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)



Daily Log for Monday 7/14

Breakfast Time!!!

Jessica, Patti, and Joel brought us a scrumptious breakfast selection of fresh fruit, French toast, and an omelet-esque egg dish, and everything was deeeeee-lish.

Some fun facts from breakfast conversations:

- Joel chops fruit for giant mouths

- Tom was around germy people all weekend

- Nicole has curly hair

- Everyone should get their hair cut at Phoenix Salon

- Jessica's kids think she's a good writing teacher

- Miss Lippy's car… is green.

For R&R Scott chose an interesting reading from Anton Chekov entitled "Misery". There was a munching mare, a hunchback in galoshes, some belligerent Russian passengers and a guy that just needed to talk. We learned that the cell phone rule must also be applied to walkie-talkies and the Canisius engineering staff.

For response time, Mark had the crap depressed out of him, and Mulu began and ended with a question mark, like Spanish.

Writing Groups

What happens in writing groups, stays in writing groups… (unless someone reads at open mic)

Demo 1- Sean, "Weaving Webs"

Sean's demo taught us how to make connections between literature and our peers, with the use of the Whitman poem "A Noiseless, Patient Spider" and an awesome activity in which we wove postcard webs of our own. Trina chose to knit a doily with her web-weaving materials. Joel is a bug musher and smusher, Keri and Greg were touching each other's nuclei.

We also learned that Sean has many disagreements, likes to investigate tangents, and is a former member of the X-Men, his power… super-sensitive feet. Professor X wasn't exactly heartbroken when Sean decided to pursue teaching, but based on his great lesson we're glad he did.

Lunch Time!

Mulu is a very interesting person, and Keri, Tom, and Greg made a mad dash for Dagwood's and managed to stick it to the man by avoiding the parking police.

Work Time!

The groups ventured off into LibraryLand to work on their Red Carpet projects and Demos.

Demo 2- Ruth, "Show AND Tell"

Ruth's lesson taught us how to balance out explanatory and descriptive language in our writing through a series of well scaffolded activities and Ruth's awesome sense of humor and hand-talking. We got to play a guessing game and expose how secretly stereotypical and judgmental we all really are by picking on Ted.

Nicole exposed her multiple personalities and we got a peek at the angry, Aquafina hurling French woman dwelling inside her, and Scott likes paper in his coffee.

O'Malley's View

Congrats to charter member Tom O'Malley who published a memoir in yesterday's Buffalo News titled "Whole World Revolved Around Old Front Steps."

Here's an excerpt:

Just sit back against the old storm door and revel in the twin comforts embedded here. Safe harbor of domestic comfort and launching pad for adventures just around the corner. A whole world revolved around those steps. A world always seen but never noticed. It was a safe, sane world that could be dull, predictable and beautiful all at the same time.

Share your own memories in the comments section of this post!


July 10, 2008
Summer Institute Log
Editor: Beth Latko

The day started with Matt and Keri having us sit at a new table with different people. Comments by the end of the day were that this gave us the opportunity to really meet the other people in our group! One of my new table partners, Joel, and I had a conversations about research papers J (I know…thrilling)

Breakfast was brought by Brooke, Karen, and Keri. Breakfast pizza, rice krispy treats and juice. We all ate well today!

R & R
Brenda read a picture book entitled The Three Questions. It is a story from Leo Tolstoy. A boy has three questions. Does he find the answers?

Writing Groups
Everyone says that their writing group is the best. That is a good sign that we are all getting along in large and small groups! In our group, Patti shared an Ode which she later shared in Open Mic. Our group said we should write an Oprah Wish List Letter and send it to her.

Lesson Demo 1
Katrina introduced Tom. He was an intern last year and now a fellow this year. He will be going into his senior year at Canisius.

Tom said that reluctant readers and writers can get into the writing process. Let students use their personal experience or prior knowledge in your courses.

His lesson is entitled Inspirational Framing! A Lesson in Getting Started. Tom had us starting with dirt to seeds to seedlings, all with tender loving care in between. We traveled between three stations to help us arrive at our plant status. The stations included a You Tube video entitled “Did You Know?”, a song by Thrice, and Chapter 20 from Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

We then completed our Dear Tom note cards and then the reflection pool. Great Job Tom!!

On our own. Many of us gather in the quad to enjoy the sun and discuss pertinent education topics and other items.

Lesson Demo 2
Brenda who is a Library Media Specialist had a lesson entitled We All Have a Story to Tell – Writing and Sharing Your Story.
Students often don’t know where to begin so Brenda had some great writing prompts that ignited our own writing.

To begin, Brenda showed us an online video/photo story of someone telling a major event in his life but through the use of ironing. The she showed us a podcast of a student’s story and then an example of someone’s personal story example. To help us organize our own stories we could “draw” the story or use a story diagram. We then too one of the writing prompts and began to compose our own story.

We then composed our Dear Brenda note cards and participated in the reflection pool.

Another great Lesson Demo!!

Open Mic
We hold the record……… Everyone took the step forward and shared something they wrote to the entire group. We heard many great poems, stories, etc. We look forward for perspectives fellows and returning fellows’ contributions next week.


Daily Log July 9, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The rain did not dampen anyone’s spirits as we gathered for another day of the WNYWP. Breakfast was provided by Ellen, Nicole and Beth as we chatted about the rain, and the heavier than usual amount of traffic many of us encountered on our drive to Canisius College this morning.

For today’s R & R, Katrina read two short poems titled “The Problem of Discovering Color” and “The Problem of Discovering Trees” from TIME AND MATERIALS, Poems from 1997-2005 by Robert Hass. The book was a gift from her son for Mother’s Day! Beth shared her response to the reading which was thoughtfully written and full of imagery. Tom shared his response in a version of “Katrina poetry.” I think I would like to hear some of the poetry Katrina has written!

Next, we broke up into our writing groups. Clearly our group is becoming very comfortable as we freely share our written work which is very often about family and very personal issues. Feedback from our group members is very enlightening as we are encouraged to continue our creative writing by digging deeper to keep the thoughts and ideas flowing.

Following a short break, Chris, a returning SI fellow from 2003, presented her demonstration lesson titled “One Man’s Treasure: A Lesson In Marketing.” Chris’s lesson had several creative tasks for us to participate in. These tasks ranged from brainstorming about what markets are, understanding vocabulary for that lesson, writing an individual short synopsis about a particular marketing picture, integrating the specific vocabulary for this lesson, and watching clips from “Friends” and “Jingle All the Way” bringing funny visuals about marketing to this lesson. The final activity was writing an ad for the product that was in our mystery bag to encourage our marketing skills. Time was given to trade our product however the majority were not too anxious to trade! The lesson was enjoyed by all and Chris was given wonderful feedback in the Reflection Pool. Thank you, Chris. Your lesson was top notch!

After lunch, we convened in the computer lab where Jonathan patiently guided us (me!) on completing our imovie. All of our finished clips were saved on Jonathan’s flash drive to be viewed at a later date….and the Oscar Goes To…!
We were then able to work with our Inquiry Group discussing our “game plan” and continued with research for our particular topic.

We ended with positive reflections about our day and announcements concerning tomorrow…..Open Mike, 2 demo lessons, titles needed for demo lessons…AND……socializing at the Pearl Street Grill. Kathy


Daily Log for Tuesday July 8, 2008

The Summer Institute Fellows started their day with a beautiful, sunny morning. The day began with homemade muffins, fruit salad, juice, and to get everyone off to a great start, of course, coffee!

SI Fellow, Nicole, read a hilarious excerpt from Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club. The column entitled, “All Smut and Perverts” had the whole group laughing as one girl describes her mother’s trouble with using the Internet. The group reflected and Mark, Greg, Ellen, and Keri opted to share their feelings about technology and the World Wide Web.

After Nicole’s R & R, the writing groups scattered to share stories, poems, and other creative writing works. I am getting the hang of how things flow during the Summer Institute.

A short time later, the Workshop Development Groups discovered the resources at Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library. The SI Fellows researched, collaborated, and planned their teaching demonstrations. Many of us also experienced “Title Trauma” as we had trouble tapping into our creative side to come up with exciting titles for our demonstrations.

For lunchtime, some of us chose to enjoy the weather outside for lunch, while others opted for an indoor meal.

After lunch, the Inquiry Groups joined forces to research and prepare for their I-movies. I don’t know about you, but I am very excited to see the finished products.

The Fellows then took a lovely trip to Canisius’ Public Safety for gorgeous photos of themselves for their I.D. cards. Steve, the “I.D. man” did a great job of taking everyone’s snapshots.

For the remainder of our day, we worked on our teaching demonstrations. Katrina and Jessica did a great job of helping the Fellows plan their lessons.

We ended the day with reflection and I look forward to hearing Katrina’s choice for R & R tomorrow!


summer institute log for Monday, July 7, 2008

The Daily Log
The official newspaper of the Western New York Writing Project

Vol. 1, No. 1. Chris Salamone, editor Monday, July 7, 2008

First Day of SI Starts a Little Behind Schedule
The official “first” day of the 23rd annual WNYWP Summer Institute got underway a little late Monday.
Suzanne, director of the WNYWP, assured the participants that the first day often runs a little late because the new fellows are not yet familiar with the Summer Institute routine.
She reminded the fellows that breakfast is from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. followed by the morning reading and reflection. People assigned to bring breakfast should arrive by 8 a.m. to set up the food. They are also responsible for keeping the “kitchen” area clean throughout the day, and clearing the area at the end of the day.

Julia’s Child:
Cause For Reflection
A humorous short story, written by Augusten Burroughs in his book, Possible Side Effects, was read Monday by Keri.
The story, entitled, Julia’s Child, told about a boy’s memory of his mother painting and writing, being “babysat” by Julia Child, and his misadventures in the kitchen.
After the reading, the fellows reflected on the piece in their notebooks. Several fellows shared their reflections with the group.

Author Encourages
Fellows To Write
Mick Cochrane, th e author of three novels and Canisius College’s Artist In Residence, was the first guest of the Summer Institute. Mick, who revealed his real first name is Hamilton, read from two of his novels, answered questions and shared his successful writing tips with the fellows.
Working on his fourth novel, Mick said it takes him about three years to complete a novel and he tries to spend at least two hours at a time on writing. He said he doesn’t plan his work or start out with a plot, but the story evolves as he writes. He writes about places he knows, and his third novel, The Girl Who Threw Butterflies, is set in Kenmore.
He explained how each work is read and edited by several “trusted” people, including his agent and editor, and shared the cover of the new book with the fellows. He also passed out business cards and urged the Fellows to contact him if they have any more questions.
Mick is also the author of Fleshwounds, and Sport.

Bring Or Buy Your Lunch The new fellows got their first taste of Canisius College lunchtime fare Monday in the school eatery located in the basement of Old Main. Offerings include pizza, sandwiches, salads and a daily special. Fellows can buy or bring their lunches.
A refrigerator is available in the Summer Institute classroom to store perishable food items and the lunchroom has a microwave that can be used to heat up frozen entries.

SI Fellows Learn To Make Movies
Fellows of the Summer Institute became filmmakers during the afternoon session of the Summer Institute.
Jonathan, the WNYWP’s technical expert, walked the fellows through the steps for making an i Movie in a day. His patient and step-by-step instructional approach gave the fellows the confidence to film a voice over shot on why they became a teacher.
The clips, which will be seen at a later date, were a precursor for the inquiry research project that the fellows will undertake in groups of 4 or 5. After learning the basics of movie making the fellows met in their groups to discuss ideas for their movie projects.

· Demonstrations that need to be copied should be emailed to the Summer Institute’s two summer interns, Angela and Nicole, who will make the copies. Daily Logs should also be emailed to them.
· The first Socratic Seminar will be held next week on Writing Matters.
· Each fellow has a “mailbox” file in the back of the room where information and handouts will be placed. Please check your mailbox daily.
· Bring your user name and password with you to class daily.
· Be sure to check the lists in the back of the room so you know when you are scheduled for morning readings, breakfast or other duties.