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 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 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 check your email inboxes this'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!

Hayley's Plan of (In)Action

My classroom will look different in the fall because, well, I will have a different classroom! One of my own. One I am going to paint a soothing shade of taupe and stencil some of my favorite quotes and lines of poetry around in if I get a chance before August. Working environment is very, very important to me. Thanks to Barb and her award from the Turner Foundation, I will also have a SMARTboard, and I'm thinking I am really going to have to get tech-savvy ASAP. My head is swirling with ideas to incorporate literally every demo I've experienced this week into my English IV class and to use my new technology to enhance everything I do. Joann and I will be collaborating daily and plan to use all we've learned here. My interests for further participation are mostly related to poetry, creative non-ficition and eventually maybe something to do with technology if I can figure out my SMARTboard.

For now, I am looking forward to spending at least a month just hanging out with my son, puttering around my house, going to the library for story hour, letting Macauley jump off the side of my parents' pool to me ad nauseum, and having no schedule. I do enjoy being a teacher and I sincerely try to do it well, maybe even better than most, but my job is not my life at this point. I need to walk out of those doors each day, turn off my teacher voice, and be with my husband and son. Perhaps I will write some this summer, but it will likely only be for myself or to share with my students next year. Someday I might try to write some poetry for publication...who knows. When I write I am glad I did, but I am not as dedicated a writer as some of you are.

Come August, though, I will dig in and be an innovative and rejuvenated teacher at KHS--heck, I might even go in before I am required to so I can get ready for the year. I think my students will have a great time in my class and be better for knowing me somehow. Which is how I feel about all of you and the work we've done here. Please email me anytime for any reason and I wish all of you a happy and healthy year ahead. Thanks for the memories.

Action Plan

What is your plan of action in the fall?

*teaching writing

*your own writing

How will your classroom look differently daily? Weekly? Monthly?

Discuss the process of creating your demo and what you discovered through that process. How will you incorporate your demo in the fall?

What kinds of student writing samples can you collect?

How has your writing project experience affected your plan?

How will you use other demonstrations? Please list several demos that you saw that you will integrate into your classroom.

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.).

NWP Local Events—are you interested in

  • participating in a small writing group?
  • organizing a small writing group ?
  • attending the NWP Annual Meeting and/or NCTE?
  • submitting your writing for professional publication
  • Offering professional development to area schools

Thursday, June 28, 2007

a variation of the Writing Marathon

Okay, it's 11:47 and I will do anything to put off the last thing that I have to write for the OWP, a piece about forks, cups, napkins, and plates, and I found an interesting newsletter online from an sister NWP site in Oklahoma.

They are using the Writing Marathon model for elementary students at the zoo, allowing students to walk around the zoo to find writing inspiration. The students will write a personal narrative, descriptive piece, or short story to enter into a contest.

I thought it sounded like a great idea...gotta write that essay, story, poem...something


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Demo - continued

Sorry this is so long, but it finishes some of my ideas and responds to questions/comments from your letters. Thanks for being a great group of participants.

The process of writing from another perspective is valuable to me because I believe it is important for my students, especially where they are developmentally, to be stretched in their thinking, hopefully generating a deeper appreciation for individuals other than themselves and finding greater significance in the characteristics other than their own. Added to this is all that research indicating that journal writing in connection with any subject enhances the classroom experiences and assists students in articulating both questions and thoughts.

With all of this in mind, my true hope in doing this demo is to see similar activities like this incorporated with reading assignments. I envision students writing from certain characters’ perspectives, allowing a deeper connection with the work of literature and with the character. If coinciding with a novel, as students progress through the novel their journal entries may take on greater complexity as their appreciation for a character and his/her decisions may grow, which may in turn serve as a great resource for ideas when it comes to writing an analytical paper. If coinciding with a short story or poem, students may write journal entries elaborating upon the possible motives of characters, or develop a minor character’s view on a situation. This could then develop into a multi-genre study or response to a text, which groups of students produce as a different character in any given story, using the journal entries as the impetus for the extended written responses.Hopefully this isn’t too confusing. I really wish that I would have been able to talk more about my ideas for this concept, but I think it was important for me to have you all try this out so that I could get your responses.

I received lots of questions and comments, luckily many of which overlap, seeming, in my mind, to fall under one of the following four categories. I know its long; I apologize already.

1. Regarding the early struggles and walls encountered when writing yourself into a corner: I want all of this. This is the first time my students try this type of writing, and the floundering is part of it. As almost all of you indicated, you find your feet after a while. You shouldn’t have your center of gravity (or get it right) by simply looking at a picture and reading a blurb. Almost all of you indicated that you grew to be more of the individual as your knowledge of that individual grew. This is also what happened to my students, and I think this is what should happen.

2. Sharing prior to writing: I don’t want this. I don’t think I did a very good job of explaining the amount of front-loading that is done prior to attempting this role-taking. I wasn’t able to do any of the front-loading, other than the individual journal reading, in the demo. I imagine sharing happens, but I don’t want the students surveying the crowd and imitating; they know their own voice, they must individually explore the voice of another – not through groups. Sorry if I step on toes with this answer.

3. Sharing after writing: I didn’t have my students do this, but I am open to letting them do this after the entire journal writing is completed. I guess I still have in my mind this idea of a deeply personal experience between each student and the individual assigned. I don’t think this should be especially easy to share because of the closeness that has developed over the course of writing. I am continually surprised every day at the project how excited everyone is to immediately share what they write. Personally, I hate this part of the project, and have comfortably found myself in the corner where I can slip through the crack, enjoying listening but not desiring to share. Several of you all gave great ideas for how to share after the journal writing is complete, and I will take all of this into consideration.

4. Concerning emotional fallout: I hesitated in class, and shouldn’t have. I want this. If a student is truly going to give voice to this individual, then this should not be easy. A feeling of loss should occur. After discovering the fate of their assigned individual, most of my students either became mad or sad, while the few who survived were jubilant. This is, again, what I want. This shows me that the students’ experience of studying this material has become real, and has begun to bleed into their consciousness. This final day of journal assignments corresponds to the final day of our reading of The Diary of Anne Frank, and it is a bleak day, casting a shadow upon the mood of the students for the remainder thereof. I let the other teachers know why the students may be unresponsive, and these teachers are, thankfully, understanding. It isn’t easy to deal with loss, but there is no way to avoid it. In my classroom I face this emotional fallout the same way I faced my students’ loss of friends, siblings, and parents: I listen. I don’t avoid it, or gloss over it, I embrace it and encourage my students to embrace it, to learn from it, and to articulate that learning in a way that even the most apathetic individual cannot help but be shaken by the message.

Again, thanks for being great participants.

What You Need to Know Now--Global Literacy

Coincidence that Kelly's demo today coincides with the Newsweek delivered this afternoon that sports an article about Global Literacy and Hirsch's book Cultural Literacy from 1987.

Newsweek is starting a special report on Global Literacy and invites readers to "start the conversation" regarding what is and is not important, and if using this method of listing is valuable or limiting in terms of content...which is exactly where some of the dialogue generated from Kelly's demo led to today.

What's Your Global IQ Quiz (warning...130 questions!--compared to only 17 in the hard copy article.)

Read "What You Need to Know Now" Newsweek article.

Notes from the first days

What do we make of this experience as a writer and/or as a teacher or writing?

*Consider Because Writing Matters possible

Michael said—snake-eating its tail
For us it was difficult, randomly putting together notes, we both need a starting point, this process was painful

Kelly said we are our students, we are the reflection of our students as we stand before the mirror, we need to be sensitive to the same feelings our students have

Barb and Teri, surroundings and atmosphere are just critical—soft music, aware of how fast everyone else is writing

Thomas and Caroline—various stages of our writing—three pages of good story with paragraphs, Thomas has bullets, the differentiated instruction of eighth graders—fear that I will lose more than I will gain—effectiveness—putting out fires—too many questions—not sure it’s a struggle that I want to deal with—15 on track, 15 struggling—how do you control the needy factor?

7th grade MAP—all map prep, no free thought—when you give them freedom, they flounder—I want to give them freedom, but previous training makes that tough.

Can’t you—give them it a little bit of a time

Zach and Julie—importance of modeling—fear that they will copy exactly what you’ve done

We couldn’t possibly have copied Keri’s.
If you give them a little bit, model your thought process for them, they can’t possible have the same thought processes-the see the struggle

Kelly—won’t some of them take them away from focusing on product? First draft. Done. Negotiate with them and get rid of product.

What grade is it right now?

Notion of abolishing product, how frustrating this was for me to do, did something today that I tell them not to do—I wrote something I didn’t have the words for—forced myself to write more and I wasn’t ready.

Kelly, found myself apologizing for being all over the place.
Never got to the root of why I was writing—tried to force it

Accomplishment—recognizing I wasn’t ready to write about it

Go ahead because it was already on the paper—first thing that came to my mind

We’re so product driven—there is always that end game.

What would be the definition of product?
I’ve got lots of sentences and I was having a teenage angst type of moment. I have to know the end result.

Shelly and Janet—everything I wrote about was connecting—just the connecting—what was negative? One thing was when I was writing I noticed, even though I was writing to myself, I kept making little side comments to you all.

Shelly—connecting personal beliefs with children—seeing connections and associations—watching the visual process—doing the list—showing how random things are and seem to be and see how you can make something of it—starting on that basic level, they look at it so gigantic—doing a list, one short exercise, leave it, keep it in your notebook

Larry and Liz—the list helped me, how can I apply this to teaching? Where I teach. “I don’t know what to write about.” Instead of giving a topic that usually hate. Start with a list. Modeling part of it being very important.

Showing them lots of different ways to approach it. Showing different ways to look it and look at perspectives, giving them those choices in the beginning helps them incredibly, helps all levels

Modeling can be more guided—we’re more sophisticated writers—I would have my list already prepared.

I like showing them the process of how long it takes me to think through—want them to do the same things and take the stupid topics.

When you come in with a prepared list

Several people worried about management