SmartQuote from Yesterday's ASCD SmartBrief:
"I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it."
This ReadWriteThink lesson eases students’ fear of interpreting complex poetry by teaching them an inductive strategy with which they determine patterns of imagery, diction, and figurative language in order to unlock meaning. Although the lesson uses Seamus Heaney’s “Blackberry-Picking,” this strategy can be applied to a variety of poems. The lesson was written by Lane Dye of the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project (KMWP)
at Kennesaw State University.
I've been puzzling on this overnight. Rereading. Highlighting the freewrite from yesterday. I just continues to feel as if there's something wrong. I do think that my problem is the rhetorical situation of a rhetorical situation, and maybe the metacognitive nature of what I'm trying to do is just mixing everything up. I can't figure out which situation I'm trying to work on at which moment. This really shouldn't be that difficult. If it is just good old classic audience/purpose/voice, I should be able to figure it out blindfolded (which I may be eventually since my glasses STILL aren't in, but I'll post that later).
It all just feels absurd. I know all this stuff. Why can't I write about it? What is causing all the roadblocks (other than pressure and stress)? Usually I can write under pressure, so I'm really not able to believe that that is the problem.
Maybe though this complexity is part of the reason that teachers have problems at times with what I'm talking about in the manuscript. It's an awkward thing to think through. No wonder people have trouble with this. I need some brilliant observation to get this darned thing going :(
Labels: My Writing
Good grief. I'm an idiot. Okay, I know what's wrong with the old text. I was trying to write down the process of creating lesson plans and calling it something else. Most of the text that I have has to go in the trash. I'm starting over with the right topic, but I can't figure out HOW to start. I'm so lost. I've spent the entire day trying to figure out how to frame this thing and get going.
My list of ten steps or guidelines or whatever the devil they were is gone. Now I have 3 things, and I'm not sure if they're components, characteristics, steps, or what. I'm so confuddled that now I'm making up words. I've nearly rubbed my eye raw (damn you dermatitis) I'm so stressed over this stupid chapter. I just can't figure out what to write or how to write it.
So now we're back to freewriting, though it really doesn't feel all that freeing I have to say. If I were a writing teacher looking at me, I'd tell me to stop screwing about and just write the damn thing. The challenge is that I need to figure out the structure. Hell, I'm not even sure what these three things are. How can I just write? I don't know what I'm calling or how they fit together until I figure out what they really are.
Okay, let's try an analogy. I can't really talk about the topic of the book because, well, never mind that, because I can't. So an analogy. Let's say that I was writing about preparing a meal and these three things aren't really courses or recipes or even the steps in getting the meal ready. Hmm. Maybe the meal is more like a buffet. People coming to it have to choose their own food and the three things would be something like (1) deciding on the event basics, (2) exploring the necessary preparations and work, and (3) putting everything out there so hungry fools can gather foodstuffs to their plates. That's not really quite right either though. Those things really are steps and they have to happen in that 1-2-3 order. I'm not dealing with things which have an absolute order. Certainly some orders are more sensible than others, but the process would be fluid and shifting.
Hmm. Maybe they're roles. Forget about that buffet. You're a restaurant owner. You crazy, eccentric, epicurean entrepreneur-type thing, you. You have a crew of various chefs (sous, pastry, head, and otherwise) and various other required peoples (bartenders, snotty maitre d, actors/waitstaff, etc.). You have to accomplish three general things to help all these people do their jobs: (1) define what they are supposed to do, (2) clarify your expectations (no damned tofu in this restaurant), and (3) provide all the stuff that they need to get their jobs done.
But those aren't really roles, are they? They're objectives or goals or something. Your roles would be something like (1) visionary, (2) whatever-t-f this would be, and (3) provider/supplier. Hell, now it sounds like a drug dealer is involved. Well, a drug dealer or god. "The provider" is surely something out of Star Trek. They have to be objectives, purposes, goals, something of that sort. I can't even name them sensibly as roles.
Okay, do goals work? Well, if they're three goals for the overall end product, they're better than steps or something since goals do not HAVE to be accomplished in any order. That gets rid of the 1-2-3-step process problem. Objectives can be interdependent. That's good, because some of what I have really lumps similar things under more than one of these items.
Objectives seems like the right idea, but it didn't seem right earlier today when I tried it. What changed? Maybe part of the roadblock is whose goals they are? Maybe that's why goals didn't seem right before. They're the owner's goals, not the restaurant's. Does that work though? Has THAT been the problem? Is it that I've been trying to explain how to serve dinner, but my structure is based on the owner's goals? That would certainly help confuse things anyway, though it doesn't quite explain it properly.
Okay, let's try more. I have to make this damned thing fit or I fail and then I don't even know what will happen to me.
- The chapter is about the owner's role in running a restaurant, and it explains the 3 main tasks that the owner must complete to fulfill the role as owner?
- The chapter is about the owner's goals for running a restaurant, and it explains the 3 main tasks that she must complete? Is that the same thing?
- The chapter is about the way that a restaurant is run and focuses on what the owner does to make it happen.
- gah. I'm going to be sent away to live in a cardboard box under the overpass.
- The chapter is about the job of the restaurant owner, or maybe it's the restaurant manager, that might work better. The chapter is about the job of the restaurant manager and outlines a 3-part job description, the three things that the manager is responsible for doing to ensure the success of the restaurant.
That last one feels closest, but if it's right, are they objectives? Are the tasks that someone has to accomplish in some position that person's goals in that position? Are these damned things steps? tasks? to-do's? The restaurant manager's to-do's: a bestseller by tengrrl. Flock to Amazon for your copy now. Autographs available upon request. I'm going to lose my mind.
Hell. Maybe I do know what the disconnect is. I'm looking at one of my sheets of notes and trying to fill in the analogy and figure out what's wrong:
The restaurant manager's role in creating xxx, what the manager sets as objectives for each xxx in order to help employees do their best work.
Maybe the problem is the "xxx"—I'm not defining the point of these things clearly. Or I'm misdefining it. Is my problem that I have two different definitions working. At times, "xxx" is, let's say meals. So the manager's role in creating meals. But at other times I think I'm trying to make the steps fit the goals of the meals themselves. That is the goals of the meals not the goals of creating the meals. In ways, for the real topic, there is overlap, but the goals of the two things are not identical. Is this the problem? If you're still reading at this point, go find some liquor for both of us. Maybe that would help.
Okay. The chapter is about the restaurant manager's job to create "dining experiences" (the manager has gotten snooty at this point). It outlines the three objectives that the manager must fulfill for the employees to do their best work in
creating those dining experience. No. that's not right either. The manager isn't creating the experiences, but setting up what's needed for the employees to create the experiences. The manager creates the environment in which employees do their best work. This restaurant is getting on my nerves. Rereading things......
Um. Perhaps I've been banging my head against the wall for all this time, and the problem is that I'm not applying what I know as a teacher to a discussion of how to teach. I realize that may not make sense. Then again, has anything in this entry really made sense? It's just occurred to me that these three steps may simply be part of figuring out your rhetorical situation as a writer. If that's the case, I'm a dolt.
I've spent all this time trying to figure out what the teacher is trying to do when she writes, arrived as these three things, and it never ever occurred to me to step back and look at all that as a writing activity for the teacher. Moronic. I am beating myself with my copy of Kinneavy. Good grief. Is that it? It's taken me an hour and a half of freewriting and DAYS of squirming to figure out the blatantly obvious? It's so screamingly obvious that I'm not sure that I trust it.
But everything I'm reading fits. All my scribbles, bulleted lists, chunky headers. It seems
like that is the answer. Even the original focus problem makes some sense. I went off down the road of "how to write a lesson plan" when I should have been on the shorter path of "determining your rhetorical situation when writing a lesson plan." It's no wonder nothing fit.
hmm. Okay, I'm going to put this away while it seems to fit, go to the grocery store and the Hallmark Store (ornament debut weekend!). If it still makes sense tonight when I'm watching the football game, then (1) I'm a blind idiot, and (2) it's right.
Labels: My Writing
After a bit of a meltdown around noon, I've been sitting here at the computer trying to figure out chapter 4. Meltdown? Well, it's just that I haven't had a moment to write this week, even though I MUST finish this book this month and I have at least 3 chapters to go. When one more thing appeared that it seemed like I was going to have to work on today before I could get to the book, I lost it. I cried in three different offices, the bathroom, and on my way to those locations. I feel like I'm under so much pressure to get this thing done, and yet I don't have any time to actually get it done. So my dear boss proclaimed that other things could wait, and that I could indeed write this afternoon.
That brings us to my current situation. First I read what I had written last weekend to figure out where I was and pick up the explanation. I wrote a bit, connecting gaps that I left in the text and trying to continue through the outline. At a certain point, I decided that maybe I needed to stop the entire process and write the lesson plan that will ultimately accompany this chapter. Then, I thought, I can go back and write this prose description of the process of putting it together. Yet it seemed problematic to stop what I'm doing this close to deadline to write something else altogether that absolutely will not be text I can just drop into the chapter.
Sigh. So I kept trying to write the chapter. Maybe an hour ago, I decided that what I was doing was just all wrong. There's too much bloody detail. It would NEVER make it into the final book. Here's an example:
As they work, I ask questions to help them consider everything they are authorities in:
I also remind students that they're just brainstorming. They will have the chance to go back later and remove anything that doesn't seem to fit. For now, they're just writing down everything they feel they know a great deal about.
- Do you play any sports?
- What about work?
- What about your hobbies?
- Do you play video games?
- Are there places that you're an expert on?
- What about animals and plants? Any you know a lot about?
- Are you an expert on any television shows or movies?
- Are there any musicians or kinds of music you know well?
Um, no. It's surely what I would do if I were teaching this writing activity that I'm talking about in Chapter 4; but it's just too much. Too basic. Too stupid to include. So I pulled my current touchstone Both Art and Craft
off the shelf AGAIN to check my thinking. Diana Mitchell doesn't even begin to use that kind of silly detail. It's all wrong.
So then there was another bit of a meltdown, though it was contained to my cubicle. What the hell am I doing? I no longer know what this damned chapter is about. It's never felt right, and now I'm realizing that the text that I do have is all wrong. So the rereading started. I reread the text for Chapter 4, which begins with an list of items that forecasts what the chapter will cover. I tried to fill in jot notes under each of the ten (who woulda guessed?) steps/guidelines, and dragged text around to move some of it into different steps. The more I've looked at it, the more redundant and overcomplicated it looks. So I tried to narrow it down, rearrange the items, or SOMETHING. That's when I noticed that four of the ten items were some assessment related thing—and it's NOT a book about assessment.
I began rereading the whole manuscript, because I don't know what else to do. I don't know what is right. I do know that what I have is very wrong. It's focused, but it's not really right. I think it starts on the right track, but then it derails into overwhelming detail. So back to reading, and trying to figure this mess out. If I don't get it soon, the breakdown will be very problematic. I don't know what I'm going to do.
Labels: My Writing
I may (I hope, I think, I dream) be unstuck. I rewrote an ending for Chapter 3 and started trying to figure out the structure for Chapter 4. In total, I probably wrote only 3 or 4 pages over the weekend; but I do think there's enough there to know what I'm trying to do. Unfortunately there are just starts of things. I didn't finish any of the blocks of text.
October 11 is National Coming Out Day
, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. This year's theme, "Talk About It," focuses on the importance of discussing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues openly and honestly. These NCTE resources explain how language arts and composition teachers can "Talk About It" in the classroom.