A few years ago, a country highway I regularly drive in the summer became part of a pilot program to stop tailgating. Large white dots were painted on the road, and new signs instruct drivers to keep a minimum of two dots between them and the car they’re following. Rear-end collisions are a danger on […]
Most of my many school visits have been amazing, positive adventures (see my post titled “Traveling Like a Rock Star”). A few of my visits have featured minor bumps in the road. And one school visit—thank goodness, one only!—might be better described as a major traffic incident. It happened when I was still a “newbie” […]
When students set out to revise, a whole lot of different things will all try to grab their attention at once. Encourage them to focus their attention on a few key things each time.
as often as I tell students that I prefer to wait until I can see the entire shape of a piece before I title it, there are always those who ask me—beg me, really—for permission to write their title first.
I’ve tried to create a stimulating atmosphere in my home office. Works of art by the illustrators of my picture books adorn the walls. I have a Rainbow Maker in the window. There are blooming plants and inspiring sayings and a basket of toys to play with. There are birds chirping outside the window (even […]
When I was a kid, one of my neighborhood gang’s favorite summer games was to “play chauffeur.” We’d jump on our bikes and gather for shoptalk at chauffeur headquarters (a.k.a. the middle of our quiet side street). Then we’d race off in different directions to pick up members of the enviably wealthy and pampered (yet […]
One of my favorite pieces of writing advice comes from author Faith Sullivan. I share it here for you to pass along to your students. When you are writing about a story’s setting, don’t leave the reader feeling like a distant observer.
When I visited Los Angeles not long after the 1992 riots, a home-town writer told me a story that made me feel what it was like to live there in those uncertain times. His drive home passed a large police station. He was always on alert as he drove by; everyone thought there could be […]
The way we talk can be a dead giveaway that we’re from elsewhere—Google the phrase “pop vs. soda,” and you’ll ﬁnd color-coded maps that divide the country like election night results.
As an elementary school kid, my most vivid recurrent dream featured a road trip. In it, I’m in the driver’s seat, although it’s the car that’s in control. My two-years-younger brother and our two best neighborhood friends are also along for the ride. We are on a straight stretch of the two-lane highway that leads […]
It’s amazing that I passed my driver’s test on the ﬁrst try, since I can see now that I was a pretty bad driver. But I was an excellent test-taker, and the State of Minnesota sent me home with a score of 96 out of 100. Mere weeks later I backed the family van into […]
Encourage students to drive their imaginations like speeding getaway cars. Before you know it, their stories will be packed with the suspense and tension that conflicts provides.
When I was a kid, a visit from my Texas grandparents guaranteed horizon-expanding experiences. For one thing, we were exposed to food choices not common to our little house in Minnesota’s north woods. I’m not talking about chili—my Texan father cooked that all the time. I’m talking about Grandma drinking hot Dr. Pepper instead […]
I may not have to ﬁght off paparazzi like a movie star, but I’m still spy-worthy when my knickers are down. And roadies don’t load my car, but oftentimes I feel like a rock star before the day of a school visit is over.
There is a particular road trip that has become a summer ritual for me, a journey that takes me to another time as well as another place: going to The Lake.