Welcome to the May edition of eMuse!! Read more!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Writing: A Family Project
By Kim Pavlock and Cathy Fleischer
Since January of this year, we have had the privilege of presenting more than fifteen workshops for parents, teachers, and families through the EMWP Family Literacy Initiative. While we have received a number of requests in the past two years for our 90-minute workshop for parents and our 90-minute workshop for families, two schools (
Over the course of a month, students and families at each of these schools came together on four different occasions to listen to, write, and share stories about favorite places to play. Each workshop brought forth incredible energy and enthusiasm as the families talked together about their memories of play places, wrote stories and poems about those places, and worked hard to make these places come alive for their readers. Students learned about strategies like adding details, taking snapshots, choosing strong nouns and verbs, and writing good leads. Parents learned strategies and techniques for talking with their children about writing and ways to support their children as writers.
In the first of four sessions, we read stories and poems about favorite play places and invited the children and their parents to draw, brainstorm, and begin writing about a favorite play place. In the second session, we focused on revision techniques and introduced students and families to
In the third session, we focused on the finer points of polishing, introducing students and families to self and peer evaluation and offering checklists we developed based on their own school’s grade level expectations. During the fourth and last session, participants came together for a celebration of writing where families received an anthology of the students’ and parents’ writing collected and published by the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, had a chance to read their writing out loud, and sign autographs.
Just as writing is a key component to these sessions, so, too, is the time spent stepping back to reflect on what the writers are learning about writing and how to support student writers. We brought each session to a close with a discussion about the different strategies that we modeled and how the parents might adapt these strategies at home. And because a number of parents attending these workshops could not speak or understand English, we were fortunate to have had a Spanish translator present at each session to help us work with the families (provided by the schools).
We applaud the students for their work in developing and polishing their writing. And we commend the parents, too, for modeling the importance of writing by immersing themselves in the writing process as well and publishing a piece of writing in either English or in Spanish. For more information on how you can participate contact Kim or Cathy at email@example.com.
Inkstains Young Writers’ Summer Camps
Middle School – July 7-11, 2008
High School – July 14-18, 2008
By Doug Baker
Inkstains, EMWP’s Young Writers’ Camp for middle and high school students, returns for its fifth year. For the first three years, Tim Authier (now a vice principal at
This year, Aimee will once again direct the camp, and she plans to continue the energetic pace for this summer’s young writers. She has selected EMWP fellows (all certified local teachers) as instructors for the camps and is in the process of coordinating visiting writers and other events.
EMWP invites middle or high school students to apply for the camp, and teachers are asked to encourage interested students to apply. The application may be sent to the address below and should be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a teacher and a writing sample from the student. The camps will be hosted by EMWP and EMU at the new
Please email or send questions about the camps to:
Dr. W. Douglas Baker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Co-Director Inkstains Young Writers’ Summer Camp
For an online copy of the Inkstains brochure, visit http://www.emichwp.org/inkstainsbrochure08.pdf
Helping Families Love to Write
By Kim Pavlock
On Monday, June 9, 2008, Kim Pavlock and Deb Hetrick will present a parent workshop at 826michigan in
During the Inkstains Middle School Writing Camp, which takes place July 7 - 11, Cathy Fleischer and Kim Pavlock will offer two sessions for parents of students enrolled in the camp on the topic of “How to Support Your Middle School Writer.” The purpose of these workshops is to help parents find ways to support their child as a writer: by learning about best practices in writing instruction, by discovering specific strategies that parents can use to help student writers, and by doing a little writing themselves.
On Tuesday, July 8, parents will explore strategies, take part in a “parents only, mini-writing marathon” (much like the one their kids will experience on Monday), and learn tips for how to respond to kids’ writing. On Friday, parents will learn ways to talk about writing with students beyond the one-week camp. For more information about this unique opportunity for middle school parents, please contact Kim Pavlock at email@example.com.
By Tricia Maslow
Two schools in the
As a result of this partnership, three teachers from
Staff members from both schools were given professional development time to:
- Visit schools in other districts to observe reading and writing workshops.
- Observe for a half day, and then go back to building to discuss and reflect on the morning experiences.
The partnership enabled the staff from both buildings to volunteer to attend a Saturday workshop at
As a result of this partnership, the two schools will pilot two separate week long writing camps this summer. Creative Inklings will be held one week at the middle school for advanced writers in grades 7-8 and one week for the elementary level for grades 4-6. The camp will involve the students in a writing experience that is sure to be inspirational and memorable. During the week long camp, the writers will have the opportunity to:
· Experience a writing marathon.
· Write in a comfortable and encouraging atmosphere.
· Participate in reading and writing response groups.
· Contribute to an anthology that will be published by the week’s end with a celebration.
The camp teaching staff will gain professional development daily, and have the opportunity to teach mini lessons throughout the week. Then, once school starts in the fall, the 6 teachers along with the director and co-director will meet three times during the year to discuss what they are trying in the classroom, and support each other as they continue to try new writing lessons.
EMWP Representatives Seek Federal Support
By Debbie Young
Hundreds of Writing Project teachers, from all fifty states, and from all grade levels K-16, gathered in
Sarah Lorenz, (TC ’97), and I, (Debra Young, TC ’06), from the EMWP, joined other teachers from Writing Projects of Michigan to make a strong delegation who requested the continued financial support of the Writing Project by Congress. Teachers generally made appointments to meet with Congresspersons who represent the district where he or she lives, works, or where the Writing Project has served schools in the past. Sarah and I met with Rep. John Dingell, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Rep. John Conyer’s assistant, Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s assistant, and Sen. Carl Levin’s assistant.
Each visit was an amazing experience. In each case we were greeted warmly and made to feel that our opinions and experiences with the Writing Project are important. In our meetings, one consistent comment that was expressed by the politicians, or those who represented them, is that writing is an essential skill for today’s workforce. Many with whom we spoke with credit their own ability to write well as the means for getting them into the job positions they now hold.
Our meeting with Rep. John Dingell was very warm and friendly. It was especially meaningful to me when he recalled the 55 letters that I hand delivered to him one year ago during my visit to the 2007 Writing Project Spring Conference. My third graders wrote persuasive letters about social issues that concern them. He even made specific reference to a few of those concerns my students had expressed. Others from his staff also remembered the letters, and they made positive comments as well. These brief meetings do establish trust with the politicians whose decisions affect education so greatly. Fortunately, Rep. Dingell has been a supporter of the Writing Project in the past.
Perhaps the meeting that turned out to be the most fun was with Rep. Thaddeus McCotter. He had an intense interest in hearing about our work. McCotter, who you can tell loves to write himself, is a very funny man. During the visit he continually cracked jokes about the importance of writing. At one point he even called one of his junior staff members into our meeting and joked with him about writing. The young man who I’ll call “Henry” reluctantly approached Sarah and me. Mc Cotter told the young man, who was about twenty years old, “Henry, these women can teach you to write. They can even teach kids to write. You ought to listen to them!” Poor Henry barely broke a smile, and this led Sarah and me to conclude that McCotter was, indeed, quite serious about his remarks to Henry. In the context of the setting, it was funny because others in the office heard the Representative joking about writing.
Sarah was able to make a special connection with McCotter because she has done some Writing Project work in the school where his three children attend. Finally, near the end of our conversation with him, McCotter told his senior assistant, named
Hopefully, our pilgrimage to
Rep.Thaddeus McCotter (Republican), Debra Young and Sarah Lorenz
National Writing Project Updates
By Sarah Lorenz
The NWPM and the Michigan Reading Association recently collaborated to write a book entitled: Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning Through Student Work. Teacher Consultants from many sites across the state contributed, and the book has been quite successful, even earning some modest royalties. The National Writing Project will feature information about the project and a few of the book chapters on the NWP website, under State and Regional Network page. Look for it soon or order the book from MRA at www.michiganreading.org.
The National Writing Projects of Michigan will host its annual summer retreat on July 29-31 in
If you wish to be part of the EMWP's four person team attending the retreat (expenses paid), please contact Bill Tucker. We usually need one or two TC's to fill up our slots, so don't be shy! You don't need previous experience working with the state network to attend, and collaborating with other TC's from around the state is interesting and fun.
Teacher Research Group Updates
By Cathy Fleischer
As this year’s Teacher Research Group prepares for its busy summer of writing (we’ll be meeting for one week in July to analyze data and write up our findings), we’re already looking forward to next year! Next year will mark a change in how the TR group is organized and will offer—we hope—even more opportunities for EMWPers.
Our plan is this: The TR group will divide in 2 groups.
- The first group will be designed specifically for new Teacher Researchers and will be led by Kris Gedeon (TC, former Returning Fellow for the Invitational, and TR group member for the last 3 years). This group will spend some time throughout the year delving into teacher research (what it is and how to do it) and helping participants begin a TR project.
- The second group will be a support group for experienced teacher researchers, meeting monthly for sharing ideas and writing and encouraging publication of some sort and will be led by Cathy Fleischer (Co-director).