Tag Archives: creativity

WordPlay: Teaching ESL writing through play, movement, & joyful experimentation

Next Friday, April 10th, I’m teaching a workshop (playshop, really) for teachers of English as a Second Language. Very excited about this chance to bring the sense of joy and play I feel about language and writing to teachers. Here’s the blurb. There’s a link below to sign up. AND, if you’re far, far away (or the date doesn’t work for you), there may be an opportunity to take the class virtually. Stay tuned for more details.

When we learn language as children, we approach it with a sense of play and open curiosity, experimenting with sound and form; learning is a byproduct of our joy and sense of play. Learning English as a Second Language can offer the same opportunities to find joy and playfulness along the journey.

There are so many ways to make writing fun and interesting in the ESL classroom…but are you fresh out of ideas?  Come enjoy an afternoon of exploring GREAT writing ideas for your students of all levels with writer and teacher Heather Marshall.  We’ll explore wordplay, including rhythm and rhyme and alliteration; we’ll experiment with the order and length of sentences, tenses and point of view; we’ll embody our verbs to help build vocabulary.

As always, English for Life trainings are a combination of up-to-date, practical strategies and tools for teaching, and time to connect with other teachers in our community.  Following the training, I hope you’ll plan to join us at Red Bowl to catch up and enjoy sushi happy hour.



Write to the Heart

First day of Spring, sunshiny and lovely here in South Carolina. After you get a little sun on in the morning, come on in to North Main Yoga and Write to the Heart.

 Write to the Heart with Heatherthistle for write to the heart

March 21, 2015 @ North Main

Write to the Heart: The Story of Your Life as A Heart-Centered Pilgrimage.  Whether you are walking in to work, to your home, to the coffee shop, everything in your life is created as a result of who you are at your core, at your heart. Every time you step into a space, you bring more than what’s needed for the next item on your calendar, you bring yourself. You’re on a pilgrimage of sorts; each moment is an intersection of hopes and fears and challenges. Each moment offers us the opportunity to meet it at the heart.

Using image as inspiration and creative writing as a tool, participants will explore where they are on their pilgrimage, reconnect with the heart center that drives that pilgrimage and see where they would like to journey next.

Class includes gentle movement and writing.  No experience in yoga or writing is needed.

Bring a journal / paper and pen.

Cost: $20
Time: 2-4pm

A to Z: Food

A to Z, day 6: food, for your creativity, for your spirit — not just any old thing,  real nourishment.

Somewhere in me, there lives a sled dog. Yes, one of those fabulous Idtarod dogs who will haul themselves and their team and their sled across miles and miles and miles of wilderness, just keeping on. This is the part of me that facilitates wakening at 04:30 and writing, day in, day out. I am grateful for this part of me. I have to take care to allow my gratitude to manifest itself in nourishment. The best trainers know that a well-tended dog works hardest. That’s not the only reason they nourish their dogs, though. They do it because they value the dog, love it, find the relationship a key part of their lives.

The word nourish comes from the French nouriss (an obsolete meaning was nurse) and further back to Latin, meaning to suckle, feed, foster, cherish, preserve, support.

All of these are important to continuing to be a decent writer (and a decent human being). So here are a few ways in which I nourish myself and my inner sled dog.

Cooking. I love to cook. I like thinking about a beautiful meal, shopping for fresh ingredients, taking the time to slowly prepare the meal and then sharing it with people I love.

Walking. I walk every day. As I go, I try to make it a meditation, being fully present in the moment, really seeing and hearing and smelling what’s going on around me.

Meditation. Again, every day. Usually morning and night. But if all I manage is ten minutes of sitting right before bed, it still counts.

Yoga. If the sled dog has been working really hard, I might take supported poses in class, or I might do some restorative poses at home. Here’s a link to an article in Yoga Journal that might help you get started. http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/991

Yes, of course, reading. That’s everyday too. Don’t be a snob about it. If you feel like reading something that’s totally outside the realm of anything you’d ever want to write, that’s okay. Just enjoy it.

I take in other art. Dance. Sing. Paint. (Usually in the privacy of my own home. It still counts.)

I also keep a gratitude journal. In it, I thank the sled dog.

Then we get harnessed up, because, although we all need nourishment, those of us who have strong inner sled dogs are really happiest when we’re working.