Friday, February 5, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 Winter Edition of eMuse!

In this edition:
Saugatuck Writing Retreat
Making Ripples and Waves
EMWP 2010 Summer Institute Application and Brochure
Teacher Researcher in the Trenches
Bright Futures: A New EMWP Family Literacy Collaboration
MA in English Studies for Teachers: A Perfect Fit for EMWPers
Inkstains 2010 Middle and High School Writing Camps
The EMWP Website Has Embarked on Web 2.0!
Co-directors Win Grants for EMWP Programs

2010 Winter Edition of eMuse
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Saugatuck Writing Retreat
Angela Knight

October 2009 was beautiful in Saugatuck: fall colors, cool weather, a Lake Michigan view, and the company of supportive writers.

Eight EMWP participants spent a late October weekend in three of the cottages at Timber Bluff. From Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, we had a flexible schedule of writing, sharing, eating, and relaxing.

Progress was made on professional articles and books, a screenplay, and several forays into fiction. A few participants were gearing up for National Novel Writing Month and spent some retreat time on character development and backstory. Thanks to the generous underwriting of the EMWP, participants paid only for their lodging and one meal when we ventured out for a break to wander, eat, and shop in Saugatuck. Participants received a moleskin journal, two breakfasts, and a dinner. Many had leftovers for lunch before departing home on Sunday.

As with all things, it was the company that made this writing retreat such a success. There is no better place to be than in the company of EMWP, regardless of audience, purpose, or genre.

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Making Ripples and Waves
Bill Tucker

Every summer the National Writing Project invests $15,000 in our Invitational Institute to encourage instructional leadership in classroom teachers. Imagine if your school suddenly had that money to spend on professional development. Probably some of your schools do have it!
Why would the NWP choose to disperse its funds among fifteen teachers instead of choosing a few good schools and concentrating its effort in them? Obviously because it believes in the power of individual teachers to reform the teaching of writing.

And you are probably doing that right now by improving your own teaching in your own classroom. That kind of teaching causes ripples among good teachers, as we share our best practices and the energy that comes from commitment.
But the National Writing Project has a larger goal than creating ripples. It wants to make waves. The Eastern Michigan Writing Project is attempting that by inviting local schools to propose a year of professional development in literacy and the teaching of writing and engaging us as partners and facilitators.
We know we can make waves by a series of workshops and ongoing conversations about the struggles of teaching writing in K-12 schools. We know our teachers have the disposition and the experience to inspire other teachers of writing.
Teachers are not famous for “making waves.” Generally we don’t like people who make waves, because they seem to have no constructive agenda. They delight in upsetting the status quo, but seem oblivious to the inconvenience they cause.
Teacher consultants are not like that. They have been through the struggle of teaching skills in context, of taking and giving up control of students’ writing processes, of assessing writing and pondering what makes it good. I believe that disposition of patience and inquiry is what we uniquely bring to professional development. You can’t bottle it and market it, but you can share it.
And you can make waves with it.
We didn’t ask you if we could depend on your expertise, but we are nonetheless depending on you to help us make waves. We have invited your support in a recent mailing, which includes your volunteering for one of our consultant roles, e.g. workshop leader, apprentice, teacher research facilitator. (You can download the description of the consultant roles by clicking here.)
For once we are trying to be proactive and planning six months ahead, and we invite you to plan with us. Plan to assume a reasonable role of leadership in our work. Every one of you was prepared to do this, when you took the summer institute.
Taking this step might mean inviting us into your school or district. Encouraging your district leaders to respond to our “Request for Proposals” could be your first “making waves” initiative. If your school is interested in our invitation, give us the name and address of the contact person, and we will send them the “Request.”
If you are following the statewide and national conversation about Common Core standards, you know that politically powerful reformers are already making waves, maybe even a tsunami of change. Much of the economic resources at our disposal (“Stimulus funds”) are intended to raise students to national standards we didn’t compose or approve. That complicates the role we play.
But we also know that real educational reform has never been top-down.
When we speak of “fads” and “pendulum swings” in education, we are almost always speaking of reforms that were imposed from above. Reform that moves horizontally, from teacher to teacher, has a much more lasting effect. That is why the National Writing Project invests in individual teachers—for horizontal reform. That is why their motto from the start has been “teachers teaching teachers.”
Please join us in making waves in 2010-11. The stakes have never been so high, nor the need more urgent.

Bill Tucker

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Summer Institute 2010!

The deadline for the EMWP Summer 2010 Invitational Institute is March 1. We hope you will consider applying for the institute! We also hope that all you Teacher Consultants will encourage your colleagues to attend! You can download the brochure and application by clicking the links below:


You can learn more about the Institute at our website:
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Teacher Research in the Trenches

John Staunton, Co-director

Through a Teacher Inquiry Community mini-grant from the National Writing Project, the EMWP has begun its first on-site, school-based teacher-research group. Including Kris Gedeon, 5 out of 29 teachers at Britton-Macon Area School are participating in the year-long teacher-research group. In addition, John Staunton, co-director of the EMWP, is mentoring us and providing contact and support from Eastern Michigan University.

The first fall meeting on September 28 was the occasion for the group to prepare initial findings, materials, and observations for public discussion at the EMWP/WAC Fall Conference. At the Conference on October 17, the TIC group (Vicky, Jon, David, Kris, and John) shared this early research from their classrooms and the process of developing a teacher inquiry community. Participants at the session included pre-service and in-service teachers from SE Michigan interested in both WAC and teacher research and TIC models of site-based professional development.
The group has mapped out a 2010 meeting schedule with days to begin analyzing data and preparing findings for public sharing at the county ISD and Britton-Macon School board meetings in the Spring.
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Bright Futures: A New EMWP Family Literacy Collaboration
By Kimberly Pavlock, TC ‘92

This has been an exciting year for the EMWP Family Literacy Initiative as we have begun a new collaboration with Eastern Michigan University and the Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities. Through Bright Futures, an after-school program which is funded by the Michigan Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, we will be presenting The Family Writing Project, our four-workshop series, at four different locations in Southeastern Michigan this 2009-2010 school year.

In November and December 2009, Karen Hoffman, Becky Gracey, Beth Harris, and Kate Brohl presented workshops at the Willow Run Secondary Complex, leading students, parents, and siblings, in writing growing-up stories which were published in an impressive, color anthology of the participants’ work.

Beth Harris, TC

Karen Hoffman, TC; Beth Harris, TC

In the next few months, we will be presenting The Family Writing Project workshop series at three more locations in the Wayne-Westland School District: Jefferson Barns Elementary (February-March), Adams Middle School (April-May), and Lincoln Elementary (April-May).
These workshops, combined with other workshop requests from Hamtramck, Detroit, and East Grand Rapids, to name a few, keep all of us involved with the Family Literacy Initiative busy, but most of all thankful – thankful for the fine work our Teacher Consultants are doing as presenters of these workshops, thankful for the opportunities that we have to promote family literacy, and thankful for the dedication of so many teachers and parents to support and encourage young writers.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become a Family Literacy Presenter or schedule a parent or family writing workshop at your school or local library, please contact Kim Pavlock, Youth and Family Literacy Coordinator, at

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MA in English Studies for Teachers: A Perfect Fit for EMWPers
Cathy Fleischer, EMWP co-director

What do EMWP Teacher Consultants Jill Fyke, Liz Scott, Kelly Hart, Dale Palmer, Kristin Grahek, and Alli Kaplan have in common? They’re all students in EMU’s new MA in English Studies for Teachers. Specifically designed for middle and high school English teachers, this graduate program provides opportunities for teachers to

• Increase their knowledge base in language, literature and writing
• Learn, reflect on and plan new ways of teaching secondary English
• Examine and discuss the questions, controversies and expectations of teaching English in 21st century schools
• Conduct research in their own classroom
• Join a community of teachers to study and learn
• Become leaders in the classroom, school, district and across the profession!

Perfect for EMWPers, participation in the Summer Invitational Institute and continuity meetings counts for 6 credits of the 30 credit MA. And, even more important, it builds on the same principles that drive the National Writing Project.
And how are these EMPWers feeling about the program? According to Kelly, “The MA program in English Studies for Teachers is ideal because it covers an array of diverse topics relevant to secondary English classroom. It allows you to use your experiences as an educator as a foundation which you build upon with the new insights you gain through the courses. Much like the EMWP, the program offers personal choice, fosters collaborative learning, provides insight into contemporary issues, and allows for research in areas of interest. I am learning how to critically examine literature and research, construct my own position, and transfer it into my individual pedagogy.”

Want to learn more about the program? Go to our website at for information and to download a brochure. And spread the word to colleagues and friends who might benefit from this kind of program.

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Inkstains 2010 Middle and High School Writing Camps

In summer, the song sings itself.
-William Carlos Williams

It is winter, and what better time is there to be thinking about the summer? With the Inkstains middle and high school camps less than six short months away, we encourage you to spend some time with your students daydreaming about warm summer days in July walking around Eastern’s beautiful campus, journaling, imagining, creating, and sharing poetic inspiration with other students like themselves. For students going into grades 6-8, the middle school camp will be offered July 12-16. For students going into grades 9-12, the high school camp will be offered July 19-23. Please CLICK HERE for a copy of the Inkstains 2010 brochure to share with your students. If you have any questions about the camp, please contact Kim Pavlock at

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The EMWP Website Has Embarked on Web 2.0!

Natalie Tomlin

In the last six months, with the help of a web designer as well as the EMWP Advisory Board, I have moved our old site to a new site hosted by Wordpress. While the URL remained the same, (, the new site allows all members of the advisory board to easily insert, update and alter the look of the site.
With this transition, we were especially excited to allow expanding programs like Family Literacy the ability to post updated information. As you'll see in the navigation tabs at the top of the page, the other big factor that continues to interest us is designing the site in a way that presents information effectively to our constituencies: teachers, families and curriculum leaders. We seek feedback and ideas on the further improvement of the site; the great part is, we can alter it dramatically at the push of a button!

Feel free to email me:
Natalie Tomlin
EMWP Graduate Assistant and Technology Liason

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Co-directors Win Grants for EMWP Programs

Congratulations to Cathy Fleischer and John Staunton, who have each been awarded the Dean's Program Development Initiative Award for 2009-2010!

Congratulations to Cathy Fleischer who was awarded funding from the Dean’s Program Development Initiative to further develop a collaboration with EMU’s University Writing Center (UWC) to design an expansion of workshops designed for teens and parents of teens, as a way of helping students make the transition from high school to college writing.
These new workshops—Preparing for College Writing and Helping Your Teen Prepare for College Writing—have been designed by Cathy Fleischer, EMWP Co-Director; Linda Adler-Kassner, UWC Faculty Advisor; and Kim Pavlock, EMWP Youth and Family Literacy Coordinator, and other adjunct lecturers employed by the UWC. They will be taught mostly by adjunct lecturers and graduate assistants who work as consultants in the UWC.
Funding through the Dean’s Program Initiative will be supporting the start-up of this program as we seek to offer the parent and teen workshops at area high schools and other local venues free of charge. We believe the success of this program will benefit not only the teens and parents of teens who attend the workshops, but also EMU, the UWC, the EMWP, and the EMWP Family Literacy Initiative.

We first presented these workshops in May 2009 at 826michigan (a non-profit writing center for teens located in Ann Arbor) and in October 2009 at the EMU National Day on Writing and Explore Eastern. High school administrators, teachers, parents, and/or teens interested in attending one of these two new workshops are invited to join us on March 18 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at 826michigan in Ann Arbor. Please go to to register.

John Staunton Receives Dean’s Program Development Grant

If EMU someday has a summer literature institute, it will have begun with a College of Arts and Sciences grant ($5000) to John Staunton for the development of a Literature Pedagogy Inquiry group for the university’s English dept faculty. The group plans to conduct classroom research around areas of literature pedagogy in the Winter 2010 semester and meet for a 3-day Teacher Inquiry Seminar in April, modeled on the TIC Summer Institute. The group draws together faculty from Creative Writing, English Education, African American Literature, General Education, and Literature Major Programs, and will seek to develop capacity for an advisory group for Literature Institute work in concert with EMWP teachers and TIC networks.

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Congratulations to Beth Harris and her husband Dave!

After a long wait, they are finally officially on their way to adopting a baby! It could happen any time now, and Beth and Dave are very excited to share their good news! Congrats, Beth and Dave!!!

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