Penning a Story

the little ink pen

I had to share this whimsical little story with you. Sara wrote it while experimenting with calligraphy.

Here's the beginning...


The Story of the Little Ink Pen's Journey

My, oh my. Look, Paper! This is how I write.

Once upon a scratchy time a little pen said, "let me go to the great inkwell to find ink for us so we will not run out."

And the others said, "You can do this, but you will not come out alive!"

And the little ink pen said, "But I will go nonetheless. And I will bring us back so much ink we could become all fuzzy in our words and still not run out."

So he set out on a far and dangerous journey...

[to finish the story, click to view the large-sized image]

Story and calligraphy by Sara B. Used with permission.

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Writing Comes from Reading

Sea on Knees

Soon I'll be sharing my writing-teacher secrets, as part of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing.

Oddly, many of my secrets look like living. And reading. A lot.

My sweet Sara reads about a six hundred (unassigned) books during a school year and a great deal of poetry. All that reading, I'm convinced, has shaped her writing. Here, for instance, is one of her contributions to the sonneteering we've been doing over at Tweetspeak. It makes me think... I need to read... a lot more sonnets if I ever want to catch up with her abilities.

(Though not a perfect sonnet by any means, she wrote this one in 10 minutes, while I was also bothering her about coming to answer a phone call. Yeah, I'm proud of her. Forgive me? :)

The Narrator

I'll tell you now a tale both sad and true,
the story of the cuckoo in the tree
across the endless, vast, and wave-filled sea.
And of the flute, the crying notes it blew
to break and make a spell with one bright tune,
and what it did to everyone, and me,
a girl who only wishéd to be free
of the wicked witches, and now you

say that I know nothing of all that time.
Well, I'll tell the tale both loud and clear.
I'll even tell it—listen now—in rhyme.
And then I'll take from you, all you hold dear
and we will know the truth, and know the lie.
I'll make you beg on bended knees with tears.

— Sara Barkat, age 14

This poem is offered for The High Calling and Tweetspeak's Random Acts of Poetry/PhotoPlay celebration.

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Portfolio on Demand

Princess Pea 7

So it's official. My girl will still be home for high school, but she'll be "attending" the Laurel Springs Gifted and Talented Academy.

On Monday, the Academy asked me for a description of Sara's 8th-grade year (scope, sequence, assessment explanations, quarterly reports, complete with samples for every quarter for every subject, standardized test scores).

Um. :)

Because I'm an unschooler more than a classical schooler, and because I live in a State that doesn't require portfolios as part of the reporting structure, I was overwhelmed by the request.

I spent more than seventeen hours gathering materials, writing descriptions, trying to find my old teacher certificates in the attic. I took a day and a half off from work to make it happen (including a 5 am rising because my mind was racing over the question of where to find all the "proof" I needed).

When it was all said and done, I actually felt a great sense of accomplishment. But it sure was intensive.

Watching this process, my sweet second daughter decided that she's going to keep a portfolio, so we don't face this kind of thing in two years when perhaps she'll do a similar kind of program. I appreciate that. :)

Since I spent so much time on the whole thing, I wanted to share with you just one section of the Art portfolio I created: an excerpt of Sara's Princess and the Pea graphic novel.

Let's just say, I identified with the Princess's sleepless night (check her out below)...

Princess Pea 1

Princess Pea 2

Princess Pea 3

Princess Pea 4

Princess Pea 5

Princess Pea 6

Princess Pea 7

Princess Pea 8

Princess Pea 9

Princess Pea 10

Princess Pea 11

Princess Pea 12

Princess Pea 13

Phew. :)

Graphic Novel by Sara Barkat, at age 13.

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Resist! Your Creativity Depends on It

on the HIghline

When I was a new teacher, I remember reading Vygotsky. His thoughts about the Zone of Proximal Development were particularly intriguing, suggesting that we learn best when we are pushed to the edge of our competencies.

Being pushed OVER the edge? Not so useful. Finding the balance, the "cutting edge," or the "learning edge" as it were, is the challenge.

For this reason, we need others. Not huge disassociated groups of others, but others who engage with us closely and dynamically.

While I have gotten very excited about Piaget's ideas, which focus more on self-initiated learning, I'm just now coming back to Vygotsky and the thought that social interaction is critical for learning.

In regards to home education, this means I'm looking for ways to get my girls closer to the edge of their competencies, through new social opportunities. Most likely I'll sign them both up for Comedy Improv classes this Fall. My younger daughter tried Comedy Improv in a camp a few weeks ago, and it has such wonderful possibilities, offering "learning edge" experiences on both the cognitive and social levels. (Plus, it's collaborative, which I love. :)

Resistance, which Psyblog notes is best for optimal creativity, is built in to a "learning edge" type experience. So this Fall, we shall resist (albeit alongside laughter).


For more thoughts on the value of Resistance, but in a work context, check out my post today at Bibledude.net. Call Me Glinda: Tension and Relief for Successful Work Teams

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