Soccer is truly universal. No matter where I go in the world, that’s what kids are playing. That’s what people are talking about.
“NoNoNoNoNoNOOOOOOOOO! This iPad is killing me Tony!”
My friend Stella and I were watching a very finicky live web-streaming broadcast of the United States vs. Germany World Cup soccer match at a writing retreat this summer. Our desire to detach from the world to focus on writing conflicted with a stronger desire to watch the most important soccer game our country had played in four years.
We were wrestling with slow wifi and trying to get text or Twitter updates from friends who were probably watching the game at pubs with hundreds of raving lunatics. I realized this match was a perfect metaphor for how we should frame our thinking for the upcoming school year.
Soccer is a beautiful game (contrary to what you may have heard from 90% of the United States sports fans you might know). Soccer is sometimes messy and confusing, yet it is also without question the most beloved game on our planet. To understand the allure, you just need to appreciate the process more than the product. I will not try to explain everything about how soccer works here. I will say Stella and I were nervous but not devastated when Germany scored in the second half to lead 1-0.
While there was the temporary deflation of seeing the product of a German shot arc gracefully into the far corner of the net, the process of how tournament soccer is played calmed our nerves. The United States didn’t need to win this game to advance to the next round of the World Cup. Due to a complicated scoring system, all that they needed to advance was a close loss plus a close contest in the other game between Portugal and Ghana.
When the final scores of both games flashed on my phone, Stella jumped and joyfully bellowed, “We made it, way to go USA!” I just sat there, stunned. I was thinking, “if you would have told me two weeks ago our team would have made it to the second round of the World Cup, I would have replied ‘you’re delusional’!” Most soccer experts predicted three losses for the United States. The product of the loss to Germany was a little sad, but the process involved allowed the Red, White and Blue to advance to the second round.
As I work with children this year I’ll keep both the process and products of learning in mind. My role as a teacher is not to push students to continually churn out products. My students will produce some fabulous products and some dreadful ones this year because they are human. Through it all, I’ll help children understand the process and arm them with the tools they will need to love the messy and beautiful nature of learning. I’ll try to shield my students from the negative impacts of a few poor products. They will advance to whatever is “the next round” for them if I help everyone understand the virtue of a longer process always has more value than a quickly finished product.
This week we look at memoir in writing workshops. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
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Here are three pieces from the archives to help you think through memoir writing in workshops.
Katie Baydo-Reed explores the awkwardness of adolescence and how students bond during workshops in The Truth About Building a Writing Community in Middle School:
Shirl McPhillips considers how objects can lead to powerful memoirs in The Rolling Pin: Looking into Things:
Aimee Buckner has advice for using memoir for Getting Started with Your Own Writer’s Notebook:
Liz Prather from the National Writing Project explains how When Memoirs Are Terrifying, Vignettes Save the Day:
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Gigi McAllister finds the ever-popular Six-Word Memoirs are a wonderful way to build community and help students get to know each other:
In this week’s video, Ruth Ayres gives fourth grader Allie an organization tool for brainstorming memoir possibilities early in the year:
Mandy Robek shares books to help writers in grades K-2 understand expectations and potential topics in Launching Writing Workshop: Mentor Texts:
Gretchen Schroeder ditches the long discussion of rules and procedures with her high school students, and instead gives writing workshop a sweet start with Candy Memoirs:
In this week’s encore video, Aimee Buckner uses a mentor text early in the fall to help students brainstorm personal narrative topics in their writing notebooks:
That’s all for this week!