Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This Blog is Dying... Celebrate!

As we move up in the world, or out, or whatever... we are moving into the world of Ning, a social network for ALL Writing Project people. It allows discussions, groups, events posting AND blogging. So really, the SI is moving and taking up shop elsewhere. Please join us...

Come on down to... www.csuwritingproject.ning.com and join the fun. Start bringing your thoughts, etc there. It's way cooler. And... I'm personally using it with my students next year. Come see what we are doing.


Sunday, May 10, 2009


Are we teaching students to hate reading? Read Readicide.

Browse the book online: Readicide.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Charter School Teacher Job Fair at Peak to Peak

My school, Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, CO, is pleased to announce the first annual Charter School Teacher Job Fair, to be held Saturday, March 14, 2009, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the Peak to Peak campus. (This is a change from the original date.) This is the only teacher job fair in Colorado exclusively for charter schools.

Most charter schools are able to hire teachers regardless of whether or not they hold teaching credentials. Come interview with school representatives from charter schools in Colorado and neighboring states.

Peak to Peak Charter School is located thirty minutes north of Denver, just east of Boulder in Lafayatte.

For more information, please visit the job fair website or email me directly at megan.freeman@bvsd.org.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Walter Mosely says...

...that if you're writing a novel, you should write at least ninety minutes a day. Natalie Goldberg says, if you're going to write, you should write at least ten minutes a day. Each give their reasons. Probably an equation could be created to complicate this into understanding. 90x/day divided by 10x/day equals why. Both say write every day seems the gist of it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Because Writing Matters - Chapter 5 - "Standards and Assessments for Writing"

On 6/19/08 the CSU Writing Project Summer Institute discussed Carl Nagin's Because Writing Matters. What follows is a brief overview of our discussions for chapter five, "Standards and Assessments for Writing."

We began by discussing how assessment in current educational discourse drives much of the focus on writing. Writing is a portal toward assessment accross the curriculum. Indeed, students are now writing in math (72-73). What's next? Coed dances?

From there, we explored the issue of standardized testing and its failure in providing an opportunity for students to write from a place best suited to their individual lives. Generally speaking, the writing prompts are too narrow on these standardized tests. But all hope was not lost.

Kentucky's standardized assessments take as its model the portfolio, which, our group agreed, provides a more authentic assessment of student writing. Kentucky uses a holistic scoring guide to assess portfolio writing and renames CSAPs qualifiers for success--"unsatisfactory," "partially proficient," "proficient," and "advanced"--to a more respectful "novice," "apprentice," "proficient," and "distinguished." Kentucky's language lends a degree of respect and dignity to students, which, we thought, was lacking in the aforementioned CSAP terminology. The point to which we returned is that under the Kentucky model students become stake holders in their own learning.

Under this model, students write from a variety of perspectives, thereby addressing the narrow prompts of the CSAPs. Moreover, students have a say in which of their writings they hope to include in their portfolios. Indeed, students also have a say in developing and contributing to the assessment criterea. At the end of grades 4, 7, and 12, schools host a community-wide exhibition of students' writing. The exhibition gathers parents, students, teachers, and community business leaders to review the writing. This allows for students to write to an authentic familial, social, collegial, and business audience, thereby infusing their writing with a relevance that is lacking in current CSAP models. Additionally, this holds the students to a certain degree of accountability that they would not otherwise have if writing to the anamolous CSAP audience. This model seems to be working, as 80% of Kentucky teachers recognized a significant improvement in their students' writing.

When compared to the CSAPs, Kentucky's portfolio model of assessment illuminates the former's artificiality, an artificuality that supports formulaic writing. How can it not? The rigidity of the setting of a CSAP test demands a formulaic approach to writing. For example, the group noted that the revision process during CSAPs is conducted in an unrealistic format.

Our group concluded by suggesting that the portfolio approach provides an assessor with a far better picture of the students' writing abilities, particularly when considering a multi-genre approach to writing portfolios.

We hope yoy find this review useful and welcome any additional comments or feedback.

Write on,

Stephen Hlawaty

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Writing Matters: Chapter 3 Discussion

Chapter 3: Writing to Learn

This chapter starts with a common fear of teaching writing: “time spent writing [i]s a time lost for learning ‘science’” (52). To overcome this, though, the chapter talks about how writing can become a part of the daily practice of class (with reading logs, practice essays, expressive writing, etc.). As a result writing can be easily integrated across the curriculum, because “expressive, informal writing tasks can improve learning retention” (54).

But these writing assignments must be genuine with real audiences and authentic tasks because “higher level thinking takes place with the authentic writing across curriculums” (47). As a result “in assignments, it means asking the student to construct knowledge through analysis, synthesis, and interpretation” (49), therefore creating opportunities for students to engage in a conversation and transform the assignment so that they can make the assignments their own.

Scaffolding is a part assessing students’ writing, though, and most common deficiencies are due to weak scaffolding and weak guidelines. Therefore the smaller pieces of writing can lead to the larger product, and teachers must remember this when assigning writing assignments in order to assess students’ knowledge.

Specific strategies for scaffolding include teachers speaking with their students about the students’ writing, students spending time on the process of writing (specifically the brainstorming and editing pieces of the writing process), students reflecting on their writing (as well as other assignments and readings), and teachers/students saving students’ work in portfolios for students to discuss with others during conferences or discussions. Reflections are integral when using writing to learn, and this isn’t just true for the students. Teachers can also benefit from reflecting on their planning, strategies, lessons, and assessments as well.

Overall, for writing assignments/assessments to aid in learning, the authenticity and investment (from both students and teacher) are necessary in order to motivate students to write, create, and learn.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Good Books

Good Books
CSU-WP Summer Institute 2008

Craig’s Dictionary
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Short Guide to Action Research by Andrew P. Johnson
Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing by Ted Kooser and Steve Cox
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg
On Writing by Stephen King
I Ching for Writers: Finding the Page Inside You by Sarah Jane Sloane
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
Content Area Reading and Learning: Reading and Learning by Diane Lapp, James Flood, and Nancy Farnan
The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Girls Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings From The Girls Zine Revolution by Tristan Taormino, Karen Green, and Ann Magnuson
Cloth-Paper-Scissors (Magazine)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Ernest Hemingway On Writing by Larry W. Phillips
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
I Read It, but I Don’t Get It: Comprehension Strategies for Adolescent Readers by Cris Tovani and Ellin Oliver Keene
Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing by Monica Wood
Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing by Ted Kooser and Steve Cox
This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian
Gathering of Old Men by Ernest Gaines
The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by Freedom Writers and Zlata Filipovic
The Same River Twice: A Memoir by Chris Offutt
The Meadow by James Galvin

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New voices, different voices

So, after today's conversation... I thought "hmmmm, bloggining could be the answer for those voices that don't pipe up in the classroom"...but I did not speak.

Ah, blogging,,,, However, it is not immediate gratification, but for some of us, it is not necessary for the response, only to know that we have been heard (after two: a)glasses b)bottles c)casks
:> of wine)
...Get ye selves to the summer stash, post haste!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Apprentice Writers

Vicki was the second in line... for a demo that is.

Her amazing ideas of apprenticeship can be used in any classroom, regardless of content or age. Imagine allowing students to study the works and lives of accomplished authors, especially those of their choice. Getting to "know" these authors and having a different view of their styles, methods and inspiration allows students to get to know themselves as writers. Getting them to "apprentice" a writer pushes them to set high standards and goal set for themselves in their own work. Very cool...

As a science teacher, my kids could apprentice scientists and learn from the work they do. Art, Music, any class can use this idea to drive the creativity and motivation of our students. Thanks for an awesome concept Vicki.

Chili Eating Contest

This is for the people who were in the room Friday morning as I was reading this.
Here is the link: http://www.jokecrazy.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1322