Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Welcome to the 2011 Spring Edition of eMuse!

In This Edition:
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Summer in April:
the Invitational Institute Begins

Bill Tucker

For fourteen teachers and three institute leaders, summer began on April 25. Metaphorically-speaking. The 2011 Invitational Institute technically begins on June 23.
The annual Pre-institute dinner and orientation was held in the EMU Student Center, where the latest participants and their mentors met Monday evening. The centerpiece of the program was a demonstration on “Setting Up Your Writer’s Notebook,” by Liz Bertolini, TC ’10. We all left with our salt-and-pepper notebooks (some were green-and-white and some red-and-white) set up for a year of quickwrites and mini-lessons.
The newest participants also purchased the required reading for the spring: a choice of Hidden Gems (Katherine Bomer), The Digital Writing Workshop (Troy Hicks) or Writing in the Dialogical Classroom (Bob Fecho). They will be participating in three book blogs leading up to the beginning of the institute.
The demise of the National Writing Project has been greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain. Most of the 200 sites are holding summer institutes, in spite of cutbacks in their grant allocations, due to the reckless slashing of literacy programs in the federal budget. The NWP continues to seek funding for programs in 2012 and beyond.
Meanwhile at least eight Michigan sites have confirmed plans for Invitational Institutes this summer.
The class of 2011 includes four college level instructors, six teachers at the high school level, one from middle school and three from elementary schools. EMU boasts the highest representation of teachers for the first time: three (see accompanying photo).
The leadership for the institute includes, Nick Kalakailo, Coordinator for New Teachers, Cassy Korinek, Returning Fellow, Karen Chichester, Technology Liaison, and Bill Tucker, Director.
We will likely hold a “Mentors Day” on July 1 with a Cornucopia book display. All teacher consultants are invited to visit.

Summer is on the way!

Front Row, Left to Right:
Bill Barr, Dawn Richberg, Janice Vujic, Barbara Martin, Jessica DeYoung Kander
Back Row, Left to Right:
Erin Klein, Sarah Primeau, Heather Shiveley, Lynn Gronvall,
Rian Burke, Amy West, Stacey Briggs, Marquin Parks, Cindy Guillean

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English Studies for Teachers and EMWP

Cathy Fleischer

Some of you may already know about the close connection between EMWP and the MA program in English Studies for Teachers offered at EMU. A number of teachers have decided to work on this MA after participating in the Summer Institute and continuity groups (just participating in those two experiences is good for 6 of the required 30 credits!) And what they’ve learned is that the focus on theory based best practices that is the centerpiece of the Summer Institute is also the basis of this MA program.

And so we were particularly proud that at this year’s MA Celebration/Presentation, three of the four speakers are also EMWP Teacher Consultants: Jill Fyke, Lauren Luedtke, and Liz Scott (pictured here with Matt Koleszar—we’re working on getting him to join EMWP!) These teachers are finishing their degree by conducting some amazing classroom research projects (again—see the connection to EMWP?), studying their own teaching and their students’ learning in order to make some great changes in their classrooms and schools.

Jill presented on “Using YA Fiction and Poetry: Mentor Texts to Inspire and Improve Writing,” a study that looked at how her middle level students’ writing changed when they were immersed in novels and poems that depicted real issues confronting teens.

Lauren, in “Engaging Literature Circle Groups in Inquiry,” investigated what happened in her senior English class when her students moved from using Literature circles (with their emphasis on role sheets and comprehension of novels) to Inquiry Groups (which focus more on underlying question and issues raised by the novels).

Liz, in her “Engaging in Dialogue with ‘Real’ Writers,” talked about the changes in her students’ understanding of writing processes when they began to interact with published authors and learning about these authors’ approaches to writing. Her students have written letters to authors, Skyped with YA author Chris Crutcher, and attended a talk by Lois Lowry.

Matt drew upon his background as a social studies teacher in his project “Using Creative Writing to Promote the Learning of History.” Matt has studied the changes in his students’ understanding of history as they’ve been engaged with a variety of creative writing assignments, both formative and summative, throughout the semester.

Amazing presentations by some thoughtful and engaged teachers. Congrats to all four!

And if you’re interested in learning more about the MA in English Studies for Teachers, visit http://www.emich.edu/english/english-ed/graduate.php.

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Course Announcement

LITR 585: Visualizing Pedagogies: Teaching Literature and Art

July 25-August 5
LITR 585: Visualizing Pedagogies: Teaching Literature and Art

(NOTE: This course satisfies one of the Literature for Teachers requirements for the MA in English Studies for Teachers)

This section of LITR 585 Literature for Teachers will invite students to investigate the interconnections among literature texts, visual art, and classroom practice through an interdisciplinary and multimodal exploration of literary and visual art works. I hope to establish an environment for inquiry that will allow us to pursue both shared and independent inquiries into a range of literary genres related to visual arts, pedagogy, and the image of the artist.

At area museums (Detroit Institute of Art, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, EMU Art Galleries), we will engage in onsite viewing and analysis of visual art work that is the subject of literary texts and/or gives visual treatment to literature and narrative. Assignments will include pedagogical planning around core visual and literary art works, comparative and multimodal interpretive analyses of visual and literary art works, and inquiry into the hybrid genres of literary and visual texts for 21st-century readers and writers.

The two off-site visits (one to the DIA one to UMMA) connect to the critical, literary, and pedagogical readings informing discussion during the 2-week seminar. Also during the 2 week seminar students will develop pedagogical demonstrations anchoring grade level learning outcomes with pedagogical practices integrating visual arts and literature. After the 2 week intensive session, students will continue to develop a critical pedagogical project which will synthesize their understanding of course themes, texts, and issues of teaching and learning. These will be due at the end of the Summer term on August 17.

For more information about the course readings and expectations, contact John Staunton (jstaunto@emich.edu).

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Inkstains 2011: Inviting and Inspiring Teens to Write

Kimberly Pavlock, TC ‘92

With spring finally here, students and their families are looking ahead to the end of the school year and searching for rewarding, fun, and affordable summer activities. Inkstains, the EMWP Summer Writer’s Camp for middle and high school students, is a wonderful opportunity for young writers to come together on EMU’s campus to write, share, and publish their writing.
In collaboration with Aimee Grant, Director of Youth Programs, EMWP TCs Natalie Tomlin, Sean Eldon and Alli Kaplan will teach middle school students entering grades 6-8 the week of July 11-15. EMWP TCs Amie VanHorn, Sean Eldon, and Alli Kaplan will teach high school students entering grades 9-12 the week of July 18-22.

During the camp, students learn drafting, revising, and editing strategies and have opportunities to write in a variety of genres. In addition to receiving a journal and t-shirt, students will also receive a copy of an anthology with select writings published from the students’ work during the week.
The middle and high school camps each meet for one week: Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. – 12 Noon. The cost for students to attend Inkstains is $140.
Registration is already underway, but we still have plenty of spots available for interested students. Please CLICK HERE for a copy of the Inkstains 2011 brochure to share with your students. You may contact Kim Pavlock (kpavlock@emich.edu) for more information.
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EMWP is Going Social!

Did you know that the EMWP has a Facebook page and a Twitter Account? Social media has become an integral part of our lives as a way to share information between and among people. For that reason, we are attempting to improve communication within our site and with other NWP sites across the country using social media.

Anyone who “likes” our Facebook page is encouraged to post anything that may be of interest to our Teacher Consultants. This includes items specifically about our site, links that may be useful, information about upcoming professional development opportunities, and questions/requests for help related to teaching writing. Please post, as our page will benefit from many voices. It can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eastern-Michigan-Writing-Project/117469774954260

Our Twitter account, @emwptc, contains tweets and links about the National Writing Project, our site, and links or comments that may be of interest to our Teacher Consultants. During the upcoming Summer Institute, you can follow tweets about what is happening. You can also follow our hashtag #emwp for tweets from other Tweeters. All links posted with the #emwp hashtag are aggregated in The #emwp Daily at Paper.li This will be updated daily and tweeted out to our followers. So if you have a great link, use our hashtag.

The National Writing Project is developing a social networking site. As this gets rolled out, we will be participating. Our Facebook page, website, and Twitter account will have more information as it becomes available.

Our Technology Liaison, Karen Chichester, maintains both accounts. She may be contacted at karenchichester@gmail.com or on Twitter @kchichester. Karen is also hoping to further develop the site and address the technological needs and interests of those involved with the EMWP through a survey she put together. Please help her out by completing this survey on your technological knowledge, skills, and interests!
Survey link: https://spreadsheets0.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEpVLWk0OTJsZXJZZWZKb3JzZV9KU1E6MQ#gid=0

If you’d be interested in helping with this project, please contact Karen Chichester at karenchichester@gmail.com or on Twitter: @kchichester.

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Digital Is... Resource Development Retreat: Thoughts on Why I Was There

Karen Chichester (EMWP Technology Liaison)

In January, I was one of fifteen educators from across the country that was invited to attend the National Writing Project’s Digital Literacies Resource Development Retreat at the Purple Sage Ranch about an hour west of San Antonio, TX. During my three days there I met some amazing people, each of whom had a personal story to tell about how technology has affected their teaching practice. Our task was to take our personal stories and craft them into pieces for the Digital Is.. website.

Digital Is... is not a “how-to” site nor is a list of tools. It is a place for anyone to tell his or her story about technology and teaching. It is also a place for discussion about those stories. It is also a place when a reader can see how technology is used in real classrooms at all levels. It’s a place to help jumpstart conversations and thinking about the digital world and how we as educators begin and continue our journey in this new media environment.

As I sat there that first night, I wondered what kind of stories these other people came to tell. I discovered each one had a different story. For example, Meenoo Rami, Philadelphia Writing Project, was there to tell how she uses Twitter for professional development and how she started #engchat, a weekly chat for English Teachers on Twitter. Steve J. Moore, Kansas City Writing Project, wrote about how he blogged every day of his first year of teaching. Lacy Manship, University of North Carolina-Charlotte Writing Project, was there to tell how having her first grade students document what occurs in her classroom each day using a Flip video camera. Joe Wood, Area 3 Writing Project (UC-Davis), wrote about how he got started with technology and about using Google Earth to tell stories. These are just a sampling. Believe me when I say there are many more.

I was there to write about my challenge of using Google Docs and text-to-speech to engage my students in writing. I thought this would be an easy task since I have been telling different versions of this story at conferences and it was the basis of my demonstration lesson last summer. While my critique group gave me many insights into my piece, I found the ongoing collaboration with others both with me in Texas and from my digital professional learning network to be most helpful. Following my podcasting partner Joe Wood’s lead, I tweeted out a link to the Google Doc I was creating. (Earlier, Joe and I had moved to different locations at the ranch.) We began to converse over Twitter and on our documents as we wrote. Shortly, Steve Moore, who was sitting across the room, chimed in, quickly followed by a friend of mine in Michigan and a superintendent in Virginia. In effect they were watching over my shoulder and commenting as I wrote.

It quickly dawned on me that I was experiencing the process that I use with my students from the writer’s perspective. That in and of itself, gave me a greater understanding of why my process worked so well. That immediate feedback is empowering and has a much greater impact on my piece than any comments that would have been written on a printed draft.

Wow. This was why I was there. Despite my appointed task, I was there to learn more about myself as a teacher, a learner, and a writer. This epiphany was reinforced at every meal where we discussed teaching and education. These colleagues became my friends, mentors, and Words with Friends opponents. This three day experience changed my view of myself and my profession more that I can say.

This what NWP, EMWP, and Digital Is... are really about. They provide a context for our learning, support for our professional development, and supportive colleagues who will hold your hand as you grow as a person. Most importantly, they provide new ideas and open up a world outside of your school. If you ever have the chance to attend a NWP retreat, go. It may affect your view of yourself more than you could possibly guess.

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Deb Hetrick 

After spending all of the time making a "homemade" spiral notebook version of the Fountas and Pinnell Reading Journal, I can't seem to use it efficiently. Not all of my assignments fit neatly into their categories and collecting them for teacher response is a nightmare. Being a proponent of using technology in the classroom, I wanted a blog set up for reading response writing. As a classroom blogging about weather for three years on Edublogs, I knew that site was not suited to my needs for guided reading. Last fall, I stumbled upon another blogging source that is a perfect fit - Kidblog.org. Designed by teachers for teachers, "Kidblog meets the need for a safe and simple blogging platform suitable for elementary and middle school students. Most importantly, Kidblog allows teachers to monitor and control all publishing activity within the classroom blogging community." http://kidblog.org/about.php

My fourth grade students took to blogging like the proverbial ducks to water. We began using it for response to reading - the blog allows me to create groups and it was/is super easy to set up. I post my reading assignment and the students respond on their own blog. Not only can I make comments to them, but periodically students create postings to which other group members respond. My job became easier as I could respond anytime, anywhere without lugging 5-8 notebooks home. But the best thing about it was that students, initially not writing much in their spiral notebooks, began to write twice as much on their blog.

What began as a time-saver for me became a way of writing in my classroom. Seeing the enthusiasm for writing and the ease of response, I expanded my assignments to include monthly projects and writer's workshop. Kidblog saves versions so my evaluation for revision and editing became better. I have all of the writing in one place and I can look at various assignments to see if the generalization of skills from teacher-directed to student-initiated is happening. Having already responded in writing to projects and pieces from writer's workshop, conferencing goes faster and better too.

I haven't organized the site the best way I can. Students forget where to post their work and my assignments need to make that clearer in the future. It still takes me a lot of time to respond to their writing, as well as screen comments they make to other writers, but I can do it faster in shorter periods of time, whenever it is convenient. I hope you decide to check out Kidblog.org and give it a try.

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Finding ways to carefully untie the wisdom knot in teaching writing

Jim Schaefer

While I was doing some research on the University of Ghana, I discovered an old African proverb called the wisdom knot, or nyansapo, which goes like this: When a wise person ties a knot, it takes a very intelligent mind to untie it.

I read about this proverb in a book by Okrah (2003), who indicated that untying such a knot “takes a person with insight and profound intelligence to understand the true meanings of [his or her] actions" (p. 6). Okrah used the proverb to comment on how a foreigner observing the traditional Akan people (indigenous people in Ghana) would take everything at face value and not interpret what was happening. Okrah claimed that this was why "early foreigners" assumed that Africans did not have education because they (the foreigners) "arrogantly" believed that everyone should conform to their educational standards and values (pp. 6-7).

I have found it useful to keep this proverb in mind as I teach writing in my classroom with students of all ages and backgrounds. Instead of succumbing to the temptation to make assumptions and employ stereotypes, I have found a much more rewarding approach is to view a challenging student as a kind of wisdom knot. I ask myself, how can I better understand this student so that she or he can become enough empowered to express her or his feelings and thoughts in her or his authentic voice. The results are often deeply moving because the student was often yearning for that kind of empathetic response from me as teacher. Once I provided that by untying the knot of frustration, she or he bloomed both as a writer and as a person.

Okrah, A. (2003). Nyansapo (the wisdom knot): Toward an African philosophy of education. New York, NY: Routledge.

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Teaching at the 21st Century Intersection of LEP, NWP, and IB: People, Pedagogy, and Planet

Lisa Eddy
Recently, my LEP (Leopold Education Project) colleague, Kim Kaseman, posed the following questions to me in an email: Would you say that your work with the International Baccalaureate program and work you’ve done as a consultant on the National/Eastern Michigan Writing project are both rooted in LEP? Or would you say they use LEP as a framework?
These are excellent questions, and I want to thank Kim for nudging me into exploring the ways that the three approaches intersect.
The common themes I see at work in all three approaches are:
• they are all inquiry-based,
• they are all inter-disciplinary,
• they are all experiential approaches to learning.

Let’s take a look at their mission statements.

LEP Mission Statement
The mission of the Leopold Education Project is to create an ecologically literate citizenry so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic.

NWP Mission & Vision
Our Mission
The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation’s educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners.

Our Vision
Writing in its many forms is the signature means of communication in the 21st century. The NWP envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.

IB Mission Statement
The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.

These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

Intersecting Visions

LEP envisions an “ecologically literate citizenry.” At the heart of ecological literacy is an important truth: there is ONE earth, ONE race, (the Human race). LEP helps students to realize that our land ethic must consider the interrelatedness of all aspects of life on earth.

NWP “envisions a future where every person is an accomplished writer, engaged learner, and active participant in a digital, interconnected world.” This is our daily reality, for teachers and students: there is ONE digital, interconnected world of readers and writers, and we all have a part to play in this world.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” The IB programme emphasizes, through a holistic and internationally-minded approach, that all of our interactions with the planet and its people should be characterized by understanding, respect, and peace.

While NWP and LEP offer excellent and complementary professional development models in training teachers how to engage students at high levels of critical and creative thinking, IB schools offer students an excellent environment in which to practice high levels of critical and creative thinking. NWP and IB share an emphasis on “21st Century Literacies,” but neither addresses the quintessential 21st Century concern: the health of the planet. LEP adds the crucial third leg to the stool of pedagogy (NWP), people (IB), and planet. All three are critical aspects of 21st Century literacy. What good is pedagogy that isn’t respectful of people? What good are people and pedagogy if we don’t have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat? How can we have peace in the world without meeting these basic needs? By combining what I’ve learned in LEP and NWP, I can confidently approach my work as a teacher at an IB school.
(Reposted from http://citizenteacher.wordpress.com)

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We are so very excited to announce that Beth Harris (TC 2007) and her husband have adopted a baby boy! Nicholas Christopher Harris was born on March 3, 2011. He weighed 7 pounds, 8.5 ounces and was 20 inches long.

The proud parents were able to bring him home from the hospital and have been enjoying every moment with him! Congratulations!!

Nicolas Christopher Harris

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How Has the Writing Project Influenced You?  
A narrative response from Jim Schafer

For this edition of eMuse, we asked for your narratives about the writing project – a brief narrative that would show how the EMWP has impacted you. Please enjoy the narrative below from Jim Schafer, TC 2004:

My involvement with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project, including my training as a Teacher Consultant at the 2004 Summer Institute, has had a profound impact on my teaching over the years. This semester, I have an older ex-Marine who enrolled in college because the place where he was working went bankrupt. At first, he had a really negative attitude and was quite difficult to deal with, but as I used my EMWP training to try and understand him as a person and to encourage him to write about what he was interested in, he gradually relaxed.

I must admit that at first, the task of working with him was rather time-consuming, but as my relationship with him evolved, his writing about remodeling his home and getting his boat out of winter storage has proven to be quite interesting. I also learned that his negative attitude was out of his fear of not doing well, but now that attitude is not necessary because he's developing some very competent writing skills.
All this was possible because of what I have learned from my training and involvement with the Writing Project.
I've taken the student's name off this message, but the help that she mentions receiving from me was the direct result of my involvement with the Writing Project. I remember this student, and when she says she was "scared to death", that was quite literally true. But she overcame that as she persisted in her struggle to master the craft of writing.

-----Original Message-----

Hi Professor!

I'm not sure if you will remember me, but I was in your Fall Semester class of English 119. I was scared to death to take your class because I have not been in school for 30 years. I did not have the confidence to write a letter properly let alone a report or essay. Anyway whether you remember me or not, I just wanted to tell you, "Thank you" so much for everything that you did for me in the English class. I know it is just a beginner's course, but you helped me with my confidence and proper structure for writing a
paper so much, I just can not tell you thanks enough.

I have had to write a few reports for some of my classes but never a full blown essay yet. Anyway, for this one class I had to write a detailed summary, a detailed report, and a full blown essay. I received 100% out of 100% on my project, and I owe it all to you. If you did not make me write my paper on Restless Leg Syndrome that I gave to you, I would have never, ever had been able to do the great job on this project. Doing that essay and you reviewing it with me till I got the structure down properly made it so easy for me to write those papers for this class. This grade for this project was a big portion of my grade, and my teacher even commented to me on how well written the paper was, and that the presentation and structure were "Awesome."

I just wanted to tell you because you should know what an impact you have on us students. You are an awesome teacher.

Thank you for sharing this, Jim! We would welcome anyone else’s narrative about the writing project to be included in upcoming editions of eMuse!
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