Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Writing and Rock Stars

This is slice #22 of 31 for the  Slice of Life Story Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers

I met Linda Rief nearly ten years ago. She was in Orlando for a conference and stayed a night or two at Janet Allen's house. I lived in the same neighborhood and when Janet couldn't take Linda to the airport, I volunteered.

The airport's only a 20 minute drive the neighborhood. Though I live in a rural part of Orlando, we have quick access to a highway that takes us straight to the airport and into town. I was driving a tan Honda CRV and there were probably cheerios in between the seats.  I didn't have time to vacuum, but I swiped my sleeve across the dash and ran a tissue over the console.

I read Linda Rief's Seeking Diversity as a beginning teacher while in graduate school. It shaped many things I did in my own classroom from how I structured independent reading time to the self evaluations I used for exams at the end of the year. She is a teaching rock star and I had her in my car! On the way to the airport, I talked to her about writing, writing about teaching and my classroom.

I have always written. In journals, on napkins, on canvas, in cards. I love the act of writing. The feel of ink taking flight over paper. The landscape of memory that blooms in my mind when I take the time to connect and reflect. I (mostly) enjoy writing, but I  wondered.

On our drive I told Linda that I wanted to write about my classroom, but I didn't want to just repeat what others had written. What could I add to the conversation that hadn't already been described?  By Atwell and Rief and Allen and Pilgreen and Krashen (and now Gallagher and Layne and Miller). I've never forgotten Rief's reply, "What you say will be different because it is your story. Write your story."

I've written part of my story in an e-book format that will be published by Stenhouse later this year (spring, maybe summer depending on production). My first story is about reading and technology: Reading Amplified. The book will share everyday ways to integrate technology. It's going to include tutorials for teachers who want to learn a few new tools.  I'm excited about the book (and that revisions are nearly finished!) But today, I'm more excited about spring break.

I'm heading north for spring break. I leave Saturday morning. My brother lives not an hour from Linda Rief's school. I'm going to spend a few days in her classroom learning. My mom bought me the plane ticket for my birthday. I'm going to recharge, refocus, renew what I believe about teaching and learning language arts. And you know what? I'm going to tell her I finally took her advice.

I can't wait!


  1. That's great. Good luck with the story and the ebook publication. And I hope you bring back some sharing from Linda Rief's classroom.

  2. Congrats on the ebook publication--very exciting. Linda Rief is a very wise woman. "Write your story." Isn't that the perfect advice?

    1. By the way, your self-evaluations for the end of the year are fabulous! I do something similar, but no where near as detailed. Love what you have done.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful time--and congrats on your book!

  4. Jealous! I love my ELA rock stars too.

  5. Congrats on the book! Enjoy spring break.