Summer Joy 7.7.17

This summer hasn’t been life changing or full of crazy vacations, but I’m loving it!

♥  My new pens!   I love school/office supplies, even if I’m not ready to go back to school yet.

♥ Library Used Book Sales

♥ Being Barefoot (I hate shoes!) and finding a book full of poems (at previously mentioned book sale) about being barefoot!

♥ Plenty of fun with my son:  fireworks, trips to the mall, and delicious Oberweis Shakes with a game of chess!

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“She grabbed a gray crayon and put pants on me.” The Importance of Feedback

I have been in a writing slump, but then I read this post from Two Writing Teachers about the book Feedback that Moves Writers Forward.  It left me with food for thought, a book to add to my summer reading list, and inspiration for a blog post.

The feedback we give our young writers is so important, be it formally or informally.  Our words can encourage, lift, or stifle their work. I know this as a teacher, but have seen it up close as a mother.

My son will be entering sixth grade this fall and has loved drawing and writing since before he could actually write or read. Even before he entered Kindergarten spent his days filling page after page with drawings that made stories.

In Kindergarten, he loved to write books.  And since he was in kindergarten, his books were mainly pictures that he narrated for us.  I would come home from work and he would have stacks of pages, stacked up in a specific order, ready to share with me.  He would tell me what was happening, complete with dialogue and sound effects.


As you can see from the picture above, his characters didn’t have bodies.  The arms and legs came right out of the heads.  I got that developmentally he should have been drawing people with bodies, but he didn’t want to draw people that way.  At one point his teacher sent something home about this and I sat with him to help.  Turns out, he knew exactly how to draw the way she expected, he just didn’t like the way that looked.  He liked his way of drawing.   He was making an artistic choice. (One reason I try to find out WHY a student made a choice in his/her writing before dispensing feedback about it.)

You can see a video of him talking about one specific experience here.  “She grabbed a gray crayon and put pants on me.”    There have been plenty of times he told the story of his teacher “vandalizing” (the word Troy uses) his work.  I wasn’t there when this happened, I didn’t see it.  However, I did see how it affected him and his desire to create.

Luckily, since then, he has had teachers who provided feedback that made him proud of his work and encouraged to create more.  To grow. To move forward.  Teachers that read his personal blog and left him encouraging comments.  Teachers that return his hyperbole filled emails in the summer time.   It is because of those teachers that he will continue to move forward in his writing.


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I think of Troy’s experience every time I consider picking up a pen and writing on a student’s work.  How at the end of his elementary career, he still gets fired up about the teacher who didn’t like his drawings six years ago.

I very rarely write directly on my writers’ drafts.  Instead I leave comments on google docs, give verbal feedback in conferences, or use post-its.  My job is not to pick at each tiny mistake.  It is not my writing.  The writing belongs to a child.

My goal is not to create perfect writing, but motivated writers.

I can’t wait to get Feedback that Moves Writers Forward and learn more about moving my young writers forward!


I’m from…

I’m from colored popcorn.

From Pledge and wooden floors.


I’m from sleepovers and movie nights.

From summers in the pool.


I’m from paper and pencils.

From Oregon trail and dial-up.


I’m from divorce and tense pick-ups.

From being the in-between.


I’m from support checks carried back and forth.

From “Your father…”


I’m from kids table and rules.

From “Do as I say, not as I do.”


I’m from messages and stresses

That I don’t want Troy to be from.


What will Troy be from?

That is up to me.

SOL #26 – Weekends Without Him

Weekends without him

Are horrible.


Even when they are fun,

They’re sad

Because he isn’t with me.


It’s been two plus years,

And it doesn’t get better.



But then comes Sunday,

When I get to pick him up

And hear about the past three days.



In a rush,

Stories mixed together,

Out of sequence,

About Friday’s escapades

With friends.

And everything else

Since I saw him last.



“It pains me.

The Crossover won the Caudill.

But that’s not what pains me…

The kids who read most

Of the books on the list

Won a Barnes and Noble gift card.

It pains me.”




SOL #20 – Standing Strong, But I Don’t Want To…

“Please?!?  I promise I won’t ask for anything!”  my son begged as we drove past.

“No.  We aren’t going.”  I was adamant, on the outside anyway.

“Why not?   I won’t ask.”

“No, you’ll just look at me and I’ll end up buying you something,” I replied.

He shrugged.  It was true and he wouldn’t deny it.

I was resolute and we didn’t stop at the store.  But, it was extremely difficult because I wanted to go as much as he did.   Where you ask?  The bookstore!  #proudmommy  #raisingareader #heismyworld

SOL #19 – I am listening.

Several ideas for slices

Have crossed my mind today.

But each time I start to write one,

It is starting to come together,

And then Troy starts to talk to me

About our dog,

About his idea for a graphic novel,

And then it is no longer coming together…

But I will never turn down a chance

To listen to my son.

If I stop listening,

He might stop talking.

So today’s slice must wait,

Because life is happening

And I am listening.


SOL #12 – Baseball – Our Way!

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI stood about five feet from Troy.  The fluffy Angry Bird stuffed animal made contact with the Styrofoam bat that Troy was swinging.  The bird came straight toward me, but above my head. Fear filled me.  Although it was fluffy, the bird could still hurt if it hit me at that speed.  As it whizzed past me, I spun to see where it was headed.

“No! Not again!” I shouted, knowing that I was going to loose by a large margin once again.  I was frustrated that at only ten, my son’s athletic ability had surpassed mine by so much –  his team always wins against my Boston Baguettes.

I reached up for it, but was way too short.  The bird soared into the light, hitting the light bulbs and passing through the air and into the kitchen.  Suddenly, the room became much darker. Two of the three light bulbs were broken.

It was a home run for Troy, but he only got halfway to first base when he realized that he had broken the light.

“Oh, fudge-muffins!”  he said.   He stopped and looked at me, afraid that he would be in trouble.

I just looked at him, then glanced at the light, and then back at him again.  Did that really just happen?  Yes, in fact it did.  And after several seconds that seemed like minutes, we burst out laughing.

“Did you see that?”  he said, realizing that I wasn’t mad, just shocked.

Since that day, the light bulbs have been replaced…several times.  It is the memories that last forever, light bulbs are just things.  And this memory has become one of Troy’s favorite stories to tell.