Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘National Writing Project


Still relaxing from drafting my novel

I haven’t posted for over a month. 😦 First, all my free time was being dedicated to finishing the second draft of my novel. With it finally done, I felt too tired to come up with six words to describe my week.

Now I’m kind of back. I’ve enjoyed a couple of weeks of spending my free time on everything but my novel. This means I read some bestsellers, took lots of naps, and visited some writing boards. It’s been nice!

The reason I’m only kind of back is that nothing really jumped out at me to write to about my week. Yet I’ve missed Six-Word-Saturday. And so here I am. 🙂

There’s one week left to my time away from my novel. Then I’ll start reworking my outline and dreaming about my third draft.

That’s my week. What about yours?


My husband earned a needed raise

From the start of our marriage in April 2008, my husband and I have financially struggled.

  • I had spent all my money prior to our marriage on going back to school to become a teacher. Getting a Master of Education and teacher certification is not cheap!
  • Then there were the fees for my immigration lawyer. I’m originally from Canada and, believe it or not, it can be a hurdle to become an American resident.
  • Soon after our marriage, there were the high medical costs of trying to overcome infertility. Three years of trying to have a baby quickly put us into deep debt.

Although we managed to both get out of debt and to put aside thousands towards a house, it has been a challenge because we also have pets who grew into seniors and so now have their own share of bills. And of course it doesn’t help that I work only part-time and that my husband works in the educational field.

Neither position exactly brings in lots of money. Now my husband has finally gotten a raise, one which should help cover those emergency expenses that come with pet care. Or that come with life, such as car repair or even replacement. And that means we might finally be able to truly save for our dream home.

That’s my week. What about yours?


All peaceful on the school front

I’m exhausted, but in a good way. It’s been a hectic two weeks!

Two weeks ago, school started for teachers. Because I’m at a new school this year, I went in a day ahead to set up my room. The rest of the week mostly involved workshops, along with a few meetings. On the night after Open House, I went home and told my husband, “I’m going to bed.” It was only 8:30, but I felt mentally wiped. That describes my first week.

A week ago, the students came. As a resource teacher, I wasn’t expected to have lessons prepared yet. Instead, my main job was to pop into classrooms, get the feel of the curriculum, and meet the students on my caseload. Easy enough!

Or so I expected. As the week drew near to an end, I started having more and more conversations with the teachers for the grades whom I’ll serve. We soon realized that some more schedule decisions needed to be made. It was just yesterday, when I finally got my permanent schedule of classes that I’ll teach.

I start classes on Monday. Any guesses about how I’ve spent my Saturday?

At least though, I can list all of these accomplishments for the past two weeks: I can find my way around my new school. All my students have met me and seen my room. After several mammoth meetings, my schedule has finally been worked out. Materials that I’ll immediately need have been printed or at least sent to the print shop. And, thanks to hours today, lessons are good to go.

Partly because of these hectic two weeks, I did a lot of thinking about this blog and other writing commitments. In the future, my posts will be just as varied but less frequent. I’m also trying to keep more evenings open for unstructured time. I guess I’m showing my age, because I find myself needing to slow down on a regular basis.

That’s my week. What about yours?

Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos. This week, I’m posting photos taken during a writing marathon.

What is a writing marathon, you might ask? Basically, writers roam a designated area in small groups, pausing to write in 10 to 20 minute sessions, and then share their efforts. This summer, as part of the National Writing Project Technology Institute, I participated in my fourth.

At my first stop, I wrote about students at our university union. Then I switched gears and wrote an imaginary scene for my novel. At the last stop, I wrote about a construction site near the building where our class met.


WritingMarathon_PhotosEveryone has snapped photos of the elephant with the museum behind it. Everyone else captured the explanation sign beside the elephant statue. Everyone has else shared photos that they had taken of their friends posing by the elephant.  Everyone else.

I stood underneath elephant and drew its wrinkles. I stood next to the elephant and admired its uplifted foot; it seemed imposing to me and so the most interesting feature. I stood back from the elephant and squinted so that I could focus on just its eye.

Then I crumpled all those drawings, stuffed them into my pocket, and pretended to take a picture. With the camera I didn’t have. Because my family couldn’t afford one. Even though my mother could afford everything. Because my dad liked that I drew. He’s an artist too.

My writing teacher tells me that life is about details. My art teacher tells me that I never look at the big picture. And my friends tell me life is about them. Or at least that’s what my friends say whose opinion counts. The ones who hold the power. Not the ones who can be trampled on, like whatever was under that elephant’s foot. When my friends and I go to the mall, my friends are too busy posing to care about what the camera captures in the photo booth. Or too busy trying to hide to notice what the camera captures. And I sit in the middle, pulled into the pose, pulled out of the pose, and not really knowing what pose I want.



Something new. Something old. We use those ideas to pick out wedding outfits. Writing guides also use these challenges. So today I am sitting outside a construction site.

Something old. The metal orange and white warning sign is rubbed to silver in the center, with scratches to either side. It is propped crookedly up against a granite cement wall. The shale colored cement walls have cracked and are revealing their thinness and a layer of brick beneath. The granite white towering walls have orange rust and brown water streaks. Of the three vents, one is buckled on the bottom. I can see blue trash, maybe a pen top, through a slit. On the ground is fallen pieces of cement, small ones, next to cigarette butts. What most interests me though requires a closer look. There is a line of black rubber, with white carpet sliced between. It resembles hundreds of sandwiches. Standing next to them, I can see folded paper squeezed into cracks, drifted shards of leaves, and more cigarette butts.

Something new. I don’t suppose anything here is. But the grass is mowed and green. The trees are fat and in full leafy bloom. Branches and leaves lift towards heaven, a sign of vitality and life. A man walks by. A woman bikes by. These are new sights. Under the one tree, with wood scraps under it to keep out leaves are tiny shoots OF green. These would be from the spring. The closest perhaps to new that I am going to find at this construction site, which is all about renovation. Again, I need to take a closer look. The leaves of the weeds are long, narrow, and curved. The older leaves have a second growth, while the newer ones have short stalks. Even their leaves though show the signs of time, with white and brown wilting specks. All around me are things, which young or old, are already beginning to decay.

To find out more about writing marathons, visit the original founders at: New Orleans Writing Marathon

MusingMondaysWhat are you reading right now?
What do you think of it?
Why did you chose it?

Ever buy a book simply it is required? For the past few years, I have spent the month of June taking a course as part of my Teaching of Writing Technology. Each summer, the syllabus dictates that students purchase a textbook. This year was not an exception. Fortunately, the textbooks have always been around the $25 range. Sometimes I even end up enjoying them!

education online

education online (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

To be honest, I feel less happy this year than others about the purchase. My shelves already hold books about digital writing, especially those aimed at upper grades. Authors and instructors all too often tend to neglect discussion about how technology fits into the lower grades. Basically, The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks served as a refresher to me about blogs, wikis, collaborative word processors, and multimedia. He also talked about assessment, something which must be constantly on an educator’s mind. In itself, the guide is a decent overview, but so are the other guides on my shelf.

One quote however did stand out to me and present me with an HA-HA moment: “…. there is always the caution that when incorporating them into your workshop you could have your students spread themselves across so many digital writing spaces that they become either confused about or ambivalent to using the particular tools”. What are your favorite digital communication tools? Why are your reasons for disliking or neglecting others? His statement served nicely as one inspiration for the final project I have ultimately undertaken in my course: a survey of the best digital writing software for elementary students. Hopefully, it’ll serve to help me incorporate only the best ones.

What is your current read?


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