Ken Allan at Middle Earth has set the theme for this month’s Green Pen Society blogging. He asked for reflections on, “What gets you flying”? I am not a natural writer. I have experienced failure in writing on numerous occasions. I brought poems in grade ten to my English teacher. He gave a muted, less than enthusiastic response to my writing. I was discouraged. I regularly received grades of a “B” or less in university at twice the effort of my husband-to-be’s A papers. My comments were routinely something like, “A well-researched paper”. My mother often mentioned having difficulty making sense of my writing. I recall comments such as, “What are you talking about here?” Still, I became a blogger. Why? I was and am exploring the fun and features of the world wide web. I want to understand how it works, and what it can be used for. I write to save my ideas, play with avatar makers, learn to post pictures and videos. I enjoy hearing from people around the world and batting ideas around with them. I feel connected to some of my online colleagues and participate because of my relationship with them. I am inspired by my colleagues.
Having a blog was my Master’s project but I didnt’ quit when my Master’s was complete. I have floundered a little as the project was completed and I wasn’t sure how to continue and yet didn’t want to completely shut things down. I have not been sure of the purpose of my blog and not having a purpose made it difficult to post. My posts became less frequent and still are. I am beginning to see a place for myself in book reviews from a teacher librarian’s perspective. My reviews steer away from lengthy descriptions of plot and character and towards the possible connections and uses for the classroom. I am inspired by my work.
Mostly the reviews are for me. I want to remember authors and titles for future endeavours. I love hearing from authors. They pop up from time to time and comment on my reviews. Knowing they might be reading my reviews is a daunting idea. I want to give honest opinion but I may well hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t like that idea at all. I am hoping my awareness of author as audience will not make me censor myself too stringently. I have a great respect for authors, people who write well and make vibrant and believeable worlds into which I may walk. I am inspired by great books.
After reading Joyce’s post on avatars, I went to play at the make a Lego avatar site.
I really want to do this. I have a wish to be more creative, more interesting. Somewhere inside me I hope there is a writer an inner Robertson Davies or Madeline L’Engle. I know writing takes practice and I believe I can improve so when Paul at QuoteReflections started to invite people to pursue their craft in a more deliberate way, I knew I had to do it.
Photo by Arslan
Lately, I have had even more cause to believe I must start to cultivate my creative self. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight, has given me renewed hope my creative side exists and has simply been dominated by my more logical analytical self. Jill suffered a major stroke at the age of 37. She is a neurolanatomist and has written about her experience and its blessings. She experienced massive damage to the left side of her brain and found her right side experienced the world in quite a different fashion. Her right side was capable of great joy and being in the moment. Her left side organized her thoughts and helped her to communicate. (This is an extreme simplification, please read the book). She found with practice following her recovery, she could more deliberately choose which of her characteristics she would allow dominance.
“Some of us have nurtured both of our characters and are really good at utilizing the skills and personalities of both sides of our brain, allowing them to support, influence, and temper one another as we live our lives. Others of us, however, are quite uinlateral in our thiking – either exhibiting extremely rigid thinking patterns athat are analytically critical (extreme left brain), or we seldom connect to a common reality and spend most of our time “with our head in the clouds” *extreme right brain).
I believe writing and reflecting, drawing and painting, singing and playing an instrument have been past times which helped me to balance my natural tendencies to criticize and judge. I believe nurturing my other capacities will have some long term health benefits and perhaps even has eternal consequences. (That’s a philosophical discussion I don’t have time for).
I am intrigued by the alignment of the reading I have done sporadically over this year. Each piece has given me reason to take another step in the direction of developing my ‘right’ brain abilities. I am hopeful about the changes it may bring to me.
Thank you for the invitation Paul.
I know I have been a non-blogging blogger most of this year. I think I’m still getting a handle on what it means to blog when I don’t have to do it for my Masters work. I like the opportunity to write and publish but I struggle to do it as a regular task. Hence the sporadic work of this year. I need to find a way to integrate it into my practice. Still working at it.
I have a begun to reflect on the last year, my first as a teacher librarian. I have been able to start to work towards what I believe best practice in a library resource center means. I fall far short of my own expectations. I am hoping the gap between my ideals and my practice will continue to shrink over time. Or perhaps it will remain but the edges will move along the continuum.
I believe my job as a teacher librarian is to facilitate the use of the resources of the library in an integrated and meaningful way for students. I believe I need to work together with my teaching colleagues to provide this teaching in a connected way to the classroom experience rather than as an isolated library program. But which skills and at what ages? What activities suit Kindergarten and grade one? Which are more suited to grade three and four? Which do I really need to teach prior to grade seven and eight and what can be left for the grade sevens and eights as ‘new’ and exciting?
I am writing this post as a plea for ideas. As a result I will embed in it the names of my blogging community, in hopes that they will come and bring their friends to help me to think about library skills and technology in the elementary setting. Ok Blogosphere Doug at BlueSkunk, Doug in the Borderland, Paul over Reflecting, Chris Discoursing, Clarence with the Random Access, Joyce on her Neverending Search, Vicki the CoolCat, Scott who is Irrelevant, Rob in California, Alec in the Open, Carolyn in the Future, Jane on Books... I believe in your help, I have learned much from listening to your tweets and comments, by listening to your reflections and dreams and I know I comment far to little but please if you can, blog and ping me, comment or tweet your response. What should I do next year? The book exchange and read aloud are not fulfilling my dreams.
In response to Paul, at quotereflections, I am adding to the meme which makes a Wordle from your RSS feed. I am actually kind of pleased with it. I wish I knew a bit more about the numbers which make different colours in html so I could make a custom coloured Wordle but time doesn’t permit that exploration today. I’ve been able to reduce the word count and embed the code. That’s enough learning for the day! Like Paul, I’m finding them rather small. I wonder how to change that. hmm. If you click on it, it will take you to a page view or you can see it at Wordle.
I came on to my start up page today and found it was not responding. I was surprised how disoriented I felt. What no feeds to read? I debated whether to leave it and come back later or if I was going to need to do something about it. I started to rack my brain…”Which feeds do I have?” “Which do I really want to read?” and of course, “Do I really need to do this?”
I decided that I needed a back up plan. I have only one place where I store my feeds and should it be down for good, I would need to start over. I’m not really keen on the start over so I thought I’d use a second start up page as a back up.
I’m trying out iGoogle. It’s a wonder Apple hasn’t sued them for that, or have they? In any case. There are things I quite like about it. For instance, my Gmail account works seamlessly. I have a Gmail widget on my other start up page but this one has me all logged in and flips easily from one to the other. I miss a calendar which has Canadian holidays and I miss my Flickr feed which shows all kinds of pictures tagged “Colorful”.
All in all, my original start up page came back online and I now have a back up should it fail. It was a painless experience and I’m glad to have some familiarity with iGoogle. I can see the “Google Suite” being fairly handy. I just wonder how many eggs I want in that particular basket. I have a healthy skepticism of large business empires. Even ones with a”Do no evil” motto.
I have been thrilled with my connections within the blogosphere this year but particularly this week. It seems that whenever I have a thought or question, someone is there with me, not necessarily with answers but with shared experience, suggestions and personal insights. It is certainly the connections which bring me back to my feedreader and propel me to write. I know I am not a ‘writer’…
Interesting thought…what would it take for me to feel as if I was a writer? That’s a new connection for me to the ‘I’m not a reader’ debate. I write all the time, here, for work, for my own studies. I don’t write poetry or elegant prose. Here I am advocating for a broader definition of literacy and I’m using a very narrow definition of writer. Well, I’m no Vincent Lam, by the way he’s a must read author, but perhaps I ought to think of myself as a writer.
In any case, to those of you who read this non-writer’s writing, thank you! And thank you for lending your voice in comments and on your own blogs. You make my professional life richer.
We’re back at school and it has been quite the ride. It is something else to come off of leave into the ‘real world’. I have a marvelous staff and I’m not saying that simply because this is public. My principal is dealing with an unfinished renovation which shut down the main office, her office and the staff room and incomplete staffing. In spite of it all, we had a great first day. The kids came in all bright eyed and bushy tailed and the teachers all rested and confident. We had a lovely day, inside and out.
This evening, I sat down to start a blog for my classroom. I’ve told them about it in principle but they won’t be actively participating until all the kinks in the start up are worked out. I’m hoping to start with teacher lead posts, then individual student scribe posts and by after December, I’m hoping to have them ready for their own sites. I know it’s a slow start and I have a few blogging contacts who have been talking about being our pals but I need to get my feet under me first. New school, new grade, new students, a whole new process.
What was I thinking? It’s going to be great.
Doug J at Blue Skunk sent me to this quiz, here’s my score.
44% Addicted to Blogging.
I find the whole meme concept quite interesting and I like to participate for it makes me feel part of things but I’m with Clarence at Remote Access, in that they resemble a virus or at least a chain letter, which I would never dream of passing along so I’m not sure which I feel I should do, pass on the good inclusion feeling, thanks Kelly, or stop things here.
1) I’m recovering from blisters under my toenails, very painful.
2) I’m terrified about the coming school year because I spent this year at university and always feel like I am about to fail miserably when the new year starts. P.S. Don’t tell anyone!
3) I’m reading for fun and my list of reading for improvement is getting longer. Good to remember when encouraging children to read.
4) I am trying to find the balance between giving my kids too much and depriving them of the fun that things can bring.
5) I love to paint and design pretty things but get little chance to do it. I’m looking forward to teaching fine arts again this year so that I can make the sample projects for my class.
6) I have just discovered the joys and difficulties of Facebook. Interesting form of communication. I’m not sure I can see how to use it yet in a classroom and I have already experienced what slander looks like and I don’t like it.
7) I haven’t missed blogging and reading my feeds over the summer holiday and I wonder about how I will fit this way of working into my school life and how supportive or not my work environment will be. I think we have 12 computers in a lab 7 in the library and one in the classroom. What in the world will blogging look like there?
8) I am still on holiday and I dropped back in to play the game. These are definitely random.
No tags, I’ll second Kelly‘s list and side with Clarence in not passing it on.