Literary Whiteboard Lettering, Week 2

Even though I had only been whiteboard lettering + giving book talks for a week, I’m already seeing an impact: the world studies teacher gave her own book talk to start a lesson, and students and teachers alike are getting interested in learning lettering! Here are Week 2’s boards:

Day 6: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This was for the day I was paired up with the Math teacher, of course. 

Day 7: Lord of the Flies

Day 8: The Glass Castle

The night before,  I had resolved to finally learning the art of the flourish. 

Day 9: Night

I caught a few reluctant readers with this book talk!

Day 10: 1984

Unfortunately, we had a gas leak scare (it wasn’t a gas leak) on Friday that disrupted our schedule, so I didn’t get to give a book talk to 2 classes… good thing I chose a book that they’ll read in 10th grade anyway!

On to week 3! Posting these all on @nerdladydraws on Instagram with #literarywhiteboardlettering. 

Whiteboard Lettering: Week 1

School started, so now I’ve got 135 students standing between me and lettering practice. To keep up my daily lettering goal and build on my practice as an English teacher, I have a new project for the school year: whiteboard lettering with literary quotes.

Part of the new Texas teacher evaluation system requires that teachers have a professional goal that they actively work on throughout the year. Mine is to incorporate a short book talk and 10 minutes of reading time at the beginning of every class period as a way of encouraging reading in my classroom, and my school. That’s where the lettering comes in. To start my book talks, I share an essential quote from the work–a quote that I have lettered on the board. Because my school is a strange one that has no walls and no assigned classrooms, I get to leave literary quotes throughout the building, hopefully getting not just my own students curious about a book, but the others at the school. In about a month or so, I need to start turning over book talks to the kids, so I may have to adjust my goal. But for now, I’m loving it. Here are this week’s boards and a little of my experience so far:

Day 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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I have ALWAYS wanted to say Dumbledore’s words at Harry’s first Hogwarts feast on the first day of school, and this year I got the chance! Very few students admitted to knowing the quote on the first day. Three days later, after I had thoroughly shown my nerdy side, the majority of the students were proud to raise their hands and admit that they knew the story of The Chosen One.

Day 2: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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I got the idea for daily book talks from the NTCTELA conference in June–basically, a huge gathering of North Texas English teachers. The keynote speakers were Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle, celebrities in the ELAR world. Gallagher led a session about guiding kids through confusing pieces, and used Jekyll and Hyde as an example. Hearing him speak about the continued relevance of classic literature, when I feel like I am stuck in a world that is emphasizing only vocational reading and writing, was absolutely refreshing. Most of my book talks this year will be classic pieces because I want my learners to be aware of literary works that have and continue to influence our modern culture.

Day 3: Not really CS Lewis

This was to get kids started on reading an essay that I hoped they would be able to connect to. It was also a good chance for me to talk about Google quotes–this one is often attributed to C.S. Lewis, but it’s actually from Shadowlands, the biopic about him.

I found out that I could play with filters on my phone to clean up the glare and grime from my whiteboard, but then it looks like digital lettering… so I’m choosing the #nofilter route to show that this is, in fact, lettered on a whiteboard.

Day 4: The Namesake

Because I draft and practice the night before on paper, the whiteboard lettering process has only been taking me about 10 minutes. It’s still a fifth of my planning time in the morning, but it’s also 10 minutes of “zen” time that helps me calm down and get in the zone for teaching.

Day 5: The Lord of the Rings

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At this point in the week, the kids were comfortable enough with each other to raise their hands when I asked if they had read The Hobbit, and even give a little exclamation of nerdy excitement to see that I was going to talk about Lord of the Rings.

This project has been fun and scary… When there are no walls to hide behind, it’s scary to think that your work is valuable enough to share with a whole school. Stay tuned – I plan on sharing my boards and reflections every week (as long as grading doesn’t get in the way)!

The Time for A New Obsession

As a teacher and mom to a 10-month-old, it seems like it would be impossible to find time for a new pursuit. I don’t even have enough hours in the day to sleep! But with the stress of teaching and parenting, art and lettering are what keep me sane. I make time for it, and I take advantage of natural lulls to nurture it.

Right now, I’m writing at 3am, sitting on the floor of the nursery, as my daughter finally dozes back to sleep after 2 hours of playing with my hair. During those two hours, in between a diaper change and sleepy attempts at coaxing her back to sleep, I was building relationships and studying artists on Instagram. Before going to bed at the very grown-up bedtime of 10pm, during the short time I get with my husband when we’re both awake and the baby’s asleep, I got a quick sketch in while we watched TV. For the past three months, I’ve been learning tips and practicing during conference periods, pumping sessions, nap times, and late night feedings.

That’s pretty much the way of it–as I wait, as I try to be patient, as I force myself to stay awake so I can be with (physically, if not mentally) my family, I create. Summer’s been good to me, giving me time to practice every day and start to find my own style. Now that school is starting again, I’ll have to play with time some more. 

I think that’s the nice thing about finding a new obsession: the passion fuels you to stay awake, urges you to ignore the dishes and the laundry, and instead do this thing that is so much more fun. The challenge now is to keep this passion going as more obligations come up, and to remember to not just make time for my passion, but to make time work for me. 

Find your passion. Obsess about it. Bend time to your will. And ignore the dishes just a little longer.

Introducing…The Nerd Lady!

English teacher by day, creative soul by night.

Nerd. All day, every day.

This is the story of how I combined my creative outlets, my escapes from the real world, my passions, and my hope into something greater. I am DFW teacher, a reader, a writer, a lover of sci-fi and fantasy, a disciple of science and faith and the magnificent human imagination, and above all, a nerd. Lettering and drawing have always been my hobbies: stress relievers when life gets overwhelming, gift givers when Target and Amazon fail me. Now, I want to share my nerdy illustrations and lettering with others.

As an English teacher in the modern world, I have seen the educational world begin to discard the art of literature in favor of more practical reading writing. I hope to use lettering to show the beauty of words from classic and modern literary works.

As a mother to a baby girl, I am becoming increasingly aware of the biases presented to young girls in the stories and images that they see every day. Although I have seen many more books, illustrations, and clothes that aim to build up young girls’ sense of adventure and discovery since I was a child, I still feel there is work to be done. I hope to create artwork that I can share with my daughter and other young girls to encourage them to be strong, brave, curious, and (of course) nerdy!

As an introvert with few words and a big heart, I love to give personalized gifts to my family and friends that highlight their passions and personalities. Here, I will share the work that I create for my loved ones. I hope to share my skills in custom wedding and nursery artwork soon!

Although I am new to the art world, I have been blogging on and off for over fifteen years. My most recent venture into the blogosphere was with “No More Than 150” (foolishly rebranded to “So This is My Life Now” when I got intense writer’s block during my pregnancy), a blog in which I attempted to write in 150 words or fewer. A fun experiment, but I couldn’t keep it up for too long. My proudest pieces are the ones in which I broke my word limit and wrote from the heart. Read my favorite pieces below:

This time, my blog will be my home base for sharing my art pieces. However, I can’t avoid writing; I’m sure I’ll end up sharing about my journey as I go forth into completely uncharted territory for an English teacher. Join me on my new adventure!Go to “Portfolio” to see more examples of my work. If you like what you see, follow me on Instagram @nerdladydraws!