Super Saturday #1

On Saturday morning we kicked off the Summer Institute in grand fashion, convening in Old Main for our first Super Saturday. It was a day full of writing and introductions and more writing. Suzanne led off the morning with her R&R (Reading and Reflection) sharing of Marge Piercy's "To Be of Use."

Introductions followed, and fellows developed writing topic list and met in their writing groups for the first time.

Katrina shared the year's first teaching demonstration, walking us through "Cozy Cushions on the Couch of Poetry." (Note: I have uploaded Katrina's teaching demonstration.) It was a wonderful presentation with multiple opportunities to try write poetry, both independently and collaboratively. The presentation had magical qualities...at one point a group verbally wished the sun would emerge, and it did immediately afterward. Shouts of "I wish I had more money" and "I wish for world peace quickly followed." The presentation ended with a "Poetry Walk" and our sharing of poetry utilizing sensory imagery. As is the norm, we followed with feedback via a reflection pool.

Before lunch, we met in our Workshop Development Groups and discussed ground rules and preliminary ideas for teaching demonstrations. After a delicious lunch of hot dogs and pasta salad (and Grey Poupon!), we reconvened to give further discussion of writing groups. Jon, Jessica, Keri, and Katrina demonstrated the typical writing group, while the group shared observations about the nature of the groups, culminating in a document titled "What Happens in Writing Groups."

To end the day, Jon introduced the Red Carpet Inquiry project and shared some...ummm...eye opening films created by last year's fellows. We watched "Grammar Man"; the result of an inquiry into effective grammar instruction, and a movie looking at the adverse effects of NCLB on ESL students. Here's "Grammar Man."


NCTE Web Seminars

This one has been hanging around my inbox for a few days. Apparently, NCTE is now offering
...interactive, multimedia professional development experiences delivered over the Internet featuring some of NCTE�s most experienced presenters. During a Web seminar, attendees are able to participate in the session by responding to polls, providing feedback on the whiteboard, and asking/answering questions in the chat area. Elluminate Live!TM, the application used for the Web seminars, ensures that all participants are in sync, regardless of Internet connection speeds.

Maybe your department is looking for a good professional development opportunity, or maybe you're just looking for some growth. These seminars are $79 a computer (although, with a projector, this could be quite a large audience).

E-Voice May/June 2008

National recently published the May/June edition of their newsletter; E-Voice. In addition to reports on yearly events such as the Annual Meeting and upcoming summer institutes, there are several articles that you may find noteworthy:


Rosenfeld on Free Writing

Emmet Rosenfeld, NWP fellow and blogger for Teacher Magazine, wrote a nice little piece about the challenges and rewards of freewriting in the classroom. I know we all know freewriting like the pages of our marble composition books, but he raises some interesting questions/reminders/reflections.
...in fact, there are those who would argue that they tend to go through the motions even more than “regular” kids, so adept have our students become at the business of school.

Freewriting isn’t business. It isn’t about doing an assignment efficiently or for the grade. It’s really about letting go, losing yourself in a swirl of thoughts that may or may not go where you think it should. This is the creative ferment that leads to original ideas, in my experience, an absolutely essential stage along the path to more ordered, meaningful expression. I’ve explicitly taught it in a limited way, moreso implicitly by modeling and consistently having kids do it. Some get it, some don’t.

Read the whole post here...


Saturdays at 10 - Technology in the Classroom

We met this morning in Old Main 214 to share ideas about technology in the classroom. There were so many wonderful ideas and projects shared, I barely know where to start. I guess at the beginning.

Jenn B. started off the festivities by sharing projects from her science classrooms. Her students filmed clips representing basic life processes and organelles in her Biology classroom, and made a film about the periodic table in her Chemistry classroom. Metabolism, heavy metals, homeostasis and many more came alive on screen as her students found different low tech ways to capture the essence of the scientific terms. They were a nice blend of student humor and creativity. Jenn is currently working on Chemistry Karaoke with her students, and we're all anxiously awaiting these Weird Al type parody videos.

Jenn ended her presentation with stories about her emerging use of her school's blog engine, as well as information about her students experience IM'ing scientists on National DNA Day (sorry Jenn...I may have missed the title...so email me and I'll fix that).

Keri Davis shared a Powerpoint project her students completed in conjunction with Witness, a free verse novel by Karen Hesse about racism in the 1920's. Her students created digital found poems using five words from the novel and five words from a modern song that helped illustrate one of the themes of her novel. The student project we watched was nothing short of amazing.

We then had a pretty good discussion of Powerpoint in the classroom. It was noted that Keri's students used the technology the way it was meant to be used; a multimodal and engaging digital storytelling tool. We further discussed the merits of the technology and Kristen Frawley made a good point when she surmised that an added benefit of Powerpoint is that students become literate in the talk of technology. Terms like rendering and formatting, etc. become ingrained in student thinking. One person had a question about good photography resources, and I mentioned Flickr. Here's a link to the Creative Common group. There are currenty 9035 pictures offered up for creative use. Just make sure to give proper credit. Also, if anyone wants to see third grade Joel, look for the kid in the top row with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

Jon Federick was up next, and he shared films from his Mass Media and Production class. Jon shared very personal films that his students made; one, a short film that grew out of a piece of poetry about the death of a cousin, the other an inquiry driven documentary on the effects of family issues on today's teens. They were moving, honest, and inspiring. Jon also shared his observations about how he sees many students transform and evolve in his year long video class as his charges attempt to say something personal and meaningful with video.

Kristen Frawley was next to present, sharing a bevy of resources she has used in her Enrichment classes. Her students create podcasts about the goings on of East Elementary, some of which have been featured on WIVB. Kristen also shared one of her student's claymation film about an unfair race, which was downright amazing.

To end, Kristen shared this video from Youtube, which raises a lot of important points about technology in the classroom. We should have started the program with this. What a powerful statement.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Unfortunately for me, I had to leave while Pat McCabe was presenting as I was overdue for my nephew's first communion party. I'm going to bug Suzanne for information on Pat and Amy's presentations so that I can share them via this blog. I also promised to share the videos that went along with my handouts, as I was unable to stick around.

Basically, I wanted to share a project my students completed in my AP Lit class. As I am somewhat beholden to an exam, I have to keep an eye on more traditional tasks. In order to accomplish this and also integrate video, I had my students interpret a passage on film and also write a more traditional, analytical essay. Here are the films:

The Queen is Dead

Jocasta's Advice to Oedipus

And here are the original handouts:


What Are You Doing at 10am Tomorrow?

Old Main 214
Canisius College
Free and open to the public
Hope to see you there!


Benefits of Blogging Via eSchoolNews

Today, I picked up this article in a twit from Bud the Teacher. The article unveils different results of a study done by Pew Internet and American Life Project and examines the the positive ways that blogging helps students perceive themselves and the importance of writing. The article includes a lot of interesting statistics on teen writing. I found this passage most interesting:

Teen bloggers, however, write more frequently both online and offline, the study says.

Forty-seven percent of teen bloggers write outside of school for personal reasons several times a week or more, compared with 33 percent of teens without blogs. Sixty-five percent of teen bloggers believe that writing is essential to later success in life; 53 percent of non-bloggers say the same thing.

Bradley A. Hammer, who teaches in Duke University's writing program, says the kind of writing students do on blogs and other digital formats actually can be better than the writing style they learn in school, because it is better suited to true intellectual pursuit than is SAT-style writing.

"In real ways, blogging and other forms of virtual debate actually foster the very types of intellectual exchange, analysis, and argumentative writing that universities value," he wrote in an op-ed piece last August.

I'm not sure if and how my student writing changes when blogged. I know it increases opportunity for sharing/discussion, but I'm wondering how the writing differs. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Do your students blog, and if so, what type of writing are they doing?


WNYWP Fellows Publish InnerSessions!

Let's give a Roadhouse Yeehaw! for two WNYWP fellows for the publication of InnerSessions. Here's a bit from the Buffalo News article:

"At 7 p.m. Wednesday (May 7th), Talking Leaves Books at 3158 Main St. will host a reading and book signing event to celebrate the release of InnerSessions, a new collection of individual and shared poems by Linda Drajem, Barbara Faust and Kathleen Shoemaker.

InnerSessions is described as a collaborative book project in which the voices of the three writers meld and diverge as they illuminate family themes, explore the stages of life and take up issues in the wider world. The book opens with a section of poems on Women and Writing that features the voices of the three poets alternately building and commenting on one another, before moving to separate sections for each poet."

Congratulations to Linda who is a 1987 WP fellow, and to Barbara who is a 1988 WP fellow.