I like working among creative clutter. It gives me a sense of activity and achievement.
There is something about the idea of the clean slate, the bare storage area, that is irresistibly appealing. It’s a chance to begin fresh and start over again. Marie Kondo has been the darling of the “decluttering” movement for a few years, with her advice to carefully go through items one by one, saving only what you love.
I prefer the German concept of death cleaning—getting rid of as many personal belongings as possible so you don’t leave the task as a burden to your children. Death cleaning sounds grim and unavoidable, which is how decluttering often feels to me when I get to it.
But I come today in praise of clutter. I’ve recently cleaned out a big corner of a storage area, and ended up thankful for the experience of sorting through the piles of books, papers, and junk. I’ve been experiencing the delight of unexpected items bumping up against each other—a page of my child’s kindergarten scrawl with its random letters and sketches against a photo of her graduating from college. A book on cleaning up my diet lying next to one on eating my way through Barcelona. An old Guitar Hero cartridge next to camping gear.
Writer and artist Austin Kleon explains:The best tidying is a kind of exploring. I rediscover things as I work my way through the clutter . . . When I come across a long-lost book, for example, I flip to random pages and see if they have anything to tell me. Sometimes scraps of paper fall out of the book like a secret message from the universe.
It is the odd connections where the best learning often happens, where lost memories of vivid pleasures are evoked. If we look at the same things over and over, our creativity stagnates. Divergent thinking is essential for solving problems, as well as getting out of ruts in thinking about both past and future.
That’s why getting up for a walk when you’re stuck on a problem or paragraph can be so helpful.Sometimes clutter can seem like bits of your life that have moved or congregated together in surprising ways. A little clutter that provokes some sorting can be like a walk for your brain through fresh terrain.
The clean slate, the bare storage area, is still irresistibly appealing. But the journey of getting to it may be more valuable than the destination.
This week we look at how to use anchor texts in classrooms. Plus more as always—enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Tara Barnett and Kate Mills show how to break down an anchor text into brief excerpts for step-by-step scaffolding of revision strategies for writers in the intermediate grades.
Karen Terlecky takes the advice of some of her favorite literacy experts and chooses a couple of texts to return to again and again in her teaching.
Cathy Mere shares three children’s books with powerful stories to help students be more brave, with suggestions for using them as anchor and mentor texts.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member,click here to explore membership options.
Whenever a tricky literary concept comes up, Tammy Mulligan finds herself returning to a favorite anchor text to guide students. She explains the value of shared simple stories for understanding complicated literary elements.
A classic anchor text for many teachers is Charlotte’s Web. In this week’s video, Dana Murphy seamlessly integrates a brief excerpt from it into a writing minilesson on endings in her fifth-grade classroom.
Melanie Meehan helps students see the craft moves in mentor texts by tucking brief guides into many of her favorite children’s books in the classroom library.
In an encore video, Aimee Buckner teaches the “listing” strategy. Aimee talks about mentor texts, using her own writing as a model, and the needs of intermediate readers and writers during the lesson and interview.
Lead Literacy now has a new home as the Leaders Lounge at Choice Literacy. We’ll be posting the new content updates here in the Leaders Lounge section of the Big Fresh newsletter.
Heather Fisher explains why the smile file should be a tool in every coach’s repertoire for building confidence and community among teachers.
How can you be sure texts used in professional development become anchors for learning beyond the moment they are read? Jean Russell recommends the 3/3/3 method for reading and reflection with colleagues as a quick way to make the learning stick.
Jen Schwanke writes eloquently about one of our hardest tasks—the need for school leaders to speak the truth and speak it well.
Never think you’ve seen the last of anything.
That’s all for this week!