Monday, March 4, 2013

Slice of Life #4: Maybe I'm in the Wrong Challenge

Doing this writing challenge has got me to thinking about my relationship with writing. As a young person, I always preferred Science, Music or Math to anything that involved reading or writing. I liked puzzles and solving problems. Writing was always challenging (and boring) for me. My handwriting was always a frustration for my elementary teachers and so I loathed doing anything with it.

In high school, I had the formulas for writing down pat. My teachers taught me: grabber, introduction, thesis, body paragraph (topic sentence, proof, explanation, quote, concluding sentence), concluding paragraph, summary, clincher. It was a chore. And the red pen markings - ick. When I went to college and grad school, I would work hours on papers and often get Bs and Cs. Professors could never explain to me clearly what I needed to do to improve my writing. I liken my feeling toward writing to when my students say, "I've just never been able to do Math."

When I write my best, I have a clear mind, a quiet room, and hours to work everything to be just right. And most importantly, I write my best when the task is meaningful or it is something I enjoy.

Maybe somewhere out there there is a challenge where I can solve puzzles and share Math strategies with other nerds like me. I'm sure there's a collaborative Math teacher site where I can learn more about teaching to the Common Core.

But, in the mean time I will stay committed with the hopes that my feelings toward writing might change at least a little bit before March 31.


  1. Here is to you continuing this writing challenge and finding ways that writing is true to your expression of YOUR life. Much of the reading we do as adults is in the non-fiction arena. Maybe you can explore this in your writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Write about math! I would love to read slices about math. I've been giving myself a hard time than usual as far as thinking I've chosen the "right" thing to write about each day this month. I'm not sure why I've put that obstacle in my path, but reading other people's slices is helping me remember why I love this challenge: it's whatever I want it to be, and my posts don't have to be polished. I'm still straining against that -- annoyed that I didn't spend a few hours carefully crafting today's slice, for instance -- but I'm going to keep pushing. I hope you will, too.

  3. I think that your feelings so accurately sum up how so many of our students feel! Some just gravitate towards math and science while avoiding anything that's related to reading and writing. I'm just the opposite but can appreciate both sides of the fence!

  4. Here is the all too true account of what many students experience. It's called "School Writing"....

    I did not learn to write in school. It wasn't until my inability was made clear by my college honors English profs and when, later, I stumbled into teaching a small high school English class, that I decided, "These kids are not going to college without knowing how to write."

    That began a long search and a series of reinventing about every mistake we well-meaning teachers make.

    My sense of teaching writing changed when I encountered writers workshop and units of study through Lucy Calkins and the NY Teachers College Writing Project. And that bit only happened because I got involved with my local writing project as a teacher wanted to see how other teachers taught.

    I was given such positive support for my writing, besides my teaching, that I got hooked.

    This challenge is good for me because I've needed a format to write every day since I work 1.75 jobs.

    All the best in your quest!

  5. Rob,
    You feel about writing about the way I feel about math. As I read though I realized I often think about writing like a puzzle. When I read the writing of others I'm constantly trying to puzzle it out. How did they arrange their work? What did they do to craft the piece to make it interesting? When I write I also puzzle it out trying to get the words to fit together. I'm glad you have joined the challenge as I enjoy reading your slices. Of course, by the end of the challenge you might not be too happy with me. :o)

    I saw this Virginia Woolf quote on a blog today, "So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say."