November 28, 2010

It's not a screen, a twitter, a video game, or a sound byte TV news clip....It's a BOOK!
See the preview here.

Teachers and parents are assaulted with the competition of novelty: gadgets that pull our kid's attention into a time warp, or anything battery-operated that promises salvation from boredom. What a challenge we have to direct their attention back to the seemingly mundane world of books, where we have to get our entertainment more from the inside out. The time warp of visiting "planet book" is one that paves the way for richer writing.

Teachers have to set strict rules with students about not using characters from video games or plots from TV or movies.

Okay, truth heals, so I will admit that when I am not obsessing about having tiny love handles that menopause is bringing on, I am perseverating about what to do with my clients. My kids. I often refer to "my kids" in passing, when referencing my students, and people think I am a mom. The truth is that I was so set on helping kids that I intentionally skirted past my opportunities to become a mom. I figured I was not patient enough for the task, and that it would prevent me from having the many careers and residencies that I have had.

Voila! I have more of my self to give. And I can dish out detailed parenting advice to my clients, consisting of success stories of other people's kids, not my own. No risk of hypocrisy. And....No regrets about being choicefully childless.

Last week I saw Nora Ephron, best known as the author who wrote the script for 'When Harry Met Sally', since she is on tour for her new book, I Remember Nothing...She is an author I get green with envy over. She uses turns of phrase, plus wittiness laced with such candor you either drop your jaw at what she gets away with, or you laugh out loud. She also sprays some illuminating guideposts about the writing process onto her audience of readers.

So like her, I am searching for the invisible upside to aging that I am not seeing or feeling. Looking in the mirror or at all my post-it notes doesn't help my search. She simply says the only upside is that she is still here.

So I am presently baffled (but have faith that I will come up with something) by what to do with students who insist on detail-arama when summarizing a book. They go on about a character's braid's, or their invisible cloak, their doctor’s mannerisms, science fair project, or even a magical creature's eating habits, but they don't write about the fact that the problem of the book is, for example, that a) Jenny’s friends are envious of her braids, b) the magic cloak helps Jeremy follow the suspect, c) Miranda keeps getting sick, d) after 3 attempts, Billy wins the science fair, or e) a tribe of magical creatures is taking over a kingdom. And these are the students who write simplistic, minimalistic sentences that lack detail, when they are writing descriptive paragraphs of their own lives! It is like detail got vacuumed right out of their page, whereas in the summaries, that is all there is.

I have to remind myself that writing summaries is one of the hardest skills of all the comprehension menu of strategies and skills.

And Story Maps for everything. And practice telling true life events out loud, WITH detail, and then just as a summary. I ask for them to tell me in 3 sentences what they did on Saturday, for example, if I want a summary. Or I ask for 5 Key Words, and then those are what they have to use in their recap.

Too many error messages tonight while trying to get all the links and photos inserted, so I am posting it like this....

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