Reflecting on #DigiWriMo

Since November 11, I’ve logged my writing on Evernote as part of my participation in #DigiWriMo.

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The purpose of this log was to examine how much writing I do for my classroom, and to determine ways to be more intentional about the writing I do with and for my students.

I’ve learned a few things from this process.  I’d like to write about these at greater length later, when I have more time both to process and to compose, but I’ll briefly note what I’ve learned in this post.

1) I usually have ideas in my head – my 5-year plan is a good example of this – but I often don’t put these ideas down in writing.
2) I write a lot.  Most of this writing is directly related to my classroom practice.
3) The writing I do for my classroom tends to be “writing I have to do.”  While I enjoy my work, I want to create more opportunities for myself to do “writing I want to do.”
4) If I am doing a lot of “writing I have to do,” are my students doing the same?  Will they want to write outside of the classroom if this is the case?
5) I would like to do a better job of creating activities where students write for audiences beyond the classroom.
6) I should delegate more.  I do too much myself; I need to teach others to do some of these things, and facilitate their taking on responsibilities.  (Examples:  I need to teach peer revision more effectively in my English classes; I need to teach club officers to organize activities more effectively.)
7) When I collaborate, I learn more.  I need to create more space for collaboration, both online and at my site.

In addition to exploring these ideas further, I would like to think more about my view of myself as a writer:  how my concept of myself as a writer has changed over the past 20 years, and what this might for my future as a writer and as a teacher of writing.

I also started to write a 5-year plan, which I’ll continue to work on in December.


Amnesty International’s Write for Rights Campaign

I’m intend to write a reflection on #DigiWriMo tomorrow, but I wanted to blog first about Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign.  I’ve just signed up to participate in this event, which involves writing letters on behalf of activists and communities who are suffering from human rights violations. The event runs from December 1 – 17.

I would encourage everyone who has participated in #DigiWriMo or #CLMOOC to participate in the campaign.  I’ve signed up to write 5 letters, though I will try to write more.  I’m also going to encourage students to participate.

You can read more at Amnesty International’s site.

Adventures in the Valley(s)

Marlene and I had to pick up our quarterly wine club bottles from Agua Dulce Winery in the Sierra Pelona Valley in northern Los Angeles County (about an hour from our house).  On the way, we decided to stop in the northeast San Fernando Valley at #100 on LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s Top 101 Restaurants, Rocio’s Mole de los Dioses (mole of the gods/goddesses).

I started off with a refreshing agua de nopal con piña (fruit drink with cactus and pineapple).  We shared the mole sampler; I  also had a cactus salad and Marlene had a chicken dish with mole poblano.

The mole sampler with “nopaltillas,” cactus tortillas. Photo by Marlene Caldera.

The moles were delicious, probably the best I’ve ever had.  The “mole de los dioses,” made with huitlacoche, an edible fungus that grows on corn and is also called “corn truffle,” had a smooth creaminess; the mole manchamanteles was smoky, almost like a Mexican barbecue sauce; and the mole de nopal was creamy up front and hot at the end.

After lunch, we headed over the Newhall Pass into the Santa Clarita Valley and exited California Highway 14 at Placerita Canyon Road to visit the Placerita Canyon Nature Center.


The center, maintained by LA County Parks & Recreation, is the home of a famous tree:  the Oak of the Golden Dream.

Photo by Marlene Caldera

Leon Worden’s article at Santa Clarita TV’s history website tells the story:  according to legend, in 1842, Francisco Lopez was herding cattle on his niece’s ranch when took a nap under an oak tree.  As he slept, he dreamed that he was swimming in a pool of gold.  After his siesta, Don Francisco found some wild onions, and, after he dug the onions up, he noticed that some particles of gold in the dirt around the onion roots.  Sure enough, Placerita Canyon was the site of the first gold strike in California, six years before the famous strike in Northern California.

Next, we headed to the Vasquez Rocks, not far from the winery.  If you’ve ever watched Star Trek, you’ve seen this iconic landform.

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Apparently, not far from the rocks are Native American petroglyphs.  Looks like we’ll have to go back and hike that trail!

We ended up at the winery around 3:30.  It was getting late, so we only stayed long enough to pick up our wine before heading for home.