Monday, January 19, 2009

Current Events

A Fall Conference for All: “Writing for Real”
By Kimberly Pavlock, Teacher Consultant ‘92

One highlight for the EMWP this past year was a special fall conference devoted to writing across the curriculum that we co-sponsored with Eastern Michigan University: “Writing for Real: Writing for Professional, Social, and Exploratory Purposes.”

Twenty four presenters, most of them EMWP Teacher Consultants representing grades K – college, offered sessions on Saturday, September 27, 2008, for more than seventy five conference attendees on issues of how to engage students in writing for their future roles as professionals; how to frame writing projects that address community goals and problems; how to use writing to reinforce ways of observing, analyzing and discovering; and how to instill continuity in the writing curriculum across grade levels.

Carol Sliwka presenting "Using Persuasive Prompts in All Content Areas"

This conference featured Elizabeth Birr Moje, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan School of Education as the keynote speaker. Professor Moje gave a keynote address on the topic of “What Does it Mean to Write ‘For Real’ in the Subject-Matter Areas? Learning from Writing in the Disciplines and Professions.” She also led a roundtable discussion as a follow-up to her keynote address. In her breakout session she and other teachers and pre-service teachers discussed classroom practices that help students begin to learn how to write in the ways valued in different disciplines and professions.

From sessions on “Making the Science Curriculum REAL for Kids” for teachers of students in grades 1-5 to “Tapping Adolescent Tendencies - Putting Persuasion to Work!” for teachers in grades 6-10 to “Writing for Real Experiences: Design Writing to Develop Confidence, Knowledge, and Professional Identities” for teachers in grades 3-college, the conference offered teachers of all grade levels from across the curriculum innovative and exciting ways to encourage and prepare student writers for life-long learning and writing.

Dick Moscovic and Linda Denstaedt presenting "Writing for Real Experiences"

Attendees enjoy Julie King's and Alyssa Pakulski's session, "Tapping Adolescent Tendencies-Putting Persuasion to Work"

In addition to teachers from different subject areas and all grade levels, the conference brought together EMWP Teacher Consultants, Teacher Consultants from other National Writing Project of Michigan sites, and pre-service teachers from both Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan With teachers teaching teachers, the conference was informative, collaborative, and professionally rejuvenating.

We are pleased with the success of the “Writing for Real” Conference, and we look forward to partnering again with EMU in 2009 to offer a second annual conference devoted to Writing Across the Curriculum. We hope you’ll join us.

Book Signing Announcement

Congratulations to Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughn, whose book "Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres" was published this January with Heinemann! The book shows how immersing students in one genre that they aren't familiar with helps them understand the concept of genre in general and strengthens their reading and writing.

This work is an important contribution to the field of writing instruction, but it is also a great read. The advice is practical, the resources helpful, and the discussion thought provoking. Fleischer and Andrew-Vaughan are wonderful guides on the journey through the Unfamiliar Genre Project…they invite us in, earn our trust, and then support us as we take on a new and unfamiliar challenge. Enjoy the journey!

--Heather Lattimer

The book signing will take place on February 12th from 4-5:30 in the EMU Student Center, 900 Oakwood St, Ypsilanti. The book will be on sale and refreshments will be served.

Next “Tap into Writing”
“Writing Assignments that Really Work”

Do you have a special writing assignment or teaching idea that has worked particularly well with your students? We invite you to come to this Tap Into Writing session to share your assignment/idea—as well as the thinking behind it: especially the context of your class and the beliefs you have about writing that informed the assignment.

And are you interested in publishing this assignment or teaching idea? We’ll also use this get-together to introduce teachers to ReadWriteThink, the NCTE/IRA web site that both offers teachers an abundance of lesson plans and an opportunity to submit their own ideas for publication on the site. (Oh, and did we mention that ReadWriteThink pays a small honorarium for accepted lesson plans?)

Cathy Fleischer and Kim Pavlock will be your facilitators for this session. Cathy, a co-director of the EMWP, is also on the advisory board for ReadWriteThink. Kim, Coordinator of EMWP’s Family Literacy Initiative, is a reviewer for the site.

So, come join us for this sharing session. Please bring about 20 copies of your assignment/lesson/idea along with a paragraph or two on the thinking behind it. Let us know if you have any questions!
Haab’s Restaurant
18 W. Michigan Avenue
January 29, 2009
RSVP to Kyla Hurst (

Monroe Summer Institute

Good news for the Writing Project orphans in Monroe County! We are pleased to announce the Eastern Michigan Writing Project Monroe Summer Open Institute. Co-directed by two alumni of the EMWP, Judy Kelly and Carol Sliwka, the Summer Institute will take place July 6-24, 2009 from 9:00 a.m.-3:00p.m., at the Monroe County Community College. Because it is smaller and shorter than a full institute, there is a limit of fifteen participants. Elementary and secondary teachers from any discipline are encouraged to attend. Registration will begin with EMU’s summer registration dates, and the Summer Institute offers three graduate credits. Don’t delay! Register for Engl 592. The spots will fill fast.

Anyone who is interested can contact Carol Sliwka at or Judy Kelly at

Local History: Community Pride
By Michelle McLemore, Onsted High School

Reenacting local history can spark lively discussion and renew a sense of community pride across generations. Theater students were given options for their final project: create a set, design advertisements, write a script, or perform a monologue…for the community. Surprisingly several students in my first trimester elected the live performance. This was the beginning of the first historical walk-through for Onsted.

Students researched lives of Onsted residents, wrote monologues, and then performed them live as 3-5 minute monologues in period costume. Over a three hour period, four walking tours ensued, with over fifty community members coming for the live tour. Refreshments and local history artifacts encouraged community members to sit and reminisce while waiting for a tour or after completing a tour. To the students’ delight, several of the visitors stopped back between tour groups to exchange more information about each character from personal knowledge. Townspeople presented ranged from members of the Underground Railroad, town businessmen, school founders, town founders, and members of devoted town volunteers.

Cast and Crew

The common question from all was… When would the next one be? In today’s time, more than ever, understanding where we’ve come from and recognition of the people who got us here, as a community and a nation, is vital for a sense of peace, hope, and respect.