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The Big Fresh July 21, 2018 Hitting Save

Brenda Power

Your calm mind is your ultimate weapon against your challenges.

                                                                       Bryant McGill

Over the past few years I have shifted from drafting in documents saved on a single computer’s hard drive to using online word processing tools that can be accessed from any device. As it turns out, hitting save is part of my writing process. With online tools that automatically update and store drafts, there is no need to stop and click the save command. I miss it.

Something about the act of saving my recorded words gives me reason to pause. When I take time to pause, I look back over what I have written. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I decide what could be changed to strengthen my work. I have a direction for moving forward.

Hitting save is a lot like taking summer break. It is during summer when I take time to look back on my work in the classroom and take note of what went well. I also think about things I want to change. Ultimately, I enter the new school year with a new sense of direction.

Today in the midst of writing I stopped to hit the save key, only to realize the pause was unnecessary. Or was it? Although the pause was falsely prompted, the act of pausing still caused me to reread my words and reflect. So, maybe I do not need a real reason to stop and regroup.

Maybe I do not need to wait until summer to look back on my work and move forward with new direction. Maybe there are other ways to prompt myself to pause for reflection within the midst of the school year.

Every weekend, my husband and I have a standing writing group meeting with colleagues at a local coffee shop. We meet unapologetically, which means if we can be there, we are. When we are unable to make the meeting, the agreement is that we remain guilt-free. Of course, as it turns out, our get-togethers are so refueling that we often rearrange other obligations to avoid missing out.

The simple act of sharing writing goals, spending quiet time writing together, and breaking into spontaneous conversations offers a chance to process the work we are doing while we are still in the midst of it. Like hitting save while still drafting.

A year ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a book club with colleagues. We met once every few weeks before school to discuss the content of a professional book and its impact on our thinking. It was refreshing to listen to teachers in other subject areas discuss their work. Speaking with them caused me to review my own work through their eyes. I am certain I entered my classroom after those meetings with a renewed focus.

It is simple to stop briefly and take notice in the midst of our work. It doesn’t take more than a meeting with a writing group or book club. These are small acts, but I believe pausing for reflection is an act of saving our work, even if we are not clicking any keys in the process.

This week we pause to look at workshop routines. Plus more as always -- enjoy!

Christy Rush-Levine
Contributor, Choice Literacy

Christy Rush-Levine has taught middle school language arts in a Chicago suburb for 14 years.  She blogs about her teaching life at Read Write Inspire and reviews books at Reading Beyond the Middle, a blog for her former students.


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Shari Frost finds that the See-Think-Wonder activity is great to use as a "bell-ringer," as well as throughout the day to promote deeper thinking and engagement:


Ann Marie Corgill provides some guiding questions to help teachers figure out priorities in their schedules for daily routines:


Justin Stygles questions his conferring routine during writing workshops, and the value of interrupting students early in the drafting process:


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Dana Murphy considers how teachers can make writing workshop routines more cozy and like writing at home:


Ruth Ayres explains which workshop routines are essential for children who come to school bearing trauma:


In this week's video, Katrina Edwards demonstrates a read and think check-in from her first-grade classroom:


Gretchen Schroeder finds new routines in her high school workshop means letting go of old expectations:


In an encore video, Christy Rush-Levine helps her eighth-grade students launch the work period with a reflective question that sets a tone for productivity, and then returns to it throughout the morning during transition times:



That's all for this week!

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Brenda Power

Brenda Power is the founder of Choice Literacy. She worked for many years as a professor at the University of Maine and an editor at Stenhouse Publishers. Her publications as an author include Living the Questions and The Art of Classroom Inquiry. She has worked as a book editor and video producer for many of the authors featured at this site.