Reading (and writing) to be changed.

Good Morning!! Happy 4th of July!

Today I am hanging out in my bed enjoying my planned rest day. It unfortunately is super gloomy out and the parade at my parent’s house was moved to tomorrow (my birthday). I am going to head to a friend’s house and hopefully see some NYC fireworks but who knows with this silly weather. It’s supposed to be nice on the 4th of July, c’mon weather didn’t you get the memo?

Anyway. As I previously mentioned I have been a commuter girl this week heading all the way uptown to Teacher’s College at Columbia University. I go every summer to learn about either Reading or Writing and study under the rock stars of the teaching world. I know this is a health and fitness blog but I really feel the need to reflect on this week and it some weird way I see a tie to running/health/fitness/social media as well. So please don’t leave the page (I mean do what you gotta do) and hear me out as I make sense of my learning and try and tie it into the theme of my blog.

I don’t want to get into the fine details of how I learned about close reading through shared reading or observing students’ MSV while reading. However I want to discuss this theme of reading and writing as a means of agency (words from Peter Johnston) and expression.

Lucy Calkins (teacher rock star) started the week off talking about the need to have a love of reading and the only way to get better at teaching reading is to read more. I have to be honest. Sometimes I question myself, am I a real reader? I can be a book abandoner and I don’t seem to make time to get into fun novels. However, if I stop and think about it, I read so many blogs each morning as I sip on my coffee. I love Runner’s World and Fitness Magazine and even my Cosmos 😉 I get true joy of reading my students’ writing pieces. I love re-reading favorite read alouds each year to my kids. I scroll through Instagram and Twitter, which is a form of reading. Can I do better as a reader? Yes. Although I am not reading the NY Times or up on the latest novel am I still a reader? Yes.

Now maybe you are saying, cool, you are a reader, andddd…?

This week while at the workshop during a break I stumbled upon an Instagram post. “Decide what it is you want. Write that ish down. Make a ___ing plan. And… Work on it. Every. Single. Day.” After that quote in the comments section this instagram writer went on what I read as a “rant” (every reader goes into a text with their point of view) about shout out to the people who don’t post every single workout and to those who feel the need to post about their 4 mile runs and continued about how you need to do it for yourself not the picture, etc. etc.

After close reading this text I was affected.

A woman I meet this week said she teaches her kids that “We read to be changed.” She explains that everything you read changes you in some way. Whether you have worked on your reading process more, you learned something new, you made a connection; you are changed.

Back to the instagram picture. I was somewhat bothered by this man’s remarks. Reading and writing go hand in hand. I would no doubt say I am a writer. I write this blog, I have the teaching of writing “in my bones” (for some reason I just really get it), I have kept journals, and I have published a few things. Well as I read this man’s comments, I kind of felt like he was attacking people’s right to write. Instagram, yes a source of social media, is really a forum for writing and reading. People take pictures, post quotes, share their pride, share their woes, share their inspirations, share new concepts, and the list goes on. I kind of felt like this writer was bashing the ones that write for pride and even inspiration.

There may be a fine line between bragging and pride and I guess with your schema and point of view that is how you would close read an Instagram post of someone’s “4 mile run” or “muscle gains.” If you go into reading the text (instagram post) with an eye of seeing these “fitspiration” posts as a means to brag then that is how you see it. Some people read these posts as true inspiration. Some people read these post to compare themselves and either feel better or worse about themselves.

I’m not fully sure if I have my brain fully wrapped around what I am trying to say. But what I think I am trying to say is, that social media, blogging, fitness magazines are all a forum for reading and writing. We read to be changed sometimes it isn’t a pretty change and sometimes it is.

That instagram writer’s post made me question my forms of writing. Sometimes my blog posts are a weekly recap of workouts and food or my Instagram pics are of the 4 miles I ran. Am I doing it to brag, (I sure hope it doesn’t come across that way- however it depends on the reader’s point of view) to inspire, to document, to reflect? I don’t know if I can answer that question. I am writing. Yes, I think about my audience (as in who is reading this, not how will they react) as I am expressing my thoughts through a picture and a caption. In my blog, I am writing to maybe give people ideas, and to have a place to document my experiences. Do I always question and hold on to each and every word I write? No. I am expressing my inner thoughts and that is what I have ownership of.

To try and conclude and come full circle, I don’t know if I fully can, reading and writing are our means of ownership (agency) and expression. I read blog posts and sometimes begin to compare. I see instagram posts and question what I do. But sometimes I read blog posts and get awesome ideas or feel inspired. Sometimes I close read instagram posts and make connections. It all depends on my point of view.

We all have full ownership of our reading and writing. Reading and writing is the most powerful form of communication. Social Media has made it even easier to get it out there.

So to the instagram writer that bashes the 4 mile posts, I see your point of view, I see your ownership and agency of your reading and writing. And I will continue to read


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