Sunday, 20 October 2013

Learning 2.013 State of Mind

“The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.” 
- Steve Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From:  The Natural History of Innovation

How to begin...and where?
Um, I've been trying to write this post for days now and I can't seem to get it off the ground. It keeps on wanting to turn into something else. From something straightforward like a list of things I don't want to forget to something existential or ideological to a How to or like a Ten Things I learned piece to OMG, here's evidence of my acute conference-worship. (Hi, I'm Paula and I believe in stories.) 

Granted, I am jet lagged. Oh and distracted by New York City, my new nephew and just having free time with no agenda, no mini-lessons to plan or L2Talk to think of.  

It does feel very weird not to be so busy. Did I mention I am in New York City in the fall?  

Hanging out on Twitter has been great though. It's been neat watching my colleagues eloquently articulate what they have learned through/by 'Making Change'.  Sigh. Mired in my writer's block, I admired them from afar and have been retweeting their musings all by the bleachers.

Bullet points
MoonShot Thinking 
Learning Spaces 
A Friday Moonshot
Giving it another shot now four days in, I realise that I just needed to rest, spend time with my nephew and gain some distance from this recent peak experience that has been Learning 2.013 held at our school in Singapore. I needed to let the gushing subside so I can be sober in writing about the things I'd learned sans the melodrama.  I mean, when something catches you off guard, touches your life in a very deep way, leaves you different and overwhelmed with gratitude (there must be a word for that, if not I need to invent one) - that deserves some space and time. To let things sink in, right?   So, yeah.  

Anyway, maybe, I should start here - Oct, 2012 in Beijing.  Because that's really where this journey began.
Learning 2.0 2012, WAB, Beijing China
A little over a year ago, I was fortunate enough to attend my very first Learning 2 Conference AND present a workshop AND see Beijing for the first time.  It was pretty epic. From very special reunions, intense learning, the luge at the Great Wall with good friends, an opportunity to meet new people and present my passion for discussion-based learning, it was definitely one  of the highlights of my first year at UWCSEA.  I learned a lot presenting for 45 minutes to 27 people. I realised that giving a workshop at Learning 2.0 is very different from doing a regional or in-school workshop for the IB. As much as I love giving MYP workshops, there was something about having complete freedom over content and delivery.  Even if I owe a lot of what I value as an educator to the IB MYP's tenets , I felt challenged and fulfilled sharing pedagogy that aligned with best practice (which also includes the MYP), in general. Absolute autonomy over a workshop's structure and flow taught me a great deal even if it freaked me out a little bit.  

Which brings me to today and this year's Learning 2.0.  
Learning 2.013 Love 
All these realisations became more important after needing to prepare two 3-hour extended sessions and a 5-minute keynote. I thought about what I wanted to do for months and took two weeks, a weekend with Nicki H and an hour with other amazing L2 Leaders to tighten the nuts and bolts (this is where you can find some of the resources I used to prepare). I applied what I learned from last year, like not talking too much and making sure I covered both learning spaces (physical and virtual) so that it could address as many of my participants' queries as possible with the time allotted.  I knew there were going to be participants this year who'd ask about conversations in the classroom full stop or conversations online full stop and of course, those who might ask about the blend of both.  

In the end, the sessions went well and from there we were able to produce this, our session's own blog -  Learning 2.013 Conversations  and these ...



Pretty cool, right?  I am pretty pleased with how it all turned out. Everyone had a chance to traverse a virtual space with ease and engage in an authentic conversation in the classroom whether they were observing/assessing the discussion or active at the table.   Hopefully, we were able to experience how both spaces collide because 



Okay, so let me end this mammoth blog post with my five Learning 2.013 take aways: 

First, I need to trust myself and be fearless.  I will never forget what Jeff P told me as I walked off the stage during one of the last practice sessions of our Learning2 Talks. He said something along these lines..."That was great but why did you look so scared? Why were you hesitant/tentative?  You need to be fearless, Paula. You need to believe you belong here." I was a little weepy after that and wasn't sure what I was feeling but it struck a chord in my soul. That night, as I stood in front of a main hall full of impassioned educators,  I still felt scared of screwing up as I got up there.  But there was this calm and conviction in my voice.  I will never forget the silence and the faces of people the light bounced off of as I took my time saying what was in my heart.  

Second, the L2Talk  ruled my life for awhile and that's okay because it meant so much.  Corollary to that:  If you are lucky enough to be given an opportunity to push yourself to do a keynote in front of 450 people, make sure you get Jabiz and Kim to help you make it the best it can be.  And not having my notes when I practiced helped a lot no matter how uncomfortable it was. Letting go of the crutch sooner helped me jump off the cliff, hit the ice cold water face first, which then forced me to thrash around, then dog paddle, then do the breast stroke instead of well, drown. 

The playlist of all the talks lives here. None of them are the same but there are veins that intersect and merge when it comes to their core ideas. They were all inspiring to watch and interesting to follow in their evolution from practice to final iteration.  



Third, I am glad I paid attention. Said thank you as often as I could. Took it all in no matter how surreal.  Sitting with some of the best, most innovative, progressive minds in education has been a real treat.  I didn't take a moment of it for granted.  I remember entering the Think Tank in the library the day before the pre-conference feeling giddy and excited but I had NO idea how amazing it would feel being in that room,  listening to everyone share, collaborate, create and critique.  I feel honoured to be part of this amazing community.  Really.  I must have done something right to have earned this privilege to commune with the Learning 2.0 family.  



Post Conference Meet Up
Fourth, trust begets trust.  More than the resources on a page on my blog, the questions my participants asked and  the wealth of knowledge, experience and insight they brought with them needed to have many opportunities to emerge.  I really believe that empowering teachers and letting them see what already exists within them to make something work is more powerful than just presenting pedagogy.    

Also,  all hell broke loose with the internet connection during my first session yet everyone took it all in stride, was totally chill and rose to the occasion. After feeling a little panicked at the situation and looking at how I was the most frustrated person in the room, I made a quick decision to just let it go and trust that WE would make it work. I realised very quickly that I wasn't in it, alone in that room.  I let the trust instead of the panic dictate how the session was going to go and that made all the difference.   

Because man, the degree of commitment, passion and integrity was awe inspiring and again, I felt lucky to have had an opportunity to share something I am passionate about and to be in a room filled with people who wanted the same thing -- to talk about how we can make our learning spaces more vibrant, engaging, dynamic and authentic for our students.  The conversations saved the day regardless of the technology and at the heart of the success of the workshops were the participants.     


Second Session FTW! 
Finally,  freaked out by it all?  Share anyway.  You never know who will be moved by something you've shared.  Even if it sounds silly or useless or obvious to you, bite the bullet and just share because ... watch this.  


Obvious to you. Amazing to others. from Derek Sivers on Vimeo.

I was humbled by the number of kind people who came up to me during the conference-- to say thank you for something I said in a session or the L2Talk or mention something that resonated with them during a conversation.  It taught me to listen and it also taught me to continue to believe in my story - inside and outside the classroom.   So many teachers during my session expressed their reluctance to blog or share their ideas with their own teaching & learning communities (which is what our students go through as well) and my hope is that I was able to inspire or encourage some of them to take the first step. Because really, that's all it takes.  :) 

Well, here we are at the end. Appreciate your stopping by, staying and reaching this point.  I feel the seismic love, man.  So, to say thanks let me end with this.  A tribute to students' autonomy, spring and poetry. 


THE HAND 
 by Mary Ruefle
The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom 
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that 
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie 
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question. 
 Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.

Part of the story now

Monday, 16 September 2013

More on Writing (via Neil Gaiman) - On to our first drafts

The process of writing can be magical — there times when you step out of an upper-floor window and you just walk across thin air, and it’s absolute and utter happiness. Mostly, it’s a process of putting one word after another.
-Neil Gaiman 

I should be sleeping. 
It is 11:55 and I should have been winding down, tucked in bed, book in hand an hour ago.  But no. Instead,  here I am sneaking in a blog post addressed to you guys because I looked at my twitter feed in between pages of my book and found this - words of wisdom from one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman.  I know, I could have waited and posted this tomorrow like a normal person but I just had to share it here today.  

There is a lot to be said for writing first drafts. And I have a blog post brewing about being more forthcoming about my writing life. My own successes and pitfalls.  My frustrations and epiphanies. What and how I have been writing recently, as I write the tasks we have designed along with you. It is still taking shape in my head though, all of it,  so stay tuned.  

In the meantime, here is Gaiman giving wonderful advice to all writers, young and not so young. Whether you are writing the first draft of your memoir (Grade 7) or beginning to draft your opinion essay (Grade 8) or like me writing both (gulp), here are some golden nuggets to think about.  Tell me what you think? 


Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices — you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only youcan tell — because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.
-Neil Gaiman 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Writing and the Writing Process

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” 

We value a lot of things and writing is one of them.  

This year, we want to share and honor this love for writing some more starting with the right mindset -- We are ALL writers -- so let's BE writers.  We believe that just as long as you have something to say, are willing to work on arriving at the best way you know how to say what is in you, and keep at it to see the pieces develop and evolve, then you ARE a writer. At some point you might want to share versions and iterations of these ideas, thoughts, feelings, opinions and interpretations of the world to someone else or a wider audience and that's fine because that's part of writing too.  

Write on! 
Which brings me here...the writer's writing process.  Every writer has one... (press play to view keynote via Haiku Deck) and publishing is only part of it.  

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Anyway, we are excited to collect ideas, draft, revise, proofread and publish with you.  We will respect the/your/our process/es and work on skills per part along the way as we see fit.   There will be  various spaces and opportunities for us, (yes us) to write and workshop what we write (through our gift to you - your personal writing journals; we will have our own as well). We will also be sensitive to everyone's level of readiness to share what each of you come up with to an audience.  We understand that these levels are different from person to person. Publishing beyond the classroom will happen but when and where, it will be up to you.  

If you haven't received your writer's journal yet, it's coming, don't worry.  :)  That gift is on its way.  Also, conversations regarding the blogs will take place when the time is right.  Stay tuned.  

Man, I love writing - from the process (blood, sweat and tears) to the "product" (never really done).  

When I write, I am able to have a conversation with the page and myself, and often times, with others I know and well, the rest of the world I don't know. When I write, I get to clarify what I am thinking, address questions, plug loopholes, and refine my assertions.  I get to somehow make sense of my experiences and emotions, sometimes surrender to things that are painful so I can forgive and in the end, find a lesson, embrace the point,  express gratitude and love for this life even if I end up with more questions.  Writing has also allowed me to experiment with language, hone my craft, grow my art and tell stories. 
Words come together, lines form in surprising ways and paragraphs take compelling shapes. No draft is ever really done so I keep at it. The work continues because as Paul Valery asserts, "A piece of writing is never really finished, only abandoned."   I really do hope I do a good job of sharing this love for writing with you. That is one of my goals this year.  
Finally, a word from Sylvia Plath...  And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."  

And with that, let the writing process begin...

Making Connections: I am a learner too

So, it's been two weeks since Day 1 and I am stoked.  


I've been inspired by your questions, your enthusiasm, your openness and your positive energy. Thank you for making the beginning of the year very special. It's been time well spent setting up our physical, as well as the different bits of our virtual, learning spaces. There's a few more protocols to put into place but for now, we have what we need. August has been great, right? I can only imagine what September has in store for all of us. :)


Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea just to recap some of the big ideas that we tackled early on last week. I learned a lot listening to your conversations.  I also appreciated seeing the diversity and the commonalities of the things you read, watched, viewed, consumed last summer. It was interesting because from that we talked a lot about making connections. Whether it's connecting different texts we've read (our summer reading trails), to connecting to ideas with our peers at the table (The Harkness table discussions) , to connecting the different parts of us that form who we are, all of the lines that move from one person to another, to one idea to another, to one realization to another, in the end, as we looked at the connections blobs on the white board, it wasn't hard to see that we all connect somehow. The intersections, extensions and entanglements - of our ideas, choices, preferences, questions that we ask, and the selves that form based on our contexts and experiences -- become the basis for our capacity to grow as individuals and to grow as a community.  We cannot learn, grow, live in isolation.  We need each other. So yeah, I told you it was so much more than just "so, what did you read last summer?"   What was your main take away from our initial classes?  

Anyway, I have linked the chart from our mini-lesson on making connections below. These mini-lesson charts will stay up on our walls so that you can refer to them easily when you are in class. You will find the same charts in our class notes and maybe this blog.  And oh, just like you, I am a learner too. A recent iPad app discovery has allowed me to make our simple chart look a little cooler on our online spaces.  Check out a spruced up version (through Haiku Deck) below as well.  I hope both versions help us remember, apply, practice the skills and learn them for keeps.  :)  


Our classroom chart 
Just press play >



Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

So, until my next entry...I hope you guys had a great weekend.  Here's to a spectacular week ahead.  

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Song and a Warm Welcome



Wait, what?  We are back in school again?  Where did the summer go?

Blur
It feels like only yesterday when we said our goodbyes to the gates of UWCSEA-East, ready to embrace whatever adventures the summer of 2012-2013 had in store for us.  Seven weeks zoom by and just like that, here we are again. If you are a returning student, welcome back!  If you are new to the school, I look forward to meeting you very soon.  Nevertheless,  I am eager to hear all your stories, where you've been and what you have been up to the past few weeks.

In the meantime, here are a few things to mention at this point.  If you haven't been to our classroom yet, well, it's  no longer a crime scene.

The past (SY 2012-2013) 
The victim

This year's classroom theme was inspired by these chess pieces...(side note: thank you to, Brook and Ms. Rudquist for helping me make the vision of our physical learning space become a reality. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined, to be honest.) Hurry! Check it out, if you haven't already!

B508
And finally, two quotes from two awesome people.  Something to frame this year with -

A lovely sentiment from  George Saunders

"...err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly."  

and  an oldie but goodie from my favorite author, Neil Gaiman,  

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and love someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

A precious reminder to be kind to a fault and a special wish involving love and art for all you this year. Bring it, SY 2013-2014.  We are more than ready for you.  



Sunday, 2 June 2013

Grade 7 & the GREAT Summer Reading Challenge for 2013

So here we are.

Just two and a half more weeks before the school-year comes to an end.  
June has waltzed in and will tango its way out of here before we know it.  
Just like that. 
Phew. 

Boy, time sure flies when you're having an interesting time.  
And that's what this year of reading, writing, analyzing, critical thinking, conversing, discussing, questioning, challenging ideas and well, learning in the English classroom has been like.  Interesting. Full. Rich. Intense. And hopefully, fun and challenging.  

So yeah, it's been really great but WAIT!...Before you say "no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks..."  here's something we, as an English department, are excited to be sharing with you today.  :) 

 *drum roll, please*

 
Your Summer Reading Challenge for 2013.


Bookshelf by Sally
Why? 
Reading books you like in a thoughtful way
How? 
By following a reading trail of your own design


Step one: Choose a book you want to read as a place to start. Here are some great suggestions.
Step two:Think about something interesting - a theme or link - that comes out of the book. Ask yourself, “what can I read/view/listen to next that will help me explore this theme or link?” Start reading your next book or film or newspaper article or advertisement or website or anything that takes you further along your path.
Step three: Continue to follow the path of your theme. Keep your reading diet healthy and diverse. Aim to include: several novels, some non-fiction, some reading from the web, some film, something unexpected.
Step four: Keep a brief record of your journey. In August, your teacher will give you a task to do to introduce yourself as a reader based on this summer reading.


For detailed instructions, read here.

Here is an example of what your reading trail could look like:


video



Did you get all that? Please come see me if you have any questions.  I will explain the sample reading trail in more detail during class this week.  :) 

Finally, I stumbled upon this last Saturday and was stoked since we were in the thick of finalizing the reading challenge for you guys. How timely, right?  It's Lisa Bu's TED talk on how books open our minds.   It's a quick but powerful watch of what reading can do for all of us. Enjoy! 


The Grade 8 Feature Articles and Stories of Sudan

Hello Grade 8! How's everyone doing? I know, I know. One word to describe the last few weeks of school - HECTIC. 
Full on 
 Been awhile, huh. I've missed engaging in this space to meet you guys.  Like I said...we've all been crazy busy, right?  Anyway, let me get on with it. 

Here are some instructions for publishing the different feature articles that you all worked on for our unit on Truth.  It has been an absolute pleasure to read all of your feature articles. I was impressed by your talent, your dedication, your resilience, your openness and all your hard work. Your articles have been interesting, sensitive and mature, and the world needs to read them!

Mr Raisdana has kindly designed a new blog called Stories From Sudan. We would like to have as many of your articles showcased there as possible. The plan is that once they are all submitted and posted, we will share the site with the Dave Eggers and Valentino Deng as a gift. 

Because we want to showcase work that we are proud of, which reflect all the hard work, there will be some criteria for what makes it to the site. You can work on your article until it meets the following requirements. It must have: 
  • scored no lower than a 5 on any criteria. If you did score lower, you can work with me to write another draft and have it ready for publication. 
  • been edited one final time. Please resolve all my comments and be sure to work on the areas I recommended.
  • citations for all your names, quotes, facts, dates, stats, numbers etc....
  • a title, headline and by-line. 
  • any tags that are relevant to your article.
  • remove the footnotes (since that was more for me than anyone else)
Please make all edits on your google doc and email me your final draft by June 8th. I will then add them all to the blog.

It would be great to have a few student statements about this process:

  • reading the book
  • learning about Sudan
  • messages for Dave or Valentino or the people of Sudan or readers
We can add those bite size reflections to the blog as well.  

Good luck and please make sure you see me if you have any questions regarding the blog, the feature articles, the process.  

Stories of Sudan 
Photo: Sudan by

Monday, 29 April 2013

Where do good ideas come from?

A lot of great questions on creativity, innovation and originality coming out of the Grade 7 classes.  Here is the first clip we viewed together to get the conversation going.



What do you think?  Where do good ideas come from?  Do you agree with the idea of slow hunches colliding into each other?  What creative spaces can we carve and nurture today to allow for creativity to flourish?  :)  

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Welcome Back from Spring Break 2013

Just wanted to say welcome back everyone!

It's 10:18 pm on the last day of our two week break and yes, I am counting down the minutes until I need to wake up at 5am everyday again.  But I have missed you all and I am looking forward to seeing everyone again in the classroom again.  We have a lot of work ahead of us (eep!) so I hope you had a restful spring break and are now read to write, write, write and write some more.

So, what have you all been up to?  I guess, I will find out soon enough.  In the meantime, here is a poem  by Wendell Berry. I have certainly been a victim of this.  Sometimes it's okay, I guess. (Hello, Instagram girl, remember...)  but I wouldn't wish this on anyone's every time.  :)

The Vacation


Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.

Oh and what have I been up to?  Aside from reading your work and peeking into your google drive folders?  
Where I spent Week 1
Highlight of Week 2 

Yup. We got to see Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye live.  It was pretty awesome.  Here's a video of one of the poems they recited together. An oldie but a goodie. 



Anyway, I hope you guys had a great break.  Anything interesting happen to you?  Leave a comment or a link if you blogged about it?  


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Spring Break Project Prompt # 3

Trying another one:


Seems like it takes me a day to mull over these prompts.  So am thinking my post to respond to this prompt will come up on Friday.  But who knows, the writing muses might hit me tomorrow. Maybe.  What's would our bottled memory be?

Spring Break Project: "Invisible"

The second prompt went like this ...


The Invisible Person



Life kept rolling her over   
like a piece of driftwood

in the surf of an angry sea   
she was intelligent and beau-

tiful and well-off she made   
friends easily yet she wasn’t

able to put the pieces to-
gether into any recognizable

shape   she wasn’t sure who   
she wanted to be   so she

ended up being no one in par-
ticular   she made herself al-

most invisible   she was the   
person you loved so much who

really wasn’t there at all.



She was tired of being invisible. So she wrote her life story on the walls of her ancestral home.  Everyone will think it's a kung fu super hero's journey but in between the lines, she penned the most intimate and detailed story of the secret compartments and complicated intricacies of her existence. She wrote about her dreams, loves found and lost, sin and redemption, real forgiveness, surrendering and letting go.  She wrote about what made her angry, vulnerable and lonely. She also wrote at length about what gave her strength, integrity and joy.  She came up with lists upon lists of things she was grateful for.  And yes, a long list of regrets.  She drew some, stuck some and edited herself a lot. It took her 3 months, 2 weeks and a couple of days to feel satisfied with the telling of her story.  Once she was done, she took one tan vintage suitcase and walked out the door.  Nobody every saw her again but her story lives on.  Narratives are written everywhere -- books, journals, skin, walls-- she thought.  She chose to disappear in the end. But she will never be invisible again.  

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Spring Break Project Prompt #2

Here is the next one...
Prompt by Luke Neff
I will be on a plane and on the road for most of the day tomorrow so that should give me enough time to think of something.  What's your story? Give it a shot. 

Spring Break Project: "I see you"

The prompt went like this ...


“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I'm one of them.”



She sees you.  
Actually, IT sees you.
So she stopped using it, the camera.  
She watched it, from time to time though, just sitting there. 
Waiting. 
Pleading to be picked up.
Because it knew. 
The camera knew how much she loved to take pictures.  

But it was too much. 
Each time she took a photo she would see more than she should. 
More than faces and surfaces and patterns, she would see beyond eyeballs, skin and bone. 
Instead, she would bear witness to the deepest part of things she snapped.  
She would shoot someone - a stranger, a friend, a loved one, her self portrait - peer through the view finder to compose her perfect shot when the camera would tilt and focus and blur everything but what was most true about her subject at that moment.  
What was most unbearable to see were the hypocritical smiles of people she photographed.
Because underneath it all was this profound, abysmal ...
Sadness. 
Extreme, explicable, deep, inconsolable loneliness and despair.  
It didn't matter how big and wide their smiles were. 
She would see the gaping hole that mocked and ailed them. 
The camera wouldn't let her miss it. 
And after awhile, documenting people's pain didn't sit well with her.
Not anymore.
Magical?  What was so magical about capturing that? she asked nobody.

So, she stopped picking it up.
She let it just sit there. 
Waiting. 
Like a giant black widow spider waiting, preparing, eager to stab a little boy in the gut.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Spring Break Project and a Pledge

Hey, I have an idea...

It's the first day of spring break and the possibilities of what can be done during this time seem endless.  I love it that there's this space now and many hours to do the  things we always think about and wish we could be doing when we are extremely busy.  And yes, since coming back from Chinese New Year break,  it has been non-stop teaching and learning action, from reading class novels to discussing and now writing about those texts -- novel/fictionalized autobiography.  Anyway, now that we are here at the very beginning of spring break, the last thing I want to do is watch time slip away in between marking/assessing your work, TV shows, walks along the beach, reading books for pleasure and my recent preoccupation, gaming chapters (in this case, Limbo) -- all of which are worthy exploits especially during the holidays but as much as I want to rest and recover during this time, I also want to be productive and creative. Being creative for someone like me means writing and taking photos.  So, I'd really like to fill my time with words and images.  What does being creative mean to you?

Anyway, taking the photos won't be too hard.  I do it almost everyday through my iPhone and Instagram.  In terms of writing though, I want to be able to create opportunities to work on my craft during this break. No pressure just a promise that I will spend at least an hour everyday writing in these two weeks.  To help me, I will post a visual writing prompt every other day just so that I have a place to start, then use this blog (create a new entry) to write something, anything related to the prompt.  Some prompts I will pull from different areas in the internet, some I hope to create from my own photos and words.  :)

I am writing about it here because it would be great if you could join me.  I know, I've asked you write some kind of a draft for your essay or your feature article during the break and that's fine. (yeah, I love you too).

But maybe during your work breaks or between sight seeing or hanging out with friends, you will also find the time to engage in this Spring Break Project.  I'd love to see what you create and produce.  You can write, draw, compose -- anything, just as long as there is a written component to your creation.  Write me a comment below if you are interested. Then let's follow our RSS feeds to see what people post.  :)

Game?

For today's prompt, here's a simple one.   Give it a try ... as will I.
Prompt by John T. Spencer 

So yeah, a pledge and a project for Spring Break. Let the writing begin.  (Um, after I check everyone submissions in Google drive, of course. :) )

Spring Break Greeting

Well, here we are.  Getting ready to face a much anticipated break. Where did March go?  Anyway,  good luck with your submissions tonight and tomorrow.  Whether you are submitting the Feature Article task sheet for Grade 8 or the Literary Essay outline for Grade 7, I am sending you original, creative and innovative writing vibes.  We did a lot of thinking, discussing, asking questions and clarifying this week and now it's time to arrange our thoughts and insights into some structured form to be able to write about our understanding in a compelling way.

Looking forward to seeing all the hard work take its written form when we get back.

Don't forget to start writing a workable draft during the break so that we can workshop what you have first thing when we all get back.

 In the meantime, 

http://www.israbox.com/uploads/posts/2012-11/1352542578_va-keep-calm-and-chill-out-2cd-2012.jpg
Pick up a book while you are at it, why don't you.  I'll ask you about what you read for pleasure during the break as well.

Have an awesome, restful break everyone.