Wisconsin Writes

“Writers invite teachers and students into their writing process.”

The English Language Arts Division of The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is involved in a project that helps students understand the writing process. Students watch videos of Wisconsin authors talk about the writing they are currently working on. The videos describe how writers get ideas, write first drafts, revise and edit, organize their writing, and more!
What a great project! Thanks to Marci Glaus, Education Consultant at Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
My video is the most recent to be added to the website. I hope students find it interesting and helpful to hear that I feel the same way they do when I write!

Here is a link:


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Children’s Writing Workshop


This past Saturday, I led a writing workshop for children – ages 7-12 in Edgerton, WI. The workshop attendees were very interested in the writing process and some brought samples of their own stories to share! We had lots of fun talking about how writers get ideas and use their imagination. We used mentor texts to discuss how stories are organized and what works in a good story. Each writer left with their own journal to start recording their thoughts and ideas. There was also an adult workshop. Proceeds from the workshops benefit the 2016 Sterling North Book & Film Festival, to be held Nov. 5 in Edgerton.

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What is old is new again!


This is a 1916 L C Smith Typewriter.

This weekend, I attended an Arts Fair in Waupaca, WI. They had lots of fun activities for children – drawing, working with clay, and dancing to live music.

One activity area had a large table full of old typewriters. The kind without electricity, headphones or a power cord!

The sign encouraged folks to sit down and type. It was interesting to watch people approach the typewriters. One women sat right down, put in the paper correctly, sat up straight and began typing. She knew exactly what to do. She typed two practice sentences – “The quick brown fox jumps οver the lazy dοg.” and “Νοw is the time fοr all gοοd men tο cοme tο the aid οf their cοuntry”.

A younger girl approached saying, “This is new, I’ve never used a typewriter!”. She tried to type and was immediately confused. So, the older women showed her how to put the paper in, type a few letters and use the carriage return lever. The older women began talking about the ribbon and how to keep the key bars from getting stuck together inside. She also mentioned that the shift key does actually shift things on the typewriter.

The younger girl smiled and asked, “Where is the back space key?”

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Verona Senior Center Memories


In the summer, it’s fun to think about school years of the past. The group that came on a recent Friday morning to the Verona Senior Center was more than happy to share their memories from their own one room schools.

A story was told by a man who reminded everyone that not all kids liked school! He said a boy from his school repeatedly tried to get sent home on purpose. He finally came up with the best solution that guaranteed a trip home. The boy kept crawling down into the boy’s outhouse hole! A neighbor had to be called to help get him out and he smelled so bad that the teacher always sent him right home!

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Dia de los Ninos Con Libros


El día de los niños/El día de los libros
(Children’s Day/Book Day) is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds.

At my school, we held a special celebration last Friday evening. Along with a potluck dinner, there was face painting, games, crafts, and musical performances. All children received books to keep and take home.

Mr. Oscar Mireless, who is the City of Madison Poet Laureate read a poem in the library and described his job as a Poet for our city.

Next, I described Wisconsin’s one room schools to a small group. After my talk, one father smiled, nodded his head and said, “I went to a school just like you are telling about – in Veracruz, Mexico. We had bathrooms out in back and had to carry water for washing and drinking. We were all in one room with one teacher.”

He went on to describe a way of learning I have heard from many Wisconsin one room school students.

“When I worked, I listened in to the older grades. I liked listening to the math classes. When I got to that grade, I already knew some of it. It was a good school.”

One room schools in Wisconsin and a one room school in Mexico. Sharing stories brings people close together, not only on one day but every day.

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Robins, Worms and Spring Mud

The robins have returned to our spring playground. We learned the song “Rockin Robin” and watched videos of the original black and white version by Bobby Day and the one Michael Jackson sang.

We also had a wet, recess day with worms all over the blacktop! The second graders proclaimed it a “worm emergency”! Without understanding why the worms had all crawled out of the grass, they proceeded to pick them up and return them to the school garden where where they were “safe” – away from a stray, bouncing square ball. One little girl, however, picked up a large worm and tried to feed the birds. She stood on the blacktop and held it up, calling “Birdies! Birdies!” Did she really think a bird would fly down and eat a worm out of her hand? I think she did!

With spring comes the mud season. Lots of mud. When the students come in from lunch recess, they try to wipe the mud off of their pants and shoes. The boys, especially, are very protective of their shoes. If I would let them, they would spend all afternoon at the sink in our room trying to get the mud off of their shoes. I don’t tell them, “I told you not to go in the mud” because really, it is impossible. Our grassy playground has lots of mud. There is some mulch under the play structure, but the “big field” where kids run around is full of mud patches. So, by afternoon, when it is time to go home, the mud in the room has dried up and there is dirt on the floor. Luckily, there are some students who love to sweep. So, the last thing to do is try to sweep up some of the recess mud before going home. The forecast for this week after spring break is wet and rainy. So, we are not done with mud season yet!

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Back to School


The first two weeks of school are filled with many activities to “get to know” students. Some students know each other from previous years, but things in a new room are always different.

As an educator, I am required to know the standards and teach curriculum in reading, phonics, spelling, writing, handwriting, math, social studies, science, nutrition and social/emotional learning.

Which of these do you suppose is most important to students?

After a particularly hot (my school does not have air conditioning) and busy Friday, I finally opened up a letter.
One of my students had given the letter to me right away, as she walked in the room. She must have written it at home the night before. I stuck it in my pocket because I was busy with the lunch count and attendance. I could tell it wasn’t a note from a parent. I forgot about it during our busy day.

Sitting at my desk after students had left, I unfolded her note.

Here is what it said:

“You are nice to me. You are kind to others. Mrs. B. you are cool and nice.”

Apparently, I made an impression on her after only the first week of school. She is a quiet student and I had no idea that she thought I was “cool”.

Curriculum is important, of course. It’s what students are in school to learn.

However, at the beginning of the year, I am glad that this student has found that I will be kind, and make learning cool. That’s what is most important this time of year to students; building relationships and trust so learning can and will happen.

The views on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, vision or strategies of the Madison Metropolitan School District.

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