Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teachers Write Tuesday Quick Write

Have you joined Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles, Teach Mentor Texts, and other fabulous writers and educators in the amazing virtual Teachers Write FREE PD workshop this summer yet?  If not, come join us!  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Kate Messner will be sharing quick-write prompts with us so that we can write and share.  I will be posting some of mine on my blog.  Today's Quick-Write inspired me to write about my classroom.  I'm going in a little different direction than the quick-write was supposed to go, I think, but I also know Teachers Write is for us to explore the kind of writing we want to do, which for me right now, is professional writing (I'll also experiment with some fictional writing, too, along the way).  I'll go ahead and jump out on the limb to tell you my ultimate goal, since that's what a writing community tries to create - a place where risks can be taken.  I would love to write professional articles and a book.  I'm doing some writing right now with a colleague, Megan Ginther, and we are drafting the book as co-authors.  I'd love to share some snippets of our ideas with you to get your feedback.  Maybe we could us something like this vignette in our book!

My Classroom

Sometimes, I take a moment in the craziness of teaching and look around my classroom at my students.  One group is around a circular table discussing A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass, lamenting over a part in the book that made them sad.  Another couple of students are on the computers, experimenting with making book trailers using Animoto.  Some of the kids are scattered around the room, deep in silent reading their own carefully chosen independent books.  One boy occasionally shows his friend a page in the graphic novel he’s enjoying, and his friend laughs.  Two or three kids are at their desks working on the writing that goes with this month’s theme topic, empathy.  Sometimes, there are these moments when I can stop and pause, breathe, and realize things are happening without me.  I can look around at all the book covers I’ve printed off in color that line the tops of the walls all around the room.  I can see the bulletin board labeled “Wall of Awesome” where sentence strips announce book series finished by students and dates on which kids have met the 40 Book Challenge.  Student work lines a whiteboard.  Student-made precepts, inspired by Wonder, cover the door.  Plush toys of a gorilla and an elephant, purchased at the Cincinnati Zoo during a Parent/Student book club outing over The One and Only Ivan, sit atop a bookshelf.  Books upon books nestle in numerous labeled tubs everywhere I can put them. Essential questions are stapled to the corkboard running along the top of the blackboard.  Big questions over our read aloud, Capture the Flag, cover a piece of chart paper on the wall.  Photographs of students and me taken with authors are sitting around my desk area.  An original watercolor by Matthew Cordell hangs above a row of signed hardback books.  It is a happy, joyful, creative place.  Sometimes, I can’t believe I get to do what I do.  My passion has become my profession, and my profession has become my passion.  How lucky is that?  In a moment, I will sit down at the table to join the discussion about A Mango-Shaped Space, listen to their stories about their pets, and I will share mine.  Someone will probably call me over to edit their book trailer.  A student may finish her book and ask for another recommendation just like it.   Soon, it will be lunch time and this moment will be interrupted and trumped by growling stomachs.  Some days, my classroom looks a lot more chaotic and not everything works.  But sometimes, it looks and feels like this.


  1. What a lovely picture you paint of your classroom! I love this line: "My passion has become my profession, and my profession has become my passion." That really resonated with me. How lucky are we to get to do what we love everyday!

  2. Holly, it's easy to see that your classroom means as much to you as my library does for me. It sounds like you have done a beautiful job building a safe and respectful environment where readers can grow as their interests grow. I love the "Wall of Awesome" These are lessons they will remember for years to come. You remind me of my favorite LA teacher, Mrs. Skipper. Some lessons are always remembered.