Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome to the 2011 Winter Edition of eMuse!

In this edition...

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Teacher Researchers Take NCTE by Storm

Cathy Fleischer, Co-director

Strong voices from the EMWP Teacher Researcher Group made their presence known at November’s NCTE Convention in Orlando.
Sarah Andrew-Vaughan and Cathy Fleischer,
 Winners of James Britton Award for Teacher Research
Sarah Andrew-Vaughan, Molly Fichtner, Kris Gedeon, and Carrie Melnychenko offered a session entitled “Grassroots Professional Development: Start a Teacher-Research Revolution.” In the session they talked about how they turned to teacher research when they were tapped by their school districts to lead various professional development ventures. Specifically, they took their experiences in our TR group to introduce a teacher research approach to their school colleagues. Kris reported on her work in starting the Britton-Macon Area School Teacher Research Group, Sarah talked about the Washtenaw Writing Collaborative Steering Committee, and Molly and Carrie shared their experiences as leaders of the Huron River Writing Connection.

Angela Knight, another member of the TR group, presented with her Hamtramck colleague (and EMWPer) Tricia Maslowksi about the summer camp for students and teachers they’ve begun. Entitled “Creative Inklings: Creative Writing in Classrooms and Summer Camps,” they outlined the vision for their summer work and then explained how teachers might adapt that vision for regular classrooms.
We were well represented by other EMWPers, too: from Andrea Gilles who presented in the High School Matters session (on “Using Multigenre Writing to Create Community in the Classroom”) to Jennifer Walsh and Jennifer Buehler whose talk was entitled “Celebrating the Newest Award Winners in Young Adult Literature.” (And there may be more of you that I’m missing! Please let us know at EMWP if you presented, and we missed your name here.)
Next year’s NCTE Convention is in Chicago, and online proposals are due January 19. Let’s see even more of the excellent work you all do represented at that conference! If you have questions about creating a proposal, ask one of our now-experienced TCs or contact Bill, Doug, John, or Cathy!

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You can’t spell “employment” without “em[w]p”

Bill Tucker

The good news is that the Eastern Michigan Writing Project has jobs. See the accompanying announcement. The bad news is that you have to apply and not everyone gets to work.
But don’t assume the jobs are hereditary. Every year we have new faces, and we’re grateful for every one. So take a chance and apply by February 1.

On a related note, we are applying for four mini-grants this year, and they all include modest stipends for the participants. Please let a co-director know if you are interested in working on any of the following:

Urban Sites Conference and Mini-grant --- Bill Tucker or Doug Baker
Rural Sites Mini-grant—John Staunton
Teacher Inquiry Mini-grant—Cathy Fleischer
Technology Mini-grant—Karen Chichester (TC ’10)

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Invitation: To an Urban Sites Study Group

The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening is a shared responsibility within the school (CCSSI ELA Standards, 4).
The new Common Core State Standards affirm what teachers of literacy have long known: the skills of literacy are across the curriculum. This is a focus of the EMWP’s mini-grant proposal “Disciplinary Literacy and the Teaching of Writing.”
The proposal, submitted to the National Writing Project in early January, will be evaluated for funding in the next month. If funded, it will provide stipends and travel funding for a small group of teachers interested in disciplinary literacy in urban schools, to study the literacy of at least three disciplines: science, social studies, and a subject to be determined.

A primary goal of this grant would be to form a cohort of teachers in urban schools who are interested in school reform in literacy within their own and other urban schools. The National Writing Project has funded a Special Focus Group for urban schools for more than a decade, and this grant will be our first overture to this group.
The Urban Sites Network will have its bi-annual conference this spring, April 29-30, with Ernest Morrell as the keynote speaker (“Nurturing Student Writing: Navigating Urban Literacies”). To find out more about this conference, go to:

If you are interested in joining an Urban Sites study group, contact Bill Tucker at
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National Writing Projects: the State Network

Bill Tucker
A dozen or so EMWP teachers have benefited from the summer retreats of the National Writing Projects of Michigan, and NWPM has recently benefited from our teachers’ sharing about teacher research and Family Literacy. Next summer the NWPM will sponsor a number of special interest groups, inviting small groups of teachers from each Writing Project site to participate.

Two opportunities are known as we go to press:
First, a regional version of the Holocaust Educators’ Seminars in Kalamazoo, August 6-12.
Second, an updated version of the digital writing workshops of WIDEPATHS, offered at Michigan State U. August 8-11.

The Holocaust Educators’ Network has sponsored national workshops in New York for many years, and K-12 teachers from Upper Peninsula Writing Project and the Third Coast Writing Project have attended them, with the sponsorship of the National Writing Project. This summer they will share what they have learned with their sister sites in NWPM. Two teachers from each site will be accepted. Corey Harbaugh, one of the organizers reports,

Our program will begin with an opening dinner Sunday, August 7- and conclude Saturday, August 13. It will be hosted in Kalamazoo, and it is a residential experience, as we will have multiple evening activities, including trips to sites in SW Michigan, and of course, over to the Holocaust Memorial and other social justice sites near Detroit.
Here is a web address to the wiki-based website we will use before, during, and after our program this summer:

Direct your questions to Corey [] at the Third Coast Writing Project.

You may remember the WIDEPATHS workshops from the summer of 2009, even if you did not attend. Here is what their wiki says about their goals and programs

Since earning a designation as one of five federally-funded National Writing Project “Lead Technology Sites,” Red Cedar Writing Project at MSU has attempted to construct “wide paths” down which we can walk arm-in-arm with our colleagues as we all attempt to better understand how the emergence of various new technologies, pedagogies, theories and genres are changing our practices as writers and our work as teachers of writing [].

This summer they will present revised workshops on digital writing for teachers willing to share these practices with their colleagues in the local sites. If you are interested in attending these workshops, contact Bill Tucker, since we will be limited in how many we can send. If you have questions about the content of the workshops, you should consult the wiki or contact Andrea Zellner [] for the most current thinking about this summer.

Keep alert for other special interest workshops (e. g., Michigan Portfolios or Math Lab) as plans unfold.

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Professional Development

PD requests continue to trickle in, almost always as a result of TCs advocating for us at their schools (or sometimes their kids’ schools). Remember our mantra: Shameless Self-Promotion. It works both individually and collectively, so get on those curriculum and accreditation committees, knock on that principal’s door, email that curriculum director.

EMWP is now an official External Provider for professional development services through the Michigan Department of Education, so we can provide PD for schools receiving grant funds under Title I, Targeted Assistance, Title I Accountability Grant, School Improvement Grant, etc. Please recommend us if you have connections in one of these schools. We are also exploring adding coaching services. If you are working in some capacity as a literacy/reading/writing coach, please email Sarah Lorenz at and give an update as to how your work is structured.
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Spreading the Word: Family Literacy Continues to Grow

Karen Watts, TC ‘93

FLI’s elementary workshops continue to be in high demand and we are quickly filling up our winter/spring calendar. We will be presenting several Parent/Family Workshop combinations in Berkeley and Ann Arbor in January and February. We are excited when schools bring us in for both parent and family workshops because they reinforce each other nicely and have a true impact on literacy in students’ homes.

FLI has experienced considerable growth in the last couple of years due to important connections with Bright Futures and EMU’s Writing Center. Bright Futures is an after-school and summer enrichment program run through a partnership between EMU, the Willow Run Public Schools and Wayne-Westland Community Schools, supported by a grant from the Michigan DOE. So far, we have scheduled our four-part Family Writing Workshop in three Bright Futures schools this winter/spring, and requests continue to come in.

We are also continuing our partnership with the University Writing Center at EMU in offering three separate workshops: one for students, one for parents, and one for high school faculty on the transition from high school to college writing. All three versions focus on the similarities and differences in high school and college writing. In addition, the parent version offers some suggestions on how parents can support their students in the transition; the student version offers tips for what teens can do right now to get ready for college writing; and the faculty version helps high school teachers understand approaches to writing instruction that are valued at the college level. Recent workshops have been conducted at Dexter and Ann Arbor Huron High Schools; upcoming ones are scheduled for Ypsilanti High.

Our call for more presenters last fall was answered by several enthusiastic TCs, who will be presenting workshops for us this winter and spring. But with so many requests and inquiries from schools, we find that we are only limited by the availability of presenters. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Karen Watts ( or Kim Pavlock (

Last, but not at all least, we want to congratulate Cathy Fleischer on the publication of her new book, Reading & Writing & Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Literacy. This book grew, in part, out of the work Cathy and Kim did in developing the Family Literacy Initiative for EMWP and will make the expertise and insight offered in their workshops available to all parents. It is a rich resource for parents concerned about their teen’s literacy in the age of technology and testing.

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Satellite EMWP at Monroe County Community College

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 June 14-July 1, 2010 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.
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Digital Is...

Karen Chichester, EMWP Fellow 2010

Karen Chichester
Writing has changed. The process hasn’t changed so much, but the types of writing we produce, the methods we use, and how we publish is changing. Our students text, tweet, blog, post status updates, create video/photo stories, and other types of content that they share with an authentic audience over the Internet. They can and do create meaningful artifacts that can be evaluated for depth of understanding of content. All of these are forms of digital writing. All of these forms and tools can be overwhelming. So the National Writing Project has been exploring ways to help teachers use this new writing environment. Their recent book, Because Digital Writing Matters (2010) explores this new type of writing and its implications for education.

At the Annual Meeting NWP rolled out its newest digital writing resource for teachers, Digital Is.... The stated aim of this website is to “collect and create resources, stories and reflections on what it means to write and to teach writing today…the National Writing Project seeks to host a place for educators and writers to stop and reflect on what it all might mean for our work as teachers” (

The site is organized into curated collections of resources and stories broken into three categories; each has at its base an essential question. Art and Craft collections focus on what we are learning about creating digital texts. Teach and Learn collections are focused on what we do in class and what we learn from it. Provocations collections are designed to get us thinking about this new world of digital writing and technology. All members of the Digital Is... community are encouraged to add resources and engage in discussions about those resources.

Digital Is... is designed to grow and change with the interests of the community. It is a work in progress. However, even at this early stage there are many interesting and useful resources and discussions available. I encourage you to join, explore, and participate this new offering from NWP.
On a personal note, I have been involved with this project since August 2010 when a blog post I wrote for the Summer Institute caught Paul Oh’s attention at the NWP office in California. He invited me to become a content creator for Digital Is.... I am honored that my piece, Cross-country Collaboration: It All Started with Twitter, is included in the collection, “'Tis mine and it is likewise yours” curated by Katherine Frank, Southern Colorado Writing Project. Also, thanks to NWP and EMWP I will be one of about 20 educators traveling to San Antonio in January to develop more resources for the site. I look forward to sharing my reflections on this experience in our next newsletter.

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Teaching & Inner Peace

Jim Schaefer

A simple story from Buddha may offer some insights into finding inner peace and teaching. The story goes like this. A teenage mother who had lost her infant to death was frantic with grief and outrage. She traveled from village to village with her child on her hip, looking for a miracle to bring the child back to life. Someone told her that the Buddha, who was preaching in a nearby town, would be able to help (Leyden-Rubenstein, 2001).

When the young woman found Buddha, she approached him and implored him to bring her son back to life and ease the terrible pain in her heart. In his wisdom, Buddha told her that he would help her if she would first bring back a mustard seed from a household in which no one had ever died (Leyden-Rubenstein 2001).
The young woman followed Buddha’s instructions and traveled from house to house. During her travels, she heard many stories about illness, pain, and death, and her heart was opened to other people’s pain. Eventually, she realized that all families have been touched by death, so she returned to the Buddha. “I know now what you were trying to teach me,” she said. “I am not alone in my misery. All people must endure death, not only their own, but others around them” (Leyden-Rubenstein, 2001).
Leyden-Rubenstein (2001) said this story shows how we can attain inner peace when we accept suffering, pain, and death, and “begin to see how [we are] connected through meaning, and to others through compassion.” In addition, we do not have control over everything that happens to us, but we “do have control over the way we react to what happens to us” (p. 1).
I think the story can help teachers because it focuses not on judging but on working with people, so we can “transform” fears and anxieties and compulsions about possessions, positions, and relationships into love and compassion. Then we can work on ways to make the world a better place to live and find inner peace.


Leyden-Rubenstein, L. (2001). Peace on earth begins with inner peace. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association, 4(6), 24+.

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Congratulations to Sarah Lorenz on the birth of her daughter!

Clarissa Rosaline Lorenz was born on July 8, 2010, joining brothers Bradley and Trey. She was 6 pounds, 5 ounces, and 19 inches.

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