“In addition to teaching the how of writing (the craft and the conventions), I think we need to pay equal attention to the why:
-What motivates us to write?
-What makes us care deeply about writing so much that we spend hours and days revising to get our words just right?
-How can we help our students ‘ache with caring’ as Mem Fox writes, about their writing?”
Georgia Heard, Heart Maps, page 5
Last January, when I raised the question, “Should Educators Be Writers?”, the response from this community was clear: Yes, educators should write, should share with their students, should consider their own process when planning writing lessons, should walk the walk when it comes to being a teacher of writing. In this Two Writing Teachers community, we come together on Tuesdays to share a Slice of Life and use blogging as a means to express our stories, our voice.
But what if you are not a blogger? What other types of writing might you do? How might you use writing to tap into your personal passions? Are you writing a piece that makes you “ache with caring”? And in a chock-full, busy-every-minute life, how can educators find time for writing that is deeply meaningful, with the lens of replicating this experience for students?
I aimed to address these questions through a Long Island Writing Project workshop, presented on October 29th, “Pursue a Passion Project.”
I asked the participants to answer these questions on separate post-its, then consider what themes or commonalities emerged:
- If you could only write about one thing all year, what would it be?
- What are some things you like to do/make?
- What is one issue you feel very passionate about?
- If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
- What are 3 things you are good at?
Then, I shared with participants my own Passion Project. When considering the above questions, here are my answers:
- I love to write about my family and teaching,
- I love taking pictures and collecting quotes,
- I feel very passionate about literacy and teaching kindness,
- I would want a safer, kinder world
- I am “good” at technology (a little bit), listening, and writing
Those answers about my strengths and passions led me to a photo/poetry Passion Project for the month of October. My October has been…busy. It began with settling into the school year, my son’s 6th birthday, my husband’s 40th birthday, the NYSEC Conference where I was away for a few days, Parent Conferences, and Halloween still looms ahead. I wanted to find a way to remember the events of this month, to pay attention, to use writing and photographs to tell the story. I decided to take a picture a day and write a haiku for it. Most of the time, I used Word Swag to put the haiku right in the picture.
While a few days here and there sadly got missed, you can see the collection of my October Passion Project entries here.
For me, this project was something I could commit to, since haiku is a short, structured poem and paired nicely with the photographs I would take each day. I love looking back at how the month unfolded and the pictures I chose to highlight, the words I used to frame that moment. Each picture represents a meaningful moment in the month, forever captured with words along with the image. I shared this project with my third graders so they can see writing is something I live and breathe…really- not just for the mentor texts I share with them. In my honest-to-goodness life, writing matters.
What are your passions and interests? How might a writing Passion Project help you tap into the why you write and help you “ache with caring” about the writing you are doing? How might this influence your writing instruction? Please continue the conversation in the comments!
8 thoughts on “Pursue a Passion Project!”
Having just been a part of the workshop you hosted for the Long Island Writing Project at Nassau Community College, I want to join the chorus of voices that extoll your work. Not only do you embody passion in all your work, you do it with such joy and enthusiasm and a true sense of collaboration and sharing. Once again, you have inspired me to try some things I would not have thought of doing on my own. My only regret is that I didn’t meet you sooner, while I was still teaching, so my students could have benefited from your inspiration and ideas as well. I am still marveling at how you turned such an incredibly busy month in your life into such an awesome passion project. You go, girl!!!
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What a lovely project – wonderful way to record in photos and poems. I collect quotes and have been making art tags, or journal spreads to highlight them for a while now. I’ve done a number of 30 day challenges where I did just that.
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I love this post Kathleen. I love your nudge and inspiration. And I love the links to your padlet and presentation. Thank you for being such a great role model.
What a great idea for writing every day and capturing the fleeting moments of your children. You are an inspiration. Hope we get to meet face to face at NCTE!
Thank you Margaret! I always find inspiration in all you do and share as well. I’m sorry not to be going to NCTE… I will follow all the tweets and look forward to meeting you in person hopefully another time! ❤️
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Kathleen, I think this is one of my favorite ever posts you have written- and that is saying a lot, because I always love your posts! This real life, walking the walk post is just what I needed to read (and pass on- I have already shared it with a great friend/colleague and look forward to sharing it with my students). You are so inspirational!
Thank you Erika!! Wow… that means so much to me!
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