Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Greetings

Happy Holidays...Happy Holidays...Happy Holidays...Happy Holidays

I hope that the holiday is not overshadowed by last minute shopping, long checkout lines, and grading the projects that you probably intentionally scheduled for the two week grading window.

Instead, I hope that each of you has an opportunity to relish time with family and to reflect on the previous year as you prepare for the next.

oh, and I hope that you get a chance to place a post here and let us know how you're doing...


Sunday, December 02, 2007

A library connection

I've scarsely had time to miss my old high school English position...but, when I heard this story I did wish, for just a moment, that I still taught Romeo and Juliet...

There is a picture book called Romeow and Drooliet...it can also be found at www.storylineonline.net where actors read picture books online (so you don't actually have to purchase the book)...it's a cute version that even kept a variation of the chorus reading at the beginning and end, the two families are the Felinis and the Barkers...

I can think of so many lessons that could center around this version...students creating their own modern versions...a discussion of audience and why Drooliet lives...adaptations...analysis of what was deleted and what was retained...good example of a multi-genre (children's book) adaptation...you can probably think of even more.

Laura Burdette

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is There Anybody Out There?

Check it out.


I would appreciate any feedback one may have. I believe there are some interesting things posted. And, we are only getting started!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ozarks Writing Project

A Writing Marathon of Mythic Proportions!

WHEN: Saturday, November 10, 2007 10a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Morning kickoff - Mudhouse Coffee and Tea Co.
Sharing and lunch - Springfield Brewing Co.

WHY: Because writing is fun and it matters!

WHO: You and a colleague - or, two, three, four colleagues!

The writer with the most guests wins!

PRE-MARATHON FUN: Are you an early bird? Let me know if you would like to kick start your morning with breakfast, writing and coffee. We will be meeting for breakfast and chit-chat at 7a.m. at Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe and then walking to the Mudhouse for coffee and writing fun until the marathon kicks off at 10a.m.

Please R.S.V.P. for breakfast so Gailey’s employees do not panic when we show up in mass with journals in tow.

For more information: Kelly Anthony-Gratton
Ozarks Technical Community College
417.447.8228 or 417.693.7307 (cell)
Gailey’s Breakfast CafĂ©
220 E. Walnut St.
Springfield MO 65806
Mudhouse Coffee Co.
323 South Ave. #B
Springfield MO 65806
Springfield Brewing Co.
305 South Market Ave
Springfield MO 65806

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Death of a Student...

The day before school started a young mother drove Draco, her 6-year old son, into school for open house. On the way, their car was was struck by another car and before Draco could meet his first grade teacher he was killed instantly.

Three weeks after that, Susan, a prominent 44-year-old woman in our community and mother and step-mother to five kids in my district, was killed in an automobile accident on a rainy morning.

Four weeks after that, a former student, Ryan, (May graduate) was killed in an automobile accident in Springfield.

Last night, three-weeks after Ryan's death, a junior student, Zach, at Willow Springs High School was participating in a National Bullriding Competition in Arkansas. He was thrown off and trampled by the bull. Zach never regained consciousness.

Aside from losing a loved one, I'm not sure there is any greater pain than seeing those I care for and love in pain. I'm posting just to ask you to keep our school in your thoughts. This most recent death will take a huge toll on our teachers and students. I know some of you have been through the death of a student and know it is a tough thing to deal with in the classroom.

Several of my colleagues, never having dealt with the death of a student in their own classroom, will struggle. I've been on the phone this morning with many of them talking them through a variety of ways to handle this and be able to grieve for their own loss. None of us want to lose students, but as I mentioned earlier, we hate the pain death, especially unexpected death, brings to those who are alive.

I wanted and felt comfortable to write this here because I know you are all supporters of teachers. If you have a moment, steer your thoughts to our teachers, students and families who have struggled with death in our district this semester.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

using what I learned

I used a variation of Liz's lesson a few weeks ago. A third grade teacher requested only three fairy tales from me and one fractured tale. So, I asked her if I could provide additional resources. With my fingers crossed and my toes and my eyes (okay, not really the eyes) I added that a friend of mine had used the fractured tales to compare and contrast with Venn Diagrams and offered her a stack of tales (Red Riding hood on a moped, a girl climbing the bean stalk, the three armadillos...35 books in all) and she loved it. I also found a website that has animated fractured tales (dinosaurs crossing a t-rex's bridge was a riot). She loved it and thanked me twice.

This week I am collaborating with 1-3rd grade teachers. I am reading a Alphabet book, WHAT PETE ATE FROM A-Z. Then students are browsing the 40 that I have in the library with the task of evaluating the books. We are making a chart of what makes a good alphabet book. Then we discussed theme (topics) and voted on a class theme. I provided teachers with an alphabet and gave them the student created charts to hang in their rooms and students are creating their own books in class. At the end of the project we will have them bound and available to the class. 6+1 traits of idea generation, organization, and publication are all involved...woohooo!!!

a long, long time ago

During the summer, Julie, or maybe someone else, mentioned some questions about challenged texts and intellectional and academic freedom to preserve a study of classics. Well, tonight, unable to sleep and resisting, for the time being, chocolate, I ran across an article that I thought might be of assistance. ttp://www.ncte.org/about/over/positions/category/cens/107616.htm

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

21st Century Excuse

One of my students said this when explaining why his assigned blog post was not posted,

"The blog ate my post."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fall Retreat info

We wrote, wrote, and wrote some more. Writing endorphins pumping....oh, and three pounds of M &M's and three pots of coffee were consumed in the process.
For those who missed the writing retreat, I hope that you can carve a few minutes out of your Sunday to write. One of the articles that I distributed http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/1949 suggested that we all keep a "possible article file" of ideas. There are several more suggestions worth reading...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What a Difference

Like "the Man" I to have experienced a paradigm shift in my classroom. And it is ALL due to the wonderful guidance of Keri and Casey and the three weeks of OWP this summer. Everyday I walk into my classes excited and ready to go. What a change from last year! I think my colleagues also feel and see the changes in my teaching and they are encouraged and inspired. Even a History teacher asked about the OWP this morning as I was explaining my enthusiasm. I can't wait to get to the retreat this weekend and write and share! Hope to see you there! (Ok, my poetry is not so good.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Follow up

I realized at the follow up meeting just how much fun I had last summer. I was priviledged to join the group once again. I am a competitive person that likes to feel like a winner, and I felt all summer long like I was playing for a winning team. I enjoyed seeing the various styles and ideas of teaching, and I enjoyed the fact that the "walls were knocked down" as everybody was free to express themselves and professionally let loose. This is an awesome group with awesome ideas.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I had a great time seeing everyone yesterday. Thank you again for everything that you have taught me. I haven't integrated all that I would like, but this short refresher, and seeing how others have have done things in their classroom was a great motivator. This morning I changed the entire landscape of my plans for the rest of the semester, which is possible now thanks to SPS suspending the middle of the year testing. Without that crap over my head, I feel more free to explore.
I am stoked about all of the cool opportunities coming up, and hope to participate as often as possible.
Thanks for changing who I am as a teacher.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Poetry and Painting: Drinking It All In!

I have fancied myself a poet and a painter, inspired by great works like Starry Night. There's nothing like drinking in the mood as you pick up paint brush and pen to splash out beautiful images on canvas or paper. I was inspired to write this little rhyme of advice to my fellow teachers who might be contemplating a painting/poetry assignment like the demonstration shared this summer.

Before you haul your paints inside,
don't forget that you must hide
that lovely decal on the box
advertising Rolling Rocks!

School Safety: Keeping Our Parking Lots in Order

Fellow Teachers,
Parking lot safety and protocol have recently come into focus in some of our area schools. I'd like to report that in keeping with justice and fair play, I've begun to park in student parking, even though I am an important member of the school faculty.

On occasion, I do give rides to non faculty members, like the collie riding with me in the photo featured here. I told him about the infringements in our limited faculty parking and brought him in to apply for a security position, as I could see help was needed.

Riley's summer job was taste testing in the backyard tomato patch, but as summer has drawn to an end, he is looking for gainful employment. He is sure that his herding skills will qualify him for the security job.

Barb's Action Plan...Belatedly Posted

So many powerful demos were shared this summer. What a great stash to share with teachers and kids across the state! Thank you, all of you. Action Plan? I’ll start with the big picture first. One simple goal: cultivate a climate where teaching and learning are a joy to be explored. (Remember why we’re really here…beyond NCLB, beyond the MAP, and beyond a paycheck.) What better way than writing to help teachers and students alike find themselves, find direction, and find voice.

If I could take one aspect of the summer institute experience with me for my upcoming adventure into professional development, it would be the energy and enthusiasm of discovery, students and teachers together. It would be the value of sharing our writing and the power of audience. In contemplating this plan, I realize that establishing safety in the classroom- and that really does mean an atmosphere where writers are comfortable to stretch, share, and explore without fear-has to be my first goal. It has to be revisited and encouraged and reinforced often. If kids don’t feel safe to share, forget the jazzy lesson plans. It was humbling to become a writer once again in a group of my peers and to remember how my students might feel! And just think how mean some kids can be, intentionally and not.

I am also grateful for the creative ideas shared in our minutes. What a great way to close a workshop…I took pictures of activities of my first summer workshop and created a photo story to close the two day seminar. Teachers loved it…Got that idea from you. Think about the cool ways you guys wrote minutes. I’ll use them; that’s for sure.

Thanks for everything, Writing Project teacher consultants and leaders. It’s great fun to do what we love: write. My writing, as always, is part of an ongoing action plan, and being a part of this community helps keep my fingers on the keyboard and out of the kitchen…well….

Katiedog, Dr. Cosmo, and Riley, the Constant Gardner (my border collie who ate all my tomatoes this summer but will take on a new action plan of blogging) appreciate your support…

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I did it

Hey all,

Just thought that I would pass along that I wrote and submitted the grant that I thought about while at Summer Institute. I collaborated with four second grade teachers.

The grant included the purchase of 53 nonfiction books about habitat and environment related to an animal unit, a trip to the zoo for a writing marathon, 10 digital cameras to create photostories, and a culminating evening event in the library for parents to purchase student anthologies and to see photostories...whew...my fingers are crossed!

I hope that your school year is going great!! See you this weekend!


Friday, September 14, 2007

OWP Updates

I hope your semesters are off to a great start. Here are a few upcoming OWP events and announcements. Please let me know if you have any questions about these. -- Keri

September Follow-up—Saturday, September 29

Our September Renewal is in a few weeks. We will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 29 (Room TBA--we'll send an email and have signs up around PSU). Lunch is provided. This is part of your commitment for your stipend. At this time, we will complete a gallery walk of our action plan. At the end of June, you wrote about your action plan. Please bring an assignment and student work that reflects that action plan and your Summer Institute work. Casey will follow this announcement with more specific materials you will need to bring.

The OWP is a co-sponsor of the 2008 Write to Learn Conference. Submit your conference proposals online by Sept.21, and be sure to identify yourself as an Ozarks Writing Project member. Our Teacher-Consultants selected to present at the conference can receive a $200 stipend. Here's a link to the conference proposal.

  1. If you are planning on writing a proposal, view the previous year’s conference program. http://muconf.missouri.edu/writetolearn/c_sessions.html

  2. Read what previously accepted sessions wrote. Use those as a model for your own.

  3. Keep the proposal short. Use third person.

  4. Focus on what you will DO in your session, and what teachers can take away and use on Monday. They like proposals that describe activities. As a writing project TC, you will be expected to incorporate writing into your session.

  5. Don’t forget to write Ozarks Writing Project at the top of the proposal.

  6. The deadline has been extended to September 21st. If your proposal is accepted, the OWP can support your travel and registration in the amount of $200.

  7. If you would like feedback on your proposal, I recommend posting your paragraph for the proposal to Google Docs and inviting TC's to comment. Casey has asked that you invite her to look over your proposal paragraph as well.

The Fall Writing Retreat will be October 12-13 (Friday night through Saturday evening) at The Village at Indian Point, Branson, Missouri. We have a few openings left. Please see the attached information sheet and application if you are interested in attending. Contact Laura Burdette for more information. lburdette@spsmail.org.

The NWP Annual Meeting is in New York City, Nov. 15-17. If you plan to attend the NCTE convention, and would like to join OWP or MWPN Fellows for dinner Thursday evening, please contact Keri Franklin.

MWPN Job Announcement
If you are interested in updating the state network's website and marketing documents, please read the job description below. The deadline has been extended.

The Missouri Writing Project Network would like to contract with a Teacher Consultant to update and/or
develop a set of *core* informational/promotional pieces (.pdf
files) as well as to redesign our present MWPN Web site at

We need an expanded Web site which accurately conveys the synergy of
our network and the quality of our work and which provides a place for
storing and retrieving our key MWPN pieces.

The contract: $25 an hour for 60 hours: $1500 for work to be completed
between September 15, 2007, and February 1, 2007.

Jane Frick, Prairie Lands Writing Project site director, presently
oversees the Web site postings and creation of MWPN informational
pieces. She readily acknowledges that the Web site and pdf documents
posted therein are in dire need of augmentation, revision, and polish.

If you are interested in becoming our MWPN Web/informational pieces
developer send Katie Kline, Greater Kansas City Writing Project Site
Director, (klinek@umkc.edu) an email message indicating your interest
and qualifications by September 19.


Keri Franklin

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

U tube, Podcasts, Blogging...OHMY

Web Pulls World into Classroom.

Enjoy this article where a student is quoted as saying "Utube is the greatest invention..." :)

Hello everybody

I recently found out that our children that will be born in January will be a girl. Her name will be Ashlyn Jade. How is everybody doing in the new school year? So far, mine absolutely ROCKS!!!!

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Well friends,
I've got the blog up and hopefully will have the kids up on it by Wednesday. The permission forms and safety training and everything has been a scramble because another teacher and I weren't exactly on the same page, but hopefully things will work out. I've been using it for about a week now, to show the students some of the capabilities.
Keri, please notice you have significantly influenced the language used. 5 extra credit points to anyone if you can find examples and shoot me a comment.
Please, if you see problems or possibilities, let me know. I'm connected right now to the 8th grade Comm. Arts teachers at Cherokee, and would love to have my students connect with theirs. If you have ideas, let me know.
Maerke's blog
Thanks for teaching me so much.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Book Notes

A second grade teacher (one who has made me feel very welcome this year) stopped by the library and asked if she could help and I jokingly replied that she could work with me to write a grant that connects the library to Comm Arts and involves a Writing Marathon at the Zoo and she said YES!!

Not only did she just say yes...she has brought the other 2 second grade teachers on board. She is outlining the science MIGS that will link to the activity and I am researching books that I could order for the library related to the study of animals in various genres. Our goal is to create an anthology (maybe a digital anthology?? what do you guys think??) and have an author's party for parents in the library in the evening.

I am so excited!!! I am also interested in any feedback from you (are you out there liz? everybody?). I've found some poetry books to order focused animals, we have several non-fiction books, wanted to include a few fairy tales...

I thought about ordering digital cameras that could be used to create the photostories as one of the genres...but am I getting too complicated?

This is an idea (to write a grant) born at OWP that will hopefully coming to fruition! (Of course, there's no guarentee that we'll get the grant, but I'll give it my best effort!!!)

laura b.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The classroom blog is up!

School starts in two days and everything is coming together nicely. After watching Barb and Keri three or four times do demos on blogging, I finally have everything in place to implement a classroom blog. It has not been an easy task, but my powers of persuasion, if you describe kneeling , pleading, and crying as powers, have finally paid off. I was very excited the first time I saw the blogging demo. My biggest frustration came when I realized I would have to wait a year to try it in my classroom. Well, it is finished and you are welcome to take a look. I would love any comments that might make the blog better.


I am still looking for a video hosting sight. I can't convince the powers to unblock Youtube. So, if you know of one, please let me know. I am using Google video right now, but their site is still somewhat primitive.

Good luck this year. I look forward to seeing everyone at our fall meeting.

Paws for Great Books!

Dear Friends,

I haven't taken time to blog in a long time...so I actually feel rusty! The blog team, however, is at it again and thought they'd like to share their new slide show. (Casey, the blog is certainly looking snazzy!)

Hope you are all having a great start to your new year!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I just want to say thanks for teaching me so much, and influencing the way I approach writing in my classroom now. The project wasn't exactly easy for me, but as I incorporate all that I have learned into my planning I sit back and must admit that I am indebted to all of you. I won't be at the writing retreat, but I look forward to getting back together in September. By the way, when is that?
Again, thanks for everything. I love reading this blog, and feel like it is an amazingly nice way to keep in touch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Professional Writing Retreat

Hi, All,

It sounds like the Writing Retreat in Columbia was awesome. Thanks for sharing your expeirences. I wanted to tell you abut the NWP Writing and Technology Professional Writing Retreat I attended at Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, NE. I felt like all we did was eat. Breakfast at 8:00, lunch at 12:00, dinner at 6:00. I don't usually eat that regularly, and I never had a chance to feel hungry. Lied Lodge was a beautiful place. We did a short writing marathon which was a great way to get to know my new small writing group. One person was a music teacher from Burke, South Dakota, another was a doctoral student from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and one was a speech therapist from Marshall University.

It was a joy to have big chunks of writing time, and the time spent made me excited for our own writing retreat in October (thank you Laura and Kelly). I did learn about some cool new tech things. Have you heard of Google Docs? I am addicted to it. I was thinking that we might be able to use Google Docs for an alternative type of small writing group. You could post whatever writing that you want us to read, and then whoever is involved in the group will have a week to respond. Please take a look at this site. I think it would be really cool to incorporate into the classroom. Let me know what you think about it.

I don't think they have funding for the technology retreat next summer, but make sure and apply for one of the other two professional writing retreats offered by the NWP.

I wanted to add a picture of the retreat, but the pics I have are terrible. When I get some more I will upload those. Instead, I have treated you to a picture of Murray, now Murr-Dog (don't ask me why). Julie S. was kind enough to share with me a circus outfit for him, so here goes Julie. What do you think?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Summer Reading...Need advice

Students within our department are required to read during the summer. My students (seniors) are required to read three texts...one required, two chosen from a list. So far I've had no complaints.

The freshmen read Lord of the Flies, and the juniors read The Giver and The Good Earth. These were chosen by the teachers and were pulled from our curriculum as well as the national curriculum list (although The Giver is quite young (as far as the reading level) for juniors.

So I was approached today by admin to choose new books that were less controversial... that there have been parental complaints this summer. I immediately answered "okay", but less than 2 seconds later I said..."no, not okay."

This is a slippery slope I'm not willing to slide down. Our teachers have valid reasons for choosing the literature they chose and they plan to utilize the themes in these books with discussion and writing within their own classrooms...(at least I'm hoping these teachers chose these books for some valuable educational reason.) If we change books, who's to say someone else won't complain? Can we please everyone? If we do that, will we please no one?

It's a rough way to start the school year and a definite downer for teachers who are excited about the year getting underway. What do you guys think?

Are there alternatives? Can we put a list out there and allow the students to choose from the list? Does that defeat the purpose of having classroom discussion on a specific piece of literature? What are the purposes for reading. The New York Times ran an article last week that promoted summer reading for kids in order to keep their minds engaged with something academic over the break. And Ive found, for the most part, students enjoy having the reading to do over the summer.

Is it truly possible to say "Read whatever you want" and students will be able to understand themes and realize emotional or intellectual development within the book's characters and/or possibly within themselves without discussion with others?

We'll see how this plays out. I've asked to meet with admin and the parents to find out what exactly the problem is with these three texts. I'm open for discussion, but I'm not open to change a classroom plan b/c one parent decides it would be better for her children. Options, or opportunity for options,I'm fine with.

By the way...it's one parent...the same parent of two children...one child is a freshman, the other a junior. And the junior apparently is now coming forward to say how disturbed he was as a 9th grader (two years ago) while reading The Lord of the Flies. We had no idea. (And that book is only for the College Prep class.)

Power Quotes: Revisiting Our Action Plans

Two days left. Well, four if I count the weekend. Whew! It's gone too fast.

I've been working on my syllabus, rearranging my classroom, putting up bulletin boards, deciding what to wear, and organizing my thoughts for the first few days of classes. It's a big job, and gets bigger every year I teach (And I thought the longer I taught the easier my job would become...WRONG...definitely not in the technology age!) But what a great time in history to be a teacher!

So as I started thinking about this year, this cartoon always come to mind. I've searched for it online, but couldn't find it to post...so I"ll just write it for you.
One student, with backpack in tow is talking to a lawyer.
"I want to sue my teacher for stupidity," he explains.
The lawyer replies, "Your teacher is stupid?"
"No," says the student, "I am."

I've gone to tables this year rather than chairs. I've been asking for the last four years and this year I just finally did...the age-old adage "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission" seems to still work. So, with the new furniture and new look of my classroom will come a new phrase..."GREAT NEWS! There's lots of room for learning in here today!" :)

In my cooperative learning groups this year I'm going to focus on remembering three things:
First...individual written work
Second...bring that individual work to a small group....then come to a consensus within the group
Third....take that to large group discussion...thus mediation/arbitration
Then...moving further...we might use this to solve a problem....???

I read Marzano and Kendall's new book "The New Taxonomy of Educational Objectives" last week and I want to keep in mind that students can interact four grade levels higher than their reading level.

I hope this year my classroom is going to be one Giant Metacognitive Organism....Thinking, Reading, Discussing!

Dealing Parents In: The three F's: Fun...Food...Family. I'm diving in this year. I'm going to have parent mtg. nights in my classroom...invite them for cookie/milk snacks....invite a few at a time into my classroom for different things...I don't know. I'm just going to dive in and see what will work this year and what won't. I'm tired of saying I want more parents involved but I don't give myself or them second chances. I guess it's put up or shut up time for me.

So, as I was organizing my thoughts and my syllabus and trying to put my ideas into action...or in the trenches I should say...I revisited my binders from the summer institute and started perusing around our blog once more to steal practical ideas and good advice from great teachers. And as usual, your words inspired me. Thanks to you all for some great ideas I plan to implement starting on Day 1.

Every day, I will leave the comfort zone of the familiar, product-driven college course and move more toward process.~Michael

I will teach writing a little differently this year. I definitely plan to make my writing more hands on with my students actively engaged in their thoughts and experiences.~Jason

Thomas's presentation opened new opportunities to explore character in real life. I loved his idea he explored in "Adding Skin: Role-taking Within Journal Writing." ...Now, with the information from Thomas's demo and discussing with Casey the different approaches to journal writing, I will adapt this element in all of my classes.~Julia

I would like to write a foundation grant to let elementary students participate in a WRITING MARATHON at the zoo. I would like to complement this with stories about animals (fiction and non-fiction...". ~Laura

Use the phrase “Make it different” instead of “Make it better”~Zak

My classroom will look much more like Summer Institute – more consistent in our schedule allowing for students to find a routine that will allow for writing surprises but forging foundations for better writing, small writing group work, and a safer writing/sharing environment.~Kelly

I am going to encourage my department (and my district)to become a writing department and teachers of writing, not just for the MAP test, not just for book reviews or research papers, but for the sake of writing. ~Julie

Video, poetry, and genre…I have wanted to compile an Anthology of Hollister for a few years now. Showing students ways to communicate their history and their experiences in a variety of formats is perfect.~Shelly

I will provide my students with more writing opportunities -- velocity, fluency, productivity. ~Ashlei

This new way of approaching poetry as a genre in writing and journaling is a direct reflection of my new-found comfort with the genre itself...I hope to inspire my students to learn and stumble with me in the process, laughing at ourselves and cheering on our emerging voices.~Liz

Shelly's demo showed how I can use art to connect to literature and get the kids to use analysis and evaluation through art. I'm also thinking about how I would like the kids to be able to create artifacts around their reading.~Teri

I plan to continue researching the topic of whether or not "direct modeling" of cross-sensing is a viable/effective way to go. I always enjoy the "generating writing" activities, but from my first small exposure to the writing project several years ago (thank you, Keri), I have been drawn to issues of "craft," particularly revising strategies and development of skills.~JoAnn

I like the reformulation revision concept, especially coupled with either an introduction or conclusion, especially when coupled with Michael's spicing up an intro.-Susan

I would love to do a demonstration/presentation at the Write to Learn Conference. I would love to show how easy it is to integrate video into a writing classroom.~Larry

*Casey's disclaimer: Please forgive me if you name doesn't appear here. I searched and searched through the entire blog to try to get something from everyone, but it seems I couldn't find every one's plan. However, just b/c your name doesn't appear here, please know I've stolen ideas from you!! And when I use them, I'll keep you posted. :)

I hope all of you have a blissful and productive year.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Blog


The new site looks great. Thanks.

I cannot really decide how to vote on the first day of school reaction. I am torn between ice cream and wearing black. Actually, I could eat the ice cream and also wear black, a slenderizing color that will hide the ice cream weight gain. HMMM.

Ach!! We go back the 13th also. Doesn't seem possible. Have a great (well maybe good? well maybe . . . ?) first day.


P.S. I responded to you general e-mail, but it came right back as undeliverable. Wonder why?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Reflections from MWPN Leadership Retreat


After three days in Columbia, it feels great to be home with my own pillow, my own bed, and my own shower curtain.

Alter Ego: You're just saying that because you're a hotel snob.

Laura: Stop interupting. I want to tell the group about the MWPN Leadership Retreat that several of us attended. And I am not a "hotel snob."

Alter Ego: You are too. But if you're going to tell them about it, you'd better start with defining that MWPN anacronym.

Laura: Missouri Writing Project Network. It's a time when all of the sites.

Alter Ego: How many sites?

Laura: (irritated) Five. Missouri will have five sites once we receive funding. Can I finish now?

Alter Ego: By all means.

Laura: It's a time when the five Writing Project sites across the state get together to discuss the future of the state writing projects, Literacy Academies and other programs held by individual sites.

Alter Ego: Why not just say "it's a sharing of ideas"? Five words instead of the ...like thirty words that it took you to say it.

Laura: (ignoring Alter Ego)There were a couple of things said by other sites that I wanted to share.

Alter Ego: I think they'd rather hear about how Liz and Julie totally stomped you in the card game Golf, little miss competitive.

Laura: I won. Once. . . Anyway, the first thing that struck me was a conversation about recruiting and diversity. I thought to myself that we have begun with diversity at OWP. You know what Imean.

Alter Ego: If they know what you mean, then why not just end this post and let the people check their facebook messages.

Laura: (eyes closed, deep breath, maintain composure) I mean rural and urban schools, advanced and academically challenged students, secondary and elementary teachers...

Alter Ego: You counting yourself as elementary?

Laura: Yeah. New and tenured teachers.

Alter Ego: I noticed that you didn't say "old." Are you going to post the embarrassing photo of you and Casey riding in the back of the van.

Laura: Definitely not. Anyway. We have the chance as a new site to expand our diversity from he beginning. I know that I'm going to make a conscious effort to talk teachers about OWP and NWP and not just the teachers who are like me.

Alter Ego: Like you? Almost forty, still trying to lose baby weight. Can you call it baby weight if the youngest kid is seven?

Laura: It counts as baby weight until you die.

Alter Ego: Hurry up with the second thing you wanted to say because Moses led the Hebrews to freedom faster than you're getting to the point?

Laura: Well, without these "interuptions," this post would be over by now.

Alter Ego:

Laura: Don't even say it. The second thing mentioned at the Retreat that struck me.

Alter Ego: Like a boat oar upside the head.

Laura: Not exactly. But it was about how the best ideas for sites come from the participants. "The best ideas," said one site leader, "bubble up from the TC's and don't trickle down from leadership."

Alter Ego: That's pretty cool.

Laura: I know. Liz is researching about the possibility of beginning an elementary youth writing camp.

Alter Ego: And you're still working on the Writing Retreat, right?

Laura: Yes.

Alter Ego: You forgot something.

Laura: Are you referring to Kelly wearing an apron and reading her writing barefoot in front of the entire group on Thursday evening? Oh. Are you talking about Liz's demo that she presented while we were there.

Alter Ego: No. You still need to write your Site Support Letter before you go to bed and send a copy to CK.

Laura: CK?

Alter Ego: Casey and Keri.

Friday, July 20, 2007

A friend in need...

Hello all,

I am writing to ask for your empathy and support for our friend Ashlei. She has, as Mike Rose so eloquently wrote, "been exposed to academic politics without sunscreen." As her friend, I am sad to announce that Ashlei was not selected for a teaching position at OTC. As her colleague, and a professional, I am saddened that for the fourth time in a row a candidate with less experience and a degree, other than desired, was hired. She is down and could use your wonderful support.


Thank you,


Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from the AP

Greetings. WOW what a conference. Very big. The high point was the closing keynote address by Frank McCourt. I missed seeing him at MSU. What a great speaker.
For you who teach AP Lang. and Comp., the primary focus was the synthesis question. Nearly all of the sessions dealt with this new addition to the AP test. Also, NBC now has an ICue program available for schools. Schools/students can access all NBC news archives from the begining of American time, literally. What they do not have in their archive, they have recreated using historians and other experts in the fields. We saw samplings from the program. Very impressive. And a tad expensive, $1500. I think. But would be worth a grant writing.

Laura, I attended a session entitled "Involving Students in Community-Based Learning." The teacher's unit was ok, but yours is "way better."

Julie, I flew home with a 3rd grade teacher from Branson. I did not get her name, but she said she knew you because her son either will or already has had you. P.S. Could you send me the summer reading assignment for freshman honor students. Thanks.

Later, Susan

Art and Writing

As I tooled around on the internet looking for neat ideas, I came across two items which link to Shelly's demo, but also open up a wide range of possibilities of using art within the writing classroom.
Here is me sharing:
J. Paul Getty Musuem lesson plans
The Walters Art Museum art through the ages
I imagine there are many more resources out there, and many that might have better ideas, but in the time I spent searching, the Getty Museum had some neat stuff.

Peace in the Middle East

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I know what I did wrong.

Here they are!! Talk about a slow learner!

I know what I did wrong.

Did this work now?

Laura, Great idea for tatoo. You will fit right in. And thanks for the suggestion of an area site to research. I've not had time yet to look. Casey, thanks for the Mindenmine source. Willow was in the news today. Thank goodness someone noticved the smell!

Am leaving for the AP conference this evening, you know, that one in Las Vegas. And I have gotten the okay from my principal for the NCET and NWP Conference in Nove. Is anyone else going?

Am trying again to send along pictures of the canine contingent at my house -- Roth (the big guy) and Emma (the boss).

Will let you know how the AP conference went when I get back.

Best to all, Susan

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Along the Same Vein as Thomas' Presentation

http://pathways.thinkport.org/following/ this link provides the story of a girl who must decide whether to stay with her brother or try to escape slavery with her sister. It reminded me of Thomas' presentation. Through a series of several slides, the student is told of various events that could influence his or her decision. At the conclusion the student could write a letter to the brother or sister explaining why the student chose to stay or go. It's not a real journal, but it is accompanied by hymnals and audio.


Monday, July 09, 2007


I suppose that I'll be getting my jailhouse tat soon and joining my family of convicts...I'm thinking Pearl the Librarian posing like Rosie the Riveter (you know, big bicep and navy suit)???
I rearranged my bookshelves today to accomodate the four new books I purchased during the Summer Institute and realized that I now have two copies of BREAKTHROUGHS. Maybe the extra copy belongs to Barb, Ashlei, or Jason, or someone else on that side of the room.

Let me know if you're missing a copy.
Laura Burdette

Monday, July 02, 2007


If you sing it to the Mickey Mouse Club song, you might find it funny.
Well, after three weeks of parking in various illegal spots around campus, and not once getting a ticket, I returned today to a conveniently close spot near the library, where I would finish up some thoughts, print some necessary documents, and check-out a few more books. After spending 4 hours in the library, working at my own pace, which is just so lovely to do, I returned to my car to find a ticket politely tucked under the driver side windshield wiper. There's something poetic about this, but I don't quite have the skills yet to express it.
Thanks for dealing with me for three long weeks; I've learned much, and really that's all that counts.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hell-o to all!

It's been approximately 37 hours, 23 minutes, and 18 seconds since I last wrote. Gosh, going through withdrawal? Surely not. Anyway, just want to say that tomorrow will be really different, not walking into our classroom and seeing all of the tired, but happy(??), faces.

Barb, hope that the wedding went well and that you are basking in the joy of its finality. I know I did -- two times so far.

I sorted through all of my classwork yesterday and thought "WOW!!" We really did a lot of stuff (The italicized words always appear on my "bad words" list for essays). Kudos to us and our fearless (and strong) leaders.

Have a great week. And summer.


P.S. Thank you all for your positive comments following my demonstration. You were a superb group to work with. I enjoyed watching you. I even learned some new stuff!! So those who asked if I ever get bored -- NO. My primary problem is not to come off the showoff but to let my students handle the learning/teaching. And Hayley, I am on the look out for additional locales. There was an article in yesterday's paper about Canadaville, a new housing project around New Orleans that sounded rather intriguing. Also CBS Sunday Morning had a segment on Ellis Island and the hospital attached to it. Another place to play with. I'll keep digging.

Keri, I am also digging around for local spots that fit the criteria for this project. I have, so far, come up with a slave cabin and graveyard out by Strafford. Also, my husband told me of Mindenmines, a former strip mining town/area. If anyone else knows of a provocative (you like the word, Ashlei?) locale in the Ozarks, please let me know.

If my technology knowledge worked, inserted is a picture of Roth. He wrote Katiedog one time. I am working on setting him up his own blog so that he can talk to Katiedog, Dr. Cosmo, and Molly.

P.P.S.S. (Is there such an acronym?)
Larry, Thanks so much for your work on the videos. My granddaughter and I watched them this a.m. We both laughed.



Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dear 2008 Fellows

Dear Fellow,

This new day, this first day of your Summer Institute, is your day to begin getting comfortable in your writing skin (stolen from Thomas). It will be exciting, fun, and productive. As a Summer Institute veteran, I would like to offer you this advice…

• Be on time - you won’t want to miss a minute, but if you have to be late you won’t get kicked out.
• Bring good snacks – this impresses the Fellows and makes them happy.
• Have fun during your demo – it shows and others have fun too.
• Smile a lot – someone is always taking a picture.
• Always use the pinkest, purplest, orangest, or bluest, sparkly gel pen you can find – Larry loves this.
• You will also need a mug to hold your cool pens.
• Don’t forget post-it notes, and paper.
• Keri will always be glad you are here.
• Casey will always push you to write better.
• You will laugh and cry – so be prepared like when watching Oprah.
• Gourmet coffee is best.
• Bring a yellow folder - a Sunshine Folder, to hold all the wonderful, inspiring comments you will receive for your writing and teaching. Yes, this will happen to you.
• Yes, you really do need a three-inch binder, maybe larger and lots of dividers. (Note – I had to purchase a bigger binder at then end to hold all my cool new stuff.)
• Bring your courage – there could never be a better, safer, place to share your voice, your teaching.
• Open your mind – there is so much to learn from the Fellows that teach so many grades away from your own.

Well, I think that about covers it. I hope to sit next to you next year – just look for my frizzy hair and large, large cup of coffee.



Friday, June 29, 2007



Don't forget that the deadline for letting us know about participation in the OWP Fall Professional Writing Retreat will be upon us soon, July 5, one week!!

I will request more information from you formally later, but I would like some preliminary numbers of the interest. Please email me LBurdette@spsmail.org or post here in the "comments" if you intend to participate. The focus of the group is writing for publication, so please include a brief description of what your anticipated writing topic.

The dates for Friday, October 12, beginning at 5:00 P.M. and lasting until Sunday, Oct 14 until 1:30 P.M.

This is an intense, amazing experience!


A Draft of My Intentions

WOW, we have our helmets on, the tire pressure is checked, chain is oiled; and we are ready to ride!!!


What is my plan of action in fall?

  1. I will finalize the plans for the OWP Fall Professional Writing Retreat that will be held on October 12, 13 until 1:30 PM on Sunday. I will organize the menu, agenda, writing groups, supplies, technology, etc.
  2. Implement the techniques I practiced as a coach to assist teachers with lesson plans through the library.
  3. To acclimate myself to the new libraries and employ lessons to improve reading comprehension during library instruction.
  4. I would like to write a foundation grant to let elementary students participate in a WRITING MARATHON at the zoo. I would like to complement this with stories about animals (fiction and non-fiction)…I’m thinking third/fourth grade???

My own writing?

  1. I am determined to submit an article draft for publication. I want to finish that next week and get it in the mail.
  2. want to maintain a journal of my experiences as a first year librarian…maybe an article is lurking in the dark waters of this new career.
  3. I want to explore publications sponsored by the ALA and look for topics there.
  4. Discuss the process of creating your demo and what you discovered through that process.
  5. After participating last year, I felt more alert as I taught, kept more student samples, and reflected in writing about lessons and how they succeeded or needed revision for the future.

Other demos that I will use in my lesson plans?

  1. I am uncertain about the library curriculum ( I will have professional development on this late July), but I would like to use Liz’s demo about fairy tales. I will also mention it as an example of what I can do for the classroom teachers.
  2. Shelly’s lesson will also work in the library (although I don’t think I’ll use paint), but an experienced librarian told me that keeping the littler kids busy while I’m checking out books will help. How great it would be to have them color a new adventure for the character, or draw a picture from a poem, etc.
  3. Several of these lessons, I will email to my friends who still teach high school.
  4. I also hope to share some of the lessons with the Middle School night class that I will be teaching this fall.

Plans for my own writing?

  1. I want to finish my third ms.
  2. I want to get an article published. I feel that I am becoming more comfortable with this genre.
  3. I want to keep a journal of Library experience
  4. I would like to do some grant writing to help expand the OWP…especially to do more activities for student writers…or the rural/urban sites…


  1. I want to organize my skills and present to districts on behalf of the OWP!! I feel like I have gained so much from my participation and I am eager to share with others.

Cool Poetry Place

This is a great site with lots of cool "stuff" for educators!


And, want to make comic strips?




Zak's Action Plan

Action Plan!

Here is a list of things I’m thinking about doing in my classroom:

Write with students

Found Poem—Have the students all write a phrase that describes something that happened to them between waking up and arriving at school in the morning. Put the lines together on the board. Have the students rearrange and pick a title. I may do this on the first day. You could also put the lines on sticky notes so they could visually arrange them more easily.

Situational Dialogue—Have the students write an action on one half of a piece of paper and an argument topic on the other. Split in half and shuffle. Have every student draw an argument and an action. They must write a dialogue-heavy paragraph that illustrates two characters arguing over the selected topic while doing the selected action.

Alliterative Poem—When teaching alliteration, have the students write a very alliterative poem such as “Peter Piper”.

Copy/Change Poetry—Give students the framework for a poem and an example of a poem created from the framework. Allow them to fill in the blanks, play with the blanks, and rearrange the poem into their own voice.

Shifting POV—Have students write the start of a short story. After they have written the first draft, force them to change the point of view.

Use the phrase “Make it different” instead of “Make it better”

Focus less on errors in papers and more on content

When writing a paper, collect the first draft and make them write the second draft without the first draft. When they write the third draft, allow them to pull from both.

Respond! Sheet—Instead of doing a reading quiz or boring prompt, give the students a list of ways to respond: parody, imitation, commentary, summary, etc.

Remind them that prompts are suggestions only

In the revision process, have the students go back and change all helping verbs and linking verbs to more dynamic ones.

List all the different ways of saying “walk”.

Have the students read their rough drafts aloud to me.

Expression Cards—Hand out small pictures (playing cards) and have the students write details from their picture, giving the listener clues as to what is going on in their picture

“If you wish to be remembered write something worth remembering or do something worth writing about” --Mark Twain—

Read MAD Magazine when discussing parody

Play Pigs and Dogs by Pink Floyd and listen for Animal Farm references

Ask the students to list all the reasons that they aren’t writers.

Cultural Literacy—Have the students list ten people that they think it is essential to know and list the reasons why

Have the students design and script their own level of Hell

Choose Your Own Adventure—Have students write a Choose Your Own Adventure story, where decisions affect the path that the story will take.

Pictures—Bring a picture of something important to you. Write a poem describing what is going on in the picture.

Images from Poetry—Have the students draw in the margins TWO images that stand out from a poem that they read. (This is another way of responding to a peer’s work, other than verbally)

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” Students write their own updated lyrics to the song

Say “What did you notice?” instead of more specific questions

Music and Poetry—Play certain types of music and have the students describe a person they see in the music. Play a different piece and have them describe a place. Then have them writing a story combining those two elements.


Possibly present at Write-to-Learn conference

Present at the Nixa professional development day

Submitting some of my work to Missouri Teachers Write

Reading List

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin

On Writing by Stephen King

The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim

What is on your summer reading list?

Dear fellows:
Because I am, as I am sure you all are, voracious readers, I am wondering what you will be reading this summer for your enjoyment. Or what great books you might recomend to the rest of us.

Here's my list:
have read--
The Alchemist by Paolo Cohelo
will read--
Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore
Anna Karenina

We Didn't Start the Fire

We Didn't Start the Fire

Here you go! Have a great time with this.


Kelly's Plan of Action

I love planning...

What is your plan of action in the fall?Teaching Writing – I will keep teaching. J -except now I will be teaching writing so much better while using all of my new ideas from OWP! There is at least one idea from each demo in my must try folder. I am excited!

Your own writing – I will continue to write proposals for 4Cs and TYCA, but will be adding NCTE and Write to Learn to my list as well. I am pushing myself to publish this year – something I have been afraid of previously. I have three pieces that I am working on with this goal specifically in mind. I am excited!

How will your classroom look differently daily? Weekly? Monthly? My classroom will look much more like Summer Institute – more consistent in our schedule allowing for students to find a routine that will allow for writing surprises but forging foundations for better writing, small writing group work, and a safer writing/sharing environment. Also, my classroom will be messier – stuff on the walls and paint on the fingers! I am excited!

Discuss the process of creating your demo and what you discovered through that process. How will you incorporate your demo in the fall? My demo comes straight from my classroom. It changes every time I do it and changed even this time – thank you for your input. I will be adding the Newsweek article this time and talk about what the media wants us to know today…hmmmm interesting slant I think. I am excited!

What kinds of student writing samples can you collect? I will be collecting everything this year – looking for patterns, inconsistencies – things I can write about as I try new ideas and revise old ones. I want lots of burning questions! I am excited!

How has your writing project experience affected your plan? This summer has rejuvenated me in teaching, learning and writing. I feel confident as I step back into my classroom and out into the writer’s world. I am a writer. I am excited!

How will you use other demonstrations? Please list several demos that you saw that you will integrate into your classroom. The poetry ideas presented this summer by Teri, Hayley, and Laura has changed me as a writer. I tried poetry and love it! I am even willing to write a ton of bad poetry to enjoy it further! How cool! It seems to me that poetry can be used to generate topic ideas, flush out details, and help gain control of emotion when writing personal narratives. I can’t wait to try it and then come in next summer with a demo showing how this works! Woohoo! I am excited!

What is your plan for your own writing? How has your own writing progressed? Describe your writing process and productivity during this institute (as related to freewriting, reformulation, journaling, revisiting pieces, etc.). It took me a little while to get to fluency, but I think I got it! Like my running, I think I had to get to that place of pace, euphoria, the wow-I-feel-good-about-keep-going place. I am in this place with my writing. I hope to write for an hour every day – I feel a need to. I practiced what I preached this summer while writing – there are proposals, letters, fun stuff, freewriting, personal narrative, writing about teaching – all of this in my daily writing. I am excited to keep writing. I am excited!

What do I want to do?
  • Participate in small writing group – can I help organize?
  • I will help Laura with Fall Retreat – you will find me there
  • I am planning on the NWP Annual Meeting and NCTE– already requesting funds
  • I will be submitting writing for publishing in professional journals
  • I want to learn to write grants.
  • I would like to be on a list of consultants who go out and help other teachers/schools with professional development – portfolios, writing-writing-writing, service learning, teacher reflection and change, handling disclosure in the writing of our students/writing as healing (I love this topic).
  • I will be participating in my own school’s professional development program – sharing what I am learning through NWP.
  • I want to find ways to help promote NWP and OWP.
  • I want to find my niche in NWP and immerse myself in it. I have found my professional home! I AM EXCITED!

A plan, ideas, and who knows?


Action plans or my classroom….

I love blogging and have already set up five sites for my classes….my gifted sites I will begin using this summer to find out how my students work with blogging, catch up with what they are doing and planting seeds with writing and project ideas for this year.

Video, poetry, and genre…I have wanted to compile an Anthology of Hollister for a few years now. Showing students ways to communicate their history and their experiences in a variety of formats is perfect.

I will incorporate journaling daily in a variety of ways – I will use poetry often.

Too much to say…I’ll posts my results!


I am very interested in helping with and continuing the efforts of the National Writing Project.

Areas I feel I might be able to contribute:

Gifted Education and Differentiated Instruction (I’m big on this!!!)

Writing with Art and Specialty Subject Areas

Brochure/Newsletter Design (any type of print media – estimates, layout, coordination, all parts)

Direct Mail or Email contact and list management – flyers, database management, and mail lists….

I am open! These are areas I feel very comfortable with and enjoy immensely

Areas I would like to Explore:

I would like to write for publication



Attend a variety of NWP opportunities

Thanks for everything, this has been incredible. Great job Keri,


My Action Plan 2007-08--a rough draft

I think that first of all, especially for my seniors, we are going to do something with cultural literacy. What do they need to know about the world that they live in? I think that this will be a great way to generate writing topics that are relevant and vital for their education. With both of my preps (honors Eng II and DC English) I am going to have them brainstorm for ideas that they will use all year long. This can happen right away so that we don't need to repeat this part of prewriting every time we write. I am also going to put more time and effort into daily writing for myself and for my students. I want to write so that they can see my struggles and my successes, so I will often project my writing up on the board for them. I will blog so that they can respond in kind, as I do for them.

I am also going to encourage my department (and my district)to become a writing department and teachers of writing, not just for the MAP test, not just for book reviews or research papers, but for the sake of writing. This has been the biggest breakthrough for me. While management of paperwork is going to be an issue for my teachers, I think that this is an area that we can discuss through the use of portfolios (Kelly, I would like your help with this.) and grading best works chosen by students. Does any of this make sense? Maybe I will clarify when I reformulate.

Oh, and poetry--Laura and Teri and Hailey, I am inspired. While I have taught the writing of poetry, I never received the support or encouragement to spend a great deal of time on it. I can't wait to support and encourage my department to take the time to write poetry. I will use ideas from your demonstrations to show my teachers how easy it is!!!!!

And I can't wait to turn my department into teacher-researchers! I found that part of the institute so valuable, and what an example for our students. so often they see us as the instructor but not a doer. Kind of like the PE teacher who requires that students run a mile in nine minutes but can't do it himself. We need to practice what we preach--to use the forbidden cliche.

As for my own writing, I am a writer. Yea! I can say that. I may not be a good writer, but I am a progressing writer--one that will take risks and put myself out there to be blessed and pressed for better or for worse.

I will take every opportunity that the WP offers if I can! I am excited about the writing retreat in October. And will seek out National workshops to further my experience.

I am so thankful for the network of teachers that I have to help me in my endeavors to become the teacher that I know that I can be. And I plan on staying in touch with this group of TCs so that I never lose the enthusiasm that I have today.

Wow! I have a lot of plans to implement and goals to reach. And I will learn how to spell enthusiasm without asking Casey or having to use spell check.

With love and best wishes to you all!

Ashlei's Action Plan -- Draft 1

Well, I'm going to do all of it, of course!

I plan on participating in the Fall Retreat. And, if I can find someone to pawn my kids on, I'd like my husband, who has written two novels, to come.

I plan on participating in a small writing group. I'd like to write creative nonfiction, some teaching related and some personal. Anyone interested? I will continue writing on my own, for myself, my kids. I stopped writing so Sam could write his books. Now, we'll just have to write together. I will also work with Kelly, as accountability partners, to write professionally and publish through conferences and journals.

In the interview yesterday, the committee asked about what kinds of professional development I was doing and how that would translate into my classroom. I talked a lot about the OWP and how the activities we did here would (and have already) gone into my classroom. I will provide my students with more writing opportunities -- velocity, fluency, productivity. I will revamp my research teaching, including aspects of several demos. From Susan, I will take slants on research and presenting information, from Julie, getting rid of preposterous language, and from Larry, excting research -- even digital research. From Liz, go-charts and fairy tales have a home in college writing, too. JoAnn and Shelly's demos using senses and cross-senses to describe what they are saying. Zak's demo will play-up my classroom. Caroline and Keri gave great pre-writing techniques, and Thomas will help my students put skin on their characters, and Michael will create better conversation in the classroom. Teri, Hayley, and Laura bring stronger images, visual images, from poetic style into the prose in a college classroom. From Casey, I take great facilitation example to model for my students. Jason brings sound to the room, Barb brings blogging discussions to my lessons, and observation of detail and speed from Julia.

During this institute, I first focused on generation. I had so many things I wanted to start, so many ideas burning, that I just shot out tons of first drafts. Next year, I would like to focus on revisiting, revising, reformulating, re-ing my writing. I am better at journaling, probably my weakest motivation, because we wrote everyday. I just did it. Surely, I can just keep doing it.

Looking through the options, I am overwhelmed. I would like to participate in retreats, writing groups, local and national, in attending meetings, conferences, and professional developments. I would like to publish. Peter Elbow got to be Peter Elbow because he wrote and published. I can be Peter Elbow, only as Ashlei Woelk. I am excited about sharing professional developments to other teachers. I have sat through horrible in-services where my principal stole my electronic Yatzee game so he could play it. I moved on to crosswords. This group of people can make in-service worthwhile and helpful to teachers. I want to be a part of the differences.

Thank you so much for this (and these) opportunity!

Do Something Every Day Which Scares You: A Plan of Action - PART 1

In the opening letter to my portfolio, I wrote a short passage about my experience with the Ozarks Writing Project Summer Invitational 2007 that I think serves as a strong introduction to my plan of action:

For the past three weeks, I’ve been a part of an amazing group of people who participated in the Ozarks Writing Project Summer Invitational 2007. The “summer invitational” part makes it sound like a sporting event. Perhaps it was. It was certainly a test of teamwork, patience, and endurance. And like a sporting event, when you end the game feeling like a winner, you are one.

How does one “win” at writing? I don’t think you ever do. Everything I write is a game in progress, even after I’ve finally stopped picking at it and left it a blinking file in the “my documents” folder on my laptop. I enjoy the tearing apart, reformulating (as Ms. Franklin would undoubtedly put it), and finding new, interesting ways to say the thing.

I do feel like a winner. However, the game I won was an exhibition; the season starts this fall. I will teach three classes...one-hundred and twenty students...this first half of the season. That means one-hundred and twenty games. I will lose some, undoubtedly, but I will strive to win them all. Thus, I study the plays I learned this summer that awoke something the writer in me.

Did you notice I said writer and not teacher? The OWP reminded me what it felt like to create. I realized that I had been focusing on the product a bit more than the process in my classrooms and ignoring that in my full-time job, directing the campus writing center, I work with clients on their process. I guess I was focusing on the grading in my classroom and ignoring the steps I knew to be important in favor of the successful outcome. If participating in the OWP this summer taught me anything, it reminded me that I love the process. Thus, my normal game-plan has changed. I think I will win more games by making my students excited as they learn to enjoy the process, too.

So...I'll take a chance. Every day, I will leave the comfort zone of the familiar, product-driven college course and move more toward process.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share the inside-track on the plans I've created stealing my Fellow's ideas...

That's what teaching is, right? 90% courage and 10% wholesale theft of ideas.

Julia's Action Plan

All of the presentations over the past three weeks have been incredibly insightful and inspiring. I plan to use Hayley's "Finding Images in Poetry & Finding Poetry in Images" at the very beginning of the year as an ice breaker. I will be taking on two classes of Sophomores in addition to teaching dual credit English, Speech, and coaching the Speech & Debate team, so I need all the help I can get with new writing ideas. Hayley's is one I can adapt easily to all of my classes, no matter what the age or writing level. What a great way to start the year.

I will also be ulitilzing Jason's "Music and Writing" to show my students how music can inspire them to write fiction as well as the plethora of non-fiction they have always been required to write. I am looking forward to implimenting this lesson in order to open new avenues from proficient to reluctant writers.

Thomas's presentation also opened new opportunities to explore character in real life. I loved his idea he explored in "Adding Skin: Role-taking Within Journal Writing." I have strayed away from journal writing in my English classes because I tended to turn into the task master who forced students to write, instead of just letting the process happen or even guided. Now, with the information from Thomas's demo and discussing with Casey the different approaches to journal writing, I will adapt this element in all of my classes.

As a professional, I am going to look into going to some of the national and regional conferences and I would love the opportunity to not only be a presenter, but also take on a more active role within the writing project. I need to research more about the individual conferences, however, before I commit here which ones I would like to attend. I do know I will be applying for the semi-local Write to Learn Conference.

The Action Plan of Jason Ray Tutterrow

Q. How will I teach writing?
A. I will teach writing a little differently this year. I definitely plan to make my writing more hands on with my students actively engaged in their thoughts and experiences.

Q. How will I improve my own writing?
A. My trouble when it comes to writing is discipline. I never make myself actually sit down and write for fun as much as I should. Usually when I write now, it is simply because I have to write. This writing institute reinforced my desire and need to write for fun.

Q. How will your classroom look different?
A. I'm really not for sure on this question, because I am still formulating in my mind how I want my room different. One thing that I for sure want to add is more sharing. This upcoming year should be more them and less me. I should trust my kids more than I do when it comes to discussion.

Q. How will you use your demo in the fall?
A. I learned a lot of validating information about my topic. I went to my research feeling a little concerned that my demonstration wasn't research based. After finding all of the research that I did, that thought quickly went away. I actually had to not use some sources. I will definitely use my demo in my creative writing class, because I like the fact that it requires multiple intelligences and concentrated so much on the psychological aspects of the writing process. This is a topic that I am thoroughly interested in.

Q. What kinds of student writing samples can you collect?
A. I have already started to build a collection of student writing samples. These samples range from really thought provoking essays to constructed responses to really well answered benchmark examinations.

Q. How has your writing experience affected your plan?
A. This writing project has now lowered the boom on me to improve my teaching of writing as well as improving my own writing. It is now my resposibility to work toward improvement in those areas. I can't hide behind the "new guy" excuse anymore.

Q. How will you use other demonstrations next fall?
A. I am very excited about the demonstration that I got the chance to see and interact with. There are many demonstrations that deeply and positively moved me. I will use Michael's demonstration when I teach my creative writing class to be true to the moment. I will use Julia's demonstration in discussing character. I will use the demos of Laura, Terri, and Hayley in my poetry unit. Honestly, I could probably find a way to incorporate every demo in my class.

Q. How has your writing progressed due to this project?
A. I have received some awesome feedback from an awesome small writing group. I now feel that I know what to look at when I want to revise my work and make it better.

Q. What sort of local NWP events are you interested in particpating in?
A. I am very much interested in participating in a small writing group that writes creactive non fiction as well as fiction stories with poetry possibly thrown into the mix. I think that would be awesome, because those are the types of writings that I am most interested in involving myself.

Thanks again Keri for a wonderful experience. This writing project was even better and more rewarding than last year. You and Casey picked a very talented group of people. I am honored and humbled to have gotten the chance to be a part of this project again this year. This will be a big highlight in my summer.

Liz Salchow's Action Plan

Starting this fall...From my fellow teacher consultants at the NWP summer invitational, I will be applying the wonderful writing lessons in which I participated. There is so much to say about each demonstration and how I will be applying it that I feel overwhelmed as to even begin such an undertaking.

  • Poetry is a genre for which I have always lacked a muse. Nancie Atwell has been my guiding force until this summer, but even with her voice in my head, my heart never yearned to teach or practice much past what I knew must be done. From the demonstrations on poetry, my second grade students will be starting the year with "Sentence Poetry" because that is a place at which we can all begin together, as new writers. It will be fun for me and for them to see their work develop during the year and finish with another Sentence Poem to share. In order to feel more confident in our ability to construct our own poetry, we will do "Copy Change Poetry" with some of my students' favorite poetry as models. We will team-build with "Collaborative Poetry" to share with other classrooms or the building, especially when something important happens that the children cannot seem to stop talking about. I will spend at least two weeks working with my students on "Finding Images in Poetry & Finding Poetry in Images", and see what they can develop further from the Sentence Poetry lessons from earlier in the fall. This whole idea of working in-depth with poetry as an on-going unit all year is new for me. I had typically taught poetry as a unit at one shot. This new way of approaching poetry as a genre in writing and journaling is a direct reflection of my new-found comfort with the genre itself. Poetry sticks its foot out and laughs when I stumble, but no more will I sit pathetically at the tormenting feet. I hope to inspire my students to learn and stumble with me in the process, laughing at ourselves and cheering on our emerging voices.
  • For my own development, I am going to be incorporating another facet of technology into my instruction. My students will be blogging from their journal writing and from prompts at least once a week. This gives my students and me an authentic audience outside of our classroom walls. Hopefully, other classrooms around the district or further will read and reflect on our thoughts. This way, we are experiencing authorship for all its vulnerable glory. I am hoping to incorporate a media component into our classroom writing projects at least on a monthly basis, thanks to inspirations from Shelly, Susan, Larry, Julia, Julie, and Jason. The children will love it, and what a fun way to rejuvinate our creativity.
  • As for my own writing, I am going to finish my first children's story that my SWG helped me get started. It would be great to have the first "formulation" finished by winter. Prod me whenever you remember--keep me going on this! I also felt like I had maybe written one chapter of a collection of memories about my brother. I'd like to keep that vein open and see where it leads me. My demo is in its first reformulation as I blog this, and my intention is to have it sent for publication this fall. I will be giving a copy of it to my school district and grade-level colleagues as we begin the back-to-school meetings, so hopefully it will be well-received in this community of learners. My SWG promises to help me with reviewing my drafts and reformulations, and I love them so much for all they have done in the short time we've been a family.

If anyone in the OWP uses my demo to teach any genre (not just fairy tales), would you please keep your student samples so that if I present at Write to Learn, I can demonstrate its applications across grade levels and content areas? I promise to send you copies of my student samples when I use your demos, which I am using your demos...so check your email inboxes this year...you'll be getting some cutie-pie writing samples to share when you present your demos again, too!

As a teacher consultant, I am anxious to share my enthusiasm and experiences with others. As department chair for my district, my colleagues will reap the benefit of what I have gleaned from the other teacher consultants in the Ozarks Writing Project. I hope to also connect with other schools and teachers in areas where they feel I have strength. I feel confident in my ability to teach genre and writing mini-lessons using Read Alouds and graphic organizers as I lead students toward analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, as you saw in my demo. These skills can then be utilized in writing topics that I love to help develop. I also am willing and able to present on multiple intelligences, differentiated instruction strategies, and positive leadership skills. I also have presented a GLE and standards-based Space/Universe unit at Interface that I wrote while teaching upper elementary, so if you know of anyone wanting new ideas for teaching about space, I would be willing to share my ideas with them. I would love to share my enthusiasm and passion with others.

I would like to participate in NWP events, but I will need some guidance from Keri and Casey to help me focus and comprehend. To these amazing women, and my fellow teacher consultants, thank you. You helped restore my confidence and encouraged me to find my voice. It means more than you realize.

Much love and respect,

Liz Salchow

Action Plan

My plan of action in the fall is to give my students many more writing and and sharing experiences than I have done in the past. In the past I have been almost apologetic to my students when I ask them to write another thing yet again. Being in this institute has really brought home to me how much pleasure and learning there is in writing constantly--even if I did have the skinniest portfolio to ever be turned in. Here's what I think: If I can do it, then I really believe I can be instrumental in encouraging and motivating and inspiring my students this fall to become WRITERS! It's like the old-time traveling doctor/quack who suddenly discovers the elixirs and potions aren't placebos anymore--they really work.

What that means for me as a writer is that I plan to continue the habit developed these three weeks of writing on a daily basis. Being around people who do that has been an incredible eye-opener for me. It is what makes a writer a writer. You can't just pick up a pen and splat there it is. It is a skill that has to be developed all the time. It's exciting to think that I can do that and that I can share that with my students.

Every demonstration that I saw was of such high caliber. I can use some/all of each one in my 8th grade Reading and Writing classes. Just as a beginning of what I plan to use this fall:
  • Poetry: I plan to use Poetry 180 every day in my classroom. I will not "save" poetry until the end of the year or just before MAP testing. I will add Laura's Sentence Poetry and Jason's music into poetry/short story ideas throughout the year. They are great strategies for students to use to respond to literature. I loved Haley's demo, too, because I can see how powerful it is in getting kids to develop emotional depth in their poetry.
  • Research: Susan and Julie gave me great ideas to help develop a sense of excitement and discovery about research in the classroom. I can use ideas from their demos at the beginning of novel units or for non-fiction reading.
  • Art: Yet another thing I sort of save for the end of the year. No way. Shelly's demo showed how I can use art to connect to literature and get the kids to use analysis and evaluation through art. I'm also thinking about how I would like the kids to be able to create artifacts around their reading. Shelly and I plan to talk:-)
  • Developing voice: I can see how the divergent demos from Ashlie, Michael, Joann, Larry, Thomas, and Caroline have strategies that I can use to give my kids info and skills to become great writers. IKNOWIKEEPSAYINGGREAT,BUTICAN'THELPIT! This has been an amazing professional development time for me and will change my classroom.
  • The text: This is a topic dear to my heart as a teacher of reading. Zak, Liz, Thomas, Julia's demos are full of amazing strategies to use to help people relate/connect/become passionate about what they read. I am so grateful.
  • Blogging: I already knew I wanted to set up a Blog for my classes. Barb's demo is so user friendly that I think I can, I think. . .
  • Cultural Literacy: I really got to thinking about how I can help my kids not feel clueless in this area. I'm so sorry to have missed this demo!

JoAnn's Action Plan

My brief action plan as of Friday, June 29, the final day of our summer institute, includes:

1) Sleep enough and do nothing for long enough for my brain to process all that has been input during the last three weeks. This is not a lazy thing -- it is a necessary thing. Read "Blink" if you have any question that most of our behavior is dictated by subconscious processes that we do not control.

2) I am going to continue writing about my boys class. I have a plan for a book structure that will be a cohesive collection of separate pieces. Each piece will combine writing about classroom experiences with writing about related issues in public education today. I plan to support my commentary about schools with both research and personal experiences. I have an idea what the pieces might be, but I now believe that their exact nature will only be revealed through writing them. I have a long list of things to write about. Here's a teaser: how a kid lighting his pants on fire in class (accidentally, flicking his Bic in his pocket) was translated into "arson" (a very serious offense) by an assistant principal. There were no flames -- just a funny burning smell. . .and on and on. . .

3) As a teacher, I plan to implement virtually every DEMO into my English IV classroom next year. I have the great good fortune to have shared this experience with Hayley Fraser, my English IV collaborator for next year. I'm going to have a great "senior year," as my baby Kevin will be a senior at Kickapoo next year and I am determined to remain a happy camper for the duration. Sorry not to be more specific, but really, we will do everything and then some!

4) As for my participation with NWP and OWP as a Teacher Consultant, I am delighted at the prospect of the opportunities. Next year is probably not the year for me to dive in fully, as "senior year" is going to be my hokey-pokey for the year (that's what it's all about). I again will wait for some subconscious processing and some time to look at the NWP website before I will be able to know what I might do. I am open to suggestion and encouragement.

5) As for my demo, it has lots of pieces all rolled into one thing that is really too much for a single session. I plan to continue researching the topic of whether or not "direct modeling" of cross-sensing is a viable/effective way to go. I always enjoy the "generating writing" activities, but from my first small exposure to the writing project several years ago (thank you, Keri), I have been drawn to issues of "craft," particularly revising strategies and development of skills. I'll keep you posted. . .

That's all I have at the moment. I will continue to enjoy reflecting on this time we shared with gratitude for these three weeks, and I am not sad only because I know that the ideas and inspiration and support will continue to grow. Thanks to all!