Friday, February 3, 2012

Welcome to the 2012 Winter Edition of eMuse!

In this edition...

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EMWP Rides Again

Bill Tucker, Director

In the first year of post-federal funding the Eastern Michigan Writing Project will sustain its Summer Institute, its Inkstains Writing Camp, and its Outreach Programs, including Family Literacy and Professional Development. None of the funding can be assumed indefinitely, but for 2012-13 it is almost business-as-usual.

In this issue, look for the usual posting for EMWP Positions and follow directions to apply. We are also inviting applications for the voluntary Advisory Board.

Programs like Inkstains, Family Literacy and Professional Development are growing toward self-support. If our participants continue to support the program activity, the programs can use the revenue to finance the work.

Programs like the Summer Institute, the Teacher Research Group, and the Writing Retreat do not finance themselves. They will be dependent on external grants, which we will actively seek in 2012. For SI 2012 the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will underwrite the essential expenses, funding the stipends and dinners. What remains to be funded are the teacher fellowships, which amounted to $15,000 in 2011.

Here is where EMWP teachers can help. First, we are inviting all the districts that have participated in previous summer institutes to establish a $1250 fellowship for a teacher to attend from their district. We have officially sent letters to the Washtenaw Districts, but we are relying on our teachers to contact the key person in their district to establish a fellowship. If they contact Bill Tucker , he will set up the fellowship for next summer.

A second way to support EMWP financially is through the EMU Foundation, which is our official fund-raiser. If you wish to donate online, you can follow these directions:

Go to: At the left click “Ways to Donate"

Again at the left click “Donate Now”

To the right of “Gift Description” check the “search” button

Under “Keyword” type “Writing Project” and click “choose”

You’ll return to the “Gift Description” and proceed from there.

It’s a bit convoluted, but it gets easier after two or three donations. We encourage a lot of practice! :)

We hope you will join us in 2012 as EMWP rides again!

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EMWP Family Literacy Initiative to Offer Regional Training

Kimberly Pavlock, TC ‘92

This spring, on May 19, 2012, we have plans to offer our first Family Literacy Initiative Training Institute for Teacher Consultants from NWP sites across Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana who are interested in learning about what the EMWP Family Literacy Initiative is and receiving training on how to develop family outreach programs of their own at their own sites.
Family Writing Workshop Participants

During this Institute, we will not only provide background information about our program (including why we think working with parents is so important; how we developed our program, and what our program entails), we will also model two different workshops for Institute participants, so that they can take part in an actual workshop and have time to write and ask questions about their experience. We plan to also answer questions about how we train our TCs, how we market the FLI, and more. At the end of the day, we will lead participants through a series of prompts to help them think about how they might develop workshops and training in family literacy at their own Writing Project sites.

Family Writing Workshop Participants
Realizing that money is tight for Writing Project sites across the country, we plan to charge just $75 per person (which will include breakfast and lunch). EMWP TCs interested in attending will only be asked to pay $10 to help cover the cost of food. We believe that sites sending one, two, or even three TCs should be able to recoup their investment in this training easily once they begin family literacy programs of their own.

Family Writing Workshop Participants
We see this summer institute as a first step in creating wider training for Teacher Consultants across the country. The more NWP sites know about the success of our Family Literacy Initiative and the various ways in which this outreach to families supports the goals of the National Writing Project, the better – not only for the families and schools involved, but also for the sustainability of the National Writing Project.
We are fortunate. Over the past few years, we have received an incredible amount of interest and support from administrators, teachers, parents, students, and other community members for the EMWP Family Literacy Initiative. Our programs and outreach continue to expand. So, in spite of the challenges that we face as a result of the lack of federal funding, we look forward with hope and confidence to a year of more growth and more collaboration with schools, families, and other NWP sites.

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Literacy: It Isn’t Just for English Anymore

Bill Tucker

When the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts were published eighteen months ago, a small addendum featured “Literacy in History/ Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects.” Almost two years before the CCSS would publish content standards for any of these subjects, it was announcing there would be literacy standards across the curriculum.

Now in their sixth month of inquiry the Disciplinary Literacy groups of EMWP are getting ready to demonstrate what these standards might look like in secondary classrooms. Over the next three months they will be featured in the Saturday morning workshop series, “Reading and Writing in a Decade of Standards” (schedule attached).

On February 11, Doug Baker, John Staunton and Lauren Luedtke (TC ‘2010) will introduce the notion of Disciplinary Literacy and examine how it affects how we read. Rosanne Stark will present a complementary K-5 study of Informational texts. At the end of the workshop, a panel of college instructors will reflect on how they approach reading in their classes.

In subsequent months the DL groups will demonstrate writing lessons, first in Science in March and then in Social Studies in April. These demonstrations are among the primary artifacts for their report to the National Writing Project, which has funded this inquiry with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As Doug Baker reported for his Science Literacy group:

The teachers have observed their own practices and lessons in order to select and build model lessons, whose scientific and pedagogical principles can be used by other teachers.

If you know content area teachers who are concerned about addressing the literacy standards, this would be an excellent opportunity to introduce them to the Writing Project. Bring a colleague to the 2012 edition of “Reading and Writing in a Decade of Standards.” If possible pre-register, but you are welcome to come and register onsite.

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Summer and Fall Opportunities at the EMWP!

Looking for a way to keep yourself and/or your child busy this summer? The EMWP Inkstains summer writing camp is available for middle school and high school students!

Inkstains, 2011
Click here to download the 2012 Inkstains brochure and application:

Inkstains, 2011

Another upcoming opportunity is the Summer Invitational, running June 21 – July 19. Download the 2012 EMWP Summer Invitational brochure for yourself, or to pass it on to a fabulous teacher in your life! See the EMWP site for more information.

Finally, the Eastern Michigan Writing Project is accepting applications for 2012-13 Teacher Consultant positions with EMWP: click here to download the current EMWP positions!

Inkstains, 2011

Inkstains, 2011

Inkstains, 2011

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Professional Development Workshops by the EMWP

Sarah Lorenz
We are in the midst of the busiest year of professional development in EWMP history, and that is due in part to Teacher Consultants who suggest EMWP as a provider. We are working with a couple of partner schools this year to schedule multiple events over a one-to-three year timeline, including workshops, observations, coaching, family literacy, and more.

Coaching follow-up is another offering we can provide. A coach works with a teacher or small team to tailor the implementation of a new practice to each teacher's specific situation, and can raise implementation rates from the typical 5% to over 90%. We invite you to advocate for the Eastern Michigan Writing Project as a professional development provider in your school!

We are also developing new offerings, including workshops on the Common Core (and related assessments), the Calkins' Units of Study, Socratic Seminars, and vocabulary acquisition. One school has even scheduled a writing marathon as a PD activity for its staff, which I'm pretty excited about! (By the way, I might need a facilitator for that, so email me if you are interested in facilitating a marathon.) Our Saturday Seminars have been going well, and that content might be available, depending on the presenter. We are also able to offer professional development around the National Writing Project's new Writing Assignment Design Framework--check the attached workshop list for a brief description or the NWP site for details.

So, speak to the decision-makers in your school (or just contact me if you are the decision-maker!) and let's talk about bringing some high-quality, writing project-style PD to a location near you.

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Yes, Our Teaching Does Help Our Students

Jim Schaefer

As I complete another semester, I welcome the pleasurable task of reading my students’ reflections about what they learned about their writing as they struggled to express themselves with meaningfulness and competence. Their final journals this semester have again confirmed that, yes, my teaching did help them as they attempted to find effective ways of putting their thoughts into words. I’d like to share some of those thoughts, although I have omitted their names for obvious reasons of discretion.

Student A said that at the beginning of the semester, her writing was “a train wreck, to say the least.” She stated that she “lacked the confidence and strength to be able write.” Then, as I continued to work with her in what she called “long reflecting conversations,” she took a “new pathway” in her writing so that she is leaving the class “confident and ready for anything thrown my way.”
Another older student, Student B, noted that she was “nervous” at the beginning of the semester because previously she had not had to write “structured and formatted” papers. After revising her essays so she could learn from her errors and improve, she claimed that she was “surprised” at her writing and was “even more taken by how much I find myself enjoying to write.” She even added that she would “continue writing even after this class finishes” and that she was “thankful for the knowledge, as I have seven more years of school left.”
Student C observed that being able not to use a formulaic approach to writing allowed him to write from “the heart and not from the brain.” As a result, his writing seemed “to flow better,” and he thought that he actually sounded “like a person, instead of a heartless robot.” He also noted that revising his essays permitted him to learn “something new” and to improve his writing.
Student D noticed that he had shown “a lot of improvement” in his writing, although he was still struggling and had “room for growth.” This student wanted to polish the aesthetic of his writing, so he could “add more color and expression” and build his vocabulary, so that his essays could be more “engaging and poetic” in an “elegant flow of words.”
Student E discussed the re-discovery of her passion for writing, which disappeared after a violent episode in an abusive relationship. That episode had represented a roadblock that took away all her motivation to express herself, so that she had stopped writing altogether. Gradually, after a sustained effort in my class, she was able to “get past the anger and pain.” Now, she said, she feels like she has “travelled through a terrible storm and come out on the other side to find the sunshine.”
As teachers, we do work very hard to help our students find the sunshine on the other side of the struggle to express themselves. At the end of a semester, as we try to complete all our tasks of evaluating papers, we may not remember a crucial insight that the progress that our students have made resulted not only from their efforts but also from our work with them. As Parker J. Palmer, in his book, The Courage to Teach (2007), said, teachers offer their students the generous gift of the life of our minds, so our students can give full voice to their thoughts. When we have done that, we have done a good job, a job worth remembering.

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Congratulations to Jim Schaefer! Last year, Jim and Karen became the proud grandparents of their fifth grandchild!

Recently, Jim gave an in-service presentation at WCC on the dialogic classroom and interviewed Jennifer Grandholm for his Riprap TV program – check it out at:!
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