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Date: Thursday, 27 Jun 2013 14:43
Our 21st Red Cedar Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute, is composed of 6 outstanding secondary teachers of writing, RCWP Co-director Dawn Reed, and myself.  I am humbled daily by the amazing insights each participant offers as together we attempt to improve our practice as writers, as teachers of writing, and as teacher leaders.

In lieu of an individual log report, I am inviting each of our participants to join me in commenting on the most important thing they feel they learned today.  I'll add my own insights at the end.

This has been a day, like most, punctuated by food--literal and figurative.  We began with an amazing homemade bread and fruit bowl (watermelon, strawberries and blueberries!  YUM!) that Kristen made for us.  Lunch was a collaboratively developed salad bar.  Salad greens, cheeses, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, and a variety of salad dressings were complimented by animal crackers; a whipped cream, chopped apple and candybar fluff; and chocolate chip cookies.  All afternoon we were able to graze on these leftovers and the miniature candy bars that Mitch, who is facilitating WIDE PATHS: Digital Writing Workshop, shared first thing in the morning.

But we have fed one another figuratively as well.  From short consultations on pieces of writing and teaching demonstrations to check-in's on portfolio progress, we were busy, busy campers.  We looked at children's books and their ability to break complex aspects of grammar, syntax and usage down to manageable chunks for our students.  We adopted a critical stance on language usage, and talked about colleagues whose life work has been devoted to trying to make school a more equitable, accessible place for students often marginalized.  We applauded Mandy's film trailer and film review log report that once again, pushed the log genre envelope, and we discussed the cookbook that hasn't yet materialized though it remains on our minds (usually accompanied by stomach growls).

Teachers came to this institute with the knowledge, skills and dispositions that had already helped them achieve "outstanding" teacher status, but they also brought with them the humility, critical and creative thinking skills, and desire to better serve their students and country that will keep them in the vanguard throughout their careers.  And now a word from them...
Author: "Janet (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2008 08:29
My son, Aaron, and I were an extension of the RCWP Writing Marathon today. While it's true we actually went to see the Tigers play the St. Louis Cardinals, I began my day with every intention of joining a group in East Lansing for the actual Writing Marathon.

Even before Mitch began the marathon with a couple prompts, he mentioned in an off-hand way that he had Tiger tickets for today's game in his pocket --- and they were going to go unused. I may have pretended to write the prompts, but all I could think about was whether or not I should pounce on those tickets like a team of tigers. So, at 10:45, I called Aaron and we decided to go. We scurried to Detroit for the 1:00 game. He even drove part of the way so I could do some writing. While it's true we missed the first half of the first inning, as we walked into the stadium, Curtis Granderson, #28, was introduced as the first Tiger batter; this was somewhat kismetty (is that a word?) since I wear #28 on the church softball team --- I took it as an omen of good things to come.

I skipped one fun moment. As we approached the stadium, we passed a saxophone player tooting out the rhythm to the Addams Family TV show. Just then, a bus with about 40 kids in it pulled up to the stop light in front of the sax player. Without skipping a beat, as if they had planned it all day, the kids joined in on the song. They clapped in the right spot over and over again...da-da-da-Da, clap-clap, da-da-da-Da, clap-clap, da-da-da-Da, da-da-da-Da, da-da-da-Da, clap-clap! They were all smiles and it made us get into the mood too.

The game zoomed into the 5th inning. No runs, lots of hits, and fortunately plenty of shade & breeze (see the photo, above)...thank you, Mitch. The chili cheese fries --- a tradition with Aaron and me --- smelled like baseball, tasted like heaven, and disappeared entirely too fast. By the bottom of the ninth inning, we were down 2 to 1 and it looked like the afternoon would end about the same time the sun was catching up with our seats. Then, Gary Sheffield clobbered a home run out to left field, only 20 yards away from us. Our defense & pitching held in the 10th inning and Curtis Granderson started the rally in our half of the inning (that's the sort of thing that goes unnoticed by the media, but us #28s stick together). A couple intentional walks later and Clete Thomas earned a walk with the bases loaded --- giving us the victory.

Forty one thousand twenty two fans were overjoyed! Actually, I bet there were about 200 Cardinal fans in the ballpark who were on the grumpy, pissed off side of the street.

Assorted observations: people do many other things while the game is being played including reading the Detroit News and texting each other like fiends; this one little kid didn't seem to care that his dad spilled beer on his cap; I bet 300 people stood and watched the whole game leaning on one rail or another; not only is people-watching fun, but watching people people-watch can be very entertaining; sometimes it seems like players want to get thrown out of the game (Polanco reminded me of Rasheed Wallace today...firing up the team with his unnecessary, but entertaining, antics).

Part of the fun for me is avoiding the traffic jams leaving the game. Adding to the challenge was that the game ended right before rush-hour traffic began. Suffice it to say that with Aaron as my navigator, we used the side streets well and skirted around most of the long lines. In essence, we won, again.

The chili cheese fries were long gone by this time and we were happier because of it.

P.S. Curtis scored the winning run and extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Go #28!

Author: "kabod (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 17 Dec 2007 23:48
Well, I have finally been able to take some time to work up the podcast from the NWP Annual Meeting that I started a few weeks ago. This conversation took place in the context of the Tech Initiative meeting on Saturday morning and, like all NWP conversations, helped me think about our work and how we might refine it in the new year. More notes from the session can be found on our wiki.

Two points to consider as you listen to the conversation. First, Inverness Research Associates did a nice job of framing the conversation around four dimensions and seven propositions, which I list below.

Second, this was a conversation held in the larger context of a full-morning meeting, and in the even larger context of the last three years of the NWP's Technology Initiative. So, as you listen, know that this group has been thinking about these issues for a long time. For us at RCWP, it gives us lots to think about in terms of where we want our work to go next. For other sites that may not have started with tech work yet, it can be overwhelming to think about all these issues, so don't let this list get you down. Instead, use it to guide your thinking about where you are and where you want to be in terms of technology and literacy.

All in all, this was a good conversation, and I appreciate the many NWP colleagues who allowed me to record them for this podcast:
  • Heidi Mick
  • Rita Sorrentino
  • Paula Parson
  • Dave Boardman
  • Katherine Ramage
  • Lynne Anderson Inman
  • Darla Keatley
  • Bobby Cummings
NOTE: The items below come directly from handouts provided by Inverness Research Associates.

Develop Site Capacity: Dimensions to Explore

  • Knowledge of writing and technology
  • Professional development design and programming
  • Development of teacher consultant leadership
  • Interacting with school and district contexts
Propositions about the Teaching and Learning of Literacy in the 21st Century
  • The powers of technology exist alongside challenges and vulnerabilities.
  • The world of technological innovation moves at a different pace than the educational system.
  • Technology is integral to the discipline of writing today and is here to stay.
  • Knowledge of the discipline (writing) is essential for wise use of technology to teach in the discipline.
  • Technology amplifies aspects of teaching and learning writing (e.g., audience, voice, equity and access, publication, collaboration).
  • Technology challenges assumptions and approaches to assessment of writing.
  • New language associated with the use of technology to teach writing is emerging.
Author: "hickstro (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "nwp2007, ncte2007"
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Date: Wednesday, 28 Nov 2007 23:43
The NWP and NCTE conference in NYC was one of the best conferences I have ever attended. It was a highlight of my year and the recharge that I needed. From meeting and conversing with old and new friends to collaboration on important aspects of our work as teachers this conference inspired me.

As I reflect upon the wealth of ideas shared in NYC, I noticed that tonight the tree was lit at Rockefeller Center in NYC. It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago (where did the time go?) the scaffolds were surrounding this huge tree in preparation for the holiday lights. This year the tree reminds me to dream big and start small. I never imagined the shear mass of the tree before standing at the base of it with RCWP friends. I realize that sometimes teaching can be like that big tree. You can take the metaphor in different ways, but quite simply, I can’t imagine decorating that tree. I can however, imagine that to work on it you’d have to work one bulb at a time. So, just as there are many aspects to our work as teachers, we can address them one step, conversation, student, at a time. We dream big and imagine that beautifully lit tree, but start small, one bulb at a time.

From great sessions on digital writing, preparing for testing, starting a writing center, to reading policy, etc. (for details to sessions visit the RCWP wiki) we also had a great opportunity to learn and reflect on ideas with others at the NWP social. Meeting up with RCWP TCs was great. We walked by “The Late Show” to rodents of unusual size and Broadway show workers who were on strike, all on the way to our fabulous soup dinner. Yum.

I loved NWP and NYC. I was however, surprised that despite the advertising overload of Times Square, which makes the city feel like a constant buzz, I actually found it a bit difficult to gain internet access without paying quite a bit. So, if anyone knows the wi-fi tips for big cities, I am in need of some good tips.

Thanks for a great time.

Author: "Dawn Reed (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 28 Nov 2007 12:28
After reading and discussing several provocative books this year, the RCWP Book Club is looking for book suggestions for our 2008-09 season. We're interested in everybody's recommendations and hope to maximize our input by utilizing this blog. Whether it's a book you've been wanting to read, a book you have read and would like to discuss, or a book you recently encountered in the latest catalog, we want to know about it!

Please add your recommendations by simply clicking on the "Comments" link below.
Author: "Carlin (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "Book Club"
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Date: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2007 19:18

Like the Rodents of unusual size, this lovely lady surprised a few of us at Brazil, Brazil. She was showing the proper way to flush (in Brazil, I guess). In case you can't see Step 4, it says "Praise each toe for a job well done. Call the big toe, Chubs." I have no explanation for this. Pure silliness, I'd say.
Author: "kabod (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2007 18:47

Name the movie that quote comes from (well, maybe it's only an approximation of the original quote) and win a remarkable prize! Here's another possible writing prompt. I saw more than one of these giant critters while wandering the streets of NYC. And I thought hitting deer sucked...
Author: "Robin (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Yummy   New window
Date: Wednesday, 21 Nov 2007 00:01

Enjoy our podcast from La Bonne Soupe in New York City!
Author: "Carrie (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 19 Nov 2007 21:45
I would hate to be confused with those of you who habitually stalk innocent authors and activists or whatever, but I was able to find a front row seat at this event Thursday evening in front of Jonathan Kozol's name plate...and snuck a picture before security dragged me away kicking and screaming... Okay, I made that last part up. And that's Kathleen Blake Yancey hiding behind those flowers too. I also came away from the convention with an autographed copy of Letters to a Young Teacher. To date, the highlights of my own quiet protest to NCLB mandates have been to encourage a seasoned teacher, who was informed that after 30-some years in the classroom that he was not highly qualified, that he really ought to chain himself to his desk or something. "Come on, man," I told him, "You're from the sixties. All us young(er) teachers need some role models." Well, he didn't do it, as I'm sure you've noticed because you would have seen it in the news, but I still held out hope until the whole thing was worked out pretty much peacefully (if you consider the demoralizing of a master teacher peaceful). Anyway, the speech was as incredible as anyone who's ever read any of Jonathan Kozol's work might imagine. Thanks for the ticket, Liz!!!!
Author: "Robin (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 19 Nov 2007 18:07
Since most shows on Broadway were shut down due to the strike, we had to find other ways of entertaining ourselves after the NWP sessions. I posted my formal NWP in NYC summaries and thoughts on our Wikispace, so I thought I'd provide a couple of images here for you as writing prompts. Consider this your Sacred Writing Time. Let these photos take you wherever you'd like to go- poetry, song, work of fiction... :)
Author: "Melissa Brooks-Yip (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Sunday, 18 Nov 2007 10:58

This is what I love about NWP - and this is what makes the NWP conference unlike other conferences. Each of the two break-out sessions I attended on Friday either began or ended with a spontaneous guitar solo by one of the participants. In addition to the performances, the one session also utilized a pretty impressive variety of different technologies for multiple purposes. The presenter used a laptop and LCD projector to display his PowerPoint and his students' blogs. He asked two participants to use digital cameras to videotape portions of the session to represent their own personal points of view. Participants took notes on laptops and took pictures with their own cameras. Participants also multitasked using cell phones to take pictures and send texts during the session.

In that case we were definitely plugged in, HOWEVER, our work over the last few days has also reminded me that the value of technology and twenty-first century multimodal literacies in English classrooms is still being held up for debate. In more than one session a few colleagues seemed to ask, "Is technology worth the trouble?" Through our work at RCWP I (perhaps 'we') have become so emersed in reading/thinking/talking about technology in writing instruction that the connection seems obvious. It is not so obvious to many teachers. In a few different sessions I was really challenged to articulate arguments for integrating technology - not just for the sake of using 'cool' technology - but in strategic and responsible ways that advance multiliteracies relevant to students' lives in and out of the classroom. Consequently, I have been reminded of the role NWP sites can and should play in advancing teachers' understandings of multiliteracies - and more than ever I see that RCWP is doing important things in technology leadership and has an important role to play within NWP.
Author: "Carlin (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Sunday, 18 Nov 2007 00:45

I'd like to send a shout-out to our comrade, Andrea Zellner, who is home preparing to give birth to twins. Andrea, this pic is for you, my fellow Burke groupie. At this particular moment we were sitting in the hotel lobby resting our feet when Jim Burke entered the gift shop. I snuck a quick - blurry- photo as he walked by. I would only risk this humiliation for you, Andrea.

(It's him, I swear. Eade and Nobis can back me up on this.)
Author: "Carlin (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Saturday, 17 Nov 2007 23:53
Well, we are nearing midnight on Saturday and this is the first time that Aram and I have found a reliable and affordable internet connection at a Food Emporium. There is clearly too much to write about and try to get it in all tonight, but there are a few things that I think are worth noting about the past few days.

First, I have noticed, especially in NWP circles, that the conversations about tech and writing no longer require any bit of a prefacing about why and how we should even think about using technology. It is simply an assumed part of the conversation. Contrast that with two years ago in Pittsburgh or a few years back in San Francisco, and I think that our field has come a long way in a short time. From the looks of the NCTE program, the argument about why tech is important still needs to preface the main ideas of the presentation (as evidenced in one session I attended today), but I think that the change is now fully underway.

Which leads to point two. In a small group conversation I had with other Lead Tech Sites teacher consultants today, we developed a central question from our lengthy discussion (which I hope to post as a podcast later) and it cuts to the heart of the matter:

Within the context of new state requirements for teachers and students to use technology in the service of literacy, how can writing project sites affect school policy and infrastructure that continue to block internet sites and applications as well as other opportunities to compose in digital environments.

Well, the store is closing, so that is all I can post for now. More when I get another reliable connection. Safe travels to all who are heading home today and tomorrow.
Author: "hickstro (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "nwp2007, ncte2007"
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Date: Saturday, 17 Nov 2007 23:52

(left) Aram (aka. Mr. K.) plays chess with Carol at Washington Park…where Searching For Bobby Fisher was filmed.

(right) Our group wrote at Washington Park in the empty fountain.

Author: "kabod (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Thursday, 15 Nov 2007 23:09
Picture a Writing Center on the banks of the Red Cedar...in the year 2020. Teacher-leaders come and go in a seamless stream of transition due to the mentoring program started shortly after the turn of the century. Long gone are the days when "transition" meant uncertainty. Picture 25 programs for all ages on all eight days of the week all working together like a row of Radio City Rockettes. You may say "how," but hesitate to say "never" when you are in the Times Square Twilight Zone.

Today's Site Leadership session started me thinking. We need to do some thinking about the future. Our baby (RCWP) will be all grown up and needing therapy in 2020 if we don't take steps now to develop a long-range plan for her...a vision, dare I say, of how things may be when we are reading about our baby in the news from Burcham Retirement Home.

Would people be willing to take a day or dare I suggest a weekend (dare, dare) to do a visioning retreat? If we sat down and looked at how our baby is put together (can I leave this analogy, please?), we could put together an organizational structure that allowed for continuity and increased depth/strength over the years. Other sites have some good ideas on this topic and I bet we could fashion some pretty awesome plans.

Who's with me? (Don't leave me hangin' like Bluto in Animal House here people).

"Everybody's brother,"
Author: "kabod (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 14 Nov 2007 16:25
Well, it's that time of year again.

Our dormant blog will light up over the next few days with posts from the 2007 NWP Annual Meeting and NCTE Convention. Here, we show our enthusiastic smiles as we wait in the Lansing Airport.

Melissa and Jill just arrived, too, so perhaps we will get ambitious and record a podcast before our flight leaves. If not, there is some time in Detroit to catch up, although they don't have free wifi (yeah, Capital City Airport!) so don't expect to hear it until much, much later.

We hope that everyone else traveling tonight and tomorrow has a safe trip and we look forward to seeing you under the lights of Broadway.
Author: "hickstro (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "nwp2007, ncte2007"
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Date: Monday, 02 Jul 2007 10:11
Katy and Rachel created this podcast last Friday at our annual writing marathon. Take a listen!
Author: "hickstro (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Wednesday, 30 May 2007 14:05
Visit our class blog, Meyer Island Tribal Council by clicking on the link.
MeyerIsland Class blog

You may also wish to view our class wiki at
Author: "meyerisland (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Tuesday, 17 Apr 2007 12:26
I just came across this story about a young man who served jail time over information he posted as an "Internet Journalist." This brings up a lot of questions about online writing for me, as well as new information! Thought you may want to check it out... for your own safety!
Author: "Melissa Brooks-Yip (noreply@blogger.com)"
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Date: Monday, 19 Mar 2007 11:49
Here is a good article that our own Nancy Patterson forwarded to the MCTE listserv. I suppose this isn't breaking news at this point--we've all dealt with having to cut good curriculum to better prepare students for testing--but I think poetry is often overlooked in the first place, to the detriment of our kids' educations. Creative writing competitions such as the one the author mentions can be great motivation for teens, and I'm afraid that depriving them of such experiences will be more harmful than we think. A world wherein Billy Collins and Maya Angelou are office workers with excellent test scores but no volumes of poetry would be drab indeed.
Author: "Nobis (noreply@blogger.com)"
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