A Bit of Readin', a Bit of Writin'

Here's a few fish I swept up while trolling:

  • The Writer's Block - KQED puts out a great podcast of writers reading their own writing. It's completely free and can be downloaded via iTunes or by visiting the link I have provided. Not every story is appropriate for classroom use, but there are definitely some usable stories in there. On particular story, Nora Pierce's "East Side, West Side," would be a great addition to a memoir or short story unit in 9th-10th grade (it's fiction but reads like a memoir). Anyway, they "publish" a new audio recording weekly and it's a great way to find some new stuff.
  • Titlepage- The New York Times recently ran an article about Titlepage, a new web based book show that will feature four authors discussing their craft with their host. The show is apparently based on a critically acclaimed French program called "Apostrophes." The first episode will "air" on March 3rd, with subsequent episodes running two weeks after that. Looks like it might be interesting stuff.
- Joel


Edutopia - February 2008

Edutopia's new issue has just been released. For those of you not familiar with the magazine, it is an education oriented magazine sponsored by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. As a person who gets tons of publications from unions, companies, and God knows who else, I know that your reading time is limited. But trust me when I say that this is not a magazine for the circular file. Every issue is usually pretty good. The only complaint that I have is that I used to receive a physical copy in the mail but now have been relegated to an ebook version. I guess I can't complain because it's free, but it made for good commode reading.

Anyway, here's a link to February's issue. You can also subscribe so that they send it to you via email. Once I have a little more time I'll post a review of anything interesting.

- Joel

The Big Read - To Kill a Mockingbird

Just Buffalo is again sponsoring the NEA's Big Read this year. This year's selection is To Kill a Mockingbird, and they have a lot going on around it, including a Studio Arena production.

WNYWP research under way

By now, most of you know that Cheryl Krajna is in the midst of her master's degree program at St. Bonaventure University.
She is part of the Integrated Marketing Communications program, and as such is undertaking a good deal of research of Fellows, as well as teachers across Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties who have not attended the Summer Institute. This research will enable Cheryl to put together a creative and coordinated marketing communications plan for WNYWP.
Thanks to everyone who completed the Fellows survey, which is now closed.


WNYWP 2007 Summer Institute

Summer Institute 2007: The Remix

by Keri Davis and Greg Staniszewski

Every year the Summer Institute inspires us for the upcoming school year. We leave at the end of July ready to teach, feeling a little more professional, and as always, feeling like the writers we yearn to be the rest of the year.
While keeping the core of the summer intact, we strived to bring the Summer Institute into the 21st century. With the infusion of technology and modifications to our daily schedule, this year's Summer Institute program allowed us to evolve while at the same time acknowledging the successes of our past. One of our changes was to begin teacher demonstrations earlier in the SI schedule. New fellows delivered their teacher demonstrations starting week one after participating in two model teacher demonstrations presented by Jennifer Meka-Ratka and Jill Morgan. By adding an additional Pre-Institute day, for a total of two, fellows were given extra time to plan their seed of an idea. Our second Pre-Institute day, a suggestion we took from last year's National meeting, allowed for a mock writing group to be presented. A new addition to our SI line-up was a technology based research component, Red Carpet Inquiry. Groups conducted research and planned an I-movie revolving around core educational issues.
We continued to strengthen our field trip program. Our first field trip to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery was a resounding success. Lead by docent and fellow Julie Ricci, we used art to inspire writing. Our second field trip, a Forest Lawn walking tour, gave us the opportunity to reflect on Buffalo's place in history.
This year we elected a new-fellow liaison in the hopes of keeping our new fellows informed and involved. New fellow liaison Kristen Perillo has already created avenues of communication for the new fellows. We feel this new link between fellows will only strengthen our growing professional community.
As always, the core of the Summer Institute is the teacher- participants. Again we worked with an inspired group of educators intent on bringing writing to the center of all teaching. The SI reminds us every year that there is a population of teachers with similar ideas willing to come together to form a community. The SI is a refuge for all us like-minded professionals. And as always it comes in like a whirlwind and ends all too quickly. Thankfully though, the Summer Institute is just the beginning.


Books That Make You Dumb

A guy named Virgil Griffith scoured Facebook looking for users' SAT score and favorite books. He compiled all of that information* and came up with this chart, titled "Books That Make You Dumb." It obviously isn't a causal relationship, but it interesting. What can we infer from reading this chart?

- Joel
* It's a little more complicated than that. See the site for details.

Sharon Draper at Performing Arts

Esteemed young adult writer Sharon Draper will be speaking at Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts on Monday, February 4th. The deadline for the RSVP is Friday, February 1st. Click on the flyer to enlarge.

Saturdays at 10

Saturday, February 9th, 2008 10am - Noon
Old Main, Room 214
Faciliated by WNYWP fellow Carla Thompson
RSVP: Rosemary Evans (evansr@canisius.edu)

Come discuss the global phenomenon of the Harry Potter series, and explore questions about the stories. Take a look at the impact this series has had on readers and writers, and see how this eries may be used in the classroom.

Feel free to wear your Hogwarts robes or dress as your favorite character!


NWP E-Voice Recap

The January/February NWP newsletter, the E-Voice, was just released. The e-rag contains news of a writing retreat opportunity, the NWP Spring meeting, an Urban Sites Network meeting, introduces Dr. Sharon J. Washington, the new NWP director, video highlights of the annual meeting, and much much more.

For the more pragmatic among us there is link to an opportunity to get a free "preview" copy of 20 Outstanding SAT Essays, a College Board publication.

There are also some really interesting articles in the Teacher Voices section. There's an article about threaded discussion boards being used to discuss literature, and a profile of a woman who gets her kids to read 50-60 books a year.

Be sure to check it out if you get the chance. And, as always, if you want to discuss anything specific about one of the articles, use the "comments" link at the top of this post.

- Joel


The New York State ELA assessments have finally come and gone...time to just breathe a little easier and get back to the joy of writing with the kids again...writing to write....not writing to jump the hurtle of a test...during those moments of breathing i have found time to enjoy a few books...Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan was a rather nostalgic look on that time in life when you work your first job...mine was at a grocery store...the people in this novel are working at the Red Lobster...some of them are "lifers"...the plot is a nostalgic look back as the workers work their last day in a horrid snow storm...the Lobster is closing due to poor sales and they all have one day to work, reminisce and move on...for something a little darker by the same author i highly recommend Night Country...its a ghost story...great read...last two pages took me back to many high school nights...I'll post again when i finish reading Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill (he's Stephen King's son so of course the book is scary)
I don't understand how to use spell check on the blog yet so I am hoping for no mistakes...(hurtle or hurdle???)


Summer Institute 2007


Welcome to the Western New York Writing Project blog.

The WNYWP is now in its 22nd year of service to education. As an affiliate of the National Writing Project, we are an organization of teachers whose mission is to support and improve the teaching of writing in our schools. We believe that writing is a foundational tool for all learning. Furthermore, we maintain that writing is basic to communication, expression and critical thinking, and therefore, it is the gateway to success in a global economy.

To support our mission and reach our goals, we offer various programs based in writing for teachers and for students. Information about these programs will be posted on this blog.

We also intend to use this site to showcase the work of the Writing Project on both the local and national level.

So we invite you to stroll through the site, click on the links, and keep your eye on us as we build our blog community.