Wait a minute, what? This is supposed to be book 49! What is going on here?
I’ll tell you what’s going on. I stinking read the rest of Sparks in the Dark this evening and I am so pumped up by Todd Nesloney and Travis Crowder! (Travis apparently is another hometown hero – had no idea he lived in NC until the end of the book; did I miss that somewhere? Home field advantage – I’ve got to come see you, Travis!)
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 7 chapters of this book and it was mostly about reading and integrating that into every content area and why reading is so important to our students. Well, then I read the last 6 chapters and I’ll be darned if I wasn’t inspired by their words on writing and now I’ve got to reflect and write an implementation plan for that.
Oh my goodness… y’all won’t believe this! This book really IS making me break all of my own rules! Wow! Finished #SparksintheDark tonight. Keep an eye on #DBC50Summer for a bit, ok? @TechNinjaTodd @teachermantrav pic.twitter.com/89b3jBhpJv
— Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) September 22, 2018
Yes, you heard that right… This book is so doggone good that I’ve got to write two posts, reflecting and connecting to the text, then create another implementation plan – just based on (as Travis and Todd say) “illuminating the writing lives” in my students! Well-done, fellas; well-done!
As a child (I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10) I sat at my old Windows computer (which required DOS prompts) and wrote chapters about realistic fiction. They were typically a knock-off of adventures in The Babysitter’s Club series by Ann Martin.
I kept a diary that I wrote in every night from the time I was in 1st or 2nd grade and distinctly remember writing a heartfelt post about the day my mom and dad officially split up and my dad walked out the door, when I was in 5th grade.
In 4th grade (Mrs. Byrd’s class), I wrote a lengthy answer to an essay question about changes in transportation in North Carolina on a social studies test. It is the first time I recall writing and enjoying writing at school. She was so impressed with the answer that it became an exemplar, which blew me away.
In 7th grade, we were required to write in a journal each week. Fridays were days for writing and we chose from 101 writing prompts and just wrote whatever we desired. Mine started out focused on the boy I had a [not-so-] secret crush on at the time. (I was 12, give me a break!) They evolved into more thought-provoking pieces of current events, as well as imaginative writing.
From there, school killed my love of writing. It became a chore.
When my ex-fiance and I broke off our engagement, I picked up writing again. I shared my “deepest, darkest secrets” in my journal (because calling it a diary felt so juvenile). I wrote my feelings, my apprehension about this new future, completely separated from the future I had imagined for years. When I met my husband for the first time, I wrote about him the night I got home. I wrote about the feeling that “this might be the one.” (Yes, I knew from the moment I met him, as did he… we were engaged in 6 weeks, married within the year, and through good, bad, and sometimes incredibly ugly we’re celebrating 12 years in December.)
Then social media kicked in. I found facebook (oddly enough) to be an outlet. It wasn’t as “deep-dark secret” as my journal had been, but it was a place to chronicle my life’s events. I would share my love for my job, day-to-day events, and yes, even what I ate at night (especially if it was Outback Steakhouse, one of my very favorites). I wrote about heartbreaks and shared with my family and closest friends – when we miscarried babies in not one… not two… but three different pregnancies, when I lost my Nanny (one of my biggest cheerleaders), and when my husband lost his job months after our youngest daughter was born.
Now… it’s blogging. This is my space. (See what I did there… y’all remember that? Whew – blast from the past!) It’s where I share my thoughts. Don Murray was so right when he says (as quoted in Sparks in the Dark), “You write to discover what you want to say.”
So my implementation plan is completely different from anything I’ve done to this point. I’m telling y’all… this book has grabbed my soul! It’s stirred something deep down. It’s awoken a passion that I didn’t realize I had; something completely different from what the math teacher in me would have ever admitted to having a passion for. Writing. It’s not about writing to a prompt. It’s not about answering the question of the day, or answering an essay question on a test. Like reading, it’s about choice. Choosing what you want to write about. It’s about getting your thoughts on paper (or screen, pick your poison). It’s about reflection. My best reflections have come through writing. Not verbal conversation with others. But through my own quiet time, after my family is asleep… when I sit in the middle section of our sectional wrapped up in a blanket with my heavily-stickered MacBook Pro in my lap. When I write. That’s when I discover what I want to say. Sometimes there are (what feels like) a bazillion typos. You may notice them. I do, too. I will eventually edit. But right now, it’s all so raw. I just want to get it out.
This implementation plan isn’t for me. It’s not even really for my students. It’s for you.
I challenge you to write. I challenge you to share your writing with others. Maybe it’s a journal (I don’t recommend sharing your deepest-darkest secrets with just anyone though… just sayin’). Maybe it’s a Google Doc. Maybe it’s a writing notebook. Maybe… just maybe it’s a blog. Whatever it is, write. Write to figure out what you believe. Figure out your passions. Figure out who you are. I’m 33 years old, and I am just discovering who Alicia Ray really is. Sometimes, she scares the crap out of me. Sometimes, I feel like she’s not enough. Sometimes, I love her. But she’s always me. And the best way to share her, this voice inside my head, is through writing. So, to you… go right now… Write. I’d love it if you’d give me a peek into your head. Please tag me when you share your post (if that’s the route you take)!
Go. Write. Now.
*Also, pick up a copy of Sparks in the Dark by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney. It will truly illuminate your own spark!
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