Daily Log for Super Saturday, June 14th, 2008

Buffalo can be dreary, and this particular morning, our second Super Saturday for the writing project, was not an exception. Despite it being the first day of the long-standing Allentown Art Festival and that some had made commitments to attend fund-raising events that day, everyone was present for our session at Canisius. Talk of Father's day activities the following day, interspersed with other getting-to-know-you conversation, could be heard as fellows munched on treats of fruit, muffins, juice, danish, and coffee.

At 9 AM the official agenda began. Greg read a passage to us from the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, for the Reading & Response portion of the day (one of my favorite things, incidentally). Fellows followed this with 10 minutes or so of the response to the reading. A few people opted to read their responses aloud, including Katrina and Ruth. Thanks to them for sharing!

Following the R & R, we broke into our writing groups and dispersed to various places in the building, or outside (still dreary, but thankfully, no rain). First we discussed what a writing group is and how it might function. We agreed we might not all have a piece of writing every day to share (and not enough time if everyone did have a piece) so that would be fine. But we did discuss the responsibility to keep the group moving along by making sure we did bring pieces of writing to share consistently. Also discussed was the idea of using post-its for sharing of feedback. People seemed to feel this was a good idea. Several of us shared some writing as well: Scott- a piece on his dad/Ruth- a poem written during our poetry walk the last Super Saturday/myself- a poem about childhood.

Following a short break, we reconvened for Jessica's demonstration lesson on Golden Verbs (see 6 Traits for more on word choice). Lots of interactive activities, post-it notes, brainstorming, and numerous chances to write during the lesson. Several fellows again shared their pieces created during the lesson and feedback followed the lesson. One thing I personally found engaging and exciting about the lesson was how Jessica used picture books to facilitate thinking and writing regarding word choice. Thanks Jess for the great, well-organized demonstration!

Off to lunch. Still a bit dreary, but still no rain (yeah!). Tuna, roast beast (anyone know what I'm referencing here?), and turkey wraps, chips, soda and water and finally, yummy brownies. More conversation and before we knew it, back to Old Main, to finish the last half of the day.

The Web 2.0 portion of the day commenced, thanks to the creator of this blog, Mr. Malley. He showed some awesome videos ("Machine is Us" and "Blogs in Plain English"--see post below), demonstration of blogging and just general discussion regarding the exciting developments of social networking and collaborating on the web. And of course, how this might be of benefit to our students.

Next came our workshop development groups. Here we tossed about ideas for our demonstration lessons and how we go about constructing them. Some thoughts included lessons centered on historical imagination and writing, English language learners, multiculturalism, and storytelling. A few brave souls were solicited to present their demos the first week.

Another break, bathrooms, movement, conversation and final munching on treats before the conclusion of our day.

Red carpet inquiry--a project in which small groups of us will research and report on (via a video) an educational issue of importance. Brainstorming brought out all kinds of issues which people were interested in. The group then categorized these into the following areas:

  • Writing issues
  • New trends in education
  • Resource equity
  • Technology in the 21st Century classroom
  • Assessment
  • Discipline and Classroom management
  • Bullying and Building empathy
  • Relevant resources for the 21st Century reader
  • Students in Unique situations
Your mission for the first week of the institute (which begins on July 7th)? Complete the following:

  • Read "Because Writing Matters" by Carl Nagin and the National Writing Project
  • Read this blog post :)
  • Make note of your times for breakfast and log and blog responsibilities
Who's in charge of breakfast that first day?
  • Brenda-- bringing bagels, muffin-like items, and creamer.
  • Mark-- bringing juices
  • Brooke-- bringing various fruits
**Note that food needs to be brought for 25 people.

Day ended with no rain! Off to our respective evening activities.

Question: Do we have an email listserv that people can post to or email list of fellows so we can email each other if we have to? Thanks :)


Is Homework Working?

Lisa Mangione, 2003 fellow and member of the awesomest writing group ever, recently published an article in Kappan titled "Is Homework Working?" Here's an excerpt:

Unfortunately, the students who most need the practice and discipline of self-guided assignments are the ones who just never do them. The fact that we continually penalize these students baffles me. During the school day, they are the ones for whom you stand on your head, devise rewards, and do whatever works - all in a futile attempt to motivate them. Still, we expect these same kids to skip home, plop down at a kitchen table (where I assume a wholesome snack of milk and cookies is waiting), and spend an additional two or three hours poring over what they refused to do earlier. Interesting logic. We may think that grading homework sends a message that it isn't optional, but the fact is, the students who are most at risk will almost always opt out.

Follow the link and have a read. Feel free to discuss the comments in the comments section of this post.

Who is a Writer?

Suzanne sent out this link via the list serve today, which is a search to "[collect] reflections on writing and writing instruction from teachers, students, and the public" and join in on the Writing Program Administrators' (WPA) National Conversation on Writing.

The National Conversation on Writing addresses these questions:

  • How, where, and why do people write?
  • What do people write?
  • What do people like and not like to write?
  • Who considers themselves a writer, who not, and why?
Looks like a cool way to share our collected insight into the role of writing in the classroom and in our lives. What's more, they are not only seeking written reflections but audio and video participation as well.

Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival

I received a notice via paper mail about this year's Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, so I thought I'd post it for any of you who might be interested. The Dodge Poetry Festival, held in Waterloo, NY during the month of September, is an opportunity to interact with poets such as, Maxine Kumin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins and many more.

Friday, September 26, is Teacher Day - free admission for teachers and lots of poetry activities specific to teaching poetry.



Blogging 101

Your Task: On your assigned date, publish your daily log on the WNYWP blog.

The following video, The Machine is Us/ing Us demonstrates the power of the Read/Write web (Web 2.0).

Blogs in Plain English

Your Task (Longterm): Become a contributor to an evolving conversation about writing by sharing interesting articles, presentations, or lessons via our blog or by commenting on blog posts left by other WNYWP members.

Alternate video
(5 minutes)

Five Blogs to Check Out

Over the past year, I've been extending my arms into the blogosphere in order to find new voices and ideas to inform my classroom practice. As I receive little to no worthwhile or relevant professional development via my district, I have to look elsewhere to grow develop my professional learning network.

I've previously shared David Warlick's 2 Cents and Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed, as they are two must read feeds in my Google reader. These two guys publish daily, sharing insights from professional development sessions, conferences, and their own wide reading.

Here are three more blogs I've found my way to recently. They are fantastic and worth five minutes of your daily time:
  • Dangerously Irrelevant - Published under the premise that traditional education systems are becoming dangerously irrelevant, Dr. Scott McLeod shares news of blogging, pragmatic ed tech posts, video games in learning, 21st century skills, and much much more.
  • Blue Skunk Blog - Doug Johnson, the Director of Media and Technology in the Mankato Schools regularly blogs about technology and other techn0logy matters. He outlines some of his more prominent educational ideas in his recent post Everything I Know in 15 Minutes
  • Moving at the Speed of Creativity - Wes Fryer is a prolific blogger, posting insights, podcasts, and interesting links daily. Some recent posts have covered Google Earth, Moodle, and online safety. He's got the goods.
If you come across any great educational sites, you should share them via this blog. We'll go over that later on today.

Image Citation
“Another Look.” mnsc's Photostream. 9 Aug 2006. 14 Jun 2008 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mnsc/219073625/.


End of the Year Gala

On Tuesday night we gathered together at Ilio DiPaulo's to share in some pasta and WNYWP news. We reflected on another successful year and shared ideas for 2008-2009. Featured were Jon Federick's Summer Institute highlight film and a Red Carpet Inquiry presentation of a 2008 group's No Child Left Behind film. Suzanne also shared this Powerpoint presentation covering 2007-2008.