Friday, November 6, 2015

Kevin English Honored in 30 under 30!

Recently, Literacy Today released their top 30 under the age of 30. TC Kevin English was one of those honored for his research on how to use literacy assessment.

For more information, check out the article at "ILA Unveils First Class of '30 Under 30.'" Read more!

Grant Recipient: Carol Sliwka!

Congratulations to 2007 TC, Carol Sliwka! This fall she received a $100 grant from the Meemic Foundation.

She plans to use the grant to purchase more books for her students. Great job, Carol!

Click here to read more about teacher grants from the Meemic Foundation.
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A Facelift for EMWP

by Karen Chichester

Last spring our Advisory Board decided that it was time for our website and our brand to be reimagined. We really needed two sites, a clean, easy-to-navigate public face for EMWP and a community site. We also wanted a site that was collaborative and easy for our program leaders to edit, and why not throw in a new logo that would bring us into the digital age?

Bill Tucker, Nick Kalakailo, Kevin English, and Karen Chichester, Tech Liaison took on this redesign, drafting Shari Hales to design the new logo. After some discussion, the team decided that moving to Google Sites was our best option.

We are proud to announce that our new site is up and running on Google Sites. It can still be accessed from http://emichwp.orgor Please check it out. You will find lots of information about our programs and links to upcoming events. The main updates include a clean, modern interface, increased ease of site navigation using a horizontal navigation bar, and a new logo. Community site features:

This site will feature links of interest to EMWP TCs and will host our program archives including pictures and notes. The links are active, but the archives are still in the works. The community site can be reached from the main site via the EMWP Tab or by going to
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EdCamp EMWP: Total Contact Literacy

By Karen Chichester

EMWP is hosting our first ever EdCamp on October 24, 2015 in Pray-Harrold (8am-4:30pm). The theme is Total Contact Literacy and yes, there will be prizes. Registration is free to all who want to attend. Breakfast will be provided.

What is an EdCamp?

EdCamps embody the NWP principle “Teachers, Teaching Teachers.” Edcamps are innovative, participant-driven professional learning opportunities. No two are the same. The learning that stems from the EdCamp format provides opportunities for every attendee to share ideas or questions. Everyone, whether a teacher, parent, or student is encouraged to participate by leading a conversation, asking a question, or sharing an idea. Time is built into the schedule for continuing discussions over lunch and between sessions.

What’s special about EdCamp EMWP?

Are you presenting at MCTE or NCTE and want to give your presentation and dry run? EdCamp EMWP is the place. Additionally, there will be one room set aside for Sacred Writing Time.

If you want more information and to register (so we know many bagels to order), please visit:
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Please remember: Teachers do inspire their students

by Jim Schaefer

    In the hustle and bustle of everyday school life, it is easy to lose track of a very important truth: Teachers can and do inspire their students.
    In his latest book, David Maraniss (2015) noted how Martha Reeves, the famous Detroit singer, was started on the path to fame and glory by Emily Wagstaff, her music teacher at Russell Elementary School. Reeves said that “beautiful, little German lady” chose Reeves to be a soloist and instructed her on ways to fill out [her] greatness” (p. 101).
    Later, at Northwestern High, another music teacher, Abraham Silver, taught Reeves and the other students to earn freedom through discipline, so they could move freely into various of music, including jazz, pop, rhythm and blues. Reeves said that Silver also taught her not only how to sing but to read music correctly.
    Of course it was up to Reeves to pursue her career, which she did and was able to participate the “creativity, chaos, and freedom that made Motown possible” (p. 102).


Maraniss, D. (20150. Once in a great city: A Detroit      story. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
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It’s That Time of the Year Again!

By Shari Hales

The air feels electric as I make preparations for another set of 200 seventh and eighth grade students to walk into my life--- and take over. As I plan, I’m struck by how my teaching focus has changed since taking part in the Summer Institute at Eastern. (For emphasis, I’m going to underline all of the best practices I have gleaned from my time with colleagues at EMWP.) My focus is still on building a learning community, but now my lessons engage students through writing and sharing their writing.

For the first few weeks, we build our writing territories through different activities, like heart maps, neighborhood maps, and lists of pet peeves. I write with my students now, always. It’s one of the ways that they can see it’s important. They can see my struggles and my triumphs. They can see the work and energy that goes into writing, and the great reward writers feel when we produce something worthwhile. As the year continues, we write every day in my classroom, for different purposes and different audiences. We may answer a prompt, write a poem, make a zine, write on a given topic, or have writer’s choice time.

And now I know I don’t have to grade all of their writing! Some of their writing is just for thought, just to get their ideas out onto a page. Other times, their drafts show the evolution of their work, but don’t need to be graded. I don’t have to check every paper for every error. In fact, it’s detrimental to them as writers if I do! This is freeing as a teacher. They can create more because of this realization.

Writing is a great way to make connections with my students and their families. With the support of EMWP’s Family Literacy Initiative, I now invite my students’ parents to come to the school and learn some ways to help their children with their writing. We share with one another about our cultures and life stories through our writing. We even have a Celebration of Student Writing at the end of the year.

So, as you can see, the experiences I’ve had working with and for EMWP have shaped me as a teacher (and a writer, but that’s different article). Another year begins, and as my contact with the exceptional teachers at the Writing Project continues, I know that my teaching will only improve and my students will be the ones who gain the most from my professional development of choice.
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Prolific Published Writers

By Bill Tucker

When we started gathering publications and presentations for the new website, we were astonished by the low-profile productivity of our colleagues. A writing revolution was afoot right under our noses! Here is a sampling of known publications and presentations of recent years. If we missed yours, send us the citation. We want to brag about you here and on our website.


Dunbar, Mitra and Baker, W. Douglas (2014) "Teaching as Emotional Labor: Preparing to Interact with All Students," Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 30: Iss. 1, Article 8. Available at:

Fleischer, Cathy; Daniel, Ellen; Eddy, Lisa; Gedeon, Kris; DeYoung Kander, Jessica; Kangas, David; and Guinot Varty, Nicole (2014) "Teacher Researchers as Local Agents of Change: Exploding the Myth of the Bad Teacher," Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 29: Iss. 2, Article 8. Available at:

Kander, J. (2015). “Letting Students See Behind the Curtain: Becoming more transparent about my role as a teacher learner” In Heather Lattimer and Stacey Caillier [Eds] Surviving and Thriving with Teacher Action Research: Reflections and Advice from the Field. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing

Kander, J. (2012). Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature Review. Children’s Literature in Education, 43:2 (June).

Keider, Julia, "Why National Writing Projects Matter," Linked-In feed-article-title-publish

Knight, Angela K. (2008) "Finding the Center of Gravity: Unexpected Benefits of Non-graded Writing," Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 24: Iss. 1, Article 4. Available at:

Kogel Gedeon, Kristin (2009) "All I Did Was Ask: Communicating With Students about Their Writing," Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 25: Iss. 1, Article 10. Available at:

Lonsdale, Chelsea (2015) "Engaging the "Othered": Using Zines to Support Student Identities," Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 30: Iss. 2, Article 4. Available at:

McCombs, Pam (2013) "Making and Understanding Comics, Three Panels at a Time,"Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 29: Iss. 1, Article 6. Available at:


Anderson, T., E. Daniels, L. Eddy, C. Fleischer, K. Gedeon, K. Hoffman, J. Kander, D. Kangas, P. McCombs, S. Primeau. “The Port in Our Storm: Why Teacher Research? Why Now?” National Council for Teachers of English, Washington D.C. (November 2014)

Briggs, S., C. Guillean, J. Kander, P. McCombs, S. Primeau. “Analyzing From the Inside Out: Strategies for Analytical Writing.” Reading and Writing in a Decade of Standards: Implementing the Common Core State Standards in K-14 Classrooms, Eastern Michigan Writing Project, Ypsilanti, MI (November 2012)

Daniels, E., L. Eddy, C. Fleischer, K. Gedeon, J. Kander, D. Kangas. “Raising Our Voices: A Teacher Research Group Goes Public.” National Council for Teachers of English, Las Vegas, NV (November 2012)

Briggs, S., C. Guillean, J. Kander, S. Primeau. “Bridging High School and University: Analytical Reading and Writing.” Reading and Writing in a Decade of Standards: Implementing the Common Core State Standards in K-14 Classrooms, Eastern Michigan Writing Project, Ypsilanti, MI (January 2012)

Kander, J. “Bringing High School English Out of the Closet: LGBT Literature in the High School English Curriculum.” National Council for Teachers of English, Chicago, IL (November 2011)

Kander, J. “Writing in the Cloud: Using Google Docs to Support Asynchronous Collaborative Writing and Thinking” Eastern Michigan Writing Project, Ypsilanti, MI (July 2011)

Knight, Angela. "NaNoWriMo: Novel Writing, At Work and Play." Blues-Optimism-Anthology-Narratives/dp/B001CMXT8U/ref=sr_1?s=books&ie=UTF8& qid=1438734150&sr=1-1&keywords=killing+the+blues+teacher+narratives

"Creative Inklings: Creative Writing in the Classroom and Beyond." NCTE presentation, Orlando, FL. 2010.

Shaum, Beth Students CAN Write (presented at MCTE 2014, NCTE 2014, MRA 2015, and nErDcampMI 2015) - Originality, Emulation, and Theft (Presented at MRA 2015)
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