Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Welcome to the 2010 Fall Edition of eMuse!

In this edition...

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Second Annual Writing Retreat

In a little more than a week, The Eastern Michigan Writing Project will sponsor its second annual Writing Retreat. All communication should go to Angela Knight and Kris Gedeon, who are hosting the retreat. Please RSVP to Angela Knight (angela.k.knight@gmail.com) by September 10th.

First come, first served, and the available vacancies are limited. This is a sublime location loaned to us by EMU for the weekend, at no cost to us! For more information, you can download the flyer here.
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September Writing Conference: Writing Beyond Expectations

Eastern Michigan University and the Eastern Michigan Writing Project are presenting a conference on September 25th called “Writing Beyond Expectations,” with keynote speaker Troy Hicks, author of The Digital Writing Workshop. For more details and registration information, please download the flyer here.

Eastern Michigan University and the Eastern Michigan Writing Project Present a Conference on Writing for grade levels 3-college: Writing Beyond Expectations

Keynote Speaker: Troy Hicks
Director, Chippewa River Writing Project
Professor of English, Central Michigan University
Author of “The Digital Writing Workshop,” (Heinemann, 2009)

“Creating Your Digital Writing Workshop”

And concurrent sessions on digital writing, writing circles,
writing for healing, ACT writing, the writing camp, among others

September 25, 2010
Eastern Michigan University Student Center
900 Oakwood Street, Grand Ballroom
Continental Breakfast and Registration 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Keynote and sessions - 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Pre-registration by September 20, 2010

Teachers: $20.00 (on site registration: $30.00)
Pre-service teachers $15.00 (on site registration: $20.00)

Download the registration form here.
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Family Literacy to Offer New Early Elementary Workshop

Karen Watts TC ‘93
As we reach out to principals in the first weeks of the school year, we are excited to be offering a new option for making literacy connections for their families. Along with our well-received family writing project series, parent workshop and family writing workshop, we will be offering an early-elementary workshop especially for students in grades K-2 and their families.

Cassy Korinek TC ’08, a first grade teacher in Dexter, is developing a 90-minute workshop under the working title, “Early-On Reading and Writing: A Workshop for K-2 Students and Their Families.” This workshop, which will be expanded into a series later in the year, will guide families of young writers to become explorers of picture books to further develop young budding writers. Picture books will become a comfortable framework for writing, will encourage young writers to follow their interests, and provide very meaningful reading and writing connections. She welcomes anyone interested in helping her with the development of the workshop. Please contact her at korinekc@dexterschools.org.

We are always looking for more TCs to be presenters of all of our workshops. If you are interested, particularly in our new early-el offering, please contact Kim Pavlock (kpavlock@emich.edu) or Karen Watts (kgwatts@sbcglobal.net), Youth and Family Literacy Co-Coordinators.

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Pictures from the 2010 Summer Institute and Inkstains Writing Camp!

A lot of fun was had writing this summer, and you can definitely tell from the pictures!
2010 Summer Institute Group Photo

Liz Wolkowicz
Doug Baker and Sharon James in the Student Center
Inkstains Writing Camp (Outside the Student Center)
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Retreating: In and Out of Cyberspace
Bill Tucker

The 2010 Retreat of the National Writing Projects of Michigan had a digital and a network presence unlike any meeting in my experience. It began on a wiki, it developed in concurrent meetings, wiki discussions, and tweets flitting across the twin auditorium screens, and it concluded with the launching of new interest groups for the coming year: the Holocaust Educators, the WIDEPATHS Network and the Michigan Portfolios Network. In some ways it felt fragmented and in others very personal.

Attending from the Eastern Michigan Writing Project were Karen Chichester, Nick Kalakailo, Kim Pavlock, Barb Webster, Judy Wycoff, and Bill Tucker.

A visionary keynote by MSU Professor Danielle DeVoss helped us define what digital literacy is: networked, collaborative, multimodal, re-mediated, re-mixed, policed, critically engaging, and democratic. Her introduction also foreshadowed an important book from the National Writing Project coming out in October: Because Digital Literacy Matters. DeVoss is one of the co-authors, along with Chippewa River Writing Project’s Troy Hicks and the NWP Co-director Elyse Eidman-Adahl.

The subsequent two days of the Retreat gave teachers the chance to meet with interest groups (e,g. summer institute, summer writing camps, web presence) to compare notes and learn from other sites. One evening we launched a Writing Marathon from a cafe in Mount Pleasant. One morning we spent studying the Continued Funding Applications of other sites to see new possibilities for our own.

Looking forward, we saw opportunities to engage in specific projects that might become statewide institutes in the summer of 2011. First, the Holocaust Educators’ Network, which is a national K-12 network exploring the dimensions of social justice in schools (contact Charbaugh). Then WIDEPATHS, the digital literacy inquiry group that first met in 2009 and plans to build on that work in 2011. And the Michigan Portfolio Network, which is mostly a web site at the moment. But the hope of this network is to promote authentic assessment of writing, by compiling benchmark work at all grades in all genres and to sponsor conversation about writing assessment at the state level.

The problem with the digital environment is you’re never sure where your attention should be—on the screen, on your computer, on the speaker, on the respondents in the audience. Remarkably, though, you always have a chance to recapture what you might have missed, because the Retreat Wiki, with its notes and documentation is always there at http://nwpmichigan.wikispaces.com/NWPM_Retreat_2010. Check it out.

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Cow Toenails—What’s Writing Got to Do with Them?!?
A Bit of Serious Fun.

Jim Schaefer

I personally like to savor stories that make me laugh out loud but have a really serious meaning behind. One such story that I encountered very recently had to do with cow toenails.
The story goes like this. Robert Kegan, a scholar who has fascinating research into meaning-making, said that a mother told him a story about her preschool-age son, Johnny, who went up to her one day and said that he needed some “cow toenails.”

Since the family lived in the suburbs and not a rural area with farms nearby, the mother’s first concern was how in the world she would be able to obtain cow toenails, but she was even more intrigued by why her son needed these items.
When the mother asked Johnny about why he needed cow toenails, Johnny informed her that he was starting a farm and wanted to plant cow toenails to grow some cows.
While the mother was pleased that her cute Johnny was so inventive, she decided that since Johnny had raised the issue, it might be a good time to teach him a little about “the birds and the bees” (or, in this instance, cows).

After telling Johnny a few basic facts about reproduction, the mother said, “So you see, Johnny, that is where baby cows really come from.” Johnny, who had been listening intently, paused for a few moments and then replied, “Not on my farm!”
I read about this story in Michael Ignelzi’s chapter, “Meaning-Making in the Learning and Teaching Process,” in a book, Teaching to Promote Intellectual and Personal Maturity: Incorporating Students’ Worldviews and Identities in the Learning Process, edited by M. B. Baxter (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000).

What does writing have to do with the story about cow toenails? Because children like Johnny tend to be very honest about what they are thinking and feeling as well as what they do and don’t understand. These children often provide clear insights into truisms about how human beings function. The story about Johnny illustrates some key developmental principles, including the fact that humans write about how they actively construct their own reality during the process of meaning-making (p. 5).

The story about the cow toenails helps in two ways. First, it is funny and unusual. Second, it does get people thinking not only about the questions that children raise but also other questions in their own existence that may seem—well, awkward but interesting and a rich source for a writing topic.

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