One Word

I am curious. Have you ever used this writing prompt? Create an “I Am” statement; fill in the blank with an adjective; then defend that choice in a paragraph or series of paragraphs.   Jim Burke frames this writing invitation in The English Teacher’s Companion as a way to begin argument and understand the purpose of a basic topic sentence and/or a thesis.  I have used it many times just to get something down.  If you’re contrary, you might write, I am not _____________.  I find that the trickier of the two, and today I’m not capable of anything tricky.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a webinar, “3 Cool Tools for Persuasion,” offered by the Source for Learning, their Teachers First website an almost-overwhelming resource aggregator, and their OK2Ask trainings impressive.  Why do I find myself attending multiple online professional development opportunities each month when I am no longer practicing my profession?  I am curious.  If I’m honest, while I’m not ready to undertake teaching again…yet, I do intend to at some point.  I want to know what is going on in the field that has shaped my life.  I don’t want to miss anything!

Tomorrow School Library Journal will be featuring the latest in graphic texts for young adults.  That is the theme of Shelf Life, my vlog, this month, so I can’t miss that, either.  I read a lot, and fast, which has helped me in my efforts to remain current, but it’s work —I don’t get paid, but I learn a ton…payment of a different sort, a bit like teaching.  When I sit down to write my script or record the fifth take, I imagine how it will turn out.  I had not known what it would be like to collaborate with my husband on a project, or how involved iMovie could be; now I wonder what else we can try.

The Oregon Council of Teachers of English (OCTE) is having its Spring Conference next month in Ashland, home to the renown annual Shakespeare Festival.  Within the first two weeks of relocating here, I joined the organization and have signed up for the Conference.  My husband will be able to reconnect with a friend from high school that he hasn’t seen in forty years while I learn more about Shakespeare —former students have performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream with enthusiasm—and “deepen [my] teaching practice.”  It does not matter that I don’t have a classroom of my own.  I am all for deepening; I’m curious.

As a retirement gift, my best friends from work paid for the tattoo I had spoken about getting when I’d left the middle school classroom at long last.  One word, both noun and verb:









9 thoughts on “One Word”

  1. Love this idea of writing with the start of “I am…” or “I am not…” You’ve inspired ideas in me. Thank you!! LOVE the tattoo! Interrobang is my FAVORITE form of punctuation!

  2. I am curious. This is what I would defend about myself first. I love this idea. It is a great compliment to the work we ask our readers to do when naming the character traits in the books they are reading. Just like your own traits, what is the evidence? Love your tattoo as well, curious about what you think about the significance of the word “wonder” in the book, “Wonder”!

  3. I never really thought about Palacio’s novel when I decided on the word “wonder.” (I’d been planning on this tattoo for years, long before I retired. Teaching eighth graders is tricky with things like tattoos. They notice everything, so getting a tattoo that is highly visible needs pondering—audience, right? It’s not my only tattoo, but the other on my calf is far less obvious.) The best things about that novel for me are the monthly precept, especially, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind,” and the realistic way Augie’s sister is portrayed, her struggle with defining herself in a family that has been circumscribed by her little brother, much-adored though he may be.

  4. I also love learning, so I connected with your slice. I love the TeachersFirst webinars. I wanted to do the one last night, but I didn’t make it. I hope it was a good one!

  5. Your pairing of the “if you ARE contrary,” try “I am not” followed by your “this one is tricky” and “I’m NOT capable” showed off the complexity of this idea in one small way. Very intriguing.

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