Three Things My Ukulele Taught Me about Writing

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

by Patricia A. Dunn
Photo of a green ukeleleGeorge Harrison thought everyone should learn to play the ukulele because it was easy to learn, small enough to take everywhere, and fun to listen to. (He’s right about the second.) So I got one, took a quick lesson from a friend, and then set out on Google and YouTube to see what was what. And now, three months later, it’s all I can do to sit here typing. I really want to go downstairs, take out my shiny green ukulele, open my ever-growing pocket file of downloaded chords and lyrics, and torture the household once again with my now-accompanied caterwauling.

My adventures learning to play the ukulele have reinforced for me three principles teachers and parents should remember about how students learn to write.

1) Good Writing Involves Choice

I was playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” after fifteen minutes, but after another fifteen I was…

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Mindfulness Soothes Students’ Anxiety and Depression?

The Pilot Light


By Judith Simmer-Brown, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Contemplative and Religious Studies at Naropa University

When neuroscience graduate student James Holmes was convicted on 24 counts of murder and 140 counts of attempted murder for the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, he had previously sought counseling support from a psychiatrist at his graduate school campus. The day of the rampage, Holmes mailed a notebook to his campus psychiatrist, detailing his attack plan. What the media attention did not consider is how this young man may be more typical in his generation than was previously thought.

On a recent lecture trip to the campus of a top-tier private university, the director of the counseling center lamented to me that, in spite of his love of counseling, he and his psychologist colleagues can no longer do therapy. They can only triage acute crises of students with acute anxiety, depression or suicidal…

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Handouts and Archive from #NCTE15 Session B.34: “Crafting the Truth”

Thanks to everyone who came out to our “Crafting the Truth” NCTE session in Minneapolis! We hope you had as much fun as we did and that you also took away some ideas, strategies, and resources for incorporating narrative into research, argument, and creative nonfiction into your secondary English classrooms.

Here is the link to the Storify archive of tweets from participants and presenters using #craftingtruth: CLICK HERE FOR #CRAFTINGTRUTH STORIFY

And here is the handout and PPT from the “Me to We” creative nonfiction portion of the session:Jason Presentation NCTE Handout 2

Also, I participated in an Ignite session called “Reading Real to Write True” which featured 11 Tips for Reading and Writing Narrative Nonfiction in Secondary ELA classrooms. If you’re interested in that presentation or handout, you can find them here: Jason Griffith Ignite   NCTE Handout 1


Selznick’s Secret Doorways by Jason Griffith

Nerdy Book Club

The neat thing about seeing Van Gogh’s paintings live and in-person is that you can clearly see the brush strokes in the texture of the paint. It only takes a little imagination to picture Van Gogh madly dashing and dabbing his way across the canvas.

marvelsIn June, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the first time, and one of their featured exhibitions was Van Gogh’s Irises and Roses. It was the first time the four paintings in the set had been reunited since Van Gogh painted them 125 years ago. An exciting event for sure, but I had come for a different reason. Brian Selznick was taking part in a lecture called “Showing to Tell,” part of Julie Burstein’s “Spark” series of cultural conversations at the museum.

The neat thing about examining a Brian Selznick illustration is that you can clearly see the ghosts of pencil…

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