Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fluffy Bathrobes & English Breakfast Tea: That's What's Inside My Textual House

I put on my fluffy robe and furry slippers to stave off the early morning cold assured the storm outside would mean a slower than usual start to this Saturday morning and eager to "catch up " on blog reading and writing.  Just a few clicks of the mouse later, I found myself over at the "textual house" of the great writing guru, Ralph Fletcher.  It felt like he was talking to me as I sit wrapped in my fluffy pink bathrobe hugging my mug of English Breakfast tea.

It made me think of how we say, "Begin," and expect all 25 of our kids to be instantly engaged in writing texts of substance!  Further, we expect ALL of them to stay in that "textual world" and write vigorously until we tell them to, "Stop."

Yet, writers, even famous wonderful writing gurus like Ralph Fletcher, have routines and writing requirement!  Fletcher describes his own need for comfortable clothes and "a familiar place: my office, or certain airy and well-lighted public places."

As I read Fletcher's thoughts, I reflected back on my own most intense writing days trying to finish my dissertation while working full time, being a parent, preparing to move, selling my home (this means your house has to stay clean and neat), caring for my dad (who had broken neck his neck) and teaching grad school at night!  My writing times were carefully carved times every day where I had to make every moment count and thus, I developed my own routines that involved cold dry cereal, popcorn, and copious amounts of English Breakfast tea (decaf at nighttime). 

Fletcher's suggestions for us as teachers, with my own reflections, are noted below.  They are worthy of "bumper stickers" or "posters."

1) Environment  Some kids need water bottles and some kids will work best at a table.  Some might write best on a clipboard lying on their bellies while there might even be someone else out there who writes best when wrapped in a fluffy pink bathrobe!
2) Familiar texts.  Let our kids use the mentor texts they know and love!
3) Writer’s notebook If you have one (electronic or on paper) you will never have to "look at a blank piece of paper again!" 
4) Words Matter  Shelley Harwayne suggests we talk to each student as if the teacher’s words are being broadcast over the loudspeaker to the entire community!

I'm wondering if we need to think of switching into "writing sweaters" (think Mr. Roger's Neighborhood) and having Keurig in classrooms?   

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