Monday, December 22, 2008

Exciting News

At the risk of sounding like a bragging parent, I had to share this news with my OWP community. My students participated in the Letters to the Next President project through the NWP this fall. We received word a few days ago that one of my student's letters has been selected for publication through the National Writing Project and the College Board’s National Commission on Writing. We're not exactly sure how or when it will be published, but Nick and I were both excited. Here's the link to his letter, if you'd like to check it out. The topic is pretty interesting.

Thanks, OWP! If not for the OWP, we wouldn't have even participated in this project.

Participating in a Weekly Webcast

I want to share with those who follow the blog about a recent experience with some new technology. I participated in an online discussion pocasted live on a weekly program called Teachers Teaching Teachers moderated by Paul Allison. Participants in the discussion include Sondra Perl, director of the Holocaust Education Network, and past summer seminar attendees. I was asked to describe how the seminar has impacted my my personal and professional life and the work being done on Breaking Down Barriers, a collaborative blog between my College English class in Miller, MO and an 11th grade honors English class in McCool Junction, NE. The students have created an extremeley rich body of text on this blog, which caught the attention of Sondra and prompted my invitation to be on the podcast.

We broadcasted live using Skype. I found the technology fairly simple and straight forward. We did have some tech glitches, primarily at the beginning and again at the conclusion. I am looking forward to playing some more with Skype, especially with video. I want to figure out how to stream live video over the internet and across mobile phones. The technology is there, I just gotta figure it out.


Holocaust Educators Network podcast on Teachers Teaching Teachers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Applications Now Ready for 2009 Holocaust Education Seminar

Just wanted to pass this info along.

Dear Colleagues,

The Holocaust Educators Network, in partnership with the National
Writing Project, announces 25 fellowships for NWP teacher-consultants in
the Rural Sites Network to attend the Memorial Library Summer Seminar on
Holocaust Education in New York City. This year, writing project
teachers may apply as individuals or in teams of two. To learn more
about the application process, visit Applications must be
postmarked by January 16, 2009.

We hope that you will share this information with others, especially
history or social studies teachers who are part of your writing project
community. In fact, you may want to organize a site continuity meeting
to support teachers who would like to learn more about the seminar and
application process.

Happy Holidays to all.

Lynette Herring-Harris
Rural Sites Network Thinking Partner
Program Associate
National Writing Project

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

MSU Reading Series

I so appreciated the opportunity to share some of my writing as one of three readers at the Soul of a Poet series at The Library Center last night. I shared three pieces that I had written along with my senior students in response to assignments I had them do.

The first narrative I shared was one I wrote when I asked my seniors to write about some moment from their education so far. Some wrote persuasive pieces, others wrote tributes to notable teachers and many wrote narratives about a memory from school as I did.

Bad Girl
I highly doubt Jonathon Holtzman ever thinks about me, but my mind still goes back occasionally to the fourth grade and the enormous, unrequited crush I had on the class “bad boy.” Jonathon’s mother was a teacher in our elementary school, but he was the kind of kid who broke the rules, didn’t do his work and had, basically, a general distaste for school. I don’t know if it was his aloof disinterest in life that allured me so (if I could make him care about me, I’d feel really special?) or the non-chalant way he tucked his foot under Leslie Fletcher’s chair as she tipped back away from her desk, sending her to the floor and later to the hospital to get stitches. She was, and remained throughout our years in school, my unspoken enemy for any number of reasons. Or maybe I was taken in by the feathered business-in-the-front and curly party-in-the-back mullet Jonathon sported then. I just remember that he paid me no attention.
I was a good girl then—I did what the teacher said, I raised my hand to answer questions I knew, and my apple was always on the tree hanging in the back of Mrs. Swafford’s classroom celebrating Super Spellers. The only living dangerously I did was copying down, on a dare from the girl sitting next to me, the definition of “sex” out of the dictionary onto a piece of notebook paper with the oversized Arkansas Razorbacks pencil I had gotten on vacation that summer. The illicit information ended up getting inadvertently shuffled in with the rest of my school papers, and my mother found it. She asked me about it, but knowing I still had little to no idea what the word really meant, she wasn’t overly alarmed, I guess.
Jonathon never noticed my skinny, too short jeans, long sweatshirts, Rainbow Brite leg-warmers or phone cord belt. He never noticed when I had cool snacks, like Fruit Roll-ups (a novelty at the time) or that I had copied down a naughty word when I was supposed to be working on my multiplication tables. I would have to come up with some attention-getter, some way to show him I was as “bad” as he was, kind of like when Olivia Newton John shows up at the school carnival dressed all slutty and John Travolta’s jaw drops in Grease. My plan: casually blurt out a cuss word in front of him during recess. That’d show him I broke rules, that I was his kind of girl…
My moment came as Mandie Schroeder spun me round and round on the tire swing on the Little Structure (dwarfed by the SUPER Structure jungle gym nearby) adjacent to the little blue playhouse where most of the other girls were playing. On an especially powerful whirl of the tire, with more than a little hesitation, I let out an alarmed, “SH--!” knowing Jonathon would hear me and get a kick out of it and ask me to “go with” him right then and there. He did not. Mr. Greg Turner, our P.E. coach and a friend of my father, however, did. He seemed surprised and disappointed and marched me down to the office of another of my father’s friends, Mrs. Marty Dunham, our school principal.
I had never been to the principal’s office before, except maybe to get a free pizza certificate for reading a billion books over the summer or something, and in fact, was only sent to the office one other time in my school career after that for failing to “be a leader” and stop the meanest, biggest girl in the eighth grade from pulling the pin on one of the fire extinguishers near my locker. That principal suggested I should have done something to keep Kim Moore, who for a while played on the football team, from unleashing the white powder of the extinguisher and causing a major scene. I didn’t feel any guilt then, but that day in Mrs. Dunham’s office, I was horribly ashamed and embarrassed. She asked if I thought we should walk across campus to the high school and tell my dad what I had said. I said, no, I didn’t think we should. Mercifully, she never to my knowledge told my parents, and I never have either. I still walked away feeling like a criminal, though, and even when I was in high school, I wouldn’t look Mrs. Dunham in the eye if I saw her around school or at a ball game. I figured from then on, she thought I was a bad seed.
Jonathon never did find out I had such a wild side, never asked me to go with him, never noticed my lace Madonna headband or even spoke to me that I recall. He dropped out of school before we graduated. My friend told me just the other day that he still lives in our hometown, has a wife and family and works as a welder. Twenty years after the fact, in a passing conversation at our ten year class reunion, I lightheartedly revealed to him that I had a huge crush on him in fourth grade. He seemed mildly amused, but unimpressed—much the way he probably would have felt about my semi-rebellious outburst all those years ago. I was certainly no Olivia Newton John.

The second piece I shared was an informal poem I wrote when I asked my kids to emulate the style of Katy Barber's "Photograph 1969" about one of their own photographs.
Photograph 1989
This is two girls
still green to the ways of the world—
divorce, step-children,
motherhood, marriages,
million dollar mortgages,

This is about
big hair and blue eyeliner
and preparing for the
8th grade track meet,
or at least the boys we’d meet there.

This is uninhibited
routines to Paula Abdul
on my front porch where
high school boys driving by
could see, pacts to be
Best Friends Forever,
calls to plan outfits for the next day,
identical or at least similar—
jean skirts and oversized tees,
overalls and side ponytails.

This is a girl who knew me
flat-chested, inexperienced,
eyebrows unwaxed,
hair unwashed for a couple of days
to preserve an especially
fortuitous cascade of the bangs.

A girl who knows me now
but still remembers me when.

The last piece I shared was about the word "home," which I had my students do some writing about when we were brainstorming narrative topics. I had them do some thinking about specific memories they associated with a house they lived in, and this is something I shared with them and then did some revision on recently.
It’s been at least seven years since my parents moved away from my hometown of Cassville, Missouri, a small and friendly town of about 2,000 in the corner of southwest Missouri, known mostly for its fine rainbow trout fishing at scenic Roaring River State Park, and more recently for a pretty decent football team. There my family had lived in a few houses over the years, ending up in an old, renovated farmhouse outside of town on 20 acres of rolling fields with a barn and a pond and woods along two sides of the property. I’m a bonafide city girl now and can’t imagine living in a place that shuts down by 9 p.m. at the latest most of the time, but I still sometimes long for those days in the country, where bushes and weeds and wildflowers grow unmanicured (unlike the perfect lawns of my subdivision) and where without the glow of manmade lights, from the wooden swing in our yard I could usually see all the stars in the sky.
In 2001, my mom and dad got the opportunity to live in a house built by the summer camp they had been running for a number of years in Rogers, Arkansas, and they took it. This meant my mom could quit her job as a principal’s secretary and stay home through the school year, and that my dad could give up some of his coaching and bus driving responsibilities and just teach a regular school day, so I was happy for them, and pleased that my parents are open to change, that they aren’t those people who cling to only that which is familiar. Despite that, though, I did a little grappling at the time with the notion that I wouldn’t often be going back to my hometown, where I’d lived contentedly since I was 8, that the house and 20 acres I’d grown up in would belong to someone else, that I would forget so many of the bits and pieces of my formative years I was reminded of every time I pulled on to that country road as an adult. That the girl I was back then would be forgotten, too.
My husband and I, still newlyweds then, made the hour drive from our home in Springfield to help with the most intensive day of my parents’ moving process, one that involved a lot of cleaning and sorting in my old room and closet, as well as the barn and outbuildings. Anticipating making a clean start with this relocation, my dad had rented a probably 15 to 20 foot dumpster and placed it about halfway up one of the two driveways that led up to the house, the one I always parked in when I was living at home, the one that ended right in front of my old bedroom window. We filled the dumpster to overflowing with cast-offs from our life as a family in that place, and you know, a lot of it was definitely junk no one needs to be weighed down by. I kept two or three Rubbermaid tubs filled with trophies and yearbooks and stuffed animals and boxes of notes written to me by my old friends and boyfriends as far back as third grade. But a majority of what I had left behind there when I went off to Drury and marriage and adulthood didn’t make the cut. I watched my dad toss my Pink Panther bike, with its banana seat and somewhat tattered wicker basket, up and over the edge of the rapidly filling receptacle. And I to this day have an image of backing away to leave that night and seeing a lone stuffed animal, a sad little bent out of shape ET that had belonged to my youngest sister, flopped on the peak of discarded household items poking out of the top of the dumpster, the would-be king of my family’s mountain of tangible things we could live without.
I knew my family would be different after that day. Not bad different, but not the way I remembered it. Ryan drove slowly so I could glance back at my old home and then sped up a bit down our road and past a row of tall pine trees that immediately took me back to one of those days growing up I was afraid I’d forget.
Tonya Slinkard and I had become BFFs our eighth grade year and her father Nick had picked us up from track practice that day in the tow truck he hauled vehicles with after wrecks around town or if someone had car trouble. Some would end up out in the fields of the salvage yard he set up on a once picturesque stretch of land very near my house. A few years later, it would be Nick who arrived to tow away the car I totaled one morning just a few hundred yards from my house a week to the day after I turned 16. It would be Nick who comforted me (I walked away without a scratch from what could have been something much worse) and my shaken parents as we all stood along our country road watching my battered Honda with a crushed roof and shattered windshield being eased onto the back of the truck. Ncik would flick the ashes off his cigarette and say both kindly and matter-of-factly in his gruff, teddy bear voice, “Cars are replaceable. Kids ain’t.”
That crisp afternoon several Aprils before, though, Tonya and I sat on a curb near the stadium, both wearing the bright gold, school-issued sweatsuits that most Cassville Middle School tracksters referred to as our “banana suits.” I don’t remember any of us having a suit that actually fit—most of them swallowed our still pre-pubescent bodies but certainly kept us toasty at track meets on those spring evenings that could get a little chilly. The mud-splattered truck’s diesel engine idled loudly when he pulled up to us and slammed the rig into park. We tossed our duffel bags in and climbed the steps up into the cab. Nick lit another cigarette and held it out the cracked window and we rolled away from another productive middle school day.
Those were the days I had little responsibility other than to do well in school and play organized sports, both of which I enjoyed immensely most of the time. No job or other pressing matters, nowhere in particular to be after a day of classes and training laps. And looking back, I can’t really remember how I spent my time after school if I wasn’t at practice, or why Tonya and I ended up out at her dad’s junkyard that afternoon. But I do remember Nick pulling up to the shop and showing us a truckbed full of tiny pine saplings and telling us that if we would plant as many as we could along the fencelines of the property before dinnertime, he would let us drive the old Datsun out to our planting sites and take turns cruising the beat up vehicle around the acreage. Nick had either been required by law or asked by neighbors to put up a fence or plant a thick row of trees to hide the rows of junk cars that would eventually cover the entire property. I’m glad he chose the greener version, rather than those garish aluminum panels I’ve seen tacked up haphazardly around many other salvage yards.
Now that I’ve been driving for almost half my lifetime, I could really give or take the opportunity to steer a car and don’t take much joy in getting from place to place via four wheels. But as pre-teens, wheels, even diminutive ones rubbed almost bare on a teeny 70s Datsun, meant freedom and maturity and a taste of our glamorous, independent, licensed days to come. Nick had let us drive around the salvage yard a few times before, and our vehicle of choice was usually a half-wrecked 80s Ford Maverick. Tonya’s brother Chris and his friend Cody, both just a year ahead of us in school, would drive a gigantic, black, Batmobilesque Cadillac around after us, tormenting us with impromptu games of chicken and what I now see was flirting. During one of those vehicular face-offs, the enormous hood of the Cadillac came unlatched and flew up, blocking the windshield briefly and then blowing over the top of the car to bounce end over end across the pasture behind it. The boys never slowed down.
So Tonya, already adept at both working a stick-shift and being a defensive driver, took the wheel of the Datsun that spring day and maneuvered us calmly and sensibly over the bumps and lumps of the grassy field out to the back corner of the salvage yard. We tuned in staticy country music on the AM/FM radio, the kind where you actually had to turn the knob back and forth to line up the pointer in the general area of the station numbers in hopes of grabbing a signal out of the endless blue sky and through the dusty, busted speakers of the old truck. It was probably the voice of Kenny Rogers or Crystal Gale or someone, and while we would have preferred Madonna or New Kids on the Block, I remember that feeling of utter coolness we both had tuning in the radio, our arms rested on rolled-down or maybe broken-out windows, the country breeze flipping around our over-sprayed but wilted hair as we bounced off to work like big girls in that little Datsun truck.
Once at the fencerow, we were rather indifferent employees, barely digging holes six inches deep with our fingers, hastily rooting the baby trees into the rocky soil and sprinkling them with a little water, getting more satisfaction out of driving the pickup to the next planting site than in the labor for nature and neighbors we had agreed to. But, remarkably, several of those little saplings took, and as I passed them years later, I was reminded of that day and my friend and my youth by the nine and ten foot pines that had endured.
I hope those trees will still be there years from now, when maybe the farmhouse I lived in is not, so I can show them to my grandkids and say, “I put those there—after track practice one spring afternoon—yeah, your old granny used to run really fast. I had long blonde hair and none of these wrinkles. I rode my bike all up and down this road. See that ditch up there? That’s where I totaled my first car a week after I got my license and where my sister hit a cow with hers. Yeah, this is where your old granny grew up. This is where she came from. This was her home.”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Three OWP Teachers to Read at "Soul of a Poet" Tuesday

Hi, All,

Tuesday, November 18, Missouri State University and Springfield/Greene County Libraries will host The Soul of a Poet reading series. Genesis Bewley(SI'08), Hayley Fraser(SI'07), and Joshua Rowlett(SI'08) will highlight their writing starting at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium at the Library Center on South Campbell.

Please come and support our Teacher Writers!!

Hope to see all of you there!


Saturday, November 15, 2008


Sixteen writers/educators spent more than 12 hours writing at the 2008 Fall Writing Retreat that began on November 1. During the retreat, fellows renewed friendships and and made new connections as they wrote and shared their work.

The incredible views at Big Cedar Lodge were inspiring and renewing. And, as writers shared their writing in the last hour of the retreat, we couldn't help but be amazed at just how much was accomplished in just two days.

Now that the retreat is over, participants have an opportunity to revise their writing. Finished products will be posted on the OWP website in January.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Pamela Duncan Edwards!

As usual, the answer occurs to me two days after someone asks the question. This past weekend a fellow, sorry, I can't remember who, asked about picture books related to alliteration...and, this morning as I was shelving books I remembered the author's name...Pamela Duncan Edwards!

Edwards has several books that could be integrated into a mini-lesson on alliteration.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Teacher Trio

After viewing an excerpt from the movie Sophie's Choice, our group discussion focused on questions such as:
- Why was Sophie's choice an impossible choice?
- Why did the officer say that she was privileged?
- What was the motivation for the choice Sophie was given?

The possible responses for the above questions that were discussed:
- No matter what choice Sophie made the guilt would have be unbearable
- That she was Christian
- The officer was mentally and emotionally torturing her.

What do YOU think?

The White Roses

Our discussion concerning Sophie's Choice led us first to talk about the mother. Specifically, we talked about making split-second decisions. In the clip, Sophie had to choose between sending her son or daughter away to an concentration camp. She doesn't have time to think through the decision because it's either one or both of them. She chose to send the girl away, which made us wonder, "How will she ever live with this decision? What could have been going through her mind as she made that decision? How will she ever forgive herself?"

We also discussed the biblical reference and its significance and linking to other texts in general. Specifically, we discussed text to text, text to world, and text to self.

In regards to age appropriateness, we decided that it would be best to use this with older high school students. They would be more ready to look at things through the eyes of a parent than a freshman or sophomore. The idea of split-second decisions would also be important at that age because they are just getting ready to go on their own and have full accountablity for the first time. They will get a better understanding of the ramifications even seemingly small decisions can have on their lives years later.

The Destroyers

After watching the clip, we were most concerned about the historical accuracy of the film clip and the presence of enough context clues to accurately understand Sophie's decision. Why exactly did she choose her younger daughter (whom she could have stayed with for a longer period of time) over her older son? Other questions that came up in the discussion was the exact destination of her daughter and why they were being separated as possible residents of the ghetto? Also, a final issue is whether or not the clip (and the entire film itself) is even appropriate for middle school students.

Saturday Seminar Assignment

Now that all of you have had the opportunity to watch Sophie's Choice, reflected on the movie clip, and generated some questions you have, you will get into a small group and do the following:

1. Discuss your questions with your small group.
2. Some additional questions you might discuss if you haven't already are: At what age is it appropriate to show this scene? How can Sophie, who survived the Holocaust ever forgive the SS officer?
3. After fifteen minutes of discussion, choose one person to write as other group members summarize the discussion and post it here on the blog.
4. After each group has their posts completed, each of you will go to a computer, read other groups' posts and comment on each.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ozarks Writing Project 2008-2009 Saturday Seminars

2008-2009 Saturday Seminars at Missouri State University

Saturday Seminars . . .
*explore best practices across grade-levels and content areas;
*focus on research-based best practices; and
*actively engage participants.

October 25, 2008
Teaching the Holocaust—6-University
Thomas Maerke, Pleasant View Middle School
Larry Neuburger, Miller High School
Having a tough time getting your students to move beyond the hard facts of the Holocaust? Presenters will guide you through reading and writing activities, including writing from the perspective of a Holocaust victim.

December 6, 2008
Exploring Genre—K-12
Elizabeth Salchow, Steadley Elementary, Carthage
Julie Schreffler, Branson High School
Learn how to engage students through genre study and multi-genre research projects. Participants will explore how genres can improve writing, research, and thinking.

January 24, 2009
Using an Artist’s Eye
Michelle Keller, Hollister Junior High
Shelly Maledy-Martin, Hollister Junior High
Experience research-based strategies to incorporate visual learning activities into language instruction. Leave this seminar able to help students use their artist’s eye to explore writing.

April 4, 2009
Community Inquiry as a Springboard for Writing
Kimberly Witt, Mt. Vernon High School
Kim Piddington, Wilson’s Creek Elementary
Learn how to use community inquiry as a springboard for writing. Presenters will share how they incorporated writing projects based on their urban and rural communities.

Facilitators are Teacher Consultants of the Ozarks Writing Project.

All Seminars will be located at Pummill Hall 308 on the beautiful campus of Missouri State University.
. $20 per seminar
. $60 for 4 Seminars
. Graduate Credit available

For further information contact:
Dr. Keri Franklin, Director
For further information:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

President Nietzel Mentions OWP!!!

Exciting News TC's:

On September 22, MSU's President Nietzel mentioned the Ozarks Writing Project in his State of the University address. You can find us on slide 42 of his PowerPoint under the heading of MSU Highlights and Achievements.

His e-mail is if you want to tell him thank you for mentioning us and tell him how the OWP has helped you and your students.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Holocaust Seminar

Congratulations to Thomas and Larry! There is a fantastic article about their experience with the Holocuast Seminar they attended in the summer through the National Writing Project on the front page of the News-Leader this morning.

Friday, September 12, 2008

K-12 Classroom Grant Opportunity

You may know the Kids in Need Grant Program. It is a classroom grant program that awards $100-$500 to teachers with innovative lessons. They want to see students learning, and they want to see a new twist on lesson plans. If you click on Teacher Grants then Project Ideas, I think most of you will find that your Summer Institute demo might make for a great project they would consider. So, think of supplies you could use with your students and write up a grant. It will probably take you a planning period to do. Have fun...and good luck. :) And let us know if you were a recipient.

The deadline is September 30.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ozarks Writing Project September Site Bulletin

· September 27, 2008, Saturday Renewal for 2008 Ozarks Writing Project Fellows and guests from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Plaster Student Union. Please contact Casey Daugherty at with guest information.

· The Advanced Institute: Writing Our Communities will be meeting Saturday, September 6 at the Writing Center on the Missouri State campus. Visit the OWP Advanced Institute wiki to take a look at our “works in progress.”

· Saturday, October 25, attend the first Ozarks Writing Project Saturday Seminar from 9:00-12:00. Larry Neuburger, Miller High School, and Thomas Maerke, Pleasant View Middle School, will share teaching demonstrations on Teaching the Holocaust based on their experiences with the National Writing Project/Rural Sites Network Holocaust Seminar they attended in New York City this past summer. Bring your department and colleagues from the History department. Registration is $20 and includes a light breakfast. Attendance can count toward career ladder and professional development hours. Contact Liz Salchow for registration information at .

· Send in your application for the 2008 Professional Writing Retreat at Big Cedar Lodge. Find the application at . Contact Laura Burdette at for more information.

· Write to Learn Conference proposals are due September 19, 2008 . Submit site proposals to Dr. Keri Franklin at All Ozarks Writing Project Teacher-Consultant proposals will be sent as a group. Having the OWP designation is important.

· Contact Kim Piddington at if you are interested in participating in a writing group.

· Encourage your students, grades 7 – 12, to participate in The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Contest of 2009. Visit for Submission guidelines and contest entry forms (2009 forms available online October 1; Missouri entries due: Wednesday, December 10). Missouri Region winners and their teachers will be honored at the 2009 Write‐to‐LearnConference in Osage Beach, MO, on Friday, February 27, where winning writings will be displayed.

Missouri student winners will receive
· Gold Key, Silver Key, or Honorable Mention awards and certificates;
· Copy of The Best Teen Writing of 2008: Selected national award recipients from The Scholastic Awards of 2008;
· Recognition from Write‐to‐Learn Keynoter Chris Crutcher and an autographed copy of a
· Crutcher novel or another featured speaker’s book.
· All Missouri Region winning entries will be published online—with listings by students’ names, by teachers’ names, and by students’ schools. Missouri Gold Key winners’ work will also be judged for national awards and scholarships, with national winners honored during Scholastic’s National Celebration Events in New York in June 2009.
Email OR visit our Missouri Writing Region website at

Share this with colleagues:

---Letters to the Next President---Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future, made possiblethrough a collaboration between NWP and Google, is an online publishingproject that asks young people to develop essays and letters on topicsthey would want our next president to address. Students do their writingin Google Docs, which allows teachers and other students to collaborateon their writing and help them get it publication ready. Then, as ateacher, you have the opportunity to publish their pieces to awell-designed national website for all to read. At the end of theproject, we will deliver the student writing to Congress and make itavailable to the next President.
For more information on the project, visit the registration page at:


The Missouri Writing Projects Network (MWPN) of NWP sites has agreed to serve as a referral service for the Communication Arts section of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

We have been asked to submit a list of qualified Teacher Consultants (TCs) early this fall who are willing to

(1) Participate in item development, item review, or other MAP/End of Course development work which DESE will sponsor during 2008-2009;

and/or possibly,

(2) Work with teachers from schools in their area (This would involve approximately two school days and ongoing communication regarding a district's curriculum and practice. TCs would help to provide support for teachers in their process of improving instruction for students.).

If you would like to be included in the MWPN referral roster, send email to Dr. Keri Franklin no later than Monday, September 15. Include your name, contact information, the grade level you teach, and your area of interest.

NOTE: DESE pays travel + stipend for such work; I know a number of you already regularly serve on DESE committees/work groups, but you might want to add your name to this referral listing, too.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL PRESS RELEASE CIRCULATING -- NWP has issued a national press release highlighting the 3,000 summer institute participants who are returning to the classroom, renewed from their writing project experience. A local reporter may call your site, wanting more information about participants in your area. Consider using the press release as a template: fill in your site name, quote, and data, and send it to your local newspapers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back to School: A Reflection of Gratitude

Thursday was the first day of school for me. I was walking into lots of unknowns: new principal, two new courses, new computer system. The first day jitters were still there, and after talking to a few veteran teachers, I don't think they will ever go away. On the first day of school I usually experience a delicious combination of nerves, anxiety, and excitement that manifests itself as an urge to vomit. After the first bell rang, though, I was ready. And by Friday afternoon, the miraculous had occurred -- I was not the same teacher I was last year. My room is arranged differently, my lesson plans are altered, and even my manner of talking with my students has changed. After a couple of days of reflection, I want to express my gratitude to the Ozarks Writing Project for all of these changes. Yes, I know I will have moments of frustration and helplessness, but now I feel like I have this incredibly deep pool of resources to go to when I experience those feelings. So thanks to all of my fellow cohorts of the 2008 SI. You are all the best, and I hope your first days of school are as invigorating as mine have been.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Claymation in 60 Minutes

I found this video on my hard drive. It was created on my last day of the summer institute. I am glad I found it because I plan to use claymation this year. Thanks Jenner! Although I will spend days working on projects in my classroom, working on this video certainly was a wild sixty minutes. Anyway, I am proud of my team's video.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

MWPN retreat reflection

More notes from MWPN
Don't forget to mention that Liz wrote poetry and read an "I am from" poem, written during a writing marathon, in front of an audience of more than forty people, most of whom she did not know. I'd tell you that it was really good and that I especially liked the line about the wig on the faceless plastic head (I'm paraphrasing of course), but I can't say that; so, I'll just say, "thank you for sharing, Liz."
Also, Thomas and Larry's presentation, based on their visit to NY, examined the teaching of the holocaust and gave me goose bumps. Even those who don't teach The Chosen or Anne Frank or Night or any other text related to this topic will benefit from and should consider attending their upcoming Saturday Seminar.
I benefited also from the conversations over lunch or dinner and found myself scribbling notes in my journal for next school year.
It aways amazes me to attend this annual event...

Columbia Writing Retreat

The MWPN Leadership Retreat in Columbia, Missouri was an opportunity to network with fellows from other sites as well as have a great time writing. The retreat began Friday, July 31 and ended August 1. We started off by meeting in Townsend Hall on Columbia University Campus. After a brief introduction, box lunches from Heavenly Ham were served, and yes, Larry took pictures of us devouring the scrumptious sandwiches, pastas, and cookies. After individual sites introduced mini-grant projects represented by posters, we ended the afternoon and checked into the Holiday Inn Select.

Our evening started with a writing marathon, and I had the best time of the retreat with my group. It was such an interesting mix of people; you can see pictures of us outside Starbuck's writing on Larry's slide show he recently posted. After the Marathon, everyone met at The Pasta Factory in Downtown Columbia. They served delicious salad, pastas, and cheesecake. Thanks MWPN!! In addition to eating and introductions, we had an open mic session in which fellows from all over Missouri read. It was so encouraging, and I had an awesome time networking.

The next morning after breakfast, we broke off into work groups. The group I participated in was focusing on organizing regional writing awards through Scholastic. Katrina was designated as our sites liaison, so she will probably be contacting you about distributing some mailing information to your colleagues because our number one obstacle is money. So, Katrina is receiving a bulk of information, and we're going to work together to distribute it . Now, does that sound like fun or what?

We ended the retreat by eating pizza from Shakespeare's and summarizing the different objectives addressed in our work groups.

Thanks again to Liz for driving, and I hope everyone is writing. See you soon.

SI, NY, AI, & MWPN and another Slideshow

It has been an amazing summer! The SI, NY, AI, & MWPN. Why do I feel tired? This is my eighteenth slideshow, in case any one is counting.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


The opportunity to change the 2008 WRITING RETREAT site from Keeter Center to BIG CEDAR LODGE became available, and we made the change

...We will begin Saturday, NOVEMBER 1 at 2:00 PM, and we will end Sunday, NOVEMBER 2 at 5 PM...dinner will be provided on Saturday as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday. And all of the meals will be provided by the BIG CEDAR LODGE chefs... of all, at BIG CEDAR LODGE, we will have plenty of opportunity to develop and polish ideas for publication, and we will have plenty of spectacular views of the lake and fall folliage to inspire us!!

...only 16 spaces are reserved...applications will be placed on the OWP website soon.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me...

Wow. I just had to give it just one more look!

Project Ideas

I am still unsure what direction I would like to go in for my project. I am involving the town of Licking which is where I will be teaching, but I am still unfamiliar with the town. I think that as I come to know the town a little better, it will be easier for me to narrow in on a project idea. I do know that I am very interested in involving community projects in my classroom and am hoping this will pave the way.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prairie Lands II

Thanks for posting the pictures with me in them, Debbie! :-) Debbie did an excellent job of giving an overview of the PLWP, and I went through OWP withdrawals as we wrote in the morning. When we arrived, we also saw a demo about using artifacts to inspire stories. Sarah had WWI artifacts and a song to help students write stories from a soldier's point of view. There are many ways to use that idea in classes. We both noticed, too, the sense of community which made us miss our OWP even more. Interestingly, on the walls the fellows had pieces of paper with questions they hoped to have answered by the end of the PLWP, and the questions were many of the same things we had asked during our discussions. I also think the literary lunch idea appealed to some of them. Debbie and I joined in the discussion about assessing reading and writing. Debbie mentioned a conference about coalition schools (I think that's the name.) where they use goals and mastery instead of grades to assess students. Apparently Tom was also there. It was a great time, and Debbie's navigation skills are wonderful. She kept me in stitches with her stories. By the way, Joe, you should still bake the cookies, but write as you eat them. You never have to have a reason to eat AND write. If I don't write, I find that I miss it too. Sadly, I've been writing sans cookies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prairie Lands Writing Project

Tuesday, 7/22/08

The day began with writing.

Two fellows recapped the day before.

Reading groups discussed the night's reading assignment.

Then we were treated to a demonstration
that had us all involved, learning, and planning.

The topic?

Revision and Voice.

Sound familiar ???

A week after OWP Summer Institute ended, the familiar routine of the Prairie Lands Writing Project (PLWP) was comforting. Melissa and I were warmly welcomed into the Summer Institute at Missouri Western in St. Joseph, MO.

On Monday, 7/21, we arrived during an afternoon demonstration on Classroom Environment.

On Tuesday we joined table groups and experienced the familiar routine of Summer Institute. (I expected to look up from my writing to see the faces of 2008 OWP fellows! I miss you!!) In addition to the familiar routine, we were invited to talk about OWP. We did so with great enthusiasm before answering and asking questions. We were treated to lunch with Dr. Jane Frick, Site Director, Tom Pankiewicz, Institutes Director, Mary Lee
Meyer, Technology Liaison, and Heidi Mick, Professional
Development Director.

The differences?

PLWP is a smaller group of teachers. They include a business teacher and a FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) teacher among the Communication Arts teachers. The fellows remain in
table groups for all activities. They do not meet with different fellows for Reading Group and Writing Group. They rarely experience working lunches. The rotating daily responsibilities, in addition to snacks and minutes (daily log), include a day as a photographer and a day of choosing and explaining "The Quote of the Day." Their anthology is on CD, and all paperwork is done on templates available on the web.

Our visit to PLWP Summer Institute gave us the opportunity to experience similarities and differences. I came away with some great ideas, and I was excited to talk about our experience with summer institute.

Oh, by the way, Melissa is a great travel companion!
(Thank you for driving!)

Our thanks to PLWP for their hospitality and to Keri for the opportunity!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Checking In

I'm having a wonderful time here in sunny New York. We have been very busy with classes and trying to be a model tourists. I would invite you to take a look at some of the stuff we are doing by looking at the blog we created for our seminar. It is starting to take shape.

The World Will Know

See you soon.

Can you find me in the picture?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Still Journaling

I have found myself still writing in my journal for 25 minutes every morning. I think I am having OWP withdrawls. Maybe I should just go cook a batch of brownies.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Almost Live from New York - take 2

Hi everyone. I hope everyone is doing well. Things here are busy but great! It wouldn't be so bad if we just didn't have to go do the classroom stuff. That way, we wouldn't have to stay out so late. :) Lets see, we've been to so many places already I am having trouble keeping track of it all. The worst thing about the summer institutes I've been involved with is the goodbyes. Stay in touch and continue contributing to your blog here. If you need me, you know how to contact me. If you can't get ahold of me, I'm probably brainwashing prospective teacher consultants.

Sharolette's Action Plan 2008-2009

What is your plan of action in the fall? How will you use other demonstrations? Please list several demos that you saw that you will integrate into your classroom. This upcoming school year is an exciting opportunity for me. There are a number of things I would like to implement in my classroom; they include Elise and Cathy’s Grammar Writing, Katrina’s Monster Writing, Keller’s Knots on a Rope, and I want to expand and develop a lesson working with Slam Poetry.
What’s your plan for your own writing? I want to continue to write for myself. I hope to use my new experiences and my interaction with my students at Carl Junction as inspiration. I have found writing to be very therapeutic and a means of pooling my thoughts.
How will your classroom look differently daily? Weekly? Monthly? In my Reading classroom, I will incorporate daily writing journals at the start of the class. Then move into reading strategies and assignments. Students will have weekly small reading/writing groups and will write monthly reflection papers related to their experiences in the classroom.
Discuss the process of creating your demo and what you discovered through that process. How will you incorporate your demo in the fall? Creating my demo involved a lot of research reading and although I did not incorporate all of the threads of the unit I created due to time constraints, I will utilize them in my classroom. The threads of the unit will lead to future demos.
What kinds of student writing samples can you collect? There are numerous writing samples that I will collect throughout the year including poetry, journal writing, letters, essays, and reflections.
How has your writing project experience affected your plan? The writing project has helped me develop the reading program I will be implementing for ninth grade at Carl Junction. It has given me the confidence to approach the administration with the ideas, plan, and supporting research for the reading program.
Based on our brief conversations and your new knowledge of OWP programs, what areas interest you? Who would you nominate for certain areas? There are so many OWP programs that I find interesting. I was fascinated with the youth writing project at Carthage and would love the opportunity to help with that program. I would also like to develop my demo skills and possibly present at another school district or Write to Learn. Research and publishing is an interest I have too. I would nominate Cathy, Deb, Dana, Elise, and Katrina for demo presentations.


My plan of action for Writing I in the fall is to implement “Writing Territories” and “Monsters in Your Closet.” For Writing II I plan on utilizing the reading process and reading strategies to complement a section on Reader Response theory. For both classes I will be using “Writing Groups: Freewriting Drafting and Responding.” Parts of other work may appear in these classes.
My plan for my own writing is to continue freewriting 30 minutes every day, and to dedicate four hours a day to writing for the rest of the summer.
I do not know how my classes will look differently.
For my demo I had to revisit the research. This was very beneficial for me as it allowed me to reassess why I utilize workshops. Actually, this question had been working in my mind for several months when a lead instructor made the comment to me that workshops were not valuable because students did not know enough to teach one another. My reaction at the time was to think that this person did not understand the significance of workshopping. My goal then was to establish how workshopping creates communities. I knew it did, but I was not prepared to present an academic argument. Now I am better prepared. As far as incorporating my demo, I am going to expand this to cover revision as well as first drafts.
I can collect their about my writing samples and their peer review sheets.
I picked up hints on how other instructors do peer reviewing and, from experience, collaborative work.
I expect to use “Writing Territories,””Monsters,” parts of “Writing Groups,” “Grammar,” and “Image Grammar.” However, there were many good demos, and I plan on going over them again to see what other things I might use.
I want to be involved in Rural Voices Radio.

Michelle's Action Plan

What’s your plan for your own writing?

I will use my journals to find writing territories and develop pieces to share with various audiences.

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

As I begin the school year, I will implement Casey's "I AM" poem, Author's Chair with "bless, press, and address" will be a weekly activity (from Keri), writing territories including topics, genres, and audiences with a quarterly review (from Kim), then some of the projects and demos I plan to incorporate into classroom activities include:stories of our lives from Melissa, Discovery of Personal Identity Multi-genre from Dana--use the whole thing, circular and peer dialogue journals from Genesis, Divergent Thinking from Faith--I will have students write as a new character point of view,Conscious Grammar from Elise--I will have students examine how the patterns used in writing can affect meaning, from Jenner I want to have students use clay mation to analyze a poem--have to check on technology, from Chris I will use parallel poetry and have students use models for their own poems as a jumping off spot in my poetry unit.

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

Creating my demo began with a huge decision making process. I have three different projects that I love and have great success with in the classroom. I picked the one that is the most fun and fellows can have a complete sample after my demo. I appreciated the interaction in collaborative groups and believe colleagues can adapt for their classrooms.

What kinds of student writing samples can you collect? I AM poems, Story of our lives finished product, Personal Discovery poster,Mapping our lives poster,stories created for their community piece w/index cards then pictures.
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. Divergent thinking,Moving beyond surface content in poetry, episodic fiction, and stories of our lives.

Based on our brief conversations and your new knowledge of OWP programs, what areas interest you? Write to Learn conference and Fall Renewal.Advanced Institute and NWP opportunities. Who would you nominate for certain areas? Write to Learn conference--Dana, Joshua, Chris, and Rachel.

Action Plan 2008

OWP fellows, thank you all for an incredible experience and the plethora of ideas I will take back to my classroom this year!

My plan of action was hard to create. I plan to use so many of the new activities you all have taught me that I couldn't fit them onto the little chart Casey gave us! For the fall, however, I plan to implement a book pass at the beginning of the quarter that will help my students pick their first quarter book. From this I hope they will pick a book because they are interested in it, not just because it's short or it has a pretty cover. I also plan to implement free writing and writing response groups into my weekly lesson plan. Melissa gave me great encouragement to teach content Monday-Wednesday, then meet with writing groups Thursday, and Freewrite Friday, along with any other activities that need to be wrapped up. I think the students will enjoy the fact that I'm only teaching content three days a week. I also want to use a modified activity from Jenner's claymation demo and have each group of students respond to one stanza of the same poem, then take a picture. I'll collect all the pictures and we'll create a storyboard for the poem and respond in writing to that poem. Also, I plan to implement paper wad blogging to respond to various short stories and poems we will read in the first couple of months of class. Thank you, Genesis!

I plan to continue writing as much as possible. I would like to finish the memoir I started in Kim's demo and give it to my mom. I would also like to continue working on my professional piece and seek publication for it. Also, I want to write with my students and complete as many of the projects that I assign my students as I can.

My classroom will look completely different after this experience. I have already mentioned the change in my weekly teaching plans. Also, the students will be working together more and creating stronger bonds with their fellow students. The writing response groups will work perfectly with the cooperative learning that I have been trying for the last couple of years. I hope that my students will enjoy class more and laugh more. Maybe they'll cry, too. :) I plan to share my writing with them from this institute and what I will continue to write.

I can collect the paper wad blogs, the pictures from the clay project, and pictures and student reflections on other various activities I will use in class. I would also like to collect the students' favorite pieces of writing from their freewriting notebooks to share with you.

Other demonstrations I will use are: well, all of them! No, seriously, I have marked at least one activity from every demo that I want to use this year in one way or another. I plan to have the students write a memoir, create their writing territories, write episodic fiction, and I also plan to use Image Grammar and Conscious grammar monthly.

I was inspired by Liz's discussion of creating a program to improve her learning community. I would love to implement a support system for my school district to improve writing across the curriculum. I would like to involve my department to serve as ambassadors for writing and each member visit a different department during our PLC to support and encourage every department to use writing to improve student learning.

I think Joshua would be great to help with the publishing and technology part of the OWP. Kathy, Sharolette, Debbie, and Michelle would be wonderful coaches for future fellows. Jenner, Genesis, and Melissa would do an awesome job presenting at future conferences. Stacy, I encourage you to create a writing center at your school! You will do a great job convincing your administration and staff that it is an essential program to improve writing in your school!

I hope everyone has a great school year and I can't wait to see you all in the fall!

Troxell's Action Plan 2008

Okay, I'm having a memory loss of sorts, so I have to use Casey's sign-in. :-)

As I wrote to my small writing group, I plan to write everyday at the end of the school day. The first thirty minutes after the bell rings will be mine to reflect on the day. Last year my principal wanted us to keep a reflective journal, writing in it once a week; however, most people forgot. You'd end up writing four or five entries at once. Not only will I reflect, but I will use that time to write what I want to write. Sharing my writing with my students to model, show them I write too, help create a writing community is important. Writing, writing, and more writing with my students will be shared, shared, shared.

My plan in action is to use all of these demonstrations. I have to sort through the demos I will do with my department grade level groups to inspire them. For example writing territories will be in every binder for my students and hopefully for our students as a department. Dana's and Michelle's demonstrations will probably be passed on to the freshmen teachers because they really focus on those skills then, and I shouldn't be selfish, keeping these great ideas to myself. Rachel's, Katrina's,part of Casey's (the stories for the t/f test) will be shown to the Applied Communications teacher to help those students. For my classroom, I'll remember what I learned from Keri the first time- having small writing groups and author's chair to begin and add more explicit teaching of peer review, conference and edit. Debra's demo, especially the book, The Cube will be sprinkled liberally throughout the year until I get my film and lit class, and Elise's examples will be great to show my older students the power of manipulating grammar. I'll use Genesis's and Sarah's ideas with the whole department. There are so many ideas that I wanted to keep, but again, I can't be selfish. If your name was not mentioned here, never fear, I just haven't decided where your demo will be used yet. :-)
Before school starts, I will organize my writer's workshop notebook to include the things I'll keep for myself. Building a community of writers and small writing groups is the primary focus. For the fall renewal I'll probably bring Image Grammar examples from student writing, writing territories examples, and stories as Faith had us do. That's just the beginning!!
Creating my demo, which I'll have to do in the spring, made me so much more reflective about the actual practice that it will be so much better. I am inspired to do that for my other writing assignments and units of study.

I have an idea about a writing camp/project for secondary students because I just love the little stinkers. I also have an idea to do that for struggling writers coming in from 9th grade to help boost them before they start high school. I'm also really interested in community writing. I'm thinking of presenting my demo at Write to Learn. Hmmm.... Nominations: For best phrase.... Oh, it's not that kind of nomination. Debra would be a fabulous recruiter. Everyone here has so many talents, but I'm not sure where to place them.

This has been a fabulous experience. Thanks to everyone for inspiring me to be a better teacher and a better writer. I look forward to seeing you all in the fall.

Action Plan

I have learned so much during my time at OWP and there is so much I am going to use in my classroom and continue to apply to my own writing. My goal for next year is simply to incorporate as much writing as possible into my curriculum and my own life.
I want my all of my students to keep a journal and write in this journal for about 10 minutes, hopefully, everyday. My plan is to have portfolio assignments every grading period in which students will pick one or two things they wrote to workshop and turn into me. I would like to use some type of blog weekly or bi-weekly based on computer access.
I learned a lot about writing when I was putting together my demo. I did a lot of research about the benefits of personal writing in the classroom and how this type of writing can help students academically. I plan to encourage my students to use their own personal experiences as inspiration for their writing, but then give them the opportunity to branch away from that.
I plan to incorporate "writing territories" from Kim's demo very early in the year and then encourage my classes to use this to write their journal entries. I also really liked the idea of using historical fiction for research writing, collaborative writing from Genesis's demo, and the pre-writing activities from Stacey's demo.
I liked what Chris suggested about mimic poetry and I also really liked Joshua's episodic fiction idea. It is really hard to list everything I liked because every one's demo was so incredibly useful and I plan to incorporate some aspect of most of the demos into my classroom.
The OWP has had such a profound effect on what I plan to do next year. I feel that it has already had such a positive influence on who I want to be as a teacher. I have a new understanding and appreciation of what writing should look like in the classroom.
Thanks OWP!

Action Plan 2008

I have many plans for this fall. I will be teaching 7th grade reading, 8th grade communication arts, and 9th grade language arts I.
On a daily basis I plan to have my students participating in some sort of writing activity such as journaling.
-take more ownership in their writing.
-and tell them that they are writers.

On a weekly basis I plan to have my students participate in writing workshop.
-emphasize the reading/writing connection.
-add to a writing portfolio.
-participate in peer conferencing.

On a monthly basis I plan to have my students participate in writing conferences with myself.
On a quarterly basis I plan to have my students participate in a writing marathon.
-have students evaluate their own progress and reflect.

My classroom will look like it isn't a classroom. Ultimately, I will be a facilitator to learning rather than a "teacher." Students will be collaborating and learning from me as well as one another. If I can learn so much from them, then they should be able to learn from each other as well.
My demo is very close to my heart. I adapted it from a demonstration I saw at the literacy academy. I went back to my classroom and made my changes and used it will my students. It was the best thing we did all year. It brought us together and made my students see they could be writers. I will definitely use it again this year.
I would like to keep a writing portfolio for my students writing at all stages. This way, my students will be able to look back and reflect. I will be using something from each person's demo in my classroom. I have worked with really great teachers so I figure their best lessons will be great in my class, too.

Action Plan

What is your plan of action in the fall?
I plan on utilizing part of my summer break to revise demonstration ideas to better fit my specific teaching assignment, so when school starts in the fall, I'll be prepared with many creative ideas for my students.

What’s your plan for your own writing?
I plan on writing at least one hour a day including journal time with my students. If possible, I want to contact other fellows and ask for feedback on new writing samples and meet additional fellows by attending conferences and developing more demo ideas.

How will your classroom look differently daily? Weekly? Monthly?
My classroom will have a more creative atmosphere. I'm armed with many more artistic ideas than ever before, and I think the work I post from my students will reflect that.

Discuss the process of creating your demo and what you discovered through that process.
My demo was based off a lesson I did using I Heard the Owl Call My Name. I had creative writing samples from the students and had utilizes index cards throughout the year, so I was very comfortable with organizing them on charts in front of a group.

My colleague, John, helped me find research for my demo and introduced me to a study about divergent thinking. I also included research regarding teaching "wounded students" and the importance of implementing various response techniques to literature with students.

After researching the ideas I had already implemented with my students, I thought of generalizing the index card technique which worked really well during my demo.

How will you incorporate your demo in the fall?
By utilizing my summer break to revise demonstration ideas to fit my site and students population, I will incorporate many of the fellows' ideas.

What kinds of student writing samples can you collect?
Poster samples, Journal, Response to Lit., Vocab. Development.
How has your writing project experience affected your plan?
My project experience was broadened my knowledge of curriculum ideas and provided a network for additional communication.
How will you use other demonstrations?
I will use other demonstration to develop my own and teach students writing.
Please list several demos that you saw that you will integrate into your classroom.
Ways to Build Community. Looking Over the Edge: Figurative Language. Writing Territories. Discovering Personal Identity. Mapping Our Lives. Film Production. Conscious Grammar. Brush Strokes. Pre-Writing. Moving Beyond Context of Poetry. Episodic Fiction. Monsters in the Closet
Based on our brief conversations and your new knowledge of OWP programs, what areas interest you? Who would you nominate for certain areas?
Areas that interest me include opportunities to broaden my network and develop my writing skills. I would nominate any fellow for any area they feel led to pursue.

Fall Action Plan

My plan of action for the fall is to implement Writer's Workshop in my English III classes. I plan to incorporate ideas from most of the demos - grammar, writing territories, oral history, etc.

I plan to use Writer's Workshop two days a week to begin the year. At this point I plan to rearrange desks for the workshop days so that the students will know the environment is different. I plan to change the workshop days/week depending on the unit of study, i.e. during research papers, we'll probably have only workshop days in the classroom interspersed with library days.

The process of developing my demo involved finding research to support ideas already incorporated into the daily routine of my Literature and Film class and adding more conscious instruction in media literacy. I developed the class based on advice from other teachers and my own research and experience in using film in the classroom. In reading for the demo, I discovered that more attention to teaching media literacy was necessary. I will make those modifications in the fall.

I will collect student writing samples from our first day free write, from the first grammar lesson in Writer's Workshop, from the first essays, and from book reviews before our Fall Renewal. During the year, I plan to collect poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, and research papers.

The writing project experience has turned my black and white vision into one with vivid colors. The curriculum will be much more exciting for my students and for me with the strategies I've learned this month.

I will implement Image Grammar and Conscious Grammar immediately in Writer's Workshop. I intend to have students record Writing Territories as a beginning for journaling. I will also incorporate Oral Histories as a community-builder toward the beginning of the semester. Honestly, I plan to use something from every demo during the coming year.

Based on the knowledge I have of OWP, I think I would be interested in sharing what I've learned with other teachers. I would enjoy demonstrating the impact of OWP and facilitating change in the classroom.

I hesitate to nominate other fellows for certain areas. I have learned from every one of the other 19 fellows. I see amazing strengths in each one, and I believe that each one should speak to his/her own passion.

Action Plan

What is your plan of action in the fall?
I will not be teaching this fall as I will continue with my graduate assistantship and course work at MSU. My plan is to keep the information from the summer institute current in my mind so that when I do return to the classroom, I can access and implement many of the great demo ideas. I can do this by being as participatory as possible with the writing project activities. Part of my job and studies at MSU is research. I plan on using the demo ideas as beginning places to develop and write about current best practices in the field of reading and writing.

What’s your plan for your own writing?
Plans for my own writing involve daily writing in my journal as a reflective practice. I also plan to continue writing about the reseach that I do in the field of Reading and English Education. I will be writing an extensive degree paper, and that will be a major focus for the upcoming year.

How will your classroom look differently daily? Weekly? Monthly?
When I do return to the classroom, my classes in high school English will have a focus on some type of daily reading, writing, and sharing. Daily writing may include practices such as journaling, entrance and exit slips, freewrites, and lists. I believe that students should have some form of reading everyday. This reading may include independent reading, teacher read aloud, partner reading, reader's theatre, and choral reading. Sharing will take the form of whole class, partner, performance, and small group collaborative activities.

On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, having students meet in small writing groups will be a part of my classroom. The idea of reformulation and multiple drafts will be emphasized. One area I want to explore is that of the writing and reading workshop approach. This might be something that my class will work with and meet as groups twice a week.

Discuss the process of creating your demo and what you discovered through that process. How will you incorporate your demo in the fall?
I found having a demo modeled prior to the development of my demo extremely helpful. One of the prompts during that modeling was to take note of the process of the demo. This was helpful. I accessed articles and books from the university library, and my coach provided me a book where I found activity ideas for my demo. I read these materials and sketched out a plan for the presentation. I discovered in this process that having a plan was most beneficial. I created a time line for the activities, and this was useful when I was presenting. When I return to the classroom, I will present my demo in a series of mini-lessons to my class at the beginning of the year. That way, students can work with the ideas of image grammar and incorporate the skills into their writing. These can be reviewed as often as necessary.

What kinds of student writing samples can you collect?
Since I will not be teaching in a classroom, the samples that I will have will be my own. I hope to have drafts and reformulations of my personal writing and of professional article drafts.

How has your writing project experience affected your plan?
The writing project has convinced me that writing is a way for learning. The more writing activities and writing projects that I can include in my lesson and unit plans will help students learn.

How will you use other demonstrations? Please list several demos that you saw that you will integrate into your classroom. Based on our brief conversations and your new knowledge of OWP programs, what areas interest you? Who would you nominate for certain areas?
I found the demos that had to do with identity and critical thinking to be the most intriguing and current for students. Any of the reading-writing connection ideas that have to do with students making connections such as with text to text, text to self, and text to world. I foresee selecting specific activities from demos such as writing territories, identi-kits, multi-genre, responding to non-print texts, photographs and other media connections to text, film analysis, etc, and adapting these to the specific curriculum I may someday teach.

I nominate Michelle K. for future presentations of her demo at a conference. Her idea was interactive, used media, and required a stretch for creativity. Very hands on but much thinking was required. I also found Dana C. demonstration about how we see ourselves and how others see us as useful, and her multi-genre approach was excellent.

Action Plan

Most of my post was lost due to an error once I tried to post. I will revist this at a later time. I recommend typing it in a word document and then trying to copy to the blog. (my two cents ;)

One of my goals includes theme writing. I plan to incorporate Friday's into the weekly schedule as a day only for writing. Most Fridays I plan to tie the writing into the literature we read, but also plan to leave Fridays open for freewriting, personal writing, and writing for author's chair. I will also use Fridays to include multi-genre writing, so students will not be writing a poem every Friday or a narrative every Friday. In the past I have taken a specific day of the week to maintain a consistant activity of some sort and students seem to enjoy the consistancy and the "break" from the "normal" routine. I feel Friday can be a springboard for other institute activities such as Image Grammar, circular journaling, life map, etc. And these activities could be tied to a character in literature-create their life map, etc.

September Renewal

This fall I will be implementing many techniques I have learned over the last four weeks. To begin the year and develop community within my classroom, I will be using lessons from Casey's demonstration on developing community. I loved the true/false questionaire and feel that this is a great way for my students to get to know me and for me to get to know them. I will be using Genesis's paper wadding activity to "blog" in the classroom. This will be a great way to discuss literature. I loved Jenner's claymation activity, I think this would be great with a poetry unit. I plan on have students get into groups, choose a poem, and then great a clay display. I am thinking that they will take pictures of their clay, and put them on a display board. I feel that this is a great way to connect to poetry.

As for writing and my writing groups, I will be taking what Joe gave us on peer response groups. This will be a great way for students to respond to the writing of their peers, and for them to critically think about their writing. This will fit right in with Kim's demo on writing territories. I know that I will have my students writing everyday, and for them to have something to write about will be great, especially since it will be self generated.

I am going to work on being a facilitator this year. I want my students to use me as a resource in their learning. I want them to take responsibility for their learning and I don't want to have to hand feed them everything they will learn. I am going to do this by modeling strategies that I have learned at the writing project this summer and then putting them in charge of themselves within their writing communities. I will be collecting student samples from all of the strategies, techniques and lessons I implement.

This summer has really changed my attitude towards writing. I never noticed how I never write. I am excited to write with my students. To share my writing with my students and for my students to understand that writing is their way to connect to everything! I am excited to write more and to have my students writing everyday.

I am interested in learning more about using technology in the classroom. I would love to be able to connect to my student's technologically advanced lives. I want to make reading and writing a wonderful experience for them. I think connecting to them with technology will be one way to achieve that goal. I am also interested in learning more about teaching grammar and poetry. I feel that these are two of my weakest areas as a teacher, and I would love to feel better about my abilities when trying to teach grammar and poetry to my students.

The OWP has been the most wonderful experience I have had with professional development. I will be using everything that was presented to us this summer immediately. I am actually excited for school to start so I can take all of the wonderful ideas I have back to my students. This is going to be a great year, and I can thank the OWP for that. I hope that my excitement about the program rubs off on my co-workers and they join the program next summer.

Sarah Tate

September Renewal

What is your plan of action in the fall? I am going to be outside of my comfort zone-- and that's good! I'll be student teaching at an area high school, so I can try all kinds of activities / strategies I've learned during the OWP Summer Institute on a new age group / skill level of learners. I may teach college, too. With the approval of my mentoring high school teacher, I want to have daily writing, small writing groups, reading groups, and I want to explore activities connecting print literacy to visual and technological literacy. I also intend to use general approaches such as I observed with writing territories, and also more specific lesson ideas such as with the "Monsters in the Closet" demonstration. If I teach college this fall, or the next time I do, I want to try new ways of approaching poetry composition, such as using ekphrasis as a prompt, responding to film, and using writing territories. I would also like to implement daily writing there.

What’s your plan for your own writing? I journal regularly already, but I don't review what I've written, or only rarely. I think I need to amp things up and have another tier of daily writing, where I'm polishing pieces, and I also want to develop a submission / publishing plan. I've built a nice rapport with my small writing group, and we're planning to correspond.

How will your classroom look differently daily? Weekly? Monthly? It will be new. It's reborn. At the college level, I have many new ideas to try alongside strategies I use already.

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? I discovered that technology has the good qualities of imparting transferrable work skills, and building social skills, as well as allowing for variety of response to text. Technology does have the drawback of not always being dependable, and not feasible financially for most districts. I will collect samples when I use technology in the classroom. I would adapt an ekphrastic poetry demonstration from the demonstration I did this summer, to be practical. If there are resources where I go, I would love to give students the stopmotion option this fall.

How has your writing project experience affected your plan? It has given me so much good information, and a human resource in my great fellows.

How will you use other demonstrations? My binder is dear to me-- I'll keep it closer than a brother. I will need page protectors before long. I'm a nerd, but that's not the sole reason; it's because I'll wear the pages out with flipping through them.

Please list several demos that you saw that you will integrate into your classroom. Memoir/writing territories, monsters in the closet, roadmaps, paper-blogging, film-response, film creation . . . I could go on. And on.

Based on our brief conversations and your new knowledge of OWP programs, what areas interest you? I am interested in technology in the classroom, poetry, the graphic-print connection, professional development, as well as helping my colleagues at the college-level.

Who would you nominate for certain areas? Tough one. I can see Chris, Michelle, Rachel, Katrina, Dana, Kim, and Faith in poetry . . . Joe and Melissa in creative nonfiction and fiction . . . Sarah, Genesis, and Josh in technology . . . Elise, Debbie, Stacey, Sharolette, and Kathy in Professional Development.


With my involvement in the OWP, I have undergone a terrific change. Before this program, I was stuck in my ways, stuck in my thinking. I had only been teaching for two years, but I knew what the students needed, and I thought that what I did in the classroom was the best way to meet those needs. Yet, as I became a student in the OWP, listening to and learning from so many different teachers, I sympathized with my students. I realized that while I might be a 'good' teacher, that I could improve so very much. I realized that while I could 'do' my job, that I could enjoy my job. I realized that while my students could 'do' their work, that they could enjoy their work. I realized that there was hope.

I know that in this post I am to answer a series of questions that range from 'What is the plan for your own writing?' to 'How did you develop your demonstration?' I could, and probably should, comply with the request to answer each of the questions posed to me. However, I think it would suffice to say that the Ozarks Writing Project - not the project itself but the individuals involved - has revolutionized my thinking on teaching. I am positive that had I not come, I would have faced another year of frustration, another year of threatening to leave the profession. So I am grateful to everyone who has been a part of the last four weeks. You have, in no uncertain terms, saved me, a teacher.

Now that I've said what I had to say, perhaps I should set myself to answering these blasted questions. My action plan is simple: implement as much as I can from the demonstration as often as I can. In truth, there is something from each of the demos. that I can include in my teaching, and I am sure that me and my students will be better for it. There are two overarching ideas, however, that I will most definitely institute: writer's workshop and small writing groups. Writer's workshop, although it may be difficult to begin, I believe will add so much to the way in which I teach writing. On those days in which we workshop, I finally have a forum that I understand in which I can teach mini-lessons. Additionally, I loved my small writing group, and I want to be able to establish a similar type of community for my students.

Finally, the OWP has shown me that I have something valid to say as a writer. Before reading my work aloud to variety of people, I struggled mightily with insecurity. Would anyone want to hear my writing? What would they say? Would they like it? Yet, what I found during the last four weeks was that somewhere in me is a powerful voice and that people want to listen to that voice. Thus, I have set for myself a goal: I want to write a novel. Ambitious, I know, but those involved with the OWP have given me the courage to do so.

So, once again, I am left in awe of all those who I know consider my fellows. You have, in many ways, saved me.

Thank you so much,