Saturday, January 26, 2008

St. Louis and Beyond

Greetings all! A new semester, a new . . .

Hayley, it was great seeing you at Panera's. Then, the next day, I saw Michael and Julia at Target. We all three discussed whether being in Target at 9:30 in the morning or being home cleaning house was the more worthwhile endeavor. I still have not decided.

Liz, congrats on your first successful Teacher Consultant gig. I thought of your demonstration last Thursday. I had assigned my students to have in hand, for the Tuesday before, their copy of Coming of Age in Mississippi. We are just beginning this autobiography. Well, we did not have school on Tuesday. And as my original instructions did not include Thursday, guess what. The upshot was that too many did not have a copy of their books. One suggested that I read aloud. And I did. Imagine a classroom of nineteen teenagers, fifteen of them male, four or five of them well over six feet and 200 pounds, sprawled quietly on the floor listening to Anne Moody's words that recount her earliest memories. A really cool experience for all of us. When another class protested that they had not been read to, I told them that when we start part two I will read to them also.

I also used the collaborative poem this week, in two different classes. One group, AP juniors, is studying poetry (Laura, I have incorporated some of the info you gave us this summer into their readings/understandings of the poems). The other group, AP seniors, will begin their multigenre projects soon, so I am introducing them to the idea, squeezing their creative juices. Both classes really enjoyed the exercise. My having to reformulate on a white board with dry erase markers is a bit of a stretch, but hey! I'm plucky!

Larry and I attended the NWP scoring conference in St. Louis. Quite an interesting two days. I am pretty sure that my experience in scoring student essays grew, but I am absolutely certain that my waist line grew even more!!! Larry was not even sure, at one point, that he would be able to eat dinner. Good thing he decided he could squeeze a bit more in as the meal was delicious (Oscar's Cafe by UMSL for anyone going to St. Louis).

The scoring scale we used was based somewhat on the 6 +1 writing traits model. But NWP has decided that this particular model is too reader based and fails to adequately address and thus assist the student writer within her or his process or product. So, NWP reformulated the six traits. As I have never used the original, I could not distinguish a difference. I did like the calibrations. And I did like the reading and scoring, first holistically and then analytically -- trait by trait. Sometimes the two meshed; other times they did not.

Our brains, Larry's and mine and those of the twenty three other teachers present, underwent calibration (NWP's term, not mine) on Friday and recalibration on Sat. a.m. Then we read middle schools essays from 9:00 to 1:30. A very unique experience for me as I am not a middle school teacher. But the NWP scale is very specific. I just had to, on occasion, remind myself that these writers were not high school or beyond. I did enjoy reading the essays -- most of them anyway. Reading the thoughts of these young writers was, in many ways, awesome. Thomas, I can see why you like teaching this age group (although I won't be joining you any time soon. I do not have the patience -- or energy.).

Well, I need to scoot along here. Hope all goes well for everyone. Look forward to seeing those of you who plan on attending the open house. If I remember, I'll bring some of my collaborative poems.

Have a great one (whatever that ONE might be), Susan

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ozarks Writing Project Winter Newsletter

I just wanted to take the time to say how much I enjoyed reading the Ozarks Writing Project Winter Newsletter. Kudos to those who put it together! It looks fantastic! It feels really nice to be able to read about about a bunch of happenin' people that I feel connected to. The thing I appreciate the most about the newsletter is how it helped me see somewhat, the bigger picture of how huge this NWP business really is. I followed some of the links and it began to dawn on me the opportunities to professionally develop seem limitless.

I ran into Thomas tonight at a class where we write our final seminar papers for our master's degrees. It turns out both of us have applied for a two week seminar on Holocaust education at Columbia University taking place this summer. It would be a blast to attend that event together. I can imagine Thomas and I coming back and doing a presentation together. He could cover role-playing journaling, and I could present multigenre projects. Oops! I'm getting ahead myself. We need to get accepted first. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thanks again for the outstanding newsletter.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Youth Camp for Summer

Hi All,

In response to the email that I sent, and just in case I missed someone on the mailing list, here is the information about BEAR CAMP offered by MSU this summer.

Missouri State is once again offering Bear Camp for K-9 students this summer and is looking for quality instructors like the OWP fellows.

FREEDOM…you pick the topic of the class. Bear Camp is looking for “Innovative, interesting and educational programs.”

FLEXIBLE…you pick the times, and you pick the weeks. 9:15-11:00 or 12:30 to 2:15. There are several different weeks to choose from. You pick the grade level as well.

MONEY…$200.00 for teaching one class for a week, $400.00 for teaching two classes for a week.

DEADLINE…Febrary 15th.

MORE INFO?…see the Missouri State webpage:

If you plan to apply, please let me know. I would like to count this on the OWP's attempts to collaborate with the university. Also, if you need anything (Someone to bounce ideas off of, a brainstorming partner, or any other help) please let me know!!

Laura Burdette