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The Big Fresh November 3, 2018 The Second Choice

Brenda Power

Having a sense of security in one realm gives us the freedom to be original in another.
                                                                                                  Adam Grant

What’s your dream project? The one at the top of your bucket list, the item you need to check off to feel like you’ve hit your own personal professional summit? At the height of summer, classrooms are dark and distant. In the light of long sunny days, teachers start daydreaming about the work they love doing best with students, and how to do more of it in the coming school year.

Adam Grant, author of Originals, recommends you jot down the three projects you most want to complete.

Now cross out the first item on your list.

The second one is the one you are mostly likely to make happen.

This seems counterintuitive. Why not start with the work you’re most passionate about? Grant argues that we are so in love with the idea of the pet project that we can’t see the obstacles in our path. It’s what keeps us from getting the work done, or what flummoxes us when we do make an attempt.

The second project on your list is one where you already see some drawbacks, so you can be more realistic in understanding how you might tackle them to make your vision a reality.

I’ve come to believe the big impossible passion project is also a comfort in some ways. The purity of settling only for your big dreams means you don't have to face the ones that are hard but attainable with some compromises.

So, if you're waiting to write till you have time to craft a great novel or memoir, quit waiting. A good time will never come. Instead, write for and with your students. This week we're focusing on how your writing can change the way students think about their writing. Plus more as always -- enjoy!

Brenda Power
Founder, Choice Literacy


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Ruth Ayres shares how she was always someone who wrote -- until she became a teacher. Getting back into writing was all about motivating her reluctant students:


Melanie Meehan shares some practical suggestions for helping teachers (and literacy coaches) build a writing habit and get over their feelings of inadequacy as writers:


Sometimes a beautiful notebook full of blank pages can actually get in the way of writing. The first cross-out, and you're ready to abandon it. Writer Linda Urban shares her notebook pages and helps writers embrace messy journal writing:


Check out our new online courses for teachers and literacy coaches! In the next month we're featuring 12-day self-paced classes from Katherine Sokolowski on student research projects in grades 3-7, Christy Rush-Levine on quick and meaningful reading conferences in middle school, and Jennifer Schwanke on better outreach to families. Courses include three-month trial memberships to Choice Literacy and Lead Literacy, screencasts, videos, articles, and personal responses from the instructor to your questions. Explore detailed descriptions at this link:



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Ruth Ayres explains how the distinction between writers and teachers who write is subtle but essential for understanding mentoring in workshops:


Matt Renwick describes the process of paying attention to telling details, and gives practical advice for teaching this skill to young writers:


In this week's video, Katrina Edwards confers with a first-grade writer and helps him unpack a narrative to use as seed writing:


In an encore video, Beth Lawson models her process as a writer for her fourth-grade students, describing her emotions as well as creating a draft:


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.