Archive for July, 2010

Last Day at the UIWP

Posted in Uncategorized on July 9, 2010 by estheruiwp

Today is the last day of the UIWP.  I can’t believe how fast it has gone by!  While I was putting together my website last night, I was amazed at how much writing and “composing” we produced!  I was initially worried that I wouldn’t have good quality writing pieces to include in my digital portfolio, but, that’s why I’m thankful for deadlines.  I just put my writings out there, knowing that, knowing me, I could spend forever working on them!  Thus, prolonging publishing my digital portfolio for a while.

I was also picturing the journey I feel like I’ve been on for the past month.  Actually, beginning with the interview, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I knew there would be some work involved – maybe collaborating to develop some lesson plans, listening to guest speakers, being introduced to some technology.  What I got instead was a crash course in digital technologies and a fresh approach to writing instruction.  I think I did what Katherine Blake Yancey explains as using the scientific approach to make teaching a system.  I did this with writing somewhat because I didn’t really have my own philosophy or understanding of writing instruction.  Now, I see endless possibilities with writing.  I see writing as a knowledge-making activity, even creative writing.  I think Judy’s poem on her Cherokee background is a great example of how I envision using creative writing to incorporate social studies into the classroom.  I just wonder how many students are out there with untapped writing potential that need good instruction or guidance?

Overall, I will miss the morning writings, the challenging assignments (in technology), and the intensive feeling of being in a “boiling pot” that drew out creative thinking that I did not know I had in me!


What is it about writing?

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8, 2010 by estheruiwp

As I walk to the library each morning, I think about writing.  These days, ever since I didn’t pass a job interview successfully, I have been stressing over finding a job.  I am wondering if I’m completely wasting my time writing and wonder if I should spend time looking for a job instead (I am when I’m not at the library).  Writing seems like such a waste of time.  Writing seems like something people who have settled lives can do, not someone like me, who is obviously going through some major changes.  I wonder if I’m being totally irresponsible by spending 4 weeks of my summer writing, thinking about writing, making writing videos and podcasts, and reading about writing.  Maybe I’ve lost my sense of responsibility and reality.  I think my family certainly thinks so, as do my friends in Chicago and, even down in Champaign. Continue reading

Reflections on my demonstration

Posted in Uncategorized on July 2, 2010 by estheruiwp

I need to reflect on my demonstration before I forget.  First of all, yes, I was definitely nervous.  I had worst-case scenario thoughts about a silent room, awkward silences during the discussion portion, or just complete disinterest.  However, I was wrong.  I actually thoroughly enjoyed giving the presentation and could feel the energy in the room.  It felt smooth, like people were getting into the same thought processes I went through as I thought about place and time and life stories.  I guess the questions about how to write about the mundane and getting students to realize how interesting every small moment in their lives can be have been brewing in my mind for a couple of years now.  That, coupled with the TCKs I’ve been meeting (and me being one) plus the idea of bringing stories to life through video and podcasting just added more possibilities to what could be done with life stories.  I wish I could have gathered everyone’s stories, like I would in my classroom.  I am thinking of ways I could really use all these ideas with the TCKs I personally know.  We have retreats and conferences and one is coming up this November.  I am thinking of making a video about the TCKs that I personally know and their own life stories.  There is something really validating and “identity-forming” about sharing one’s life stories.

Also, I’m realizing there’s a big difference between “telling” someone, no matter how close a friend, about your life versus writing about it with the intention of having someone read it.  I know of TCKs  who journal, but I think its powerful when there’s the possibility that someone will read our stories.  Fletcher is right.  We write more powerfully about subjects that matter to us.  For the classroom, I think that’s why Lucy Calkins made some great decisions when she brought in personal narratives as a genre of writing to teach.  Three years after I tried out her curriculum in the classroom, I feel like I am finally “getting” her.

Scrubbing my dormroom floors

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 by estheruiwp

About two to three weeks before the end of each term, I would begin thinking about packing and the dreaded floor scrubbing routine we performed every 3 months.  Our dorm mom would tell us weeks in advance about the end of the term cleaning and packing routine.  I didn’t mind cleaning the bathrooms or wiping down the walls, or, even packing, but I dreaded the scrubbing.  To preserve our pale grey linoleum floors, they were waxed at the end of each term.  However, it was none other than our job to scrub the wax off the floors.  On more than one occasion, I had the job of scrubbing the hallway floors as well.

Once we packed our bags, we had to move our bunk beds to make sure we got the wax off every corner and crevice.  My roommate and I would each take a six-inch long bristle brush, a bucket of soap and water, and get on our hands and knees and start scrubbing away.  It would have been easier if we had used hot water, but that was reserved for showers.  So, for several hours, we would scrub away at the wax that had hardened quite beautifully over the 12 weeks.

After a while, the scrubbing began to become rhythmic and provide room for reflection.  I would relish the idea of getting all the wax off, and now wonder, if I didn’t manage to also get some of the linoleum off the tiles as well!  It almost became a compulsion for me to get the tiles clean – it fed my perfectionism.  Thinking back on this time of my life, I am grateful to my school because we could have had everything spoon-fed and done for us, but I think the administrators knew that we would need to learn how to take care of ourselves.  The irony is that when I came to the U.S. for college, I didn’t know how to use a washing machine, because, strangely enough, we had our laundry done for us!