Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - "What's Growin' in My Classroom"

April Secondary Smorgasbord

When faced with that proverbial piece of blank white paper- whether in a notebook, on a computer screen or rolled into my old Underwood Olivetti typewriter- my brain’s creative center teeters on the edge of the PITS – Profoundly Impacted Thoughts Syndrome.

A gasp or two rushes through my lips, my heart performs an arrhythmia jig and my brain clogs with cold, lumpy oatmeal.  It does not matter if the first page is fully inscribed on my mind’s walls, immediately before I type a quick an email, or creating a blog post, a lesson plan or a book.  All of the words stored in my brain’s Vocabulary Repository freeze the nanosecond I settle in to write, leaving me with no creative teeth, no fresh ideas-but just white noise buzzing around my brain.

Every. Single. Time.

The roots of impacted wisdom teeth wrap around the jawbone and scream at the dentist, “I refuse to let go!” The stalks that form PITS do the same thing in the brain. After entangling their stems in the Frontal Lobe, they insinuate themselves in every crevice of the Temporal and Parietal Lobes, squeezing out the energy, emotion and essence from each and every ingenious and imaginative, or mundane thought.

And Great Googly Moogly- I am not alone with my apprehension of the blank white page. Many writers also forge strategies to keep their writing fresh and to avoid tumbling into the PITS. (All of these quotes are from http://www.brainyquote.com/).

John Updike faced the blank page by letting loose his imagination, “Each morning my characters greet me with misty faces willing, though chilled, to muster for another day's progress through the dazzling quicksand the marsh of blank paper.

Jodi Picoult revealed the power of revision when she said, “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page,”

Vladimir Nabokov welcomed the challenge of the blank page issue when he shared, “The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

Students often feel an onset of brain freeze when they face a blank sheet of paper, knowing that no matter how great or small the number, they have to come up with Every. Single. Word. And this may be the pits because it could lead to one of the major effects of PITS - Writing Phobia.

Everyone has anxieties when it comes to writing. For me it does not matter whether I am creating a two-page activity, a 350-page romantic comedy, a 176-page teachers’ program, or an email apology to my sister-the challenge to use my words to say what I truly feel- to paint word pictures- is daunting.

“Like anyone who has to record their words on paper or type them into a computer,” I explain to my students, “I am also subject to tremors when I wonder how others will receive and perceive my writing. But my biggest phobia coils around one concern- finding the confidence in my skills and abilities to use my words to clearly reveal my thoughts.” After they hear that even their teacher has to squash some writing fears, they are willing to face theirs.

The key for all writers is to avoid Writing Phobia and not fall into the PITS.  Like Updike, Picoult and Nabokov, when they steer clear of this menace, their writing will blossom. 
Following this same thought, no matter the season, classrooms that are garden-fresh, blooming with crisp thinking and energetic writing fortified with vigorous thought will banish the PITS!

Thanks to Pamela Kranz- http://desktoplearningadventures.blogspot.com/-
Desktop Learning Adventures!
and Darlene Anne Curran- http://meatballsinthemiddle.blogspot.com/- for this April-fresh Secondary Smorgasbord.

And a special thank you to Pamela for suggesting that I write about the PITS during a Facebook chat. Because of her encouragement, the PITS never chewed up and swallowed my words.

Check out What's Growin' in My Classroom garden.

Writing Warmup Activities: Creative Writing - Mental Stretches

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Warmup-Activities-Creative-Writing-Mental-Stretches-19032 ($1.50)

Enjoy a Teach It Now Day, every day,

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