Wednesday, July 17, 2013

National Writing Project Day #8, Texture Texts & Writing to a Body Part

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Before I begin recapping my day at the UWM-WP, I have to share that I got some bad news on my way home from Milwaukee.  Before I left campus, I checked my phone and found this picture of my son, Ryan, and a text from my husband.
Ryan fell at the Boy Scout Jamboree and broke his right ankle in two places.  (My husband is out there serving on the EMS team and was the driver who got to pick Ry up from the hospital.)   

Big time bummer!!!

He is on crutches now with a cast which is really unfortunate because he was signed up to go white water rafting later this week and I'm not quite sure how he's going to get around the camp (it's on a mountain) with crutches.  I will talk to my husband later tonight to see if I will be driving out to West Virginia this weekend to pick Ryan up.  Hopefully not....please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Now on to brighter times....

Today at the UWM-WP, Jody taught us about something called "texture texts."  I was not familiar with this phrase so it was a very interesting presentation.

You know how in your class you teach a novel to the whole class?  Well, sometimes you might include some additional "texts" such as songs, movie trailers, photographs, famous speeches, advertisements, etc., to help your students understand the main ("fulcrum") text.  Well, those additional texts are called "texture texts".  Jody shared how these texture texts can be analyzed and written about to help increase critical thinking and comprehension.

Also this morning, we met with the Teen Writers Academy at UW-Milwaukee for a shared writing experience that was so awesome and will definitely be finding its way into my classroom this fall.

For this activity, we were asked to personify a body part (either one we loved or hated) and write a letter to it.  We then switched letters with our teen writer, and we responded to each other's letter.  I want to share my letter to demonstrate:

Dear Hair,

                Some days, it seems like you’ve taken on a life of your own.  As much as I try, your will to do whatever YOU want to do wins over MY battle to control you.

                I wash you, dry you, flat iron you, piece you into place.  I spray your lightly with hairspray to try to get you to stay.  However, when I finish, it’s as if your strong willed wild-child side takes over.

                You begin to frizz, flatten and flop.  No matter what I do, you will not conform to my ways.  With a mind of your own, you put the “bad” in “bad hair day.”

                                                                                          With Disdain,

                                                                                          Me Who’s Having a Bad Hair Day

Sophie, my teen writing partner, wrote this thoughtful response:

Dear Bad Hair Day,

                Well, I must say I’m not appreciated, am I?  Here I sit, day after day, with wind blowing, icy raindrops falling, heat baking, and you say I’m frizzy & floppy.

                No, no, no…Remember that wedding you once were at?  (Or was it a party?)  I forget, but the compliments we got were up the kazoo!  I mean, I was even adored by YOU!  Now think….Am I bad, or is it YOU? 

I look adorable, sitting like a crown while your hands flutter, your face in a frown.  I’m a place for those glasses you seem to wear.  I’m a layer of pure style between your scalp and air!  I can feel when you storm & brew wanting your hair to look nothing like you.

 But others are jealous!  I share no lies!  I’m perfect just as you.  We will always be fit together.  I’m on you like glue!

                So look no further, I am here to stay, but please just love me.  I look fine, I tell you.  Believe me, there’s not much else I can do.  Your brain says I have to stop.  But remember, I’m always up there.

                You’re welcome!


                                                                                                Your Stylin’ Hair

Isn't this awesome for a 20 minute writing activity?  Imagine how you could do something like this in your classroom...

  • Solving math problems
  • Content area questioning and discussions
  • Reading response from a read aloud
  • Teaching point of view
  • Teaching figurative language like personification
  • And so on!
Plus, this is collaborative learning!  I love it when I find something good I can use in my classroom.  I hope you did too!

It's so hot here I think I'm headed for the pool.  My poor dogs have really been having a hard time with the heat.  However, Toby found the perfect place to hang out -- right in front of the fan!

Thanks for reading! Have a great evening & stay cool!


  1. What a great idea! I am totally going to try this in my class. Thanks.
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. I love the letter to your body part thing! Will definitely be doing that this year!



  3. I love the letter to a body part-and the idea of having a classmate respond. I am totally trying that out this year!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  4. Poor Ryan! Hope he feels better. He should write to his ankle!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  5. Oh goodness - I hope Ryan is feeling better soon! I absolutely love this idea, Jennifer. It would be fun to see students talk about a specific quote or character in a book. Definitely a more interactive way to gauge student comprehension. Thanks for sharing! :)

    The Brown-Bag Teacher

  6. I love this idea, how there is the response from another writer. Thank you for sharing!

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road


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