The purpose of this blog is to provide a space to share teaching ideas that deal with writing - K to 12.
Recently, I have been working in schools, implementing the Calkins' Units of Study that are aligned with the CCSS. This program and the rubrics that accompany it are often used as a framework to meet proficiency guidelines.
I will continue to post articles that support these processes.
Please join in.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Here is a short article on writing as well as several on closing out the year. Choice Literacy is one of the best resources for teachers. Take some time and look at their products. They may be a fit for you and your staff. Enjoy.
The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.
Hubert H. Humphrey
of the best writing I read every day comes from the most unlikely
source, a local Facebook page. I know my audience of Big Fresh readers
is gaga about literacy, but do the math on this one. How does a
community of 35,000 people in Maine get over 50,000 "likes" on its
police department Facebook page? The answer for the Bangor Maine Police
Department is this: they create a chronicle of the goings-on in the
department and city that is almost always funny (and sometimes
poignant), with loads of photos in the mix. I can’t count the number of
times I’ve laughed out loud at a post, and marveled at the wry humor and
skills of the writer. The tales on the page have been described as a
cross between The Andy Griffith Show and The Wire, which is apt. You can view the Facebook page here:
I interviewed Sergeant Tim Cotton, who authors the Bangor PD
Facebook page, to see what tips he has for teachers and school leaders
who want to do more with their social media posts. He explained, “I’ve
always liked to write. My process is pretty simple – I write what I’d
like to read about. I work with 100 people in this building dealing with
35,000 people in the community, so I’m sitting on a pile of great
stories. The officers are terrific about providing photos, and I often
just stare at a picture and start writing about the story behind it.”
I asked Tim about the humor in his writing, since humorous
writing is probably the most difficult genre. “The key for me is to
never make fun of the subject, but to make fun of myself and our
department. Self-deprecating humor always works. I have flaws, I make
mistakes, and that makes people see I am just like them. You can make
light of your work without denigrating other people."
"I flew out to a cold case conference in Pennsylvania a few
years ago. The speaker before me was a forensic anthropologist. He
started his presentation by saying, ‘I have skills none of you have. No
one here can do this work but me.’ All 500 people in the room
immediately hated that guy, because he told them he was the smartest
person there (which was probably true). When I spoke, I began by saying,
‘I’m here because I’m a failure. I can’t solve this case, and I need
your help. But hey, I did get a free trip paid for by the government to
Pittsburgh!’ Everyone laughed and was instantly on my side. The
presentation wasn’t as polished or as brilliant as the forensic guy’s
slides, but the audience was with me."
"What it comes down to is we’re all average, and we all have
gifts. If your humor conveys that truth, you’re going to connect with
everyone reading your writing.”
Sergeant Cotton had a few other tips for crafting popular
social media posts and building an audience,, some of which will come as
no surprise to anyone who teaches writing:
Write every day.
Tim writes first thing in the morning, usually at 4 or 5 a.m., and
tries to post twice a day. “Some days, I’ve got nothing, but just
sitting down and making myself write makes me come up with something.”
Ask staff to share stories.
If you can get them to take a photo (preferably with no identifying
features of people in the photo), all the better. Teachers and school
leaders are also “sitting on a pile of stories” just like Tim – but do
you have a process in place for collecting them?
Use your mascot.The
“Duck of Justice,” a lowly wooden mallard, appears on T-shirts for the
Bangor PD purchased by fans throughout the country, and in many photos
on the page. Most schools have a mascot – do you have a small stuffed
version of that mascot you can use in photos or bring out into the
When all else fails, post a picture of a dog.Seriously, or post a photo of a cat, or any other pet. “People go crazy for animals on Facebook,” said Tim.
Tim Cotton does what many would say is impossible – he manages
to write about the work of the police in a way that is fun, inspiring,
and informative. Teachers are also in a profession that is often
criticized in the media, but we know there is joy to be found in the
stories in our midst. If you have plans this summer to rethink how you
use social media to share those tales, I hope Tim’s writing gives you
some ideas for putting your work out there in your community.
This week we share ideas for closing out the school year strong. Plus more as always -- enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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