978-793-1553 fitz@johnfitz.com

Welcome to The Crafted Word

by John Fitzsimmons | TheCraftedWord.org

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      The Crafted Word is here because I love words. It is here because I have a compelling instinct to share what I have learned about the craft of writing. I have learned that writing well is NOT an obscure art. It is an attentiveness to learning–and practicing– skills that have stood the test of time, spiced by a dash of daring and audacity. It is knowing what works and why. It is knowing your audience and somehow firing them up to keep reading, and, when they get to the end, it was well-worth the time spent reading.  

It is not the realm of the gifted. It is within the realm and reach of anyone who desires to be a writer. The only prerequisite is will. Do you really want to be a writer? If so, then just do it. The Crafted Word can help you begin that quest. If you don’t, maybe I can still help you. Just don’t give up on yourself. 

If you are a student trying to make sense of what you have been taught or assigned or required to do, I can help you get going and get through and get finished.  

If you are a teacher looking for ways to teach writing, I can help you–heck, I’ll even give you–every trick that thirty years in the battlefield of the classroom has worked to engage even the most disengaged and sullen student. 

If you are a parent desperate for ways to help your kid get a leg up on the horse and boost his or her confidence as a reader and writer, I can hand them the reins, show them the trail and point them in the right direction.  

If you are a writer who needs another set of honest eyes or who needs to make something zing that is not zinging, I can help shore up your foundation, sharpen your vision and build the clarity that eludes you.

If you are a weary department head doing your damndest to get your equally weary teachers to try new things, I will come to your school and show what really works–and how a simple and energizing approach to writing can renew, restore and reinvigorate whatever is dragging the system down.

And, finally, if you are just the common soul who knows in your heart that you forgot most of what you learned about writing and punctuation and grammar and rhetorical devices, I can show you that you have not forgotten as much as you think–and you’ll soon think your the next incarnation of Shakespeare.

Oh, and one more finally, if you are a songwriter or just someone looking to dust off that old guitar and make a stab at stardom, I am also a folksinger of small renown–with the emphasis on small, and I would be happy to help get you playing again–or for the first time. By my scientific experience, it takes the average person about twelve hours to learn to play–or at least well enough to fool people into thinking you were once a child prodigy. Really!

In short, whomever or whoever or whatever you are, I can help you.  

Just give me a call.

Thanks,

John Fitz, Proprietor,

TheCraftedWord.org

978-793-1553
fitz@johnfitz.com

“An absolute treasure of folksongs, stories, and contagious charm” 

~Doris Kearns-Goodwin

American Historian

Fitz is remarkable as a writing teacher for a number of reasons: for his help with technique, for his impressive role-modeling, and for his inspiring personality. I wanted to write well when I wrote for Fitz!

~Paul Michaud

Winner: The Groton School Writing Prize, 2018

With the wit and engaging personality of a born storyteller, Fitz connects with his students and inspires them to write confidently and effectively in their own voices. He taught our son the fundamentals of excellent writing through critical analysis of poetry, song lyrics, classic literature, blogs and video essays.  Thanks to Fitz’s guidance and support, our son is excelling at Vanderbilt University. 

 ~Dave Reudiger

John has tutored all three of my boys. He engages his students with a creative, effective and dynamic toolset that includes technology, humor, compassion and a deep knowledge of students to enhance and deepen his or her writing skills and self-confidence.

~Gari Palmer

Contact Fitz or call: 978-793-1553

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The Crafted Word Blog

Fitz’s ramblings, reflections, songs, essays & poetry…

Welcome to The Crafted Word

     I have been teaching, writing, playing and performing for over thirty-five years, while during these last ten years I have been given the time and space and support (and funds) to create a classroom and pedagogy that through stops and starts...

I Will Not Let a Test Result Determine My Fate

https://youtu.be/D-eVF_G_p-Y

The Poet’s Arrow

As with most poets trying to write a poem—in any style— the difficult part is getting started. In the complex swirl of life there might seem to be too many options, or not enough, and so a young poet may look like a confused archer in a chaotic battlefield. What a...

WW Fenn Week

It is hard to imagine a more perfect weekend for memorizing your WW Fenn piece!The class presentations will start on Thursday, [Monday for ninth grade] so please be ready. Those with shorter pieces will be asked to go first.By now you should have posted your WW Fenn...

Openings & Closings…

Both 8th grade and 9th grade are working on opening paragraphs, and I bet more than a few of you are a bit stumped on how to start. Some of you may even be working on a conclusion.Wouldn't that be nice.My best advice is to use the latest version of my iBook "Fitz's...

A Better LMS

Finding the Right Learning Management System  A fight worth fighting      An LMS is simply an online or app-based learning management system—an all-encompassing term for how and what a school (or a business) uses to create and manage its online courses, including:...

Keep The Passion Alive

The Power of Descriptive Writing Tell Your Story           Our minds shift gears when filled with imagery: either we slow down and smell the flowers or we shift into a higher gear, and our minds become alive with the power and rush that only images and actions can...

8th: Star Wars and You

Book XV is no the most exciting book in The Odyssey, but it "sets up" the next six books in an important way. I was thinking of this as I left Star Wars tonight (which, by the way) is a masterful retelling of The Odyssey). I liked the movie, but I did feel like I was...

Starting Up…

This was certainly not an ideal way for us to start the year, but we will make the best of it.  From here on in, this site will be a place you need to visit and comment on in a regular way. I will be posting your upcoming assignments and grades on Finalsite, but the...

Making a Poem Better

     So, you finished your “poem” in whatever genre of poetry you are writing, and you turn it in and proudly think, ‘There is no way any teacher can grade me down after I poured my heart and soul onto the page!” And you know, I...

Ten Writing Genres

Doing something which is “different” does not come easily to most of us. The wrestling team I coach will look at me sideways if I ask them to practice cartwheels. I’ve even heard that some professional football teams bring in dance instructors to teach their behemoth...

The Great Essay Robbery

Good writers borrow. Great writers steal...And for these essays you are writing, steal from yourself.All of you--both my 8th and 9th grades students--are smack dab in the middle of writing your essays. Everybody is under the gun timewise to finish these essays, so...

It’s time for a change…

https://youtu.be/6W7xnYQGlg4 Let the chips fall where they will...My entire adult life has been spent writing personal essays. I fact, whenever I write anything else—a song, a poem, or a story—I can trace its birth to some essay I have previously written. Personal...

Writing a Metacognition

If we don’t learn from what we do, we learn little of real value. If we don’t make the time to explore, reflect and rethink our ways of doing things, we will never grow, evolve and reach our greatest potential or tap into the possibilities in our lives.

A Reflection

Close Your Eyes & See          A lot of things in life fall short of the mark, but thoughtfulness has never let me down. For some forty years I have faithfully kept journals of the wanderings of my mind—most of which is lost in some way or another, but the effect...

Ah, grading…

I am just about to sit down, sip on a cup of tea and grade your essays. Sometimes it is daunting to look at the list of submissions--then look at all the other things in life I need to do--and find the energy to begin...but it is what I have to do. I trusted you to do...

Walden Essay & Mid Year Exam

All of the components for the Walden essay are posted on iTunes U. The essay is the major component of the mid-year exam.  The essay should be posted to your blog and to iTunesU on Tuesday, the day before the mid-year exam on Wednesday.Follow the details of the...

The Uses and Abuses of Rhetoric

So What’s Your Point?The Uses and Abuses of RhetoricKnowing that you do not understand is a virtue; 
Not knowing that you do not understand is a defect.
—Lao TzuNobody likes to be wrong, and for that matter, most of us “like” to be right. Few of us walk around...

Remember the Time

Write what you know. ~Mark Twain       I don’t always practice what I preach, especially when it comes to the simple, unaffected, and ordinary “journal entry.” Much of my reticence towards the casual journal entry is the public nature of posting our journal...

Passion…

Does this video really have anything to do with English? It was posted by a friend--who is easily the most talented musician I know--so I watched, more out of a shop teacher's curiosity of "how things are made." What strikes me most is not the skill of the violin...

Me & Rocky…

Take your foot off the brakes, but keep your eyes on the road~FitzOnce, back in my days as a logger, I cut through a big white oak. I didn't realize that the trunk was mostly rotten and hollow until my chain saw was most of the way through the monstrous tree. After...

Grading

"Don't let school interfere with your education..."~Mark Twain      Grading is that part of a teacher's life that should bring some kind of solace to our work. No doubt, it is an arduous chore most of the time for the sheer amount of time it takes to do...

The Gift of Words

If you want to learn to write well, start writing and do not stop. If you do not want to learn to write well, this will be a wasted class—empty time leading towards a deeper emptiness. We are all born communicators. We all feel angst when our words are misunderstood,...

Fenn Speaks…

I am You, and You are me... Give a damn & figure it out        I feel like one of my students: it’s the night before my big presentation at All-school-meeting, and I still don’t know what I am going to talk about. I just know I am supposed to...

Teach Like a Shop Teacher

 Teaching Traditional & Modern Skills for Reading, Writing, Creating & Sharing in a Digital World Create a Better Classroomfor You & Your Students Teaching Traditional & Modern Skills for Reading, Writing, Creating & Sharing in a Digital WorldTeach...

The Power of Simplicity

Years ago I wrote in my journal that my goal in life was to be small, be simple, be wise, be happy, and above all be ready. I cannot honestly say that I have achieved all of these goals, but these are still the “ideals” I strive to live in my life. These are my...

The State of Maine

I wrote this short story about twenty years ago after hearing an old folk tale retold by Jerry Bell. I took the gist of the story and remade it as a story set in a prison in Maine to retell myself as a story. Eerily similar to The Shawshank Redemption—though Hollywood...

Finishing Walden…sort of…

We are not finishing Walden, but we are finishing a good chunk of some of Thoreau's influential passages and philosophical statements. Before class on Thursday, upload the full abbrieviated Walden 1-4 and read the "rest" of the book slowly and deliberately. Highlight...

The Silver Apples of the Moon

The most powerful and enduring connection we share as a human race is our desire and need to share stories. We engage in the art of storytelling more than most of us ever realize; whether we are describing our kids’ soccer games, critiquing the latest HBO series, telling a ribald joke, or remembering a long lost friend, event, memory, book, or experience.

The Concord Town Dump

When I was a kid it was the dump. Every Saturday morning my father and I would pile a week’s worth of trash into the back of our Plymouth Fury station wagon and head the to the Concord town dump. Back then the dump was a place of perpetually burning fires and massive...

Design Writing Plans & Rubrics

Detailed Blueprints for Effective Writing

The Art of the Essay

Tell your story. Tell it well

Learn Wisely

John Fitzsimmons has a love for the mechanics of writing and a powerful command of the written word. The magic is in his overall approach to life. Time with him is a gift to your child.  While they are becoming stronger writers and meeting their project goals, they are absorbing John’s life lessons on practicality, positivity, hard work and generosity.

~Anne Elton

The Writer's Toolbox

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Essays. Resumes. Manuscripts. Portfolios. Websites.

 

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Laak Woodworks, Berthoud, CO

 

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