The Dragon that Breathed Water: Journal July 4, 2018

The first story I remember writing was about a dragon that spit out water instead of fire. I remember this being in the 2nd grade, although that could be off a year or two. On the merits of the story, I was selected to go read my story at the high school auditorium in Logansport, Indiana. The dragon was an outcast. No one would play with him. Eventually he saves the town with his freakish ability to spew water. Now, I can see that the story clearly follows the plot structure of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, literacy narrative

Looking back, I can see my elementary story was a version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

 

Second grade was also memorable for my teacher identifying what she thought were motor skills problems I had. She said I didn’t swing my arms correctly when I walked. I remember staying after school to draw circles on the board. I’d hold a piece of chalk in each hand and draw circles trying to get my hands to move in synch. Then I’d draw circles with my hands moving in opposite directions. It reminds me of what the mind and body have to do to dribble one basketball high and one basketball low. I just accepted my motor deficiency skills and did what I was told. I don’t know what my mom and dad thought of that teacher, but they mostly were teachers who supported my teachers.

I meant to focus on the story of my reading and writing. Maybe I’ll come back to that soon.

7 min free write total:  243

 

Twelve Places I’ve Lived: Journal Entry July 3, 2018

For the something like twenty-three years since I stopped living with my parents, I have moved a lot. This hasn’t necessarily meant I changed jobs a lot. After all, I worked at St. John’s University in New York for eleven years. I am able to remember how long I have been married by adding one year to my oldest’s age. Here’s to hoping I can continue to remember my daughters. It seems to be getting a little harder to remember my own. With a move to Boone, North Carolina on the horizon, I’m going to try and remember the places I’ve lived since I’ve been married.

  1. Megan and I started on the top floor of a tall apartment building on Church Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  2. We moved to Milledgeville, Georgia for graduate school and brought our daughter home to a three bedroom apartment.
  3. My second year of graduate school Megan worked as a resident director of a dorm and we lived there.
  4. When I got the job in New York, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment under Hell Gate Bridge in Queens.
  5. Megan and I bought our first house in Stratford, Connecticut.
  6. We moved back to Queens, this time to College Point where we used to sit in the park and look across the water to LaGuardia airport and watch the planes take off.
  7. We moved back to Connecticut, this time to New Canaan. It was another Church Street, this one up the street from the library.
  8. We moved to an old farm house outside of New Canaan where the neighbor offered our land lady a million dollars for the place so he could make it part of his backyard.
  9. Our family moved to Asheville.
  10. I also rented a studio apartment in Glen Cove on Long Island. I felt like the Great Gatsby might live up the street.
  11. Our family stayed another year in Asheville, and I moved from the rental to a different studio apartment, this one in Kew Gardens where the sound of the frequent trains on the Long Island Railroad woke me each morning.
  12. I’m now sitting in our home in Greenwood, Indiana. It’s sold. We don’t yet know where we’re going to live in Boone.

What to make of all those moves? I don’t yet have a theory.

Kept writing past 7 minutes today. Word count: 383

Writing with Nothing to Say: Journal July 2, 2018

Today is the first day I’ve sat down to write without knowing what I would say. Obviously, I could have just not written, but if I ask students to write regularly, they are going to be in this same spot, and I want to try and do what I will ask them to do: write when they don’t feel like they have something to say.

Is it my job–as the writing teacher–to help students make words come? Last school year, I noticed that many of the students in the classes I taught had trouble making words come. According to something Greenwood High School called the Senior Capstone Project, the students had to write twelve 200-word reflective journal entries. Lots of students could only come up with a sentence or two. I worked with many of these during free time at lunch or after school. I found myself asking questions like this:

  • Before the year started, what did you think about the project? Did you have any idea what your topic would be? Did you know anyone who had worked on the project? What did they say about it?

Students would write something like this: I went to see my mentor. The meeting went well. He showed me a project proposal. 

writer's block, fluency, journal writing

facing the blank page

I thought I could get the students writing more toward their 200 words. I’d ask them where their mentor worked. I’d ask them where they met. I’d ask if they were nervous. I’d ask who talked first. I tried to get the students to just go into more detail and make what they were writing a story of the meeting. I would tell the students that the answers to my questions should be put into the writing.

I thought my questions should fire the catalyst to write 200 words, but I found that I had to keep asking questions until the student reached the minimum writing requirement. The students hadn’t had much practice making words come when they needed words to come. Is this something that matters?

7 min writing word count: 337

Maybe next time:

  • Vonnegut’s writing desk
  • Memorable or useful experiences in the writing classroom
  • Somewhere to Live.
  • Places I’ve Lived.
  • Gluten for Punishment.