Sunday, May 2, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 Spring Edition of eMuse!

In this edition:

Protect our funding
Inkstains Writer's Camp 2010
Teacher Research Updates and Highlights
No Retreat without Advancing: An Invitation
Writing Beyond Expectation:A Mini-conference for Writing Teachers
Family Literacy Initiative Gears up for a Busy Spring
Tap into Writing for Readers and the Young at Heart
Announcements Read more!

Protect Our Funding

Jim Schaefer, Advisory Board Member

Please think about and act on this
Literacy groups like our parent organization, the National Writing Project, are not that far from the edge of non-existence, so we must keep up the pressure on our Congressional representatives and U.S. Senators!

Like most of you, I'm aware of the ongoing funding issues facing all literacy organizations like the National Writing Project (and our local effort, the Eastern Michigan Writing Project), but I never fully comprehended just how close we are each year to the edge of total disaster until I read a New York Times article on April 8 this year (p.A12).

For some reason, this particular article by Stephanie Strom somehow really dramatized, for me anyway, what the impact would be if those in Congress—who favor a wholesale yanking of all direct funding for all the literacy organizations like NWP and re-distributing that support through other methods and channels at the state level—got their way.

I'm only too well aware of how easily such "technical" changes in allocating funding can happen in this era of trillion dollar deficits and nearly trillion dollar health care reform packages.

The difference in this situation is that the few millions for literacy efforts like the National Writing Project literally comprise our lifeblood.

How badly would this proposal of yanking the direct funding hurt the NWP? Strom’s NYT article effectively shows that the impact would be disastrous.

As Sharon J. Washington, the NWP executive director said, several administrations, including George W. Bush’s, had suggested cutting financing to the writing project since it began in 1974, but that Congress has continued to support it.

Typically, major foundations planning to end their support of programs provide money known as “tie-off grants” over two or three years to allow organizations to find new supporters.

Ms. Washington said the way the Obama administration had proposed pooling the money for literacy, rather than reauthorizing specific grants, would make it almost impossible for Congress to simply reauthorize grants to RIF and the writing project. “That’s what’s quite frightening to us,” Ms. Washington said. “If we cease to receive direct funding, it will effectively kill us.”

The NWP’s federal grant in the current fiscal year was about $25 million, which accounted for more than 90 percent of its revenues. Its local branches raise a similar amount from private sources, but that money stays with them. Furthermore, Ms. Washington said, “If the government no longer values our program enough to give us a grant, other donors are going to ask why they should value us.”

Clara Miller, chief executive of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which works to help nonprofit groups obtain and manage finances, said NWP and other organizations like it would have trouble sustaining their operations if the government’s new way of allocating money was implemented.

“They don’t have a huge amount of cash on hand that would buy them some time to change their business model to get different types of funding,” Ms. Miller said. “Switching from a program that is almost fully funded by government to one that is privately funded, or where you would be competing on a state level, that’s a new business model, and it will need time and investment in new skills.”

Bill Tucker our EMWP director, informs me that the NWP has been aware of this bill since it was drafted in January as part of what has turned into an “annual occurrence.” He said the NWP’s response has been to get our U.S. Senators to sign a "Dear Colleague" letter that sponsors the funding of the National Writing Project. Bill said that U.S. Senator Carl Levin has signed this letter, so we need only to contact U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow to cover Michigan.

Let’s continue to protect our program and help it grow. We need to do everything we can to help the NWP and EMWP to continue to exist as an absolutely essential lifeline of literacy.
Read more!

Inkstains Writer’s Camp 2010

Aimee Grant

Know of any great middle school and high school writers that would jump at the chance to go on a writing marathon, create oodles of poetry and stories, and publish a cool anthology with their writing in it?
Each July, Inkstains Writer’s Camp does all of this, along with tons of other fun activities, with student writers from all over Southeastern Michigan.
Many of our campers are recommended by TCs from the extended network of EMWP alumni, and we’re hoping that you continue to spread the good word about Inkstains.

You may have tacked our neon brochure that was mailed to you last month under your to-do list at school, and now is the perfect time to get it in the hands of those kids you know who l-o-v-e to write.

We have an expert team of teachers led by youth programs co-director Aimee Grant joining us this year. We are thankful to have outstanding teachers Shirley Klokkenga, Sean Eldon, and Natalie Tomlin leading the middle school camp the week of July 12-16. The fantastic Amie Gabel will join Sean and Natalie to lead the high school camp the week of July 19-23.

We’re always delighted to talk about this favorite program of ours, so don’t hesitate to contact Kim Pavlock at if you would like to request a brochure or if have any questions about the camp. You can also view the brochure online by clicking here.
Read more!

Teacher Research Updates and Highlights

EMWP's ongoing Teacher Research will meet two days this summer to pull together work from this year as well as get a jump start for next year. Meeting dates are July 8 and August 17. Any TC is welcome to come and join this group of amazing teachers who have integrated classroom research into their every day teaching. For more information, contact Cathy Fleischer at

One highlight of this past year's work is our successful proposal to NCTE's annual convention, to be held next November in Orlando. Entitled "Grassroots Professional Development: Start a Teacher-Research Revolution," the presentation will focus on how several teacher-researchers in the group have begun to introduce their colleagues to classroom-based research as part of ongoing professional development for their schools and districts. Congrats to Sarah Andrew-Vaughan, Carrie Melnychenko, Kris Gedeon, and Molly Fichtner on their acceptance! Disney World, here we come!!
Read more!

No Retreat without Advancing: An Invitation

NWPM State Network Retreat
August 9-11, 2010
Central Michigan University
College of Education and Human Services

In 2004, the year before Write-Link was born and before it transformed into the wildly-successful “Inkstains” writing camp, the National Writing Projects of Michigan met at Gull Lake in western Michigan, including some sixty teachers from Writing Projects across the state. This summer we have a chance to duplicate that inspiring event, with up to ten EMWP teachers attending.

I mention “Inkstains,” because it originated that summer from meetings with camp coordinators from other NWPM sites. That summer there were only eight NWPM sites, plus a fledgling site called “Lake Michigan Writing Project.” Today there are eleven sites, plus a satellite in northwestern lower Michigan. The newest site, the Chippewa River Writing Project, will be our hosts in 2010.
Each Michigan writing project will send up to ten teachers to Central Michigan University from August 9 –11, where we will again share our resources and inquire about digital writing, a new web-based portfolio of student writing, and Holocaust education, to name but a few topics scheduled. You can see the growing list of topics at:
You’ll notice the facilities at the new College of Education and Human Services are fabulous! We will be housed and fed at CMU or at the Comfort Inn adjacent to the campus. The Eastern Michigan Writing Project is budgeted to pay up to $1,000 for transportation and lodging for this event, so we will underwrite your expenses within those limits. It’s not too soon to express interest in attending the Retreat, and I would welcome nine more teachers on this promising adventure. If you have an idea for a presentation at the Retreat, please let me know, since there are still open slots in the schedule.
We have an opportunity to advance as a community of writing teachers, as we retreat with colleagues from across the state. Anyone who remembers Gull Lake in 2004 can tell you this group is inspiring and supportive. Please join us for the next great NWPM adventure. Contact Bill Tucker ( to reserve your place.
Read more!

Writing Beyond Expectation:
A Mini-conference for Writing Teachers

Bill Tucker

Troy Hicks, author of The Digital Writing Workshop and director of the Chippewa River Writing Project, will keynote a fall conference for teachers of writing. EMWP will stage its annual fall conference, “Writing Beyond Expectation,” in the Student Center at EMU on September 26, 2010.

The conference will feature local K-12 teachers presenting their most successful practices in teaching writing in both electronic and traditional classroom environments. Registration begins at 8:00a.m., and the final session will end at 1:00 p.m.

Shirley Klokkenga (TC ’03) and Nick Kalakailo (TC ’07) will be coordinating and scheduling the sessions. The Call for Proposals will go out in the second week of May. Please consider proposing a 60-minute session.
Read more!

Family Literacy Initiative Gears up for a Busy Spring

Karen Watts, TC ‘93

There may only be a few weeks left of school, but Family Literacy is packing a lot in between now and June. We have two Family Writing Projects continuing into May in Wayne-Westland, Family Writing Workshops scheduled in Hamtramck, Ann Arbor, and Detroit, and a parent workshop in Hamtramck to round out the year.
At our April 27th workshop at West Dickinson Elementary in Hamtramck, children and their parents worked side-by-side to brainstorm, draw, write and share their memories and experiences in their favorite play places. After listening to stories read by Chelsea Hugan about treehouses and blanket forts, students brainstormed some of their favorite places to play and then focused in on a writing topic by sketching their favorite hangouts. Students and parents wrote poems, descriptions, stories, and reminiscences as our youngest writers drew or wrote single words.

One family member commented about the workshop, “I thought it was a great exercise to get the children’s creativity going. I also enjoyed being able to work on my own project.” Students also enjoyed sharing their creations, stepping up to the microphone to read their pieces with pride and enthusiasm.

Tricia Maslowski, TC ’07, and a 4th grade teacher at West Dickinson said, “The workshop was very interactive and engaging for all the families involved. We had students from grades 1-6 represented at the workshop, and every one of them was able to take the activity and adapt it to their own level. Everyone left feeling excited about writing together at home.”

With this kind of feedback from families and teachers, we are definitely excited about reaching out to more schools next year and hope to welcome more TC’s to work as presenters for our workshops. For more information, contact Kim Pavlock ( or Karen Watts (, Youth and Family Literacy Co-Coordinators.
Read more!

Tap into Writing for Readers and the
Young at Heart

Bill Tucker

On a sparkling spring afternoon, we held a fiesta of reading for the young-at-heart. Carolyn Berge and Carol Sliwka brought stacks of books to the subterranean section of LaFiesta, Dundee and fascinated us with new developments in literature, from picture books to steampunk.
Viewing the dizzying assortment of new genres, serial novels, and variations on gothic narratives gave us a glimpse of the amazing flux in literature for young readers. We came away with ample reading lists, and have provided Carol’s list below for eMuse readers.

Carolyn shared the critical work of Perry Nodelman (The Pleasures of Children’s Literature), which has shaped her reading over the past year, and then some texts that stretched the conventions of children’s literature: The Three Pigs (Wiesner), The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Selznick), When Cats Dream (Pilkey), and Agatha’s Feather Bed: Not Just Another Wild Goose Story (Agra Deedy). But she also gave tribute to her all-time favorite authors, such as Mem Fox, Partricia Polacco, and Chris Van Allsburg, who infuse a socially-conscious message in their writing.
Carol shared some websites that she found invaluable for young adult reading, including one from EMU graduate Daria Plumb:
Her reading list included realism, historical fiction, “realistic fantasy,” “steampunk,” and a generous sampling of fantasy and science fiction. Among the new authors she recommended were Kristin Casore (Fire and Graceling), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay –due August 24, 2010), Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver and Linger), and Matt del la Pena (Ball Don’t Lie and We Were Here).
It was a goldmine of new authors and genres we found in the caverns of LaFiesta. We’ll try to bring some of these treasures to the fall conference, if Carol and Carolyn can be coaxed. Check out Carol’s “What’s New in Young Adult Literature” list below!

2009 Top Teen picks

1. Paper Towns by John Green
2. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
5. Identical by Ellen Hopkins
6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (book trailer)
7. Wake by Lisa McMann
8. Untamed by PC and Kristin Cast
9. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
10. Graceling by Kristin Casore

Historical Fiction
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Ten Cents A Dance by Christine Fletcher

A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce Fire by Kristin Cashore
Stealing Death by Janet Lee Carey

Science Fiction

Candor by Pm Bachorz
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Mockingjay due August 24, 2010)
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Fang by James Patterson
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
The Roar by Emma Clayton

Realistic Fantasy

Hunger by Michael Grant
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Book trailer)
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Book trailer)

Alternative History
The Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede

13 reasons why by Jay Asher
By the time you read this I’ll be dead by Julie Anne Peters
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t have by Allen Zadoff
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder: My Life on the Dork Side by Julie Halpern
Just Another Hero by Sharon Draper
Muchacho by Louanne Johnson
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins & Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
North of Beautiful by Justina chen Headley
Pure by Terra Elan McVoy
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
We Were Here by Matt de la Pena
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Wish you were dead by Todd Strasser

Read more!


  • Congratulations to Val and Ward Tomich on the birth of their daughter!
  • EMWP announces the 2009 TC Teacher Podcast!

Birth announcement!
Pictured below is Danica Louise Tomich, born January 15, 2010 to Val (Johnson) Tomich (TC 2002) and husband Ward. Congratulations Val and Ward!

EMWP announces TC Teacher podcast!

We are in the process of finalizing the 2009 TC Teacher "Shining a Light" Podcast collection, which is hosted here:
Read more!