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From Start to Finish

Module Five

The Accordion

Expanding - Contracting

Jumping Back and Forth


At this stage we begin stringing the beads we have collected. We start moving our bits and pieces around.

Not afraid to mix metaphors, we hop, skip and jump about to see which words fit with which others. This is a time to move towards collections of phrases and an occasional sentence, but we continue to keep the fragments in a "state of flux."

We begin to lay the pieces out in what begins to look like some order, but we are not bound by the sequence. We add to those ideas which invite our attention. We lose little time worrying over others. We do not sit and stare. We keep moving.

We make every effort to suspend critical judgment here, waiting for a later stage to refine our language and our expression.

In some ways this expansion is like the swelling of an accordion as it is pulled apart and filled with air (in this case words and ideas). Later we shall compress and refine.

We are not ready for the word processor yet. Perhaps you have started some new cluster diagrams and are trying to figure out where you stand.

  1. How many of the lyrics were actually helpful?
  2. When life is tough, how many good songs does it take?
  3. How does the gathering you have done influence your thinking about the essential question?
Some folks complain that Country & Western lyrics are too trite and too simple to offer any wisdom or help when it comes time to facing our own problems and life issues. Based on your own life experience and knowledge of the songs, to what extent have you found this complaint to be valid or invalid?

Spend 15-20 minutes moving your words and phrases around. String them out and see how they work in various combinations and sequences.

Once you have a sequence which seems pleasing, start weaving words together into groups and clusters and sentences. Jump back and forth from section to section, writing where you have the most interest and readiness.

Time to stand up and take a walk down to the library media center. Pull out some good picture books and let your mind wander away from your writing to pleasant vistas and images. Give yourself a 10-15 minute break from writing pressure. Think of these images as fertilizer to help keep your mind awake and alert.

Spend another 15-20 minutes composing and organizing your ideas into more and more sentences. Are you beginning to see paragraphs emerging? What words help you to string together the sentences into paragraphs which flow? How can you create smooth transitions?

When the group leader tells you it is time, answer the question below in your word processor.

Strategy question: How does a teacher know how much time is needed for students to move from disorganized collections of fragments to somewhat orderly collections of sentences?

Please do not move ahead to the next activity until asked to do so by your workshop leader.

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 These professional development modules were created by Jamie McKenzie. © 2000, J.McKenzie, all rights reserved. The modules may only be duplicated and served on school networks with permission of the author. For further information contact