Why Blog

I’m passionate about finding ways to simplify comprehension instruction and learning. I’m concerned that we are defining comprehension too narrowly as an accumulation of five or six meta-cognitive strategies when cultivating comprehension involves so much more than that. We need to help children acquire accurate fluent reading skills and strategies; build background knowledge; develop their oral language and vocabulary; make reading-writing connections, and acquire a repertoire of meta-cognitive strategies to use as and if needed.

So I invite you to join me in blogging about this ever-so-important topic. I look forward to hearing your ideas, teaching strategies, book recommendations, classroom stories, etc., basically anything that will inspire a healthy conversation among colleagues.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Anne Lamott—You Make Me Laugh!

Recently, feeling overwhelmed by all I have to do and underwhelmed by my meager writing talents, I was rereading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life for inspiration to keep going. But what I got instead was a ton of much-needed laughs and some insight into how Anne Lamott does it—make readers laugh that is. Here’s just one example that caused me to herald Ted from his office to “come hear what Anne wrote.” (I always like him to come to me, rather than me going to him. He-he.)

“I [Anne Lamott] started writing when I was seven or eight. I was very shy and strange-looking, loved reading above everything else, weighed about forty pounds at the time, and was so tense that I walked around with my shoulders up to my ears, like Richard Nixon. I saw a home movie once of a birthday party I went to in the first grade, with all these cute little boys and girls playing like puppies, and all of a sudden I scuttled across the screen like Prufrock’s crab. I was very clearly the one who was going to grow up to be a serial killer, or keep dozens and dozens of cats. Instead I got funny.”

I started thinking about why this passage is so funny. Why it left me practically falling off my chair and screaming frantically for Ted to come. It’s largely because I could SEE what she was describing through her often surprising comparisons.

I can picture Anne walking with her shoulders up to her ears like Nixon, can’t you?

I can see the boys and girls playing like puppies, can’t you?

I can envision her scuttling across the room (don’t you just love how active that verb is?) like Profrock’s crab.

So Anne, I’m glad you didn’t cross over to the dark side and become a serial killer or a hoarder of cats. I’m glad you got funny instead. Thank you for making me laugh…and teaching me about good writing. Now if you could just sit beside me and whisper in my ear when I write!


  1. You are fantastic!

    Time to write this post and speak all day.

  2. OK--this is hilarious. I love Anne Lamott's writing.
    I'm sure many would agree with me that you, my friend, are a great writer and pretty darn funny yourself.
    ......"Here’s just one example that caused me to herald Ted from his office to “come hear what Anne wrote.” (I always like him to come to me, rather than me going to him. He-he.)"
    Thanks for making me laugh today....for making me want to re-read Bird by Bird...and for getting me writing.

  3. hi friend...anne lamott IS hilarious. so glad you think so too and glad you're writing again.