Thursday, May 7, 2009

Welcome to the Spring 2009 Edition of eMuse!

National Day on Writing—October 20, 2009
Cathy Fleischer, Co-director

“Everyone is a writer!” That’s the message behind NCTE’s National Day on Writing/National Gallery on Writing—a time to celebrate, promote, and explore the amazing variety of writing that all of us (parents, teachers, students, community members) do in our everyday lives (from blogs and emails to poems and memos and everything in between).

NCTE encourages all of us to get involved with this day in at least two ways:
First, become a part of the National Gallery of Writing. This online “virtual” gallery will post thousands of pieces of writing from writers across the nation. Any school or community group can sponsor a “room” in the gallery, adding submissions from their group, as long as someone serves as “curator.” And submissions can start pouring into the gallery in the next few months. The gallery will be officially opened to the public on October 20 (to correspond with the National Day), and will stay open until at least June 2010.
Second, sponsor events promoting writing on the National Day on Writing—in your school or community. You might host a writing marathon, a poetry slam, an inservice for parents—anything to demonstrate both the fun and the importance of writing.

EMPW is joining an effort at EMU to make writing a huge part of the fall 2009 semester. Among our activities on October 20:
Writing Marathon: Maps will be available with several routes around campus (long, short, varying stops), along with directions on how to participate. Writers will return to a central location afterward to share writing and reflect on their experience.
WritingCorps: Modeled after NPR’s StoryCorps, WritingCorps invites participants to reflect (on audio or video) on a piece of writing that is meaningful to them.
Writing activities: Several stations will give writers a chance to try out some short kinds of writing, designed both to be fun and to inspire more writing.
Roving Reporters: Writers will have a chance to check out a Flip video camera and a “press pass” and have 20 minutes to walk around campus to interview faculty, students, and staff about their writing practices.
And all of the writing from that day will be posted on our EMU gallery.

We’d love to have EMWPers join in the fun on that day! Think about the activities you might want to pursue involving your students, faculty and staff, administrators, and/or parents (either activities for the day or contributions to the online gallery) and let us know what you’re doing and how we can help.
• Think about some ways to promote writing in your own school communities on October 20: a writing marathon, a focus on writing in every class, an evening event with parents and students. . . .There’s no limit to the imaginative and innovative ways you might approach this.
• Consider connecting with the pre-service teachers at EMU: Ask your K-12 students to write about their writing and have a pre-service teacher respond (contact Cathy Fleischer to set that up:
• Set up a gallery on the NCTE site for your students to contribute a piece of writing that is meaningful to them in some way. You can learn more about how to do that at
• Notify the EMWP Office on your school's plans for NDoW. We’re going to set up a googlemap with pinpoints for all the sites that are joining in.
• Write an article for eMuse reporting what you did on NDOW.

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National Day on Writing – Flat Rock Community High School
Andrea Gillies

To celebrate the National Day on Writing, we are going to host a writing marathon at Flat Rock Community High School. After speaking with our principal and media specialist, we have developed a potential format.

Our plan is to have 3-4 staff members "man" the marathon all day.

Students can either sign up for the entire day or just for a class period. Each hour we'll run two activities with prompts to get the kids going. We'll demo, model with them, and offer group reflection and critique. For those students who want to continue with a prompt (or anything else) we'll provide space in the media center and computer lab for them to do so. In no way do we want this to be tightly structured-- we just want to offer options for all kids.

Right now we're playing around with possible prompts and activities. It's also Teen Read Week, so we may do something like put a book jacket on a table and have kids "write the story" just from the jacket design.

As far as promoting it, I've thought of perhaps calling it "Round the Clock Writing." We may try to get shirts for the kids (and staff) who sign up and notify local media to cover it.

Our main goal is to get kids excited about writing! We're going to invite all staff-- teachers through administrators-- to participate. We hope to collect a body of work to not only place on NCTE's online gallery, but to also bind and distribute to everyone who participates.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, I'd love to hear them! (

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Third Graders Visit EMU

Debbie Young

My third grade students, from Flat Rock Community Schools, got their first taste of college life on April 8, 2009 when they spent most of the day on the Eastern Michigan University campus. For over ten years I have brought my students to EMU.

The English department, on the sixth floor of Pray-Harrold, was one of our stops. The students and I were graciously greeted by the Dr. Rebecca Sipe, English and Literature Department Head, and Dr. Bill Tucker, Professor of English and Director of the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. My students were fascinated to learn that Dr. Sipe and Dr. Tucker teach writing and how each of them has continued to write and publish in their careers! A few students, also, proudly told Dr. Sipe and Dr. Tucker about their writing experiences composing narratives, poetry, letters, and expository pieces this school year.
One of the highlights of the trip was when Dr. Tucker gave each student a lovely book entitled, Our Book By Us!/Nuestro Libro ¡Hecho Por Nosotros! This children’s publication is bilingually written in English and Spanish and published by The National Writing Project. Since all of the elementary students in Flat Rock Community Schools have Spanish instruction three days a week, my students felt a strong connection to Dr. Tucker’s gift.
A larger portion of our EMU visit, however, was spent in Sill Hall as participants in the Technology Education Department, where each student built a lighthouse in the wood-shop type of setting. EMU Associate Professor, Dr. Phil Cardon, along with several students who are currently enrolled in his classes, guided the students with their projects. In order to make the miniature lighthouses functional, the students made a complete electrical circuit. Under one-to-one supervision, the children used real tools, too! As you can imagine, this was a very exciting experience!
I feel convinced that the value of my trip to EMU each year is best measured by considering the experience collectively. The willingness of Dr. Cardon, Dr.Sipe, and Dr. Tucker to host my students is a classic example of the kindness that I have experienced in my many years as a student at EMU as well as a returning professional educator. It is no wonder that I keep coming back year after year.

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Stream of (semi) Consciousness

Andrea Gillies

Come wade with me…
5am alarm rings. Barely in the bathroom and Derek wakes. Quick fill a bottle and rush to my four month old boy and feed him. Lay him back down and pray he goes back to sleep. Get ready for work, make sure the lunches and bags are packed, finish the newsletter for Kathleen’s preschool, clean up the puke from the cat, grab my stuff and go.
Still need gas—Can I make it? Decide no. Get into school at 6:50. Check email, run over lessons for the day, collect work to grade. Wolf a bowl of cereal, commiserate with colleagues and the warning bell rings.
Prep hour. See Andrew about some of my kids and a fight off campus. No police report, so no damage.

Check on another student who dropped out during my leave. Discuss another student who was out for a week after a suicide attempt. Recap all conversations with the mom and student. See Mary Ann about Day of Writing. Discuss possibilities. Discuss school-wide writing and evaluation of all samples. Back to room. Check some seniors’ graduation status, look through 504 plans (finally).
Class. Re-introduce project and answer questions. Get kids who were absent caught up. Walk around and check on progress. Talk to Austin (again) about work. I can’t seem to motivate him no matter what. Have tried joking, pleading, speaking to him one on one and nothing seems to work. Reference to the counselor about possible depression went nowhere. If I hear him speak one word a day it’s a miracle. Joke with girls about their non-academic conversation and get them back on track. Check on special education students (eight in a class of 29) to make sure they understand the format and comprehend the reading.
Lunch. Check email. Begin to create a test and test review for next week.
Class. Talk individually to seniors about graduation requirements. Circle the room checking on progress and offering tips. Vocational students enter late (again). Discuss the agenda for the day with them. Catch Danie up on what she’s missed in the last week and find out why she’s on crutches. She has unexplained swelling in her foot and no one knows what it is. She’s scared and literature is the last thing on her mind.
Class. Talk to Veronica about her poem. She’s currently homeless. Encourage her not to give up even though she is missing several credits. All 35 students are present today, and the room is a controlled chaos that occasionally veers more toward chaos. I’m exhausted, but still try and smile and greet each question like it’s the first time I’ve been asked it. I try to get to every student, but I’m not sure I did.
Class. Listen with encouragement on my face while my heart breaks. Unsung Hero speeches. Tiffany’s dad is in prison. Chelsea’s mom abandoned her. Stephanie’s mom was hooked on cocaine. Wynter’s dad saw his best friend get stabbed. Take mental notes for counseling and screw the rubric. These kids need to tell their story.
Finish creating test, run copies and hope the copier doesn’t jam. Email elementary school about having Speech kids read books next week. Run to the car, stop for an oil change (have no idea how long THAT light’s been on) and car wash. Try and process all of the things I learned today. Pick up the kids and find out about their day. Kiss Derek, relish his smiles, listen to all of Kathleen’s stories about the day.
Get in the house, set Derek in the Exersaucer, listen to Kathleen some more (do four year olds ever pause for breath?). Unpack all the bags, throw in a load of laundry, make cereal for Derek, feed him, make dinner. Eat, take kids outside, watch Kathleen ride her bike as Bill tries to keep up. Derek’s tired (only two hours with him today), read to him, bathe him, feed him and put him down. While Bill bathes Kathleen, make a grocery list, fold laundry, get a shower and 20 minutes of solitude. Watch Sesame Street with Kathleen, marvel at her quickness. Read to her and kiss her goodnight. Talk to Bill about our days and fall into bed at 9.

Everything in this is true, and happened today. The only thing not in here is the time it took to write this, and it was completed during Sesame Street. To every person out there who thinks teachers are lazy and only want summers off, I would gladly offer that they spend just one day with me.

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Inkstains Writer’s Camp 2009

Kim Pavlock

Spring is here; summer is just around the corner, and the Inkstains Writer’s Camp staff, under the direction of Aimee Grant, is already gearing up for the time that they will spend teaching, writing, and conferencing with middle and high school student writers on the campus of Eastern Michigan University this July.

We are thankful to have returning teachers Shirley Klokkenga and Sarah Soebbing leading the middle school camp the week of July 6-10 as well as Amie Gabel and Sean Eldon leading the high school camp the week of July 13-17.

Many students attending Inkstains are recommended by you. Thank you! We hope that you will continue to share information about the Inkstains Writer’s Camp with your students entering grades 6-12 and their parents and/or caregivers. Please contact Kim Pavlock at if you would like to request a brochure or have any questions about the camp.

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Continuing the Power of EMWP!

Sound the demonstration lessons,
Raise your pens,
Follow the lead to preach the language to others,
What is about to happen?
Eastern Michigan Writing Project Summer Institute for 2009!

Fifteen fellows, (educators with a range of grade level from elementary through college),
along with their eager, assigned mentors,
Will join up with Doug Baker, Co-Director of EMWP and Summer Institute Coordinator, Nicholas Kalakailo, New Teacher Coordinator, Rosanne Stark, Returning Fellow, and Anne Rubin, Technology Liaison.
This all begins with the pre-institute meeting on May 7, in preparation for the institute this summer.
Write on!
Building community,
Continuing the power of the EMWP!

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Birth Announcements!

Congratulations to Kate Brohl (TC'07)!
Congratulations to Jeff Taylor (TC '05)!

Congratulations to Jeff and Jenny Taylor on the birth of their son, Brady Logan Taylor! Brady (pictured with Jeff below), was born on April 14, 2009.

Congratulations to Kate Brohl on the birth of her son, Brady Paul Robert Jagiello! Brady was born on February 1, 2009.

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