Putting a Bullet in the Five Paragraph Essay

There's a great essay in this month's English Journal titled "The Five-Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education." In it UNC Charlotte WP representatives attack a 2007 column by Byung-In Seo defending this form. The article is a very interesting read, and the UNC WP pretty much crush Seo's article and any argument for formulaic writing.

I agree with the points in the article, but I still have a practical question. If not the five paragraph essay, then what? In the past, I have taught my kids that kind of thesis, restricted thesis, at least three body paragraph format because it seems like a good place to start to get students to at least flesh out that much (I know, deficit model). Then again, I've rarely been satisfied with the writing that comes out of assignments like the critical lens essay, controlling idea, etc. I think that most of us know how painful it is to score Regents exams (at least it was in the BPS), where only the top 10% are coherent and even less are original. Don't even get me started on the Task II essays (the factual reading).

So, I guess my question is, what is the alternative? Has anyone had success teaching essays* in any other format? What do you do?

* not personal essays, obviously, which lend themselves to more authentic organization.
** I'd put up a link to the essay, but you have to subscribe to EJ. If you do not, but would like to have a read, shoot me an email at malleyjoel@yahoo.com.


NWP/NCTE, San Antonio, TX

The WNYWP traveled down to San Antonio last week to attend the annual conventions of the National Writing Project and the National Council of Teachers of English. We had a wonderful time in a great city. To kick things off, we had a working dinner at The County Line, a restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk. The food was delicious, we shared thoughts and wrote to a writing prompt on a communal napkin (even though Jon Federick mistunderstood the assignment, as usual), and planned for our presentations the next day.

I didn't personally see much of the city outside of the Riverwalk, but I'm sure we'll hear plenty about San Antonio and see plenty of pictures at our open meeting Wednesday, December 10th at 4:30.

Our presentation went rather well, as we shared information about our use of technology within our site. Jon, Genevieve, Suzanne and I shared insights about digital video, blogging and our Red Carpet Inquiry. Thirty or so people piled into our room to check out our experiences, including NWP tech liaison coordinator Paul Oh and a representative from Google.


UB Anderson Gallery: Michael Goldberg

Well, I've been on post NCTE/NWP information overload for the past week and haven't had an opportunity to share. We recently received word from the UB's Anderson Gallery about a writing program they are offering. Here are the details:

The art of abstract expressionist painter Michael Goldberg is now on view at the University at Buffalo Anderson Gallery through January 18th, 2009.

The “Ode to Michael Goldberg: Selective Thievery and the Practice of Looking” exhibition consists of paintings and drawings on loan from the artist’s estate, Knoedler Gallery in New York City and seminal paintings in the university’s collection. The work in this exhibition traces the artist’s career from the early 1940s through the 1980s. Also highlighted in this exhibition are Goldberg’s art and poetry collaborations with poet Frank O’Hara.

A 28-minute long video “Bowery Studio Days” (1998-2000) that includes footage of Goldberg in the process of creating paintings in his studio, along with one-on-one interviews, is available for viewing in the gallery’s exhibition space. As a member of the influential New York School in the 1950s and 1960s, the artist drew influence from first generation abstract expressionist painters Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still and Franz Kline. Goldberg believed that art-making requires an engagement on the part of the artist with other works of art, both historical and contemporary. He stated simply, “art comes out of art.”

K-12 Teachers are invited to schedule exhibition tours for their students between December 8th 2008 and January 18th 2009. Available also for students are art activities based on Goldberg’s art, art making processes and collaborations with O’Hara. The activities are designed to address NYS Learning Standards and can be customized and included as tour-related follow-up sessions. To schedule a tour, discuss transportation options, or for further information, contact education curator Ginny Lohr at UB Anderson Gallery, 829-3754 or Email: ginny@andersongallery.org.


Tom O'Malley Published!

Our original Fellow, Tom O'Malley, is once more leading the way for us with his publications.
This time in conjunction with the opening of the new Burchfield Penny Gallery at Buffalo State College, Tom reflects on the importance of Burchfield's works.


Contemporary Writer Series

Long time fellow Debbie Beis sent this heads up about the last of Mich Cochrane's Contemporary Writer Series:
The "Contemprary Writers Series" is ten years old this year, and Mick Cochrane is to be congratulated on bringing so many fine authors to Canisius, with no cost to the public. At Ann Patchett's presentation, there were two groups of high school students in attendance, who had all read her newest novel,RUN. So other HS teachers should think of assigning a novel of a upcoming speaker, and reserving seats for your students to hear the author speak of his/her work. Not only do the authors read from their books, but they also share what they know of the craft of writing.
Uwem Akpan's SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM is his first book, and hs scoffed when someone in the audience asked him how he dealt with "fame." Maybe I shouldn't say "scoffed," because he actually giggled at the suggestion that he might be famous. He was delightful!

Ann Patchett
was very witty - one can tell that her command of language extends beyond the written word. She was easy to listen to, and she signed books for a very long time, long after the delectable desserts were just memories.
Mick has arranged for one more author to come this year, Rishi Reddi, who speak on Thursday, November 13, at 7:00 pm.
If you have the chance, check out Rishi Redd at Canisius on the above date. Thanks Debbie!


House on Mango Street Project

I think this is a good place to share writing ideas and projects that were successful. In that vein (am I using the right vein? Vain? Anyways...), my students are finishing reading The House on Mango Street. As part of the project, they wrote vignettes in some way related to their neighborhood or to themes in the novella. They composed their vignettes using Google Docs, shared them with me and their peers for editing/revision purposes, and ultimately "published" their pieces into web pages.

After they published their pieces (and thus creating individual URL's for their stories), we created a collaborative Google Map, plotted the location for each Vignette, and then hyperlinked our vignettes. Now you can scan the map, click on a push pin, and read student stories related to the novel. Next week we're going to discuss our collection much as we did Cisneros' book.

View Larger Map

Lisa Mangione in My View

Lisa Mangione, 2003 fellow (and my writing group sister), was published this morning in The Buffalo News' My View section. Take a look at her essay "It's tough to part ways with a good mechanic." Here's a snippet:

My mechanic broke up with me. Then again, I did cheat on him. After 10 years of fidelity I started to stray, despite the fact that the garage was convenient, the mechanic and his employees were honest, friendly and reliable and the service was solid.

So why did I stray? I believe the adage “you get what you pay for” is a theorem bordering on fact: I paid a premium for such service.


Generation We

Check out this great video about millenials.

Generation WE: The Movement Begins... from Generation We on Vimeo.


Book Club News

The WNYWP book club met for its first meeting at Dog Ears Bookstore on October 28th. Our group discussed Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. A lively bunch, our discussion topics ranged from fishing, drinking and the power women hold over men. The bookstore and literary arts center (www.enlightenthedog.org) is a new non-profit organization that hopes to host more WNYWP events. Our next meeting, which will be held in January, will focus on a discussion of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. Please grab a copy and start reading so you can join us this winter.


Nicholas Carr on NPR

Listen to Nicholas Carr defend his position about the Internet on this thought provoking NPR podcast.


Is Google Making Us Stupid?

How do you spend your reading time - Dickens or the internet? On a grey Buffalo winter day, do you settle in with a lengthy Russian novel filled with deep description, intersecting plotlines and probing political rhetoric, or do you frenetically Google your way through the day moving from hyperlink to hyperlink. According to Nicholas Carr, the author of this article you've already lost interest in this short paragraph. Is he right? Is Google changing the way we read and think? And if it is, what are the consequences?


Virtual Social Spaces and Teachers

I found this article about Facebook and teachers very interesting.
Inside this article is another one about My Space and teachers. Do virtual social spaces like Facebook and My Space put a teacher at risk and why? What are your thoughts?


Watershed Poetry Contest

From Suzanne/Jennifer:

The competition is hosted by River of Words, a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise environmental awareness. The organization trains teachers and other professionals in ways to "incorporate observation-based nature exploration and the arts into their work with young people" (http://riverofwords.org/home/introduction.html).
Every year in affiliation with the Library of Congress, the organization conducts a poetry and art contest for students from age 5 to 19.
For more information about the contest click on http://riverofwords.org/contest/index.html


Web English Teacher

Check out this site for great lesson ideas, book report prompts and resources for novels: www.webenglishteacher.com


WNYWP at CVCV Conference!

The Western New York Writing Project was well represented at the City Voices, City Visions conference on digital video on Friday. Suzanne, Jon, Genevieve, and Jennifer presented to a standing room only crowd of teachers, principals, and superintendents in the board room at WNED.

Jon presented a few of the films from the Red Carpet Inquiry the past two summers. Alex Baker's Grammar Man was very well received, as was last year's film about cyberbullying. Several participants lingered to ask about using that video with their own students.

Genevieve shared a couple of films her Hamburg students created. One film, Indifference, was a statement her students made about race. She also shared her students' film on drunk driving.

Jennifer ended the program by sharing her Biology and Chemistry films, as well as explaining how these films fit into the grand scheme of her curriculum.

Overall, the crowd was intrigued, and there were several questions and lively discussion.


Kicking off Saturdays at 10!

Last Saturday's Meet the New Fellows got our year off to a rousing start. It was a wonderful reunion for the Summer Institute 2008 new fellows and staff, and everyone present enjoyed seeing the SI inquiry movies.

It was also a wonderful opportunity for everyone to meet the members of the Fellows Council and hear about the programs being planned for this year.

The next Saturdays at 10 will be on Oct 18 in Old Main 210. Mark your calendars for a Lesson Exchange!

  • Bring a few copies of your favorite lesson
  • Be prepared to give a brief explanation of the lesson
  • Exchange it with someone else's favorite lesson

As always, this program is free and open to the public, so feel free to bring a friend.

FREE BOOKS~really they're Free!!

The Picnic Basket is a blog which brings together school and library professionals and publishers. They will send you free books! The Blog has a collection of books that the publishers want to be reviewed. You email the publisher with you school mailing info, they send you the book, you write a short review(a paragraph if you like).



Tom O'Malley in My View (and other interesting Buffalo News tidbits)

Tom O'Malley's essay "Take My Advice, Stay Out of the Attic" appeared in The Buffalo News this morning. It's a humorous essay about the tough decisions we all make in the effort to declutter. Here's my favorite line:
The word attic is derived from “Attica,” the name for the land of the ancient Greeks — a society that accumulated so much junk that museums had to be built all over the world to accommodate it. Thus, in the modern house the attic is the place to put things that don’t fit anywhere else.
Those few sentences rank up with the best that Dave Barry ever wrote. Good stuff. Read the rest of the essay here.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Two other writing related stories in The News today:


Contemporary Writers Series at Canisius

Our very good friend and supporter, Mick Cochrane, has once again lined up an extraordinary array of writers for the Canisius College Contemporary Writers Series. This is a free program, open to the public.
The first writer, Uwem Akpan, will be reading in the Grupp Fireside Lounge in the Student Center this Thursday, Sept 18 at 7pm. The reading will be followed by a Q & A, reception and book signing.
If you'd like to know more about the author, or see the line-up for the year, click on the link below.

WNYWP at CVCV Conference!

On Friday, Sept 26, several fellows of our WP will be presenting at the City Voices, City Visions conference, "Digital Video Composing for Improving Student Achievement: Lessons from the the Buffalo CVCV Project." Come see WNYWP heart throb Jon Federick as he leads a group of potential digital video infusers through some of our projects.

“Digital Video Composing for Improving Student Achievement:
Lessons from the Buffalo CV-CV Project”

Friday, September 26, 2008

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Registration
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Program

WNED Studios
150 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, New York

More information and Registration


Our Book Group

"You are all a lost generation." Thus opined Gertrude Stein of the post World War I expatriates in France. This group is the focus of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Are there connections between the soldiers returning from that war and the current soldiers returning from Iraq? Can damaged men and women truly find love? Why was Hemingway’s writing style so revolutionary? These questions and more can be answered when the WNYWP’s book group gathers for its inaugural meeting on October 28. Pick up a copy of this classic, start reading and email Greg if you are interested in joining us for deep literary discussion. Greg can be emailed at staniszg@aol.com.


Two Writing Teachers

I've been poking around the Internet the last few days searching for good writing instruction blogs. Today I found a site chronicling the teaching experiences of two writing teachers who tell the story of their teaching, share lessons and links and responses to other conversations on writing. I've just started perusing, but the site looks great. Check out Two Writing Teachers when you've got a few seconds to spare. Add it to your Google Reader if your interest is piqued.


Orwell Diaries

A few weeks back I shared a link to a blog which is posting George Orwell's diary. They are posting each entry exactly 70 years from it's original date of publication. I fell behind immediately, but tonight decided to empty my Google Reader and go back and read the 14 or so entries so far.

It's an extremely interesting site, both because of Orwell's reputation but also because of the insight into his writing process. The entries I've read so far are all between one sentence and one paragraph, and they are simply observations about his day. He is accounting the different species of snake, owl and moths he is encountering, the weather, and other natural observations. What's really cool is that the creators of the site have linked any reference to specific objects or places to their Wikipedia entry and have created a Google Map with push pins in the places he mentions.

I guess that Orwell starts to get political in his September entries, but so far it's been all snakes and weather descriptions. If you get the chance, it's rather fascinating.

Mary Jo Gill in My View

Make sure to venture over to the Buffalo News to check out WNYWP fellow Mary Jo Gill's personal essay "Rainy Days at the Beach Aren't So Bad After All."

It's a wonderful account of her recent summer trip. If you've ever stepped into the muck of Lake Erie and wondered what you were stepping in, this humorous essay will resonate.


Great Opportunity at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Club of Buffalo and Western New York to Sponsor Attendance at Excellence in Teaching Conference on the Notre Dame Campus October 17-19, 2008.

Application deadline: Monday, Sept. 15, 2008
Educators in kindergarten through senior high school from both private and public schools are invited to participate in the Excellence in Teaching Conference to be held on the Notre Dame Campus on October 17-19, 2008. The conference is designed to stimulate more charismatic and effective styles of teaching. Ideas learned in this workshop help deepen the participants’ appreciation for their vocation and contributions they make to their students.
Once again in 2008, the Notre Dame Club of Buffalo and Western New York will sponsor one teacher’s participation in the conference. Sponsorship will include payment of the registration fee and lodging plus a stipend to be used toward the cost of transportation. Selection criteria will include financial need of the school and the teacher’s willingness to serve as an ambassador to enhance the relationship between Notre Dame, his/her school and its students. A participant does not need to be a Notre Dame graduate. Teachers involved with honors/advanced placement students from Catholic high schools with a significant population of ethnic minority students are particularly encouraged to apply. To see the conference brochure go to: http://www.alumni.nd.edu/atf/cf/{5F212737-0C98-46E9-B450-01EFD9518DEB}/eit_08_brochure.pdf
To apply, please forward a completed application (attached), including an essay and letter of recommendation, to Nancy Langer at the address listed on the application. Questions may be directed to the Excellence in Teaching Committee c/o Nancy Langer at NMLanger@aol.com or (716) 984-5146.

Call For Manuscripts

Have you been part of a tour at the Albright Knox and been inspired to write a poem about a work that "spoke" to you? Would you like to try putting into words what a piece of art means to you, to describe it or how it makes you feel or what it makes you think? If you have, please submit a copy of your work to WNYWP for possible inclusion in an anthology of poems and short pieces about works at the Albright Knox. We hope to interest the gallery in such a work to be placed for sale in their shop. Send submissions or questions to Suzanne Borowicz at borowics@canisius.edu or to Julie Ricci at julricnow@roadrunner.com.

Announcing the WNYWP Book Club:

The WNYWP will be reconvening it's book club. If you're interested, we'll be holding book discussion groups three times this school year. Our first meeting will be a discussion of the classic novel The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. We will meet on October 28 at 6pm...place TBA. If you are interested, please email Greg to let him know and then start reading. Hope to see you then.

Greg Staniszewski


Letters to the Next President

The National Writing Project and Google Docs announced an exciting partnership last week, combining on a project titled "Letters to the Next President."

Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future is an online writing and publishing project that invites young people to write about the issues and concerns they would want the next president to address and, with the support of their teachers, to publish their writing for a national audience.

During the presidential campaign, U.S. high school teachers and mentors guide students through the process of writing a persuasive letter or essay to the presidential candidates. Students' work should encourage the candidates to give attention to issues and concerns that students feel are central to their future. Topics are chosen by the students themselves to reflect their specific personal, regional, and age-related interests, and teachers will be able to support student writing and publishing in a way that most directly fits their local curricula and educational goals.

Sounds like a great opportunity, especially with the historic frenzy that is this year's presidential election. Follow the link above to find out more, and also read about how you and your students can participate.

Important: You must register by September 8th


Jessica Wagner in My View

Congrats to Jessica Wagner, 2006 fellow, who just had her essay "New School Supplies Offer Us a Fresh Start" published in the My View section of the Buffalo News. Here's an excerpt

The sweltering heat of August itches like a tight wool sweater. The lush lawn becomes sharp brown blades that torture bare feet. The shapeless days of summer begin to turn into restlessness. But in the midst of all this unpleasantness, the anticipation of returning to school bubbles inside my chest.
Make sure you click on the link above and read the whole essay.

As we are all getting ready for new year, it might be a good opportunity to take stock in what we've done and where we're going. Blogger and Colorado Writing Project fellow Bud Hunt recently published an open letter to teachers which makes many valid points.

First. I hope you take lots of risks for the sake of learning this year. Not just for your students, but also for you. Make it a goal to try to learn something in a sustained and meaningful way that has little to do with your classroom life. I’ve been trying to learn photography this year, and while I’m nowhere close to proficient, it has been helpful to be in the mindset of a learner who’s struggling. That’s how many of our students feel everyday.
Use the comments section below to share any thoughts about Jessica's essay, or share your own back to school stories, past or present.


A Big Ol' Congrats

As you may have heard, we all owe a big congratulatory shout out loud to Mary Jo Gill, Kathy Moldenhauer, Carla Thompson and Ruth Hassler, all of whom have been to the NWP National Evaluation Scoring Conference to be held in Chicago in late September. They will join "teacher-consultants from across the country to learn to use and apply the NWP's Analytic Writing Continuum as they score middle school students' writing."

Great job fellows!


Zombie Haiku

Sorry, but this is too cool not to share. Ever wonder what kind of verse the undead would write? If so, then follow the link to the following video to check out some zombie haiku. It's a three minute video, but it contains some morbid tongue in cheek zombie violence, so if you're easily grossed out you might want to skip this one.

I'm posting it however, because it's a cool idea. Instead of Zombie haiku on video, what about American historical haiku, or paramecium haiku, or isosceles triangle haiku? Seems like a cool way to get creative writing across the content areas and still reinforce important concepts. Go a step further and it could also make a nice, short video project. Anyways, for what it's worth, click here for some gruesomely hilarious undead haiku.

This was originally covered at Boingboing.net...which, as I've said, an excellent blog to check out if you're new to reading blogs.


Some Notable Recent Links

Over the past week I've come across a interesting writing relating links. Check them out if you get a chance.

  • George Orwell diaries - While reading Boingboing.net, a "directory of wonderful things, I came across this story. Beginning August 9th this website will Orwell's diary entries, one per day and chronologically. Seems like an accessible way to wrestle with the ideas of one of the 20th century's greatest thinkers.
  • Storychasers - On his blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity, Wesley Fryer shared about a new project he is starting to record stories.
    Storychasers is a multi-state (and potentially multi-national) educational collaborative empowering students and teachers to responsibly record and share stories of local, regional and global interest as citizen journalists.
    This evolving project has a multimodal bent, as they are seeking out documentaries and newscasts. Seems like an interesting effort to get involved with, either directly or in spirit.
  • Blogging Tips - David Warlick's 2 Cents discussed Teaching Tips 50 Useful Blogging Tools for Teachers. If you were hip to the blogging at the Summer Institute, or just looking for a good resource, check it out. Lots of good stuff here.
  • Telling Stories of our Shared Humanity - TedTalks recently published Nigerian Poet Chris Albani's presentation.
    Chris Abani tells stories of people: People standing up to soldiers. People being compassionate. People being human and reclaiming their humanity. It's "ubuntu," he says: the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me.
    This is a powerful story and worth 16 minutes of your time.
  • Tell Me a Story - Radiolab just published a recent Robert Krulwich commencement address arguing for the importance of storytelling in science. It's a good listen for content areas outside of English (well, maybe us too), as it highlights the importance of compelling storytelling as a way to influence people towards truth.


Photos from the Albright Knox Art Gallery Tour

Hi all. As promised, I have posted a number of photos from our AKAG tour a couple of weeks ago. I'm still working on titling and crediting all the artists (I have it all written down, but haven't transferred all info yet). If you see something you don't have the info for, comment there or here and I'll make sure to get it to you if I know it.

See the slideshow here.

July 30, 2008


A scrumptious breakfast was provided this morning by Jon & Patti. Our healthy choice was raspberries, blueberries, yogurt, and granola (I found myself thinking twigs, no! delicious, yes!). We also had our choice of delicious doughnuts.

Read & Respond

Greg shared with us a William Stafford Poem from the beginning of Early Morning: Remembering my Father, William Stafford by Kim Stafford. The poem titled “The Way It Is” Had us all thinking about threads. Mark shared how his thread lead him astray and returned him home again. Brenda searched for the meaning of our threads. Chris thanked her mother for her thread ( I’ll admit this one made me tear up a bit), and Ellen picked up her thread from her father and hopes to snare her students with her thread.

Red Carpet Inquiry Groups

The computer room was abuzz today with music, movie dialogue and calls for Jon’s help in the final editing process of our Research Project Imovies. A few snippets that peaked our interest included:

· Joel, Patti, and Sean’s Repeating Law & Order theme and Jack Nicholson (or is it Sean?) shouting “You can’t handle the truth!”

· Mulu, Chris, Ruth & Nicole’s computer droning “Bueller, Bueller”, a scary teacher asking students for hall passes, and something about a crazy French lady

Lunch & Book Talk

What better combination could there be but books and food? Everyone met at the Dock at the Bay in Hamburg for lunch and conversation about Early Morning: Remembering my Father, William Stafford by Kim Stafford. Many read their favorite poem or ideas from the book. Brooke shared her thoughts about Happy Problems. A lengthy discussion about kindness and taking the time to write letters to others was shared Before everyone left full of good food and dessert we had a group picture taken out on the deck.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

WNYWP Daily Log for Tuesday, July 29, 2008


“A day without carbs is like a day without sunshine,” Ruth exclaimed as Brenda, Mulu, and Sean set out a sumptuous spread of bagels, coffee cake, bagels, fruit, juice, and (did I mention?) bagels. Suzanne proudly shared photos taken at Hawk’s Creek brought in for Patty’s demo lesson this afternoon.

Reading and Reflection

Missy read a selection from a novel by Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried. This reading described not only the physical, but emotional load these soldiers in Vietnam carried with them into battle.

This thought-provoking passage led Patty to share a description of her 98-year-old grandmother, and what she carries from her long, productive life. Angela shared the wisdom her boyfriend gained from a tour in Afghanistan; always carry cigarettes and baby wipes. The death of one of the novel’s characters inspired Sean to describe what he considers worse than death.

Writing Groups

This was our last official day to meet with writing groups. Our group decided to work on a letter to Oprah, extolling the virtues of everyone in Summer Institute, hoping this would earn us an invitation to be on her show. For some reason, we quickly ran out of virtues to extol. If you can help us out, send your suggestions to me.
I will greatly miss the time we had together. Our group was incredibly supportive of each other. I know everyone else thinks their writing group was best, but I know that ours is tops!

Demo Lesson 1

The final two demo lessons were scheduled for today. Mulu presented a thought-provoking lesson entitled, “Mistakes Across Cultures. Educating English Language Learners.” Mulu explained that the number of students with limited English proficiency is growing rapidly. We became her ELL students as she led us through activities that helped illustrate the difficulties these students face understanding language and culture. We all gained an awareness of the need to accept the cultures these students bring, and the importance of helping them gain proficiency in our very difficult English language.

When asked to retell an experience we had with “cultural clash,” Angela recalled an unpleasant dining experience that made us all vow to keep our dogs on a close watch.


We have all reveled in the uncommon (for teachers) luxury of a one-hour lunch. We all agreed we would miss the opportunity we had to chew, swallow, digest, soak in the sun, and engage in conversations that ranged from the mundane to the philosophical. This day included the added bonus of watching science camp students enjoy recess on the lawn.

Demo Lesson 2

Last, and by no means least, Patty presented the very last demo lesson of Summer Institute ’08. Her lesson, “Sensational Writing,” started off with exploring “senses” stations and finished with an opportunity to write a personal narrative using our own pictures. It was obviously an engaging lesson, as many of us planned to continue working on our narratives. We also learned that we would never look at a Hershey’s kiss in quite the same way.

Inquiry Groups

We had a brief time to plan how we would present our research and iMovie on Thursday. Some groups used this time to fine-tune the research papers, while others listened to music from the Muppets. Scott graciously volunteered to speak for our group. You rock, Scott!

New Fellow Liaison

Jessica described the duties of the new fellow liaison, and asked for nominations. Beth, Tom, and Karen are candidates for this important position. The results of our vote will be revealed tomorrow. And the winner is….

Writing Folders

We received folders to fill with any writing we have completed this summer. We will all get the opportunity to read our fellow writers’ contributions during the Gallery Walk Thursday morning.


Address envelopes for the letters describing your participation in WNYWP. These could be sent to principals, superintendents, curriculum coordinators, or anyone else of your choice.
Submitted by Ellen
Daily Log
Wednesday July 23, 2008

As usual we began our day with breakfast of assorted goodies. Thank you Tom and Joel.


➢ Sean Ross read our Read & Reflect passage. He chose a chapter from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
➢ Suzanne, Brenda and Ruth shared their writing.

Writing Groups – We all worked in our writing groups.

Guest Speakers

➢ Former writing project participants, Tom O’Malley and Evelyn Brady were our guest speakers for the day. Their theme was entitled “Writing for peace”.

➢ Suzanne introduced the guest speakers and highlighted their work/contribution as WNYWP fellows. She stated that:

o Evelyn edited Peaceprints.
o Tom was the first WNYWP participant and contributes articles to Buffalo News "MyView section and to some other media outlets
o Evelyn was a director of the Buffalo Teachers' Center before her retirement and is a published poet.

Evelyn’s Presentation

In her opening Evelyn posed a question to the participants and brainstormed on what the role of an editor should be. Finally, she shared her experience as the editor of Peaceprints as follows:

➢ She reflected Sister Karen’s spirit
➢ She made sure that the style is understandable and
➢ The authentic voice is heard

In her conclusion, Evelyn mentioned that a lesson plan on peace is in progress and it is to be piloted in the fall.

Tom’s Presentation

Tom started by applauding the participants for being accepted into the WNYWP. He said, “You can’t imagine what this training might do for you for your teaching profession and above all as writers.”

He stated that exercising imagination is a good tool for writing and gives students an opportunity to exercise their own imagination.

He shared his stories and writing tools such as a duck tape, a hammer, softball glove, a door knob, and an apron among many others - each symbolizing different ideas.

As Tom wrapped up, he advised the participants to pay attention to everyday things in front of us for we never know what might inspire us to write.

Both presenters engaged and inspired the participants.

Lunch Break

Lesson Demo

Scott Weidmann presented the afternoon lesson demo. His topic was entitled “I Mean What I Say and Say What I Mean… Or Do I?”

The lesson focused on extending the understanding of ideas beyond text when writing. He modeled the writing activity and gave the groups a list of clichés to write an extended meaning.

Transitional Activity - Groups explored the differences in meaning between fair and equal and rotated to share and confirm ideas for accuracy and understanding.

Writing - Participants reflected their personal responses & also wrote a response to the given question: Which would you rather live in, an equal world or a fair world? Why?

It was a very engaging and interesting lesson demonstration.

Work Time - Possibilities included: inquiry groups, workshop development and writing.

Mulu Belete

Opportunity to Share and Reflect

Tonight I received this email from the NWP Tech Liaison list serve:

Dear Colleagues:

Susan Ettenheim and I are looking for guests for this weeks Teachers
Teaching Teachers webcast, broadcast every Wednesday at 9:00 PM Eastern /
6:00 PM Pacific at http:// EdTechTalk.com/live

What have you been learning this summer? Many (most?) National Writing
Projects have completed their Summer Institutes by now. I'd love to invite
anybody who has been in a Summer Institute or workshop... Writing Project or
not, participant or facilitator... to join me on Teachers Teaching Teachers
this week, Wednesday, July 30th, 9:00 PM Eastern / 6:00 PM Pacific.

If anyone is interested, email me at malleyjoel@yahoo.com. I think you only need to sign into that website at a specific time, but it may be more involved.


Monday, July 28, 2008 - Daily Log

Western New York Writing Project
Daily Log
Monday, July 28, 2008

Wow! Wham! (onomatopoeia) We were welcomed and wooed as we waddled to breakfast with a wonderful whiff of what we might call, warm deliciousness that weakened our willpower to watch our calories. (alliteration) What a treat! Was it a soufflé or a quiche? It doesn’t matter. It was good. Our choices were peppers, sausage, and mozzarella, and, broccoli and cheese. We also had a million boxes (hyperbole) of cereal at our fingertips to start our day!

Chris read a selection from Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, a book of short stories that discusses how acting without thinking, especially judging others, can negatively affect the way our choices work out in the end. The title of the selection read was “The Warren Harding Era”. During our sharing, we learned about the skin of peaches, Jessica loves her fruit, and a woman wearing blue pumps with a lot of luggage.

· We found out that Ellen is starting a new career as a professional interviewee as CMT talked with her at the Ghost Walk.
· The servers were down this morning and Jon, the caring, supportive man he is, reminded us that it is not his problem, the I-movies are due Thursday, and have a nice day! Just kidding. Time passed by (personification) and he saved the day. (idiom)
· Suzanne offered an opportunity to continue our enthusiasm for what we’ve accomplished during the summer institute by providing postcards for us to write words of encouragement to ourselves in the future. Will the universe collapse when we receive them, or is that only when we meet ourselves in the future?
· Please email Suzanne any poems or writings inspired by our visit to the Art Gallery
· Don’t forget your pictures for Patty’s lesson tomorrow.
· We also learned some sad news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Katrina and her family.

Writing Groups:
Due to the servers still being down, our agenda changed and we met in our writing groups this morning instead of the afternoon. Some words of advice: revenge is best served by choosing the right parking spot and burning houses to the ground is not the most productive way to cope with being angry.
Remember to bring in a hardcopy of your writing pieces that you submitted to the anthology.

Demo Lesson:
Kathy provided an insightful lesson on figurative language, Eight Figures – Making Your Writing Rich. We worked in groups and individually defining the eight literary terms, using book quotes to apply the terms, writing stories as groups using the terms creatively, and then writing our own stories. The group stories were about Bobby surfing, puppies pooping and gambling, girls dancing, gardens, and a rodeo with an unhappy bronco.
Well Done, Kathy!

We ate lunch like ravenous wolves. (simile) Well, some of us did. Others sang the Oscar Mayer Wiener song. And one weird man pulled a sandwich from his pocket, creating suspicion and confusion on the faces of those around him, as they raised eyebrows in disbelief, tilted their heads in perplexing manners, and sat shocked with wide eyes and drooping jaws. (imagery) It was a very odd hour in the cafeteria.

Inquiry Groups:
Holy smokes! At first, we thought this movie was a beast. (metaphor) But now we know, with a little help from our friends, we can accomplish most things! We worked on our I-movies and research for the remainder of the day.

Until tomorrow…



Teen Writing Workshop - Week One

Wow, I can't believe the first week of the Teen Writing Workshop is already over. Frank, Franklin, Matt and I are constantly amazed with the quality and creativity of the students we attract to this camp. They never fail to inspire us and each other.

During the week we were visited by writer, teacher, Thoreau scholar, and "charter" WNYWP member Tom O'Malley, who helped us climb a metaphorical tree and mine our pasts for writing ideas. Students also met in writing groups, read their works at an open mic, and convinced me to create a private Facebook group (open only to past and present WNYWP Teen Writing Workshop members), which seems like a nice complement to the teen blog. Students have stepped up to help administer and there is even strong talk of weekly writing prompts to carry us into next year's camp. Very cool stuff indeed.

Here are some pics!

Read this document on Scribd: WNYWP Teen Camp 2008 Week One

WNYWP Summer Institure Daily Log: 7.25


Back in the sunlight after yesterday’s rain, we started the day with yet another delicious breakfast thanks to Beth and Kathy. Crumbcake, cheese danish, donut holes, and a very interesting blueberry pumpkin streusel were the fare. And can I just add … COFFEE!

Reading and Reflection

Patty inspired our morning writing with another selection from the ubiquitous
“Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Pizza never sounded so scrumptious or Italy so argumentative in a cute-little-girl-flipping-you-off kind of way. Patty communicated Gilbert’s struggles with and delight in her “no carb left behind tour” of the boot-shaped peninsula with her usual verve and humor. The reflections followed Patty’s lead and we learned …

• perhaps a bit more than we wanted to about Scott’s Speedo,
• that Tom’s grandma Rosie O. is as pugnacious as she is Polish,
• and that Suzanne’s telephonicus interruptus led to a telephonica apolagetica

Writing Groups

As always, we broke into our writing groups for the morning. It has been interesting to see my group’s writing evolve. As we become more familiar with each other’s writing, we become more familiar with each other. Sharing writing can be an intense experience, as has been shown in some of our reflections and open mic moments. Today was also the last chance to share writing before anthology submissions this weekend.

During my group's discussions we also shared a publishing opportunity. NPR is always accepting submissions of short essays (around 450 words). The guidelines are

Good luck and happy writing to all!

Lesson Demo

Missy was introduced by Katrina. Missy’s lesson, “Talking Beads: Using Oral Tradition to Inspire Writing”, introduced us to her Seneca heritage as well as teaching us the value of oral traditions. She shared stories her father and grandmother shared with her as a girl and that she plans to share with her children one day, passing on her family’s and culture’s traditions. We listened, reflected, drew, shared, created our own stories, and made wampum belts (or bracelets) to symbolize our own oral traditions.


I ate with Karen and had a salad (and some pizza!). It was good.

Red Carpet Inquiry Work Time

Editing, editing, editing! After lunch we continued working on our Red Carpet Inquiry projects, moving to the editing room after completing most, if not all, of the filming. Speaking for my own group, editing seems like it will present a daunting challenge. I hope we haven’t been too ambitious!

Anthology Discussion

After our RCI time, we sat down to discuss the specs for anthology submissions and a title. The anthology specs are as follows:

1. Make all anthology submissions to safari135@hotmail.com no later than Sunday, July 27th. Please write in the subject line your name followed by “08 anthology” (example: Betty Smith – 08 anthology).
2. Each fellow is required to submit at least one piece of original writing for the anthology
3. Each fellow has four pages allotted for their submissions. Negotiations can be made for people who need more or less pages.
4. Be sure that your submissions are camera ready. NO modifications will be made to your work.
5. Be sure your name accompanies each and every piece – preferably following the title of the piece.
6. Every writing piece should have a title. If your piece is titled “Untitled”, then titled it “Untitled”.
7. Use only clean, legible fonts. Example: Times New Roman is good, Wing Dings is bad (try to avoid bolding too).
8. Do not number your pages.

Following the discussion of this information we turned to the issue of a title for our anthology. The early entries were light-hearted and turned to a bit raunchy. We changed course when we were reminded by Brenda that our writing is more serious and we will want to show the anthology to others. In the end we agreed upon “Exploding Camels: Storyweaving for the Seventh Generation”.

Open Mic

Our last Friday open mic included many thoughtful and personal pieces. Missy, Jess, Chris, Beth, Tom, Angela, Brenda, Patty, Greg, Ellen, Karen, and Sean shared (please forgive me if I left anybody out, I wrote the names down from memory after the fact!). Because I have seen Karen’s writing grow and evolve through our writing group, I am impressed with her writing and how her stories have evolved over the past weeks. I am sure this applies to everyone, but a little editorial shout out to my group is acceptable I’m sure!

BigJoel (you know which one ... )


Thursday, July 24, 2008 - Daily Log

We chatted with our mouths full of gigantic muffins and a variety of cereals and fruit. I reminisced on my childhood as I ate Lucky Charms for the first time in over 12 years. They truly are magically delicious! Breakfast was brought to you today by: Patty, Ellen, and the letters Y-U-M!

Ellen read a chapter from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Everyone in the group was able to relate personally to the story of a boy and his father who found a special bond through books. Karen, Beth and Missy were courageous enough to share their personal reflections with us. There is a wonderful level of comfort and trust that the members of this writing project share.

Writing Groups:
We continue to share our writing pieces, and watch them grow, in preparation for the much awaited anthology. Just a reminder that all entries for the anthology are due this Sunday!

Teaching Demo:
Mark presented his demo lesson, “Through the Eyes of the People”. This lesson engages students through interaction with an expository text, an excerpt from a memoir and photographs. Different styles of writing are required throughout the lesson to illustrate an understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust. This was a difficult subject to present and everyone was emotionally involved in today’s activity. It is our hope as educators that through this emotional engagement, students will be more connected to and interested in learning about history.
Congratulations on the job Mark! Based on today’s lesson, your students will be very successful with the materials you present to them.
During our feedback time to Mark, Keri asked an essential question that led to a mini-Socratic. “Should we ask our students to put themselves in the shoes of other people in history?” is the question that was openly discussed. The Holocaust Museum requests that teachers refrain from doing these activities. Through our discussion many of us were exposed to new perspectives and possibly altered our own educational philosophies a bit. This is the type of discourse that many of us have been craving for a long time.

The morning long rain prevented many of us from our routine of basking outside in the sun while eating lunch. So as Noah loaded up his animals in the courtyard, some of us dined in the dining hall where they were serving homemade comfort foods. Some of these tasty delights were chicken and broccoli on top of penne pasta with alfredo sauce, sweet & creamy corn chowder, and soft & chewy chocolate chip coconut granola bars that were big enough to feed two. Mmmm, mmm, good!

Inquiry Groups:
“Quiet on the set please!” Inquiry groups were in full swing today. All groups were filming portions of their I-movies at various locations on campus. There were costumes, voiceovers, product placements, dangerous stunts, and plenty of bloopers. Movies must be finished by next Wednesday and will be viewed on Thursday. I smell an Oscar…

Until tomorrow…
“It’s Log! It’s Log!” Ren & Stimpy
Nicole L-ski


Daily Log – July 22, 2008

The sun peeked out from behind the clouds as we enjoyed a delicious breakfast together after our long weekend apart. Ruth and Scott laid out a fantastic buffet of croissants, biscuits and fresh fruit. We added some coffee and our brains slowly began to roll into action.

Brooke read a chapter from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” for the morning reflection. In our small group we discussed best friends, depression, the amazing synchronicity of events and ‘being your own best friend’. Joel read his thoughts about the eternal question, “who am I?” to the whole group and gave us many questions to ponder as we headed off to writing groups.

Upon our return from writing groups, a gray blanket of clouds literally rolled over Canisius as Joel prepared to share his lesson: “Exploring Historical Imagination: 18th Century Atlantic Slavery”, perhaps this was a bit of foreshadowing for the mood to follow? Joel’s PhD in history was evident as he expertly guided us through an exploration of the Atlantic slave trade. His goal was to get us to think creatively and construct our own perspectives while learning about this cruel episode in our history. Mission accomplished! We spent an intense 75 minutes investigating our feelings and connections to the brutality of slavery.

Patty commented, “I wish I had a social studies teacher that taught this way. The most exciting thing that ever happened in my class was getting to turn the film strip knob. Today I didn’t want to stop writing!”

Ellen agreed that, “Joel really brought the subject to life. It was so vivid, nothing like reading about slavery in a textbook.

During our discussion afterwards Tom commented that he had felt the full effect of the disturbing reality of the slave trade during the lesson.

I don’t think anyone will forget this remarkable opportunity to investigate an appalling part of history and, as Ruth noted, use our writing as a way to further our thinking and deepen our understanding.

After a subdued lunch (we couldn’t stop talking about slavery, then we moved on to book banning!) we headed into the computer lab with Jonathan. He showed us how to access the E-Anthology on the National Writing Project website. This site makes it possible to share our writing with a virtual community of writing project members around the country. He also directed us to a section called ‘Classroom Matters’, an area of the website where teachers write about classroom events.

The rest of the afternoon was devoted to our inquiry projects. One group began filming while the rest of us used our time to finish up our storyboards and organize our ideas. Our goal is to finish filming our videos by Thursday afternoon and use the following days to edit.

Finally, under threatening clouds. we trudged home to digest our biscuits and the powerful events of the day – thank you everyone!

Daily Log for Friday, July 18

Joel started our morning with a reading from Lester Bang’s Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste. In sharing our responses, we learned that:
· Chris attended a Stones concert and set her jeans on fire.
· Ruth hopes she can keep her artistic virtue intact (unless she finds the perfect story of Lincoln’s Doctor’s dog).
· Brenda, who is a musician, thinks music can sooth and save.
· Missy would sneak down to the basement to listen to her brother’s band.
· Sean thinks there is something to savor about nothing.

Brooke gave an excellent demonstration lesson on introducing revision for not only a first grader audience, but for students of all ages. After dissecting the word revision, we were then encouraged to look at our writing with new eyes (with the help of colorful sunglasses!). Brooke’s lesson was a great reminder for all of us to revise, revise, revise.

Jonathan guaranteed that shooting our i-movies would be fun. To inspire everyone, we watched our short-movies about “I teach because”. (See reverse side for a list of inspirational reasons.) Jon was very impressed by the use of sound effects, imagery, and collaboration. Groups should be ready to start turning their research in to movies and begin shooting their videos on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. The creative and informative i-movie should be 3-5 minutes in length. Remember to take a deep breath and have fun!

Jonathan introduced us to a writing opportunity through the Smithsonsian Project. NWP teacher-consultants are being asked to submit writing about the influence of photography in their lives. Submission deadline is August 1. For more information, go to the NWP homepage (www.nwp.org) and follow the links for click: photography changes everything.

Stories inspired by our children, parents, loneliness, regret, and the metric system were shared. Some were shared willingly, other under the pressure from writing groups!

Of course there is the bonus of summer vacation and random snow days, but the benefit of being a teacher is much more than that. Here are the reasons why we teach. (Keep these handy for those days when you ask yourself why you do.)

We teach because...we can
open students’ eyes to the endless possibilities
around them...we can give students knowledge that
can never be taken away...we can inspire passion
in their lives...we can create a shared record of
the human experience...we are too short for the
NBA...we have a love a learning that we can
evoke in others...we can introduce students to
books they will never forget...learning is an
adventure where you can be a participant and
a guide...we can help children explore the world
and themselves...we can cut through the enigma
that is the teenager’s mind...students can learn…
we find joy in seeing students take flight...we
can share our love of books and see students fall
in love with those same stories....it makes us
better people.

Jessica Wagner

Connections Between Art Forms

After our tour Thursday at the Albright Knox, many of us wrote in response to the pieces we viewed. I happened to post a photo and the piece I wrote on my poetry blog and it was noticed by the Buffalo News ArtsBeat blog.

Here's the link.

PS--The title of my poem is Redrawn, not 'the perfect circle.'



Daily Log for Thursday, July 17

Daily Log for Thursday, July 17

The WNYWP Summer Institute Fellows woke to a beautiful morning today. I hopped on my bike, half asleep of course, and rode over to Canisius. When I arrived…I was hungry…and in luck. We started off today with an amazing breakfast of extreme variety. You name it, we had it.

Before our R&R, we were given a quick agenda run though by Keri. Mostly, we were warned about the NO PEN!!! Rule at the art gallery. To ease our minds we were supplied with pencils…Thank you Suzanne!

For our R&R today, Ruth read a wonderful and thought provoking piece entitled “Lesson of the Moth” by Don Marquis. The piece was wonderful, with mind ticklers such as, “expression is the need of my soul.” As for responders…Sean was the man, the only man that is. There were no other responders. His response was great. Missed it? I’m sure if you ask him nicely he will be willing to share it with you again.

Next we broke into our Writing Groups. I’m sure all the groups are really enjoying their time together, as we are becoming more comfortable with one another; it is really turning into a great experience. Just a quick note…my group rules…I’m learning a lot from the ladies…and yes, rumors are true, we are going to be on Oprah.

Following a short break, Beth gave a wonderful demonstration presentation entitled “Alphabet Stew.” Beth showed us the use and challenge of using alphabet books as creative writing pieces in our classrooms. We got the chance to write an alphabet book about schools as a group and then we got to make our own on our favorite places to travel to. Beth’s presentation was great because it showed us that alphabet books can be used in numerous ways and in numerous subjects. Also…those things are not easy to make! We all now have a new found respect for alphabet book authors. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us Beth!!!

Lunch time…at the Albright-Knox cafe, or at home, or you could have joined me at Globe Market. Yummmmmm.

After lunch, we meet us at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. What can I say about this place…I love, I can’t get enough of it, and while I’ve been there numerous times (including today), I already want to go back. We were all taken in by the beauty of the art and we had the pleasure of being led though the gallery by a very informed tour guide. I could write about the gallery forever.

When we were done in the gallery, we met outside and some of the fellows shared pieces that our trip to the gallery inspired. We also discussed the idea of writing pieces about specific art in the gallery for a book…pretty exciting…make sure you all keep this in mind!!! Then we all said goodbye and ended our day.

Seriously…What an amazing way to spend the day. I’m a happy camper.

-Mark B-

Google LitTrips

Hello fellow Fellows - especially those currently in the throes of the Summer Institute.

I'm still hard at work in my master's degree program focusing on WNYWP...and have come across something called Google LitTrips. Has anyone out there used it/created a lit trip with your class? I'd love to hear about it for my research. Send me an email at ckrajna1@gmail.com

If you don't know what it's all about, go to

(You must have GoogleEarth on your computer, which is free.)

Google Docs

From a productivity/activity standpoint, Google Docs significantly altered the fabric of my classroom this year (not quite as much as Blogger). For those of you who don't know, it is an online word processor that allows students, teachers, clergymen and vivisected animals to create "Word" documents and edit them anytime and from any computer. Students can also share their work with teachers by inviting them as collaborators (handing the work in) and even collaborate with other students. Better yet, it's free and there is significant support for educators.

For those of you already wading in the pristine waters of Google Docs, I happened upon a few useful sites today. The first is a blog post from ICT in My Classroom entitled "Making Work in Google Docs." The article outlines some practical ways that Tom Barrett, the author, has used Docs in his classroom. He focuses on such things as commenting, revisions, and organizing work. Very useful.

Google Docs also has a nice little article explaining it's usefulness in the classroom, titled Using Google Docs in the classroom: Simple as ABC.


7-16 Log


We began our day with a breakfast of cereal, milk, coffee, and Danish. Thank you, Katrina and Tom.
Kathy read our Read & Reflect passage. She chose a chapter from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, about the narrator chanting in the New Year at an ashram in India. Jessica and Scott shared their writing.
After a quick break, Ellen presented The River of Content: R.A.F.T.S. to the Rescue. She demonstrated how to use R.A.F.T.S. style prompts to incorporate reading into all content areas. She did a wonderful job, and we were impressed with how widely applicable her lesson was. Thanks, Ellen.
Following lunch, (some of us took advantage of the weekly cook-out, while some of us soaked up the sun in the quad) we held a Socratic seminar on Because Writing Matters. Thanks to the prep work done by Keri and Greg, we were all ready with our talking sticks and a willing attitude. We began by examining how we could involve the it’s-not-my-job teachers in our buildings in writing. We moved on to meshing the writing process with students whose cultures/backgrounds might conflict with assignment requirements. We ended by examining what role business should have in education. In our final week, we will have a seminar on Early Morning.
We enjoyed some unstructured work time – demonstration lessons, inquiry projects, personal writing – whatever was most necessary got our attention.
We concluded our day with an I-Share. Jon answered questions about the research projects and digital videos, encouraged us to share our progress, and reassured us that all would be possible.
We left, anticipating our field trip to the art gallery tomorrow.


life is full of stories. tell yours.

I was just perusing the email that has I've received via the NWP Tech Liaison Network and was directed to a site that I think is right up our alley. Tokoni seems to be a social networking site built around the sharing of writing. Seems the gist is that writers sign up, share a story, connect it thematically or contextually to other stories, and then read and comment on other people's work. It seems like a great community of writers...sort of like a Youtube for writers. Check it out if you get a chance.

Confessions of the Log Keep

July 15th, 2008


This beautiful sunny day began with breakfast served in the form of Waffles and Donuts and was well received by all.


Beth began the day by reading a chapter from the book Okracoke Odyssey by Pat Garber.

Ellen shared her appreciation for the inquiring minds of scientists, but clearly enjoys the simpler things in life, such as good shoes and reruns of Seinfeld.

Brenda shared her writing piece on Buffalo in all its glory. She imprinted on our imaginations the picture that she took of Buffalo and the Peace Bridge. She spoke of this photo op as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Finally, Katrina shared her recipe for “Okracoke” and though it is an original and creative recipe, I secretly hope she keeps it off the breakfast menu.

Writing Groups

Demo Lesson 1- Come Together-Write Now

by Nicole

Nicole presented her demo lesson on determining Thematic Connections between two pieces of writing. She started by having us connect Disney Movie themes. Next, she had us use a graphic organizer designed to look like a math addition problem to help us write a Thesis Statement.

The second portion of the lesson was differentiated to meet the needs of the Social Studies, Elementary ELA, and Secondary ELA teachers (Nice touch), providing each of us with appropriate resources for our group. Each group member was assigned a role and then asked to connect themes in two writing pieces and compose a thesis statement.

Lunch-The outdoor lunch group was disappointed to find Goldie Locks sitting on Mama Bear’s bench, but managed to act as if they were not bothered.

1:05 Patty realized that she was supposed to be taking the daily log and broke into a sweat. After a good mental berating, she began reenacting the day’s events.

Demo Lesson 2 – Postcards from the Past…Postcards to the Future

By Karen

Karen provided the group with authentic postcards from days gone by. She had us fill out a graphic organizer to get us seeing through the eyes of the characters on the cards. Then she had us compose a postcard from that character. After sharing our postcards, she provided pictures of each of us and asked us to tell our story. Mine was the story of “The Woman With No Hairbrush”, but we will save that one for another time.

Socratic Seminar Tutorial

Keri read us an excerpt from Socrates Café by Christopher Phillips. After discussing what we know about Socratic Seminars she provided a brief overview and assigned us the task of developing two questions to be used the following day. She also distributed 3 popsicle sticks with no popsicles. (cruel joke)