Sunday, October 30, 2016


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  The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Eastern Michigan University a grant to increase the number of ESL-credentialed teachers in Michigan and study effective professional development for teachers of English learners. The WRITELL grant will recruit teachers and paraprofessionals who currently work with English learners who wish to pursue an undergraduate minor, endorsement, or Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). Teachers will be eligible for a scholarship of approximately 40% of their academic program in these areas. They will be involved in a research study of professional development that will examine the effectiveness of strategies for improving opinion writing with English learners, as well as pursuing their program of study. The initiative intends to enroll 300 teachers over the program period. The partnering agency is the Washtenaw Intermediate School District and will recruit teachers from Washtenaw and Livingston counties initially and expand to other counties as needed. All teachers in the region are invited to apply. The grant is renewable for up to five years, with total funding of over 2.6 million dollars. 

WRITELL is a collaboration between the Department of World Languages and the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. Dr. Zuzana Tomas is the principal investigator and Dr. William Tucker the Assistant Principal Investigator. Sarah Lorenz, Director of Professional Development at EMWP, is the Project Director. Kim Pavlock, EMWP Family Literacy Programming Director, will oversee family writing series at ten partnering schools each year. A community outreach coordinator and two instructional coaches will be hired to assist with program implementation. EMU preservice teachers will be involved with service learning/tutoring in after-school and community programs in Ypsilanti, funded by the grant. EMU’s Dr. Shawn Quilter will conduct the program evaluation, which is a quasi-experimental design. The National Writing Project’s national office at the University of California, Berkeley, has been commissioned to conduct the assessment of student writing. 

K-12 teachers and paraprofessionals of all subjects who are/will be working with two or more English learners are eligible to apply, and should anticipate involvement for 2-3 years, or possibly longer, depending on their chosen pace of program completion. Cohorts will begin in January 2017, August 2017, August 2018, August 2019, and August 2020 (final year will be a condensed program). For more information or to apply as a participant, contact Sarah Lorenz, Project Director, at
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Eastern Michigan Writing Project Descends Upon Atlanta

With our multiple grants in play, the EMWP will send six representatives to the NWP Annual Meeting November 17 in Atlanta.

Under the Teacher Leadership grant, Bill Tucker and Erin Umpstead will attend, hanging on for the NCTE Convention, which follows.

Under the College-Ready Writers grant, Jeff Taylor and Dave Kangas will attend and meet with other College-Ready Writers coordinators on Friday, November 18.  Under the new  WRITELL grant (for English Learners), Sarah Lorenz and Kim Pavlock will attend on Thursday and Friday.

Besides the reflection on the last year's work, the Annual Meeting provides a wide range of workshops on teaching writing for the many purposes we now address in our broadening professional development. 

Anyone attending NCTE is welcome to join this group for a Thursday evening dinner at an Atlanta restaurant. 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall 2016 Welcome Back eMUSE edition!

Summer yielded another phenomenal Invitational Leadership Institute, a College-Ready Writer's Institute, and the Teacher's Advocacy Workshop.

It is an exciting harvest time filled with opportunities beginning ...this weekend!So, grab your favorite beverage and peruse the articles without delay so you don't miss out.

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EMU Wins Grant For English Learning Program

EMWP is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a 2.5 million dollar U.S. Department of Education grant for five years of programming to improve services to English Learners in our area. This work is a collaboration with Dr. Zuzana Tomas in the EMU Department of World Languages. The national Professional Development Program grant is an initiative of the Office of English Language Acquisition. The grant has the following program goals:

  • Offer high quality professional development to teachers and paraprofessionals through an intensive, 54 hour program of teacher inquiry groups and PD each year.
  • Conduct a randomized controlled trial or quasi-experimental design studying the effects of a program of professional development to improve writing achievement for ELLs.
  • Offer professional development to administrators, counselors, and school psychologist through two day long workshops each year
  • Enhance the preservice preparation and teacher induction of TESOL students at Eastern Michigan University through participation with the inservice PD and after-school tutoring with opportunities to implement teaching strategies from methods courses.
  • Provide tuition toward TESOL  certification and career-ladder opportunities for teachers and paraprofessionals through the inservice program and additional scholarships, with the goal of 50 newly credentialed TESOL teachers in the region at the end of the 5 year program period.

More information will be coming soon about the professional development portion of ht grant for TCs who may be interested in participating and earning a TESOL certificate.

We will also be seeking instructional coaches to work with teachers during the school day during second semester of this year and for next year as they implement practices from the professional development program. If you are interested, have experience teaching English learners, and have daytime availability, please contact Sarah Lorenz at or . Read more!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

When We Wobble

We've all been there -- had that moment when our beliefs or practice were challenged and we had to step back to contemplate the big picture and how, or if, everything works together for the best effort. Columbia University's Bob Fecho and a student created STORRI and is invited all teachers to share their wobble moments. 

STORRI (School Tales: A Research and Repository Initiative) is a website designed to attract, share, unpack, engage, and reflect on stories of “wobble” that teachers tell about the complexity of contemporary classrooms. Through STORRI, teachers and teacher educators will have opportunities to write about moments in their practices when their belief systems wobbled.

What we mean by wobble is something happened in the classroom that compelled you to pay attention, to stop and think, to raise a question, to open yourself to other perspectives.

By collecting these stories, we hope to provide other angles on classrooms-- ones that illustrate the range of transactions that occur between teachers and students and the context in which they engage.

Stories on this site might be used for serving the professional needs of preservice and inservice teachers, for creating learning communities, for advocacy research, and for informing the general public.

Check out STORRI and consider adding to the conversation:

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Cathy Fleischer Recognized by MCTE in 2016 for Distinguished Career!

EMU's own Professor Cathy Fleischer has been recognized by the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) as the 2016 recipient of the Charles Carpenter Fries Award, given in recognition of a distinguished career in the teaching of English and dedication to the advancement of the profession. 

We are so proud of you and have been honored to know you as a teacher, friend, co-worker, and literacy advocate. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.  (Peruse her EMU bio and some of her accomplishments.)

The press release says it remarkably well though we each have our own stories of how Fleischer has challenged us to become the best teachers, and writers, that we can be.   Congratulations, Cathy!


"The Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) has selected Professor Cathy Fleischer as the 2016 recipient of the Charles Carpenter Fries Award, given in recognition of a distinguished career in the teaching of English and dedication to the advancement of the profession. Her prolific contributions have inspired colleagues, teachers, students, and parents, particularly through professional and community projects she initiated and sustained, including the Family Literacy Initiative, Disciplinary Literacy Initiative, Teacher Research, and Teacher Advocacy. She is the author of five books and editor for National Council of Teachers of English’s Imprint Principles in Practice Series (13 books to date).

EMU graduate, Jennifer Buehler, now a professor at University of St. Louis, states: 'What’s incredible about Cathy is how she has modeled continual professional growth and tireless work for change throughout her career, and how at every step, she has looked for ways to bring others along with her in that work…. She is one of the most dynamic, forward thinking, and inspirational people I’ve ever known.' "
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Writing Contest To Share !

Looking for real world application and audiences? Help students explore genres with the intent to publish. Besides numerous art categories, the Scholastic Writing competition offers contests in diverse fields:
Writing CategoriesCritical Essay
Dramatic Script
Flash Fiction
Novel Writing
Personal Essay & Memoir
Science Fiction & Fantasy
Short Story
Writing Portfolio (graduating seniors only)

Check out the link for full information. 

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Reflection on EMWP Teacher Advocacy Program

by Lisa Eddy

The Teacher Advocacy program, beginning in 2014, has had a tremendous impact on me as teacher and advocate. Learning the strategies for framing an issue and coming up with strategies to advocate for change gave me the knowledge and support I needed to advocate for less standardized testing which had nearly completely replaced our ELA curriculum.

The district had purchased a series of 8 standardized tests for grades 6-12 --which were touted as practice for the new SBAC test that was said to be coming to MI--then as practice for the new SAT when MI dropped SBAC.

As a result of what I learned from the teacher advocacy course, I was able to help facilitate change at my school by:

  • Formulating a list of “essential ingredients” for the ELA curriculum that restored Writing Workshop and independent reading, among other good literacy practices to ELA classrooms;
  • Persuading an ELA dept colleague to join me in advocating for fully developed ELA curriculum rather than teaching to the test;
  • Working with my colleague to persuade the new Curriculum Director to let us find a real, comprehensive ELA curriculum;
  • Pushing for a K-12 curriculum committee to be formed to research curricula;
  • Inviting my district’s ELA Instructional Coach to meet with Cathy Fleischer about our needs and to get some guidance;
  • Finding a curriculum we like that is written by classroom teachers, supported by research, and informed by leaders in literacy education who are involved in NWP and NCTE (Oakland/MAISA);
  • Asking the district to adopt the new curriculum.

Now, after several years of “teaching to the test”, our district once again has a research-based, comprehensive ELA curriculum, and I and my students are enjoying the first unit, Writing Workshop, because voice and choice have been restored in the ELA classroom. For the students in my district, who have done little beyond test prep in ELA since 2010, this is a huge victory, and I have to thank my colleague and instructional coach, Cathy Fleischer, and my Advocacy colleagues for giving me the support I needed to stand up for what’s right for students.

17 September 2016

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Everyday Advocacy Workshop

by Cathy Fleischer

Exciting news on the advocacy front! EMWP’s third summer workshop drew in attendees from around the state and the country. New Everyday Advocates joined returning fellows to learn ways of organizing for change in their local contexts, with a goal of reframing the conversation about the teaching of literacy. Teachers created action plans for developing allies, identifying decision-makers, honing their message, naming realistic goals, and coming up with tactics that might lead to real change. Among the plans that the participants came up with:

Alaina Feliks is working to help parents, teachers and administrators understand why it’s important to create a vibrant and well-supported reading community.
Liz Thackery has created a plan to help teachers, departments heads, and curriculum leaders understand the importance of teachers implementing innovative, research-based curricula in their schools.
Daniel Potter is helping policy makers better understand how teachers are already helping students learn literacy and involving decision-makers in these ways of teaching.

And more exciting post-workshop news: the Everyday Advocacy website that grows out of this work and that is sponsored by NCTE is almost ready to launch—with amazing information about becoming a change agent and lots of examples from teachers who have taken EMWP advocacy workshops. We’ll have a big presence at this year’s NCTE convention in Atlanta: teachers from across the country (and in the EMWP network) have gone through 3 evenings of online workshops and will lead a series of sessions at convention. The goal is to help members of NCTE see themselves as Everyday Advocates and to rewrite the story of literacy education!

Come join us there and take a moment to view our website!

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EdCamp EMWP Coming Soon!  Have you registered
It isn't too late. 

2nd Annual EdCamp EMWP:

Total Impact Literacy

October 15, 2016

Check out the EdCamp blog for more details.

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11th Annual Fall 2016 Writing Retreat: You DESERVE a weekend get-away!

Do the changing leaves have you itching to pen a poem? memoirs? a spooky short story? 

Take this weekend for you and feed your inner muse.  This weekend October 14th through 16th just 20 minutes from Traverse City on Lake Ann, MI come together with other writers.

Official welcome circle begins with your arrival after work on Friday. Check out time on Sunday is  2 PM. 

$50 + gas and food.

Please email Angela to reserve your sleeping lodge bunk. 
Please send money to be considered officially registered. 

Please WRITE the check payable to EMWP. 
Please MAIL the check to me: 
Angela Knight
7364 Brookridge Dr
West Bloomfield MI 48322

If you have any questions, please feel free to email either Kris Gedeon or Angela Knight. 

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