2017 August Writing Institute – Day 1 Lucy Keynote

34 countries, 42 states, 1,300 teachers and me, lucky enough to be attending this, my 15th Institute!IMG_9518

Sitting in the awe-inspiring space of Riverside church, I heard Lucy command the following (stated below is a humble summary of her inspiring keynote):
* We need to help kids know that their lives are filled with things to write about
* Narrative writing is the foundation of all writing
* It is a big deal to teach students to listen to their life and write it
* It is what we do with our life that matters, not what happens to us
* Sadly we are a nation that struggles to make meaning – addiction and suicide rates are high / 80% of workers are disengaged from work
* Why write? To make sense, writing helps us to author meaning
* Accept how it goes, as writing can be hard. It WILL be hard. Understand that the writing process itself is a story about a character (the writer) who has big motivations (to find something to say) and that the character runs into trouble.
* Writing being hard isn’t a mess-up. Writers are suppose to have trouble. Feeling like I have nothing to write IS part of the writing process.
* Then the writer grows AS she writes and meaning is found as the story is resolved.

As a teacher, be sure to:
1. Create a safe place where students writes.
2. Help students to see that writing affects others.
EX: Kinders holding their writing, parading around school and chanting:
“2-4-6-8- Our pieces are really great; 1-2-3-4- Can’t wait to write some more.”
3. Don’t be afraid to push/nudge students into the land of where there is trouble; push them to do more and
EX: don’t just add one word, push to add 2 pages!

Favorite quotes:
William Faulkner said, “I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.”
Lucy said, “Emptiness is the starting point of writing.”
Martin Luther King said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Lucy said, “We don’t make the wrongs right but we do make them precious.”

Suggested TedTalks to watch by Lucy:
Andrew Solomon ,   Neal Pasricha  ,    Brene Brown ,   Dan Gilbert

Suggested books to read by Lucy:
Jack Gantos’ newest, Writing Radar
Sheryl Sandbergs, Option B

This is just an overview glimpse of Lucy’s thoughts today as she opened the August Writing Institute. Embracing struggle is a big theme I will reflect on as I continue to learn this week and teach during the school year.

Happily, I also get to learn from Mary Ehrenworth and Hannah Kolbe all week long in my Advance small group sections. Check back (but probably not until the weekend) to read my notes about both of my advance section learning from these amazing staff developers. Now off to write a narrative story. I am ready for it to be hard but meaningful!

15 thoughts on “2017 August Writing Institute – Day 1 Lucy Keynote

  1. Thanks for sharing your keynote reflections! 15 Institutes- wow! I wish I could be there with you one time! I wonder how your Mary sessions and mine from June will be similar/different. I agree- writing is hard!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “It is a big deal to teach students to listen to their life and write it” Yes! This is our “little postage stamp of native soil … worth writing about” and yes there will never be enough time. Love “listening” alongside you at Riverside. Thank you for sharing bits of this week. And when oh when will I get to see you? Next year?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It makes me happy to think of you being there at TCRWP in NYC, Sally. And your 15th Institute- lucky you. Appreciated this recap of Lucy’s keynote- she’s always so inspiring. I needed this inspiration today. Thank you!
    Enjoy your week there and soak it all up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this entry. There’s so much in those bullets. When I started blogging this summer I wrote that i identified with the Dorothy Parker quote, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That struggle is sometimes exciting and sometimes daunting. I think we have to help kids have the courage to push through when they find writing a struggle. Maybe knowing that, as Lucy says, they’re part of a story with a character (them) who faces a challenge, will help them to see themselves as a hero meeting a challenge. I hope your struggle has a satisfying ending.


  5. Until I joined the TWT writing community I had no idea that what was missing in my teaching/writing/life was a writing community. When you get to be part of any writing community you are in a privileged place, as you are experiencing this week. Thank you for so generously sharing your notes and your ideas.


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