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Flash Fiction

4 Oct

Check out the NYTimes’¬†post on reading and writing flash fiction. There are some great questions here about what makes a story and some fun ideas for expanding and compressing texts. There are also links to all sorts of interesting related materials. Fun!

Have you or your kids tried your hands at flash fiction? Do you have a favorite piece? Please share ūüôā


I don’t know any human being that would have the ability to lead this bunch.

25 Sep

Regardless of what you think about the current political situation, you have to LOVE this metaphor, which is new to me:

First of all, he’s a skilled legislator who cares deeply about the process, and he is attempting to manage a wheelbarrow of frogs who, you know, every time he thinks he’s going down the garden path, a couple of them jump out. I don’t know of any human being that would have the ability to lead this bunch. You’re dealing with some people who just don’t want to be led. But at the end of the day, he is the leader of the Republican conference, and as long as he is in that position, he does sort of have an obligation to follow the will of the conference. (Here’s a link to this interview.)

Could someone please pen a political cartoon right quick? I need to see this illustration. Pronto.

And if you want to learn more about this idiom, you might check here.

One Book, One Community

24 Sep

I’m excited for the One Book, One Community events this fall. Our community is reading¬†Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.¬†I haven’t read it yet, but considering the events in this country over the last few months, I think that the mental health crisis is definitely much more in the limelight than it has been in a long time. I’m curious to see if any of our high school teachers will bring this book into the classrooms. I know my University instructor friends will.

Have you read the book? Do you have ideas for how to teach it? Do you want to join my book group? ūüôā

You can read the first chapter here.

Common Core Text Exemplars

20 Sep

The Literacy in Learning Exchange posted this link to a¬†column from¬†Voices from the Middle¬†(Sept 2013) that evaluates the text exemplars found in Appendix B of the CCSS. This is a really interesting article looking at how these exemplars were chosen and what value they have for the classroom. Moss quotes from Appendix B, where it is written that the texts in the list “[…] expressly do not represent a partial or complete reading list.” Yet how many people have you heard calling these books the new canon? Ugh. Anyway – guideposts, people. guideposts – as long as we aren’t forced to teach those specific texts, we should be good.

In the process of reading this piece, I also became interested in Zitlow’s article from¬†Young Adult Literature in the 21st Century.¬†While I couldn’t find a full-text version of that piece to link to here, I did remember this excellent top 100 list that NPR published last year. There are all novels, but it’s still a pretty interesting list. There’s a lot of dark material there, which explains some of what I haven’t read. And, way to go John Greene. My friend Michelle (check out her blog) just passed on a whole box of¬†Looking for Alaska,¬†which I’m excited to hand off to my teachers. Yeah! Thanks, Michelle.

Which are your personal favorites? Are there any on this list that you wouldn’t allow your kids to read?


Commonplace Books

1 Sep

I am definitely not the first to refer to a blog as the contemporary version of the commonplace book. Here’s the transcript of an interesting lecture on the topic: The Glass Box and the Commonplace Book. In my teens and early twenties, I was an excellent steward of the commonplace book, though I’d not heard of the practice at that point. I was an avid reader of poetry and fiction, and I collected lines, phrases, and words that I loved. Maybe part of why I developed that practice was because, at that point in my life, I was rarely the owner of the books I read – most belonged to the school, the college, or the library – and I needed some way to remember what I read and loved. I also fancied myself a poet, and I kept these books so that I had something to write about.¬†

Flash forward a decade or two, and though I still read, what I read has changed, and though I write, what I write has changed too. Nonfiction is the ruler of the roost (aka my desk) these days. Even the physical space is revealing – when I think of myself reading and writing these days, I imagine sitting at my desk, book on the left, computer on the right, reading and taking notes simultaneously. This is a fairly far cry from the curled-in-corners reading and writing of my youth. And though I think that some of that has to do with the switch from fiction to nonfiction, most of it has to do with the switch from reading for pleasure to reading for information. In “The Transactional Theory of Reading and Writing”, Louise Rosenblatt writes about the¬†efferent-aesthetic continuum, explaining that readers who are reading efferently are concerned with what is to be “extracted and retained” after the reading, while readers who are reading aesthetically are more focused on the “sensations, images, feelings, and ideas”. In my reading life, I think this steady move towards the efferent, away from the aesthetic, explains my own abandonment of commonplacing. However, I don’t think that this is at all necessary, and I’d like to use this blog as a way to reclaim that drive to record, not always evocative language, but evocative ideas. Just because I am reading for information does not mean that I am not moved by what I read. This blog is basically my attempt to heard all of those “WOW!” and “I LOVE THIS!” and “NO WAY!” Post-it notes that are peeking out of all of my books and all of those abandoned electronic bookmarks into one place so that I can begin to reflect on patterns and share my reading and thinking with others. So glad you’re here!