction into her nonfiction.  No one had to twist my arm to check out her new fiction. It is a lovely book that tugs at my heart. I’ll be saving this one until later on in the year. I want to make sure everyone is comfortable and ready to engage in an important discussion that will, without doubt, occur. This is one of those, “So, what are you thinking?” books.


jacquescousteau The story + the stunning art + the cleverly placed quotes = a win, win for book lovers + ocean lovers everywhere. Yay, Yaccarino!


hankfindsI love watching how Hank perseveres to problem solve, and how kindness wins and WINS BIG. This is an adorable wordless picture book and I’m thrilled that Rebecca Dudley is bringing Hank back for another story.


thisistherope Jacqueline Woodson brings us to reflect on such important themes. Most of my kids will be just out of reach for her upcoming Brown Girl Dreaming, but this (as well as her other picture books) will plant the seed for what’s to come.


thisisamoose I plan to use this gem for many purposes. It serves as a mentor text to show how dialogue can be an entertaining way to tell a story. It tells the journey of how a film director (writer) revises. It also serves as a good introductory text to the genre of film making should we feel like traveling down that road. It also tells a fun story about dreaming big.


best foot Yes, I know this isn’t a “story” that I proclaimed in my introduction, but I simply couldn’t resist. Ingo Ardt’s photographs of various animal feet show detail of function and design that I never knew existed. There is something so genuine about using the same text to learn alongside the kids.


girlandthebicycle I can’t think of a book with characters who have a more generous spirit than in this Mark Pett masterpiece. I can’t get through this one without tearing up.


mostmagnificantthing We’ve all felt the disappointment of having a vision that wasn’t realized. I love how Ashley Spires turns this common experience into a tale of persistance, problem solving and acceptance.


Let the year begin!


Thinking more on mentor texts July 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 2:59 pm

I’ve been thinking more about projects I want to do for fall. Despite limitations with the boxed set that is rolling out, I want to roll out more opportunities to incorporate author’s as mentors. We studied works by Cynthia Rylant, Kevin Henkes, Angela Johnson and Chris van Dusen last year. Soaking in the goodness Katie Wood Ray at the 2013 All Write Conference, I created posters for each author. The posters had a photo of the author and images of the books we read on one side. The author’s craft moves we found notable and examples from the text were on the other side. I need to incorporate non-fiction in mentor text posters this year– maybe Davies and Bishop. I love Barbara Kerley and Melissa Sweet as well, but I think the complexity of their craft would suit older kids better. Maybe Nicola Davies is too. I still use a lot of Gail Gibbons. I probably should incorporate her. Nic Bishop could be another nonfiction author to mentor. I really need to work to bring in more diversity. I should absolutely do Eloise Greenfield. Why didn’t I think to do a mentor poster of her? I bring her into the classroom every year. And what about Lenore Look? Jacqueline Woodson is a must. I just need to figure out how to bring her to their level. I wonder what Wonders authors to consider. I can’t access that information online, and I sent my teachers manuals packing for the summer, so I’m not sure what the possibilities are there.

I’m left feeling that I don’t want to use the posters of mentor authors until they represent the diversity in my classroom. I’m not feeling good about the idea I fell in love with. I need some suggestions of current African American male picture book authors that I could incorporate. There is certainly an unequal racial balance, but there is also a visible gender imbalance in my list.

What would happen if I turn this problem over to the kids this year? Ask them what they notice. Ask them what we should do.


Today’s marathon pace: 4.225 June 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 2:24 pm

Go figure. Now before you get all judgmental about whether that’s a good pace or a horrible one, let me clarify that number means I wrote 4.23 words for each minute of the UIWP Writing Marathon 2014.

It just wasn’t my day. I’m celebrating that I participated and that I finished.


First stop: Smith Hall then the bubbling fountain to write.

Not knowing what to write wouldn’t qualify as a quandary, but I’m out of ideas for ways of writing about not having ideas to write about.

As the writing marathon gets underway, I’m excited to explore the beauty on campus once again. I never fail to appreciate something new each year. It is also a bitter realization of how my introvert ways have prevented me from exploring the world around me. When Melanie asked, “Do you think you can walk out on that balcony?” as we passed the conservatory. I really wanted to say, go make it happen. Instead, I said I didn’t know and blurted out something about never seeing anyone do it.

There are many things that I haven’t seen that have prevented me from exploring new frontier. I wonder how I got here.

Peace ruined by a bus stop– breaks and accelerations.


Second stop: Krannert Art Museum

Peace restored by a lovely painting and a frozen coffee drink.

Our presence has beckoned the security folks out of the secret doors. This feels odd. I feel that we’re inconveniencing them by having them make an appearance just because we’re here. Who can thoroughly enjoy something when they know they are being watched? Is this really necessary?

Holy cow there is life in this building. Not only does it sprawl, but there’s even an Espresso that will whip up frozen drinks. I wonder if Drake has been here? If he has, I wonder why he doesn’t come here often. I bet he hasn’t even been back to Spurlock since I took him that one time. Why wouldn’t he? Oh. Wait. I haven’t either.

I was so inspired after my second writing marathon two years ago that I declared Wednesdays would forever become mom and son writing marathon days. I looked forward to the bond this nonelective activity would forge.

Talk about painful. Sulkingly, the 13 year old got in the car. He knew not to even try to talk his way out of it. We went to the conservatory. We sat. I wrote. He doodled the checkerboard pattern from his notebook cover. I shared. He didn’t say thank you. He didn’t share. He didn’t talk. We moved to the Spurlock Museum. We sat. I wrote. He doodled. I shared. He didn’t talk. Needless to say writing marathon Wednesdays didn’t last.

It turns out my escapade to foster the development of a lifelong writer didn’t kill his desire to write, as I expected to have caused irreversible damage. Two years later, when he started high school, he didn’t come home after school one day. We couldn’t reach him by text and he didn’t answer our calls. 5:00 came and he finally returned our calls, “Mom.

I’m at creative writing club.



Third stop: ACES library

Italy has a lot of gorgeous gardens. I know this because I just spent my whole time reading The Gardens in Time.

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Found June 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 11:58 am

In this morning’s demonstration, Elizabeth led us to choose a piece of writing and identify 20 important words or phrases. I selected my first blog post— a reflection on my earliest days as a UIWP fellow in 2010. I used the list to generate the following found poem

Project is underway
Honored disguise
I don’t like to write
Lifelong laborious chore
Lack confidence
Want to enjoy
Get beyond
In the company of talented educators

I’m guessing that having a shared experience made it easy for Karla (my partner) to pull out the intended meaning, which would be the same as my post. I think it would be interesting to use the list with a different lense to try to create something unconnected. I’ll think on that.


A birthday after an author as mentor June 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 10:10 am

Johanna’s demonstration prompted us to write about a memorable birthday or an embarrassing event. She led us through using authors as mentors by sharing Sandra Cisneros’ short story, “Eleven”. We noted the use of meaningful repetition, internal and external dialogue, tone, and figurative language to be some of the treasures that we enjoyed. I opted to add repetition to a story about some birthday plans that were out of my hands. This is the result of my attempt to learn and remix from Cisneros…

At 40-something, any memorable birthday is a good birthday, but my friends went out of their way to make my 40th extra special. Beyond the matching football jerseys with the age plastered across the back the size of a pair of giant squid’s eyes, bless their hearts, my friends had a bigger surprise. They concocted a plan to take me to Florida. This is one of the many advantages to having a birthday that falls over Spring Break.  This is also one of the many advantages of having great friends.

I’m not sure what we did on my actual birthday. We celebrated the entire week– another reason why I may not remember the specifics. At 40-something, any memorable birthday is a good birthday. Regardless of the details, I know I had a wonderful time with incredible people.


So… so what… so now… June 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 4:02 pm

To close the third day of UIWP, here is one thing on my mind:

So I learned that my demonstration group has been thinking hard about meaningful presentation topics

So what I know is where each is in their process on their chosen topics

So now I need to think deeply with them, consider resources, and get ready to be rocked!




Filed under: Uncategorized — uiwpwendy @ 12:31 am

The following draft is a result from a task that Nina “I Can’t Believe Scott Made Me Go First” Samii assigned in her demonstration highlighting her journey with conferring and an intentional structure for peer feedback and revision.


“Go to YouTube! Go to YouTube and look up Ginger Rogers dance at age 92!” Mom demanded. “It is unbelievable.”

Tilly brought up a search bar and typed in ‘Ginger Rogers dance at 92’. Mom confirmed the search to be successful and scooched her chair close to see the screen. “There it is. That one,” she said.

As the video played, I got more entertainment from watching mom drool and cackle over ‘Ginger Rogers’ doing the salsa than I did the actual video of the old lady dancing with her 29-year-old ‘great-grandson’. Before long, she was losing layers of clothes. What I viewed made me grimace and stare at the same time. Not mom. Her head would bop to to left then she would lean into the dip to the right as if to salsa in her seat.

“Isn’t that something?!” she asked.

“That’s something alright,” Tilly and I confirmed. We’ve gone through similar media lessons before. “Everything you see on Fox or the Internet isn’t real, Mom.” we reminded. Tilly quietly returned to a search that would lead to mom’s broken heart.

Curious souls can view the video in question here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
If you are wondering what ever became of Ginger Rogers, click here.