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.

Knee and Ankle Pain in Young Athletes: Journal Entry July 1, 2018

For at least a year, my daughter Charlotte–age 12–has complained of pain in her knees. She said they hurt the most when she was doing lunges in gym class. My sense was that her teacher was pretty good about emphasizing proper technique. We used to do a lot of lunges but we stopped doing them because of Charlotte’s knee pain. We were still doing some leg strengthening exercises, but today we had probably our worst day with her knees.

knee pain, quadriceps, young female athletes, overtraining, ankle pain, physical therapy

image from OrthoInfo

Charlotte has added that she has pain in both ankles and her achilles. Some guesses about causes of the problems:

  1. She’s a young kid growing and it’s common to have pain in the knees. However, what about the ankles.
  2. She is overtraining and since I resigned from my high school coaching position she has been training on playground courts instead of gym floors. I have noticed my own knees and back give me more trouble training with my daughters on concrete.
  3. To save her favorite basketball shoes from getting outside dirty, Charlotte has been training in more cross trainer / running type shoes.

I will research some of these key areas: overtraining, young athletes, girls, knee pain, and ankle pain.

We probably need to take some days off and that will give me more time to research some aspects of getting Charlotte’s knees and ankles to feeling better.

I imagine I will be able to find some physical therapist related exercises to help alleviate some of what is causing the pain.

I can adapt our strength and agility type training to focus on the core and put less pressure on her knees.

7 minute word count: 270


Accused of Being a Pessimist: Journal Entry June 30, 2018

We’ve accepted an offer on our house in Greenwood, Indiana. When you put a house up for sale, there are moments when you think it will never sell. Even with an accepted offer, most times I’ve been involved in the process, there are lots of highs and lows. I am the sort of person who tries to keep an even level of emotions. I have been accused of being a pessimist. For example, if we’re on a road trip and my daughters are excited about the hotel pool, I try and get them to at least be open to the possibility that the pool is going to be closed. Maybe there will be a problem with the chlorine levels? My writing here just reminded me of Wally World being closed. It can happen! There were some premature victory laps on our house sale. We hope this deal continues to completion.

William Bill Torgerson journal

It can happen! (image from Bad Idea T-Shirts)

We are moving to the Boone, North Carolina area. It’s where Appalachian State University is, and I will be a lecturer in composition there starting next fall. Boone is in Watauga County, very close to Tennessee and Virginia. I know that the county shares a border with Tennessee.

We don’t know if we are going to rent or purchase a home. The school set up in Watauga County is unlike what I am used to. There are eight K-8 schools that all feed into a high school in Boone that has an enrollment of approximately 1300 students. The school size is similar to where I was teaching this year at Greenwood High. However, unlike Greenwood which is probably one of the smallest geographical areas in the state, Watauga Schools are really spread out. There can be as much as 20-30 miles between schools.

Other news at our house? Our oldest got her braces off. My mom and youngests daughter’s birthdays are coming up. My sis is coming from LA for the 4th of July.

Maybe next time:

  • New Job, Looking back, Looking ahead, Giving up a high school coaching position

7 minute writing: 323 words

Thanks for reading!