My one little word for 2020: THRIVE. It was very fitting for the daily struggles of the Covid pandemic. Ruth’s writing prompt spurred me on to reflection.
I have begun an Instagram account, Booksavors, to introduce mentor texts as well as my blog. My book stack continues to gather more delightful books, and I don’t always find the time to cultivate lots of craft moves for each book. Some books are just awesome read alouds. Instagram allows me to snap a quick picture and highlight what catches my attention.
Hope you choose to follow both media sites and savor the books you love.
Those kids. Everyone has one.
Kids who make “I-don’t-want-to” faces, who do everything else than what you ask, who push. your. buttons.
You can see his face. She drives you crazy. They won’t stop!
Those kids. They come from hard places.
Ruth Ayres shares stories of her own children who have faced life harder than what you want to imagine. They own stories of inflicted pain, punched cruelty, and irreversible heartache. Those kids.
Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers changed my life. Those kids remain constant in my life and my expectations remain too, but now my approach to supporting them is different. In the first section, Ruth shares a couple of examples of how trauma has affected her son, Jay. The usual strategies weren’t working with him. Too much choice didn’t help. I learned that I need to see past the action and take the time to learn what works with the individual. I’m parting through the behavior to get to their hearts.
Kids who experience trauma in their lives often live in fear. Little things like not having a pencil (22) can create a problem. Because of how their brains have been affected, those kids do not take the natural approaches to solve a problem. They need our guidance step by step. Kids who live in fear react in ways that look like defiance or laziness. Ruth says, “If we are going to help children rewrite their histories of hard into stories of hope, then we need to develop new thinking paths in the brain. The way to do this is to short-circuit fear.” (17)
You might be wondering: I thought Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers is about strategies and tools for teaching, resources for managing Writer’s Workshop.
Ruth Ayres interweaves strategies with stories and gives you numerous resources to help make your teaching stronger. The good news is we can help heal brains that have been touched by trauma. In her book, Ruth asks you questions to guide reflection on your teaching. Key moves are listed at the end of the chapter to help you be more intentional with your teaching.
In the second section of the book, Ruth shares ways to entice your students to write. In chapter 9: Everyone Hates Writing, a list of reasons not to write are given. I have heard them from kids. I have heard them in my own head. Ruth nudges you to see the deeper meaning of writing and why writing is important. On tough days, we all need these reminders. Their stories matter and Ruth’s words guide me in helping them know that.
In the third section of the book, Ruth shares a quick reference sheet of ways to talk with kids to write. She then ends each chapter with “Taking the First Steps” that help to try one thing. You can do more, but start with one. Then try another. She shares examples of conferences and kids’ struggling scenarios that you can relate to. The stories will stick with you and be a reference point for your teaching. You will have a fresh, new approach. More importantly, your heart will be touched and “those kids” take on new meaning.
I celebrate the arrival of this book with you as you continue your journey of teaching children and as you embrace writing. And because this is Book Savors and I can’t resist, I leave you with a list of moves that make the writing in this book a powerful read for any teacher.
Savorings for Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers:
- QR codes for video mini-lessons
- Step by Step questions for reflection on teaching
- Charts of conferring teaching points
- Stories that linger – make you ponder ‘those kids’
- Hope – your part in the process of healing
- Writing process moves
- Writer’s notebook samples
- Visuals for revising
- Introduction and Conclusion to remind you that stories matter and we are important in helping the healing process.
Book Give Away
Thanks to Stenhouse Publishing for donating two books to be given away on each blog tour stop. Share your reflections below and enter to win by Nov. 27 at EST.
If you purchase Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers before November 30th, you are eligible for a free registration to Enticing Writer’s Book Club.
Check out the previous book tour stops:
- Clare and Tammy share a review of the three parts of the book at Assessment in Perspective.
- Michelle Nero interviews Ruth at Literacy Learning Zone.
- Leigh Anne Eck shares how the book has impacted her through stories at A Day in the Life.
Tammy’s cottage is a highlight of my summer. The BONS meet together for stories, sharing, and relaxation. We wrote too. The cottage is quiet and I found valued quiet time to focus writing an article. We arrived Saturday afternoon and stayed over through Sunday evening. Unfortunately, I did not post that evening due to no internet access. Ruth kept us updated on a softball tourney her daughter was playing in. S was playing great and the team was successful. Ruth was being a great mom, cheering her daughter on, and connected us via text messages. She was in our hearts. We missed you!
I celebrate friendship, connections, encouragement, laughter, fishing, ice cream, campfires, notebooks, revision and writing!
A is for Autumn by Robert Maass I caught my eye this week. I love the brilliant pictures illustrating the beauty around us this autumn season. This book is a good mentor text for a photo book project in a content area. It makes me think of Instagram in a book form, pictures with captions, especially with technology so prevalent in our schools.
(I love linking my thoughts with books. Here is a short, 1 minute 35 second video clip featuring the book. Very delightful!)
Yesterday, I kept thinking of the theme ‘T is for Tree’ for the 5 Minute Friday post. This morning, ‘C is for Celebrating’ began swirling in my mind while driving for an early morning basketball event. (Getting up at 4:45 a.m. on a Saturday morning should be banned. :))
C is for …
Coffee with peppermint mocha. Delicious! I have “candy coffee,” my husband’s endearing term, to waken my senses.
Carpooling basketball teens and sharing the responsibility with a fellow mom. Love saving time and gas (and hearing their stories)!
Caring and listening to first graders tell about a lost tooth, a new puppy, and playing in the leaves.
Cuddling cat laying on my lap while holding my husband’s hand watching a TV show, hearing him say he will never give up on us.
Camo basketball shirt, a soft fit for Tim’s sensitive skin, a symbol of belonging, a commitment to teamwork.
Connecting on blogs, refreshed and ignited from stories, poems, and slices shared.
Capturing the moment, being alert to the wonders swirling around us, pausing to listen to my child’s tale, reliving the pleasure through the written word.
C is for celebrating with you!
Last night, our writing group met. We meet monthly and share. We begin sharing how our school jobs are going (or retirement for Tam.) We share about our families. And, we share about our writing.
Truth is … we share in celebration and we love it!
Truth is celebration is the reason why we gather together. We share stories and listen. We encourage and nudge. We celebrate the little things in our writing lives. You see, when we share a story, it is the beginning of a writing piece. When we share, the truth comes from our hearts. We clap and laugh and listen with eyes wide open.
Truth is if we didn’t celebrate the little things, we wouldn’t be a writing group. Writing is hard. We take risks in sharing. We are courageous, brave and true.
And the truth is … these monthly celebrations are what keep me going, to keep writing and to keep working through the hard.
Yesterday during my second grade group, O said, “There’s a bee flying around there, Mrs. Gensch.” I looked up at the light and sure enough, one was buzzing around. It’s October. What is a bee doing in my room? I usually ignore the flying creature, but A chimed in, “I think I may be allergic to bees.” This announcement caught my attention.
“What do you mean by maybe allergic?” I pried with a concerned look. The bee continued to buzz around, dipping closer to us. What lotion did I put I today anyway? I thought to myself. Bees are attracted to different fragrances. Maybe it is my hairspray? For goodness sakes, stay away, I commanded the annoying pest.
“Oh, my mom is allergic to them. My dad is and so are both of my sisters. So I think I might be,” she stated matter-of-factly. My look of “And tell me more please” spurred her on.
“Oh, I have never been stung.”
That did it. I grabbed a book and headed over to the window where the bee was banging against the pane. I thought about calling our custodian (who is a gem by the way) but that would take too long. I had reading to get to and this little, distracting gnat was not going to get in my way of teaching.
SMACK! Got it!
O, A, and C had been watching me the entire time. They cheered when the critter was smushed. “Wait! There is another one,” O pointed out from a safe distance. By golly, he was right. Another bee was bashing its head against the window. “Yes I wish you were outside,” I stated aloud.
WHACK! It fell dead on the window sill. “Whew!” A stated wiping her forehead.
Yes, I was thankful too. Seeing the unmoving bug lying there, I noticed several others, like twenty or more. What???? More have been in my room?!
We finished group time, accomplishing my primary goal. Then I hunted Mike, our custodian, and told him the story of the bee annoyance in my room. I am anxious to be rid of these! And I definitely do not want an “I think I might be allergic” child having an attack in my room. Look out bees! You will NOT conquer me.
(This story is in honor of my friend and writer, Tammy Shultz. She has the BEST bee story ever and hopefully you all will hear someday. Our BONS writing group have enjoyed her story. Today marks my 500th post and I am so glad to honor the stories we share. Hugs to you friends!)
Today as I readied myself for my Slice of Life this week, the number flashed at me like neon lights. My smile grew. This accomplishment is something I am celebrating! Ice cream may be in order! 🙂
Yes, today I have written my 500th post.