Blogging with Summer Institute 2008

Sharing Writing and Reflections

Remembering Our SI Roots: A Digital Story

August 12, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents, VIdeos

Reflecting on our SI

August 1, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents

IGuests of Jose

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It was a great last day for a great SI and this morning as our team read through the reflections and shared ideas for next summer we were all feeling the exhaustion and need for some relaxation, but what great memories and hopes to continue the community of SI08 on a new blog?

Here just above us, Steve will create online copies of our SI Anthologies.  Hope visitors continue to stop by.

See you on Thursday, October 2, 2008



Last Day of our SI’08 Thursday, July 31, 2008

July 30, 2008 by · 1 Comment · Digital Documents, Logs, Process Piece, Writing into the Day

Good morning everyone. Today is a day for tying up loose ends,reflection, planning beyond the SI and celebration at Jose’s house! Thanks Jose in advance.

Writing into the Day: Letter to Self Chapter 2.

DD: Sue

Logger: Jose

Day Log for 7/30/08. By Jose Gomez

Mike graces us with bagels, munchkins, fruit salad and, ooh-la-la!, strawberry shortcake.
Katelin is busy writing on the board, titles of all our TIW’s
It is, believe it or not, our last full day at the New Paltz Campus!

Bonnie calls the room to order and announces that there has been a shift in plans (love it!)
Respectful of the reflecting mood in which we should all be now that our summer institute comes to a close, Bonnie asks us to write about the highlights of our TIW’s for us to discuss it in a Socratic seminar. She and Mary go over a kind of rubric to revisit and to rank a few of the TWIs from the perspective of how it
• Provides us with introductory and background information
• Describes and demonstrates the literacy practice
• Crafts real time aspects of the literacy experience
• Offers a rationale for the literacy practice

9:10 Barbara’s Digital documentation.

One picture of the duck cart (Barbara remembers having that very same duck at her Grandma’s?) and one picture of Lilah, posturing ( or, what is she doing?)

9:15 (A lot of things seem to happen in the next 10 minutes. Did I measure incorrectly?)

Katelin shares her log as a post card. It is beautifully crafted, creative. (By the way, does any one know where Katelin buys those oversized postcards? )
Swift aside: Steve shares his happiness about everybody doing what they had to do technology wise.
Cathy, and Lilah share with us our reflections about their TIW’s. Lilah tells us that many of us should improve our handwriting… (Sarah, Susan and I were discussing just that a few days ago. Someone has to bring back that Palmer method!)

9:25 Break

9:35 The Promised Socratic Seminar

Bonnie explains the rules and the focus of the seminar and for some reason expresses, rather eloquently, her views of what women did during Socrates times: “Stayed home cooking or whatever the hell they did then.”
We all speak. Mary starts, then Susan, Jose, Steve, Sarah, Marisol, Katelin, Mary…
And we share our thoughts about Kathy’s music, Marisol’s ELLs, Dianne’s tea party, Barbara’s recent modeling of some TIWs, Kathy’s delight at having all that input about her student work, Cathy’s advocacy and passion, Jose’s images of students working. Next, the exchange climbs up Bloom’s ladder and we discuss the experienced teacher as a facilitator, value of polishing activities, how one creates meaning in a collaborative way, the replication of student efforts, cross-grade adaptations, technology, research based pedagogy, theory, student-centered TIWs, inquiry and essential questions, need to create communities of learners, value of expository text structure, contrasts, conflict, intellectual sparks, coaching, interactive TIWs … (Did Socrates leave the room?…Need we say more?)

Yes!. Bonnie says she needs a bathroom break

10:30 Break…. We are asked to reconvene in the dim lit spaces where the future of pedagogy resides: the comp lab.

11:05 (was that a break or a happy half hour?)
Individual “clicking time” officially begins. To do: pick an article link in our edublog, read it and comment on it. Jose starts asking questions. Bonnie tells him to keep on task. Dianne tells Jose to keep a low profile. And we all click away….

12:15 Chow time

1:45 Individual comments and concerns about the e-articles we read and other in-depth stuff.

Paulette: Collaborative Problem Solving . Need to solve problem collectively in the Internet and join the “game” of technology, or strike out!
Katelin seems concerned about the Google article and attention spans.
Terri: what is the true technology balancing act?.
Gina: shorter attention span observed in K students from all the gaming experience.
Paulette: Use common sense- electronic devices when they are needed.
Katelin: how do we react to an adolescent saying: “you are removing me from a social network that did not exist when you grew up”
Mary: Not only the culture but their speech constructs are based on those games.
Steve: Teachers must somehow adapt to the culture or at least accept that is there.
Bonnie: If teachers ignore the evolving culture, the technology, students will feel ignored.
Jose: Don’t forget about the still-to-be-written book “Doing Mathematics to Learn Writing.”
Kathy: What is culture, today?
Bonnie: Globalization!
Mary: Multiple modes ?
Lilah and Dianne: New emphasis on reading speed. But where is retention, integration?
Mary: I am staying behind.
Sarah: Give her the broom!
Sarah: The Dominican Republic article would have been better as a visual presentation. It is awkward to ready it on paper. (Give her a tube!)
Gina: Can’t convince her grandmother to use the ATM machine
Lilah (gesticulating wildly): The world is just filled with stimuli!

2:40 Break

2:55 Book Reports. From the nontraditional to the more traditional:

“Raw materials for the Mind” by David F. Warlick. Steve gives a multimedia introduction. The team (Dianne, Susan, Sarah, Steve and Jose) shower us with a multitude of technology quotes, from the profane to the philosophical. Audience is asked to select one quote and pour discuss it. Cathy wants to explore MacLab. Wikispaces look like the (compulsory!) cool thing to do according to Katelin. Mike wants to get hooked on the Smart Board. We all agree this book is best used as a “how to” source.

“Radical Reflections” by Mem Fox. The Foxy Five team reports (Katelin, Mike, Lilah, Gina and Paulette). The books seems to be about good and not so good teaching practices. They make us follow a modified tea party format, break up in groups according to certain quotes and discuss them. They close the report with a two voice poem. What can I say but “that is FOXY.”

“Other People’s Children” by Lisa Delpit. The team (Barbara, Bonnie, Marisol and Terri) read excerpts from the book. It is all about accepting and embracing cultural diversity and language modalities in the classroom. “We’ll talk like them when we have to,” a voice tells us. Heritage, not title or position is the essence when returning to the family nest. Different places different identities: “I teach the way I was taught not the way I learned.” “I know my culture and that is how I teach.” A member of the team shares a personal anecdote about how she was victimized by racist behavior from a teacher. We experience the power of a personal story. Finally, we are asked to remember this book as “a kind of aspiring for a lack of self-awareness.” And we are given souvenir book markers!

“True Notebooks: A Writer’s Year at Juvenile Hall” by Mark Salzman. As an introduction, the team (Mary, Cathy and Kathy) tells us why they were attracted to this book and we hear: I lacked empathy towards children with such experiences. Some of my students have been behind bars. My husband has been a PE teacher in a maximum security prison for many years.
The team reached the conclusion that our legal system is inept at treating this population that seems to march at its own beat. These children, most of them victimized by gangs, grow up without fathers but love and respect their mothers. We listen to some quotes. “There’s no North star for me,” everything being constantly moving and changing for this young man. Susan reads us a poem written by the same child, which she feels speaks of hope in what seems as a hopeless situation.

3:35 Day adjourns… tomorrow is graduation day!
To the Lab for writing! Make sure Steve gets copies of your work.

1. Letter of Advocacy

2. Conference Workshop Blurb

3. Short survey



Send Advocacy letter, Process Piece, Workshop Blurb, and Reflections to me separately:

                                       [email protected]

Off to Jose’s for our Celebratory Reading
July 31, 2008

Dear 2008 SI Fellows,

Thank you for an amazing month of July. Today is a day of evaluation and celebration, taking stock of what we have accomplished together.

Please write us a letter about your experience this summer. Please feel free to include your hopes for what you might like to do with HVWP and/or what you hope the HVWP might do for you. Please comment on the four main SI strands and special events. Don’t worry about the order of your letter. We will study the letters as we think, retool, learn, and plan next year’s Invitational Summer Institute.

Writing strand…writing groups, journal, equipment (journals/pens/computer access), author’s chair, publishing, e-anthology, blog, “Professional Writing”, anthology; “Personal Writing” anthology. Suggestions/wishes?

Recent research/reading strand …reading groups, community reading with authors, book selections, sharing out. Suggestions/wishes?

Teacher Inquiry Workshop strand …coaching, pre/post, partner, leadership, learning. Suggestions/wishes?

Tech Literacy strand
Creating and using blogs, E-Anthology, communal lab support, sharing tech resources on HVWP SI’08 blog, planning beyond the SI’08. Suggestions/wishes?

Specials…Opening Orientations (Part 1 and Part 2), Hudson Valley Scramble, Staci Swedeen’s process drama workshop and monologue presentation, Visitor’s Day luncheon, potlucks, food. Suggestions/wishes?

Next steps with HVWP… Please take time to write about your personal and professional next steps within HVWP: What particular programs have you heard about from past fellows and/or that are occurring across the network that interest you? For instance, would you like to present at a Saturday Seminar? Coach a peer? Join the ELL Tech Study Group? Participate in or help organize a personal or a professional Writing group? Attend the NWP conference in San Antonio or NYSEC in Albany? Young Writers Programs? ,Empire State Network?

Finally, if you wish to nominate a potential fellow for next year’s SI, please let us know. We trust your instincts.


Bonnie, Mary, Marisol, Diane, Steve, and Katelin

p.s. We will send you an email about our Thursday October 2th Conference with directions and an agenda. This is a day when we will take time to reconnect, write, and closely discuss some of our conscious, post-SI explorations. Please remind your administrators that they have agreed to this previously.


Wednesday, July 29, 2008: SI’08 Reflections begin

July 29, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents, Logs, Tech Sessions, Uncategorized, welcome, Writing Prompts

Where will you be next Wednesday? Hopefully, relaxing!

Writing into the Day: TIW Reflections This writing will lead us to a Socratic Seminar for TIW wisdom.

Let’s make a list of all our TIW Titles and then revisit the elements of a TIW.

It’s official everyone can take a TIW breath. We have all created a first draft. Now how can we move them to the next place? Let’s write about what stands out to us. What TIW’s seemed to hit the mark in the specific elements of the TIW?

Here’s the 2008 Handout:

TIW description: In the Summer Institute,

you will share a well honed literacy-based activity or lesson that you do with your students in an 80-minute Teacher Inquiry Workshop (TIW).  You will take us through the process you use with your students, allowing us first-hand experience in the learning and writing.  An important part of your workshop involves sharing select examples of student work–how your own students responded to the lesson — as a way to illustrate and study your teaching practice and the range of students with whom you work. All workshops include time for collegial interaction and discussion.

What do presenters do in a TIW?

Explain (origins of) a teaching practice that is important to your literacy instruction and worth sharing and studying with colleagues. Describe your school setting, your students, teaching, and literacy practices. This is the context for my work- where, why, and how I’m working and thinking about a teaching practice to address students’ literacy.

Describe and demonstrate this literacy practice and how it supports students’ learning.  Share selected samples of real student work … excellent and warty. This practice reflects my hypothesis of what I do to support students develop skills as readers, writers, speakers, and/or thinkers. The student work I brought is data that I have been collecting in my study.

Craft real-time aspects of this literacy experience so that seminar participants can do what your students do (read/write) and/or think deeply about what they notice in the students’ writing.  Carefully structured learning activities can help adults learn about teaching methods/strategies through experience and reflection.

Offer a rationale this literacy practice related to your beliefs about teaching and learning, any outside research(ers), and the interests of your students, parents, or administrators. This is how I see my work in a larger context. These texts I have read and am now reading inform my work.

Invite participants to think about, write, comment, and ask questions about the workshop experience and to imagine how/if the practice would work in another setting.  Participants can think with me about this literacy practice, their experience of it, its implications in other settings, and/or new directions or next steps.

* We identify teaching as an act of inquiry and teachers as learners.

DD: Barbara

Logger: Katelin

Dear Matt,
I know I have been gone for a while, but I still can’t believe that there is only one day left. Today was amazing and exhausting…we started our writing day by penning postcards to those we haven’t spoken to in a while (I figure with my hours you deserved a postcard!). Accompanied by classical Brazilian guitar (provided by Bonnie, of course), we set to work to reconnect and write for an truly authentic purpose. Mary even gave us stamps to avoid the follow-through problem.
We continued our day by exploring two very different worlds, classrooms, and groups of students:
Cathy voiced her desire for her usually marginalized high school students to have meaningful writing experiences that can offer them ways to both express themselves in more abstract terms while giving them the tools they need to move themselves across the line society imposes upon them. We examined curious objects (ooh…I wanted to take that duck home with me!) and discussed the work of two students after we engaged in the same writing activity. I was left considering the implications of this kind of literacy engagement for all students as depending on what happens in the future, many of them will traverse the line of marginalization more than one time. Cathy’s work is important and interesting. I am glad I am lucky enough to be here.
I can’t wait for the book presentations tomorrow. Bonnie’s bells are going to get a workout!
Lilah closed our afternoon as she navigated us through the world of young learners who are not a part of the “literacy club” (which I, by the way, totally want to join. Is there a local chapter?). Lilah moved us into her classroom (“I rode my bike yesterday. Oh, and then I ran to the park. I was so sweaty. I ran near the swing sets and the sun was sooooo hot!”) within the TIW (“One type of scaffolding I use is scribing where I literally write down what my students say.” It was really useful to be opened to the world of beginning writers, and I am still thinking about the common scaffolding I use in my high school classroom.
I am unsure what happened the rest of the day. I went to the lab to help Steve with the anthology (read: sat and watched him format like nobody’s business) but I made sure to turn Mary into my loan shark to ask for cash for the shirts. I can’t wait to see the design when I get home. Thanks again for doing it a second year (Do you have any ideas for next year yet? What? Too early?). I guess I will see you around 9:30 when you get in. Thanks again for tiding up yesterday; I promise to clean out the litter box when I get home. Thanks, thanks, thanks.


TIW Reflections: Cathy W. and Lilah


Tech Preparation for Tech Community Reading Discussion

July 29, 2008 by · 16 Comments · Tech Pieces, Tech Sessions, VIdeos

Time for a Tech Isearch:

1. Dig into the Sidebar links on the right: There are articles, blogs,etc. Enjoy and report back to us in the comments section below and then we can talk. You have some paper articles as well.

2. What’s happened to your tech literacy this month? How can we support you in the future?

Share as comments below

Here’s a video to begin with:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2008 SI’08

July 28, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents, Logs, Writing into the Day, Writing Prompts

Good morning, feels good to be back.

Writing into the Day

Making time for yourself as a writer

DD:Katelin G!

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Shared with Flock – The Social Web Browser

Day 13 Logger, Kathy Berstell

8:32 Welcome to the First Annual HVWP Summer Olympics! The writing athletes are awakening, and fueling up with breakfast snacks (Coach Gina provided protein in the form of a French Toast Scramble). They are stretching their minds, and flexing their digital muscles, in preparation for the day’s Olympic events!

Opening Ceremony-Mary “opened” the day with a timeline diagram depicting the positives and negatives of her writing life. She asked athletes to consider where they currently are, and what their long term writing goals (beyond SI ’08) might include. Athletes were asked to spend time mentally preparing (writing), for the day.

8:55 Athletics-World Class Runner, Lilah, jogged through her journaling life, describing her early writing as “streams of consciousness”. Her recent events have “everything to do with having an audience”, and “the eyes of others” upon her. Way to go, Lilah-Keep up that fantastic pace!

8:57 Rhythmic Gymnastics- Internationally ranked gymnast, Marisol, competed flawlessly in the Digital Documenter exercise routine! Her “photo choreography” included an orderly scaffolding of writing exercises, followed by ceremonial photographs.

9:00 Newscaster Cathy recapped the previous day’s activities, highlighting important events and sharing some athlete profiles.

9:05 Archery- Athlete Jose nailed a “bulls-eye” as he reflected upon his TIW of the prevoius day. He commented that “You shouldn’t hate math, it’s good for you!” Imagine the angles and geometry involved in hitting the target dead-center!

9:10 A pause in the Olympic action, as Softball coach, Steve, outlined the strategy for Anthology pieces, and trainer Sue called for “title suggestions and golden lines” for the Anthology. Olympic chairperson, Tom, called for writing participation in the content areas, as well as offering opportunities for other writing venues, beyond this Olympic event.

9:20 Olympic attire (aka-Tee shirts) have been decided, but not yet unveiled, as designer Katelin prepares for Thursday’s events. A rowdy fan (Paulette), challenged “I do know about investigative interrogation”, but Katelin’s design remains a mystery for now!

9:33 Triathlon- Sarah scored huge points in this event, as she “cycled” into a Multigenre TIW Roadmap. Color-coded teams brain-stormed genre possibilities, then the all-star athlete shared the definition of a multigenre piece. Sarah next “swam” into student work, noting that the trick in a multigenre piece is to take disparate pieces and tie them together with a common thread. She modeled a “Two Voice Poem”, and the spectators could easily see how rich and powerful this technique could be. Spectators then became participants as genre were chosen, and writing ensued. Sarah’s final “run” involved reflecting upon the Multigenre Piece, and comments included “Great for collaborating with other teachers/disciplines”, “Planning phase was Great”, and “Definitely going to try it this year”! Sarah recognized her mentor, Tom Romano, as she quoted, The multigenre piece “brings out the poetry in people”. Sarah won a gold medal for her performance! Congratulations, Sarah!

11:00- Teams dispersed to write and revise. Carbohydrate-loading is encouraged at lunch, for optimal afternoon performance!

1:43- Sailing- Athletes reconvened as Captain Mike sailed into the afternnon TIW, Expressing Emotion Through A Reflective Writing Piece. He modeled passages from Important Things by M. Springer, then the writing crew sailed into writing about an important object in their own lives. Waves of memories rushed across our writing decks as we recalled treasures we’d acquired, and pondered why they were so important to us. Billowing sails were filled with pair/share adventures! Bouys marked the sailing path as student work was shared/analyzed. Fair skies and balmy weather prevailed as Captain Mike cruised into the reflection section of his sail. The crew contemplated motivation, assessment, and personal usage of expressive reflective writing. Another gold medal in the Sailing event!

3:10- A short water break!

3:25- Aquatics- Mary “dove” into the question, “What is the purpose of sharing student work?” Swimmers shared comments such as …

-Look at what exists, to look for ways to make it better

-Student work should guide, define, and refine our practice

- It keeps it real (Authentic)

-To gain credibility with others (Thinking and learning)

and my personal favorite, “We might hear some “promising paths’ that we can travel”.

3:50-Closing ceremonies- As an exciting day at the HVWP Summer “08 Olympics draws to a close, athletes hone their writing skills for the big Anthology Event tomorrow afternoon. Athletes, sharpen those pencils, flex your fingers, and let the “Writing Games” begin!

Big Day: TIW’s: Cathy W. and LIlah

Last reading conversation…

End of the day…


Last Monday of the SI ’08!

July 24, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents, Logs, Writing into the Day

Good morning. Sorry I can’t be with you today but I will return!

Writing into the Day

Considering our writing lives.  Where are we now?  What plans can we make beyond the SI? Suggestions???


DD: Marisol

Logger: Cathy B.

Daily Log – Thursday July 24, 2008
Day 12

8:30 We began our day with a lovely breakfast provided by Lilah and wonderful writing prompt courtesy of Bonnie. We each got to pick a black and white postcard and write about the image. “What is it saying?”, “Write from their voice!”

8:40 Katelin, Mike, Jose, Lilah and Paulette entertained us with their depictions of what was happening with their characters.

9:00 Mike shared his log from Visitor’s Day yesterday. We all had such a great time meeting other members from various Writing Projects and listening to a fantastic TIW from Nancy McCracken, Making it Better by Making it Worse. We all got a kick out of screwing up our work. Have to try this with the kids!

9:05 Kathy B. provided us with feedback from her TIW Reflection comments. Her ideas about using music to inspire and develop creative writing was a great exercise and we all had fun with drawing, writing and sharing our work. Gina would be in later in the day and provide us with her feedback them.

9:12 Katelin hands out the ballots for our Summer Institute T-Shirts……so many great ideas….I think I like Write On! best, but truly hard to choose. I regret to admit that I need an XL….maybe in blue?

9:15- 9:30 Break time

9:30 Jose’s TIW -Writing to do Math and Doing Math Through Writing. Jose began by showing us photos from his field trip, Storm King Art Center Art/ Math Project (SKACAMP). His students were very engaged in observing, measuring, calculating dimensions and analyzing the awesome large art scattered though out the grounds of this outdoor gallery. We reviewed the NYS Standards for Math and then Jose challenged us with some equations. OUCH! Can’t quite remember my algebra! Jose then engaged us in recreating a sculpture his students had studied, using either string or copper wire. He gave us a photo of the sculpture to guide our work…..only problem is that our materials were bigger that the photo and we had to use all of the material…no cutting! A fierce competition arose between various groups, Respect! , PEMDAS, The Mathemagicians and The Quadrilaterals. Serious posturing on the part of The Quadrilaterals, and return attitude by PEMDAS, resulted in a fun time for all. My group gave ourselves a 4+ …for effort…..we actually fell a little short on the end result. Jose ends his terrific TIW with reflections from the group. We had fun….I want to go to Storm King and see these groovy sculptures…Jose, can I climb on them?

1100-11:10 Break

11:10 Judith Rance-Roney joins us to discuss her article from English Journal entitled, Creating Intentional Communities to Support English Language Learners in the Classroom.
Judith discussed creating intentional communities within classrooms that foster positive and enriching relationships between students with diverse backgrounds. We were inspired by her struggles to bring two Vietnamese brothers, Tu and Phan, from the margins of her classroom community to fully accepted and cherished members of the group. We shared our frustrations with NCLB and the long road ahead with limited funds and administrative ignorance. We ended our wonderful discussion with some questions and comments to ponder, “How do we define and label students?” “We are all English Language Learners at all times.” “Be intentional in creating cultures of acceptance.”

12:30- 2:30 Break for Lunch

2:30-3:30 TIW Brainstorm Groups

3:30- 4:00 Some last minute housekeeping ….”Where to have our last day potluck?” Maybe at Jose’s? What is that about a swimming pool? Gina gave us feedback on her TIW Reflections….I loved the stations and I learned some Spanish…..And we ended the day with some really fantastic Writer’s Chair sharing.

I can’t believe we are at the end of week 3 :( …..


Vote or die!

July 24, 2008 by · No Comments · Uncategorized

Pease circle your vote and shirt preferences.  Please include your name!

a.        Writing Matters… / Period.

b.       WWYW-What Would You Write?

c.        If at first you don’t suceed, write and write some more!

d.       Shut up and write!

e.        Get dirty! / Roll up your sleeves and write!

f.         Write On!

g.        Quitters never write.

h.       Inspiring Minds Want to Write!

i.         Got Words?

j.         “Drown me with your ideas” / “Write!”

Size:        YL (Youth Large)                  S              M            L              XL           XXL

Color:     First Choice:                           Red         Blue         Green      Yellow    Purple     White

                Second Choice:                      Red         Blue         Green      Yellow    Purple     White



Thursday July 23, 2008 Last day of week 3

July 23, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents, Logs, Writing into the Day

Welcome to Thursday

Hope you enjoyed Visitors’ Day and you are starting to think about life with us, beyond this SI…

Writing into the Day

For now, let’s enjoy our moments together and I’m wondering, any prompts to share?

If not, I always carry backup for everything.

On the table you will find lots of photographs of people. Come up and select one that calls out to you.

And you are going to write a monologue from that person’s point of view, either in the present, past or maybe even his/her future…


Digital Documenter: Lilah

Logger: Mike

A Visitor’s Story

I’ve heard so much about this project so I decided to pay it a visit to see what all the fuss was about. Mike tried to explain it to me, but he still can’t find his way there, so I’ll have to find out for myself.

The day started off with Tom providing an introduction and my neighbor commenting that the Terrace Restaurant was packed with HVWP legends including Ann Hovey, Eric Salverson, Kathy Yeager, and Denise Maltese.

After Tom’s introduction, some lady was explaining that she was ready for her techno- tools to malfunction, but was happy they didn’t. At the end of her brief story she remembered something important; “and, also my name is Bonnie Kaplan.”

The group was given a writing prompt to write a letter to a colleague, friend, or politician to explain something they cared deeply about. Why are they passing me a pen and paper? A lady named Paulette shared something about being placed in a garden and another named Katelin was convincing Jenn that her mask project was proof that she should sacrifice half of her summer next year. These people are starting to confuse me. The one who made the most sense was Mary when she said;  “I realized I had to get a job, so I joined.”

Terri then presented her digital document showing Kathy and Gina thanking them for taking us back to kindergarten and first grade…I still don’t get it. Next, Sara and Steve acted out Sara’s skit about test hating, granola eating subversives. Someone should send them for a mental adjustment.

Next came the headline act they promised: Nancy McCracken. Now she was making sense; first telling us we should take a retreat to Santa Fe, then saying we’re smarter than we know and know more than we say. Then she made even more sense when she said ”You can’t teach students something until you know what their question is.”

Then it got crazy again. Nancy told everyone to make his or her writing piece worse. What the…?  “C’mon” she said, “the stakes are low.” We listed what makes our writing better while Tom wrote some of it down on newsprint. “I’m slow” he said when questioned about his pace. So am I, because these people confuse me.

After opening the blinds to avoid seasonal adjustment syndrome, the whole presentation made sense. You get the students to improve their work, decide what they think they did best, and then you can figure out how to help them…Excellent.
On to lunch, where we could talk about different programs the HVWP offers, then they were going to meet with their writing groups before some of them got up the nerve to share their work during their “Author’s Chair” activity. What a Day! Thanks for inviting me.


SI’08 Wednesday, July 23, 2008: Vistors’ Day

July 23, 2008 by · No Comments · Digital Documents, Logs

Welcome to Visitors’ Day

Writing into the Day

In the spirit of the National Writing Project’s call for social and political activism and with our continued focus on writing and publishing to real audiences, let’s use this writing time to draft a letter to a political leader, an administrator or a colleague, sharing your experience here at the Summer Institute.

If you are a visitor, you probably know just how powerful letters can be. Parents and community members often use this genre to share their feelings about education with the local newpapers, so here is you chance to take time and write your own letter about something that you care deeply about.

We will write for about 20 minutes and take just a few shares, but don’t worry no one will call on you to read your work.

Digital Documenter: Terri

Logger: Sarah

Please note: The following does not purport to represent the views of the Hudson Valley Writing Project and should be viewed as a piece of creative writing.

Transcript: The NCLB Tapes
Clearance Level: Top Secret

Interview between Commissioner S.O. Wiley, NCLB Special Investigations Unit
and Agent S. Lang

Date: 7/22/08
Re: HVWP SI ‘08

SOW: So how’s the undercover going?

SL: Fine. They don’t suspect a thing. I’ve got my age and gender on my side, and those couple of months subbing in New Rochelle gave me totally authentic bags under my eyes.

SOW: Good, good. Now level with me, Lang. How bad is it up there?

SL: Well, sir, the word ‘subversive’ has come up a few times, and I guess you saw the test-bashing poster from the first week.

SOW: Yes, yes, troubling signs. Listen, tell me about yesterday while it’s fresh. There might be other things you’re missing – codes you’re not picking up on.

SL: OK, sir. Well, we began with breakfast.

SOW: Was there granola on the table?

SL: Yes, sir, there was. And fresh fruit.

SOW: Mmmm… typical fare for test-hating types.

SL: But also giant double chocolate chip muffins, coffee cake and caffeinated coffee.

SOW: They may be getting soft. Go on.

SL: There were reviews of the previous day, and then we wrote about baggage.

SOW: Baggage?

SL: Yes, sir. Like when you go on trips – things you forget, things you take that you don’t need, weird things.

SOW: Weird things? What kind of weird things?

SL: Well, one of the examples was a towel Mick Jagger wiped his forehead with.

SOW: Did this come from that Bonnie person?

SL: Yes, sir, that’s very perceptive of you, sir.

SOW: You’re still checking her blog on a daily basis, right, Lang?

SL: I’m trying to keep up, sir, but her output is huge.

SOW: She’s trouble, that one, she and her Mary ‘friend’. More like co-conspirators. OK, go on.

SL: Psychic baggage. “Wounds, betrayals…”

SOW: Bingo. They’re running a therapy group in that place. Make sure that goes into the weekly memo, Lang.

SL: Yes, sir. Would you like to hear some of the writing, sir?

SOW: Yes, yes I would.

SL: OK, well, Steve — Mr. Subversive himself – wrote about traveling in Africa and I quote: “Sunscreen and bugspray – Generally these were sprayed on together at one-hour intervals and when mixed with sweat formed a toxic chemical soup, a second skin that probably smelled pretty funky to the natives.”

Jose, the renegade artist? He said: “The baggage of the mind; do we shape it, move it, pack it, discard it; or does it shape us, move up, pack us, discard us? Baggage – what a tricky construct.”

And Barbara, the college prof? She said her 5 _ year old son has a toothbrush fetish.

SOW: That sounds suspicious. Check out the boy, Lang. See if he represents a danger to his first grade class.

SL: Yes, sir. Then there were two TIWs.

SOW: Pardon my French, but these people are worse than we are with the initials. TIW?

Sl: Teacher Inquiry Workshop, sir. First up was a lovely young woman named Gina, a kindergarten teacher in a bilingual transitional classroom.

SOW: See how they’re trying to infiltrate at lower and lower levels? And lovely? I assume you want that remark stricken from the record, Lang.

SI: Sorry for the lapse, sir. And I hate to disappoint you, sir, but her TIW seemed really on the level. First people wrote about their early experiences with writing and reading.

SOW: Ah, those were the days, my friend. (Sound of one hand slapping the other.) Did I ever tell you about having my hand whacked when I made a grammar or spelling mistake?

SL: (Clearing of throat.) Yes, sir.

SOW: Sorry, go on.

SL: Gina had us explore how phonemic awareness affects the development of a kindergarten writer. She broke us into groups and we rotated through four different centers that she uses to have her students practice phonetics. Then we looked at how her students did on a test –

SOW: yes!

SL: where they listened to a poem, then drew and wrote a response to it. It ended with us trying out a word review game Gina uses, called ‘I have, Who has’?

SOW: She’s clean. Next?

SL: We broke for reading groups and lunch. When we came back Kathy B, a first-grade teacher, led a workshop on how musical elements and music can be used to… let’s see, “enhance language skill development” and “motivate and inspire creative writing experiences in primary-age children”.

SOW: Music! Now we’re getting somewhere!

SL: Yes, there’s a decadent focus on the arts and creativity. Kathy took us through how she scaffolds with music and passed around a number of picture books based on songs. Then we closed our eyes, listened to two different pieces of music, drew pictures of where they took us and all the sensations we experienced there, then wrote about it.

SOW: This woman is a revolutionary!

SL: I have heard her muttering about testing, sir. But I have to say when we looked at her kids’ writing – it was solid. Those kids knew what they were doing.

SOW: Lang!! Are you going over to the dark side?

SL: I hope not, sir.

SOW: I won’t take that chance. Before you leave here today, I want you to have a session with the Mental Adjustment Unit. Understood?

SL: Yes, sir. Thank you for your time.

Nancy Mellin McCracken, Co-Director, Columbus Area WP, The Ohio State University:

Metacognition and Revision: Uncovering Tacit Writing Knowledge for Strategic Use in Revision