Friday, January 17, 2014

A Freebie for my followers as promised

My Sale starts today!

        Please just go to this website and grab the following below. In true fashion, I am offering two posters that praise the value and merits of creative writing in the classroom, but also elevate the person who writes. I feel reading these posters makes you feel good, and makes you not only want to write, but makes you be a little kinder to others. Best of all, it's completely free.


                          Here is a copy of one of the posters. If you like, go
to the store and download it now!!!

God Bless and enjoy yourself and your students.

Gina (PerfettoWritingRoom).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A thank YOU to Everyone, A 20% off sale, Plus Added Freebies....So what does THAT Mean???

Hi everyone. I wanted to invite you OFFICIALLY to my store with a 20% off SALE, kicking off the NEW YEAR.

      This means that you can buy, or not if you don't want to.

      It also means you can browse and get to know me, my products and what I do.

      Lastly, it's an opportunity for you to download at least one free item. WHY?

             Well, I know many people have "click here for the freebie." I don't have that yet, but rest assured, I am working on it. SO, in the meantime, take a virtual stroll down the Main Street of my town and take a look. I sincerely hope you find some fantastic bargains. Here is my flyer. . .

God Bless, and Happy New Year, Happy Writing and Creating to you all.
Gina (PerfettoWritingRoom)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A love letter to creativity in general and creative writing too

I have often lamented the loss of art, music, creative writing and other creative arts in the school system. I also tire of the never-ending struggle to keep these classes, the anxiety about funding cuts, or the feeling teachers have that they need to "justify themselves" when they add creative elements that may "detract" from other lessons deemed more essential.

I am astounded that some people still think creativity = easy and bad. Is learning a musical instrument and musical notation easy? Is writing a short story easy? I can attest, as can many of my students (and I'm sure you can as well) that creative tasks require more of your faculties and brain power, a wider array of skill sets, and both sides of your brain than many other tasks do.

I was once accused of not teaching properly, or sufficiently, when I introduced my high school students to children's books. It was a fiction class. The goal of this particular activity was to have the students analyze a number of children's books and picture books and come to series of conclusions about the way these books are written, their font size and placement, etc. in order to learn and then create their own complete creations. The department head only thought I was making a "dumbed down" and "inappropriate" lesson. She thought I was asking them to "write at a kindergarten level" - after all the parents expected a lot more than "Dick and Jane are friends" for sentence structure! She really missed the entire point: creativity, critical thinking, owning the entire process. Clearly I am glad to not be there anymore.

If she misunderstood me, and this was an activity in a sanctioned fiction writing course, I can't even imagine the degree to which other teachers are being maligned for attempting to encourage students to be creative and write stories in regular classrooms.

Turn that Negative into a Positive. . .

Creativity is the most important tool we have in our arsenal against indifference.

Whether we teach math, geography, science, history, art, or physical education and health, we can be creative and fun ourselves, which is how we bring wonder and excitement into the classroom.

What about Creative Writing? Isn't it Just a Waste of Time?
I think this has me a little angry.
I can't tell you how difficult it is to write stories and poems, and to write them well.  True poetry writing and fiction writing aspires, has goals, is work shopped, is graded. While it can be exhilarating, exciting, and great fun, it is challenging and can be frustrating as well. And at times, it is just plain difficult. There are rewrites. The students get stumped and feel challenged.

Story writing is even MORE complicated than the very best of essays and papers. Stories are dynamic and there is no such thing as "how to write a story." No, no formula, despite that drawing of a nifty little "arc" in those fiction writing books. Every single story is unique and varied and is organically derived from the student. There are threads, through lines, dialogue, one character or many, various settings that might or might not occasionally forward the plot, and an arc of some type. One must think of foreshadowing, mood, and must describe clearly. 

Sometimes, students will even do research in order to know more about the topic they are writing about. In fact, the research is not a big deal in the way the "research paper" is; writing a good story is so involved that doing research is usually just background to the story they are telling. Research is simply a part of the job!

So I ask you. REALLY? Fun but a little too easy? A waste of time?

A Comment on the Essay

So writing stories is easy and a waste of time (I haven't even told you how hard it is to write a poem. Maybe another day). Essays and research do not hold high court in the world of words and meaning. In fact, the more capable students are in a multiple of forms, the better. What is difficult about research is thinking critically, making original points out of the points out there, and less so, notating. All of this should be done often and regularly. And, so should many other forms of writing, including poetry, argument, story writing, and OTHER forms. Hey, how about REAL letter writing? Remember that? Now that's something we should all blog about! How's that for a lost art form?

Creative Writing - Of Immense Value - NINE SKILLS (and maybe more)
Of course there will be a transfer of skills. This is not the difference between skiing and learning French.
  1.  Learning to organize thoughts,
  2. create full sentences, paragraphs, and to a certain extent,
  3. argue,
  4. look up background information that will be used in the work,
  5. use logical order and
  6. explain things in a clear way, 
  7. practice economy, and
  8. obey spelling and
  9. grammar rules
are just a few of the transferable skills students will learn through storytelling that will prove a boon when it comes time to writing a paper. In fact, students may even be more motivated to improve if they are working on stories.

I Leave You With This

Is THIS Why Folks Say It's a Waste?
Don't Judge a Book by it's Paper Bag Cover?
If you look above, I guess if you saw me bring these things into class, and you weren't very open minded, you'd think I was playing games and not challenging my students. You'd think I was going to read a newspaper or something while they fiddled around and then got bored. You would certainly not think I would be engaged the entire class, and that the students would be engaged. You'd never believe this was serious "life or death stuff," ending in a workshop dealing with full length stories about super spies, wars, and other heavy stuff. But you'd be wrong!

 I've mentioned this activity before - It is the SUPER SECRET - 4-SENSES Writing Activity. Take all of your little treasures and garage sale finds, and put them in brown paper lunch bags.

Step one. Students choose only by feeling. Write a description using only touch.

Step two. Take it out and LOOK! Now you can write about what it is and describe it.

Step three. Now only use metaphors and similes.

Step four. Your object isn't what you think. It is a weapon, a spy device, a portal to another dimension, of incalculable worth, has a long story of excitement and adventure, has a spell on it and a story only YOU know, has the ability to heal two warring peoples (offer other suggestions). TELL the full and complete story of this object the day you main character finds it or gives it away.

PS. This is a paid-for product on TPT, (there is extra of course in that one)...but I'm illustrating a point.  The students are pushing to use figurative language, they are using outside of the box thinking, (other senses in order to write, such as feel, and in the paid for version, they are instructed to use sound, etc.),  and they are surprised and told to switch gears. They feel internally motivated to write because they have a lot of options to choose from and it feels very immediate and very cool to them that what they are being presented with is something different. They "play along" - I've even done this in colleges, and they do it willingly. It somehow opens something up in them, and all of the NINE SKILLS are still being used, ready to transfer when you want them to write that argument essay.

God Bless, and happy teaching.