Saturday, September 13, 2014

Finding Writing Topics is one of the biggest challenges in the classroom. Here are some great articles on the topic. Enjoy! Courtesy of Choice Literacy

The Big Fresh Newsletter from Choice Literacy
September 13, 2014 - Issue #399

Extra or Unexpected?
Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.    
                                     Boris Pasternak                                       
My colleague Jeff was worried. We were both professors at a large state university, working with juniors and seniors in literacy methods courses. One of his students, Amanda, had recently lost her mother to cancer, and now she'd missed the last two classes in his secondary English methods class. He'd called her repeatedly and talked with her roommate but couldn't reach Amanda. Finally the roommate told him Amanda was at soccer practice and would be there for another hour.  Jeff hung up the phone (because this was back in the days when phones had cords and you actually hung them up), put on his jacket, and walked 10 minutes across campus to the sports fields, where he found Amanda and told her he was worried about her. She cried a little, promised to come to the next class, and didn't skip class again for the rest of the semester.
When Jeff told me this story, I was astonished. I rarely called students when they missed class, and certainly never visited them personally at a sports practice. We talk a lot about doing "extra" as educators, but Jeff made me realize that the unexpected is what has the biggest impact.
Og Mandino once wrote, "The only certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be."
Joe Clark explains the way "more and better" works for administrators: "People expect school administrators to be at the Friday night football game. They don't expect them to bring Popsicles to band camp. Or go to the bowling team's match or the Mock Trial team's performance."
We do a lot of the "extra," but maybe we need more of the unexpected. Most of us don't have more to give. Maybe it's a matter of surprising people with the unexpected in a way that truly makes them rethink their relationship with us, and our commitment to their work.
This week we look at finding writing topics. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy


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[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links,  follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook:
Here are two different takes from the archives on helping students write. 
Gifted students can struggle to write, if only because their skills can get in the way. Michelle Kelly has advice for working with writers who are perfectionists and verbally skilled:
In The Pause That Refreshes, Suzy Kaback advises teachers to stop and encourage students to write when the conversation gets hot:
What is the value in taking a break from writing? In On Not Writing, Bill Hayes shares what he learned as a professional writer who abandoned the craft for years before finally returning to it:
Join Franki Sibberson for The Tech-Savvy Literacy Teacher online course October 1-12.  The class includes three on-demand webinars, the Right Book at the Right Time DVD, Franki's book The Joy of Planning, and personal response from Franki tailored to your needs on the class discussion board. Click on the link below for more details:
Inspiring learning, fabulous presenters, unique materials, and delicious food, all on the ocean at the beautiful Samoset Resort in Rockport, Maine. What's not to like? Join us October 18-19 for Coaching the Common Core. Details and a brochure with a full description are available at this link:

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