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Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Little at a Time!

Early Tuesday Slice of Life Post-thanks Stacey and Ruth @ Two Writing Teachers!  Click on over and read great posts from other slicers too!

Last Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, I had an opportunity to attend and present at the OCIRA (Ohio Council of the International Reading Association) Literacy Conference at YSU (Youngstown State University).  I feel so blessed to have attended the conference in the capacities of participant as well as presenter.  So, I wanted to share some of my learning as I reflect on what I took away from the conference.

The keynote speaker was David Adler.  He's a well known author of many children's literature books but most especially the Cam Jansen Mysteries Series.  He shared that the beauty of writing is that when you sit down to write a story, no one can tell you it's wrong-it's your story and everyone has a story to tell.  His speech was really focused on 3 areas...his writing life, how he researches for his writing works, and how he teaches writing. 

The take away from the part about his writing life was learning that he decided to be a "stay at home dad" because his wife wanted to work.  He made a promise that he would spend a good portion of his day writing (at least 5 hours).  He planned his work along with naps for the baby and would deduct whatever time he spent during the baby's nap from the total and then spend the rest of that time in the evening doing his work.  He shared that he always stopped at 5 hours, even if he was in the middle of writing a "good part".  He shared one of his first books, A Little at a Time, a story about a little guy who is always asking his grandpa questions.  Grampa always responds, "A little at a time!"


When he shared about his research, he explained clearly that he emerses himself in the history of the time that he's writing.  He told us, "Good beginnings matter-no matter what genre the story is being written in."He shared about being willing to dig for details, finding interviews and newspapers from that time in history.   He even shared that during one of his writing sessions, he was so into the time, that when he came out of his office, he asked his wife why it was snowing in the middle of May-and she explained that it was really February...

And lastly, when he shared about how he teaches writing, he said he wants every writer to feel good about what they've written.  He suggested taking any short one page story you've written and share it with the class.  Then take suggestions from the students on how it could sound better.  Play with the ideas and take them or not.  Modeling the editing process with the students and show how to continuously improve the drafts.  He shared how he took one story through 11 drafts before he was satisfied.  As you model this process, "a little at a time" for students, they learn to trust ideas and suggestions from others because they see how you've done it too...I wonder if this is similar to ideas other writers and teachers of writing have...

I was glad to hear him share his thinking and know that I am constantly working to become a better writer and teacher of writing...a little at a time...

Thanks to David for sharing his thinking and inspiration!








22 comments:

  1. Hi Amy, aren't the conferences so inspiring! I love going, & loved hearing about your time hearing David Adler. What great points he gave. And I really enjoyed how you wrapped it up, just right. I guess we're all doing it "a little at a time." I'll remember this!

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    1. Thanks Linda! Conferences are inspiring! I especially loved the chat in the car with my colleagues on the way back from the conference!

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  2. What a great summary of a wonderful, and perhaps undersung, writer. Thanks for the inspiraction on this crazy morning waiting for the power to go out!

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    1. Hope you are ok after Sandy! Glad you're inspired by Adler's ideas!

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  3. A little at a time, such a powerful concept when learning something new. I need to remember those words as I work with teachers who are new to balanced literacy concepts. They are so impatient to know it all NOW. Thanks for sharing your learning, I love conferences that reenergize my teaching.

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    1. Elsie,
      I feel like I want the full meal deal every time too! Sometimes grazing is a better menu option!

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  4. You did a great job sharing David's unique keynote.
    Thanks Amy

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    1. You're welcome! His thinking really struck a chord with me!

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  5. I love hearing about the process nonfiction authors go about. Immersing oneself in the time period must be challenging and so gratifying. Readers can tell when it's been done well!

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    1. Stacey,
      I never really thought so deeply about the ways authors approach their research until he shared this story...I'm still thinking about it...

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  6. I love that he said "beauty of writing is that no one can tell you it's wrong"! I've been trying to tell students that as they sit to write poems...it so free just let your imagination guide you not a set of rules! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Lynn,
      You're welcome!
      Fear of being wrong and making mistakes seems to impede the writing process for many writers...hearing experts share that they aren't perfect on the first, second or even 10th try is powerful to know for writers of any age!

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  7. A little at a time... it's like anything in life! What an inspiring visit :)

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  8. Thank you for sharing. I love the idea of getting the students' feedback on your own revisions and doing that work in front of them (but also showing that as the writer you get the last say in what your work looks like). Whenever we can put ourselves in their shoes that seems to help me teach better.

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    1. I agree with you Dana! Walking a mile in our students' shoes or attempting to view things through their learning lenses is very important in order to build trust and confidence as a writer!

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  9. A little at a time is so true! Sometimes it also a little forward and a little back also. The writer's life is so fascinating to me. XO nanc PS Thanks for sharing your time with him.

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    1. Nanc,
      Thanks! Glad you added going forward and sometimes back too-you are so right!

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  10. Your experience was so valuable, and now it is even more valuable because of the sharing. I enjoyed reading your summary and found the ideas helpful.

    What was your presentation?

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    1. Glad this was helpful!

      I presented with 2 other colleagues about blogging with students in the elementary classroom!
      We shared how we used kidblog.org last year and how successful it was as many of the students continued to blog over the summer and into the start of the new school year!

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  11. What an inspiring post! David Adler had much to share. The advice about sharing your writing with students and listening to their comments and showing them the editing process was very intriguing.

    ~ Michael<><
    The Color of Sound
    @mgdobishinsky

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  12. Michael,
    Thanks for your input! I'm really glad I got to hear about David's ideas! It's adding to my future aspirations as an author of children's literature!

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