Thursday, December 22, 2005

Holiday Writing Ideas

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my final newspaper column for the time being. The newspaper is going to replace me with student writers, which is quite fine with me. I'm a writing teacher -- I love it when kids have something to say AND a place to say it. The local newspaper is a great forum for students. That said, though -- if you need a weekly newspaper columnist, let me know. I work cheap.
Anyway, here's the last piece. Hope you enjoy it.

When I was in high school, my father wrote me a letter out of the blue.

It was a short piece, a one-page note about the excitement of the “adventure” that I was on (I was on a church mission trip at the time, and was not told where we would be going or what we would be doing until we arrived.). My mother also wrote a letter, making for quite a special moment when I opened the “care package” from home.

I still have the letters in a box of treasures that I’ve kept from my childhood. I’ll always have them, because the words are permanent, forever there on the paper for me to read and reread whenever I need a reminder of that special time. I also keep a collection of the letters and cards my wife has written for me. They are in a special place where I can reach them whenever I want a reminder of special moments.

Writing is a way to make a mark on the world and on the people and issues that we care about. We write to share our experiences, our questions, and ourselves. At school, we teach students the conventions of writing so that they can communicate their thoughts, ideas, questions and experiences with whomever they choose to share them.

December being a month of gifts and giving, there is no better time to share your writing withthe people who are important to you. Here are a few prompts that you might use to complete a writing project for someone special this holiday. Sit down and try to get some writing done. You might choose a night as a family to sit down together and write presents for each other this year, or for family members in faraway places that can’t be with you. Remember to use all of your senses in your writing – each sense of taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight can bring something special and memorable to your essays, stories, letters and poems.

  1. Write about how your family spends the holidays. Who or what makes that time together special? What unique family traditions do you have? Ask someone who knows how they might have gotten started and write down what they tell you.

  2. Think about the places that you travel during this time of year. Who do you travel with? Where do you go? How do you get there? Have any crazy things happened during your travels?

  3. In many families, holidays involve some pretty important shared meals. Write about a family meal that you remember as being exceptionally good or special or downright unusual. Was it the quality of the food? A special family dish or treat? Smells or tastes? Who was there to share the meal with you? What made it such a special or strange occasion?

  4. Put all of the names of your family members into a hat. Ask each family member to draw one name. Write about the family member that you’ve picked. What makes them unique or special in your family? What would you like to tell them that you’ve never had the time to say or share? Is there a special memory that you have that you would like to get down on paper? Take an hour as a family to write about each other.

Whatever topic you choose to write about, make sure that you share your writing with your family. You can publish in a variety of ways:

    • Send out the best family writing in a holiday letter or card.
    • Box and wrap special pieces and give them as gifts.
    • Post all the writing on a family website. Share the website with friends and family all over the world.
    • Type up the good stuff, frame it, and hang it somewhere around the house where
      you will see it regularly.
    • Set aside a corner of the fridge for your writing. Take turns being the “featured author” at home.

Take the time to write with your family. You will truly treasure the stories and experiences that you have to share with one another.

Bud Hunt is on the board of the Colorado State University Writing Project, teaches at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado, and blogs at Send e-mail to

Monday, November 21, 2005

NYTimes Editorial on Educational Practices in Japan

Interesting editorial in the New York Times today about Japanese teacher training programs. Here's a highlight:

The book has spawned growing interest in the Japanese teacher-development strategy in which teachers work cooperatively and intensively to improve their methods. This process, known as "lesson study," allows teachers to revise and refine lessons that are then shared with others, sometimes through video and sometimes at conventions. In addition to helping novices, this system builds a publicly accessible body of knowledge about what works in the classroom.

The lesson-study groups focus on refining methods that improve student understanding. In doing so, the groups go step by step, laying out successful strategies for teaching specific lessons. This reflects the Japanese view that successful teaching is the product of intensive teacher development and self-scrutiny.

Sound familiar? Here's my letter to the editor on the subject:

To The Editors:

In Why the United States Should Look to Japan for Better Schools, you lauded the Japanese practice of “lesson-study groups” in which teachers come together to share best practices, thereby promoting instructional mastery and student achievement.

While such practices may not be commonplace in American public schools or university education programs, they do occur in 189 locations around the U.S. every summer.

The National Writing Project (NWP) offers fellowships to teachers interested in improving their pedagogy, increasing their resources and expanding their professional networks. The month-long summer institutes focus on teacher research, writing, and the sharing of best practices through peer-to-peer teaching demonstrations. Following the institutes, teachers return to their own schools and districts to offer professional development to their colleagues. As stated on the NWP web site, the main purposes are “developing teacher knowledge and leadership in their home communities and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student achievement”.

We don’t need to look to Japan for a model with which to revitalize American education; we need to recognize the successful models we already have and begin to integrate them into the mainstream of American teacher training.


Megan Freeman
Fellow, Colorado State University Writing Project

Friday, November 18, 2005

Coverage Continues

Joey, a RUWP tech liaison, is also live-blogging the NWP Meeting. Here's his take on today's kick off sessions.

Poetry Idol?


AP National Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — The National Endowment for the Arts and the publisher of Poetry Magazine have organized a national poetry reading competition for high school students, with the winner receiving a $20,000 college scholarship.

“There’s a twofold importance in a program like this,” Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
“One half is education; students come into contact with great poetry and language and learn it by heart. There’s also an equal, and often overlooked practical importance. It will improve the student’s command of language, and will provide much needed training for speaking in public. A student speaking well will do better in the job market and better in life.”
The program, co-sponsored by the NEA and the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, was officially announced Thursday in Pittsburgh at the annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English.

(Cross posted at Bud the Teacher)

NWP National Meeting

While I'm not at the NWP National Meeting this year, I know that we're well represented. Several board members are present and some are even presenting.
I'm following the events via blogs like this one from folks who are posting as stuff happens. Thanks, Red Cedar WP and everyone else sharing info for those of us left behind.
I'm only mostly jealous.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Loss

James Gray, the founder of the National Writing Project, has passed away. I never met the man, but he's been making a difference in my life, and the life of my students, for the last five years or more.
Well done, sir.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Teacher as Researcher Gathering

The Teacher as Researcher group will meet the 4th Friday of the month - that's Friday, October 28th. Everyone is invited to bring their current classroom questions and a few bucks for a drink to Starry Night Cafe at 3:45. It's a great chance to catch up and talk about our work. We'll be out of there by 5-ish, or move on to other nearby venues for more writing, talking, and relaxing. See you there!

Friday, October 14, 2005

New Student Blog

Hi everyone!

I started a blog with my poetry club at school. Check out The Wednesday Afternoon Poetry Club. The club consists of twelve girls in grades 9 and 10, and we meet twice a month as part of the school day. I thought the blog would be a way for us to get a lot more out of the group, and create an online writing community. In the three days we've been at it, they've already posted 15 poems, and commented on all of them, so I think it's working! I used the NWP e-anthology's bless-press-address format for soliciting comments, and that's working well, too.

It sure would be awesome if some other teacher started an online writing group at a different school...then students could visit each other's blog and share feedback...

Any takers?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Thank you, Billy Collins

Here's the poem inspired by Billy Collins's visit last week...

We'd Like to Thank The Ready-Mix Concrete Company

In the crowded auditorium
(with the professors
and the farmers
and the students
with tooled leather journals on their laps)
noticing the art nouveau flowers
on the recently renovated walls
I listen with appreciation
to the list of sponsors and donors
who made the event possible
and I look up in surprise at the last name mentioned

the company that created a foundation
on which to support the poet’s visit

who paved the way to bring him
to this former sugar beet town

who smoothed out the bumps
that rose along the way

and cemented the date in the minds
of all who were lucky enough
early enough
organized enough to get a ticket.

There is great hope for a civilization
where in a world of economic depressions
and wars
natural disasters
and famine
concrete companies bring
poets laureate
to stand on wooden platforms
in vintage theaters
to share their poetry
with the gathered people.

Thank you, Ready-Mix Concrete.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

September 29th Coloradoan Article

Extra Helpings of Education (I forgot what the title was edited into)
By Greg Pierson

The other day I observed a woman ladling food onto her husband’s plate at the all-you-can-eat buffet. I was curious – obviously this man was perfectly capable of helping himself. I mean, why would you help a person with something they could do for themselves? And then the teacher in me kicked in. How can parents and teachers get students to quit playing victim and help themselves?
I do not want this to turn into an episode of Jerry McGwire where parents end up pleading, “Help me help you!” Humans are the only creatures that expect better results while continuing in the same cycles. We all play the victim at times. Sometimes we need a bit of help but don’t know where to turn. My goal is to help students and parents get extra help on schoolwork by knowing when, where and how to access information.
To begin with, extra help is not coming in one minute before class. Extra help is not time to suck up. It is not time for grade grubbing, whining, or any extreme measures (including violence, blackmail or forgery). Most of all, extra help is not punishment. After all, if a coach asked your child to stay after sports practice for a little one-on-one instruction would you balk?
Extra help is a time commitment, which shows effort from a student. Sometimes it is before school, sometimes at lunch, sometimes after school. Many times students can help themselves and they are not even aware. Even in this age of instant gratification getting extra help still takes a wee bit of time.
Attending classes is the main course in education; however, most teacher contracts’ allow them time before and after the school day. This is a brilliant time for students to get some individualized attention.
If personalized instruction isn’t what you have in mind, computer labs on campus are commonplace. Computers are in school for a reason (not Ebay) -- for students to complete schoolwork. Help yourselves. Knowing when a media center or computer lab opens is individual to schools. If your student needs to complete their work on a computer, perhaps a call to the main office is in your near future.
Lately, in discussions with my colleagues, I’ve learned how differently each teacher makes time and information available. For example, math teacher Eric Harding has set up his own website complete with daily notes scanned in from his overhead. Students can be self-sufficient and parents can keep things (due dates and study help) in check with a simple visit to the school homepage and a click on “staff websites.” On the other hand, Sheila Long, language arts teacher, has her students create their own plan for makeup work. This plan includes: work the student needs, when they need it, when and where the student will work on the assignment, and finally when the teacher can expect it. The more specific the plan is – the more successful the turn in rate.
Occasionally “when” and “where” are troublesome specifics of a meeting. My wife used a three-ring notebook for students to sign up for extra help. The binder was always available to students on a counter in her room. That way her students could make the call on “when” (day and time) to meet. The “where”(as with most teachers) was in her classroom and, with a quick signature, students knew they’d get her full attention for their own needs, questions, make up work or advisement.

Maya Angelou said, “Education helps one cease being intimidated by strange situations.” It never fails that in teaching kids to become responsible citizens we create intimidating situations. Information is the key to unlock that door whether it be a visit to the computer lab, a quick look at a teacher website, or an individualized conference. I am all for students being proactive in their education- many times all it takes is a nudge from mom and dad instead of a heaping spoonful on their plates. Encourage your kids to get the information they need on their own but be aware of staff websites. Students, the easiest way to find out what teachers expect is to ask. Just think of extra help as a second helping of mental nourishment that you can spoonfeed yourself.

Anybody see Billy?

Just curious- did anyone venture to Loveland to see our EX-poet laureate, Billy Collins? If so, I want a full report on my desk in the morning!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Teacher-Consultant is Also a Columnist

I'm pleased to report that Greg, a T-C in the 2005 class of CSUWP, had an excellent guest column published in today's Fort Collins Coloradoan. Hopefully, we can get him to reprint it here or on his blog. The piece, which you should all read, is about how students can get help at school when they need it. I intend to share it with my students over the next several days.
Unfortunately, for some reason, the paper doesn't post education columns online.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Let's Share!

Hey all!

I personally think that we should saturate the CLAS conference in March with CSUWP presentations. So we are going to have a get together on Oct. 17 at 4 pm at Fossil Ridge High School. We will meet for 15-20 minutes as a large group, then break out to work on our proposals. You can stay as long as you want, just remember you need to submit your proposal by Halloween.

We are planning a follow-up to workshop presentations on Feb. 4th.

Hope to see you all there!

Governing Board Minutes

The minutes from the last CSUWP Governing Board meeting are up. The meeting, held last Monday, was a good chance to catch up on each other's work and to share a great meal (Thanks, Cam!) while discussing future projects.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Writing Group

Hi everyone! CSUWP Writing Group will be held the second Tuesday of every month. That means our first meeting will be on Tuesday, October 11th. The time & location will be annouced by the end of the week. This will be a time to come together and share our writing, write, and catch up. Hope to see you all there! ~Kim P.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Starry Night

We had a really productive meeting at the Starry Night. Great coffee, Breakfast Burrito, conversations about teacher reseach, and a funny essay about life in 6th grade.

The next meeting is at Starry Night, October 28th @ 3:45pm.

Peace out.

Come Join Us!!!

Billy Collins is reading at the Rialto in Loveland on Saturday October 1st at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $14 for adults and $7 for students. Tickets are available throgh the box office at the Rialto. Click here for more information. I am intending to plan a pre-event meeting at a coffee shop or bar near the Rialto. More information on gathering details to come.

Teacher Research Group -- 1st Meeting

I'm writing right now from a table at a Fort Collins coffeehouse where the first meeting of the CSUWP's all new teacher research group is meeting. Right now, Kim D. is sharing some of the stratagies that she is using to incorporate more writing into her high school math classroom.
Want to learn more about math and writing working together to build understanding?
Tell Kim. She'll share. Honest.
Want to know more about teacher research in the CSUWP? Here's an okay place to start.
Our next meeting, if you want to join us (and we'd love to have you!), is Friday, October 28th, at 3:30pm. E-mail Megan for a location.

Monday, September 19, 2005

New Blogs

I've just added links to the blogs of members of the CSUWP. They're over there in the right margin. Many of them are new blogs -- so you might want to drop in and say hello. If you're a CSUWP teacher consultant with a blog, let me know and I'll add you to the blogroll.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Thanks for today

It was great to see everyone. Here's the text of the poem you all inspired today.


there are twenty-five ghosts in this room
standing behind me and all around

moving in and out of chairs
perched on bookshelves and under desks

my posse
my choir

singing backup to verses
we sang all summer long

the shades of their fingerprints
dust the chalk rails and the dictionaries

the memory of their footfalls
reverberates off the concrete slabs

the collected wisdom of their high voltage brains
fuels the furnace that warms this room

and makes a place where
you are loved and brilliant and will succeed

in spite of yourselves
and in spite of your plan

and in spite of the fact
that you can’t spell perseverance

there are twenty-five ghosts in this room
who’ve beaten the path into submission

cut back the thorny brambles
and softened the soil

where you will place your feet
to tap out the rhythm of your prose

so lift up your faces
make an altar of your rhymes

es el dia de los muertos

Teacher as Researcher Group First Meeting!

Hey, y'all! Come to the first Teacher as Researcher Group meeting on Friday, September 23 at 3:45 at Starry Night. Bring your brain, your questions, your feedback, your planner! We'll talk about our work and set our next meeting. Email Megan B. if you have questions:

Welcome to Blogging 102. Let's Get to Work

Good morning.

I'm tickled to death to have the opportunity to spend the morning with you on the next step of using blogs and blogging with and/or for your students. Over the summer, we used this blog to communicate, share ideas, listen to each others' readings, and to share our work with others. Some of you became bloggers -- many of you didn't. Many of you still will/might/could. The writing project believes that technology is a big piece of writing. Here's some information on how they're thinking about blogs.

Today, we're going to look at some education blogs, write our own posts, and sign up for an account with a web-based aggregator. We're also going to review the CSUWP website and some of the features that you can use in your classrooms. We're going to do all that in the next 90 minutes.

I hope.

TASK #1 (10:33-10:48)

You're going to use the next 15 minutes to create a blog and record your first post. We'll be creating today in Blogger. Go ahead and register for a new blog by clicking on the arrow on the bottom right of the main page in Blogger. You might want to open a second browser window so that you can follow along with this blog post as you work. The username that you create is something that you should write down, as is your password. Don't forget, too, to write down the URL of your blog. You'll need it later.

After you register, go ahead and make your first post. It can be a simple "hello!" or an introduction. Even better -- write about what you've taken from the writing project back into your classrooms. What cool stuff are you doing with writing?

Just make sure you make a first post -- your blog won't exist if you don't. After you make that post, come back to this blog and post a comment telling us the URL of your new blog.I'll be around to answer questions and to help out.Let's get this done quickly so that we can get to the good stuff.

Essential Steps of Task #1

  • Create an account in Blogger.

  • Write your first post.

  • Post a comment to this blog sharing your new blog's URL.
TASK #2 (10:48-11:18)

Let's take a look at some blogs that other teachers either use with students or for conversations with other teachers. You can find links to a pile of educational blogs via my blog and aggregator. Also, you might want to read the article on blogging that ran in the Coloradoan last week (I posted it here.) Still having trouble finding blogs to consider? Try a blog search engine, like Icerocket or Technorati. Just type in a topic you're curious about and see what the blogosphere spits back.

Your task is simply to read to see what's out there. You're looking for something that you can share with the group. The trick is that we won't be sharing out loud -- you'll be sharing on the blog that you just created. You've got 30 minutes.

Find one use of a blog that you find interesting, frustrating, or otherwise response-worthy. Write a post on your blog sharing your response, question, or idea for using a blog in your own classroom. Make sure you link back to the blog that got you thinking.Go.

Essential Steps of Task #2

  • Find a blog or blogs that you would like to respond to.

  • Post a response on your new blog.

  • Make sure to link back to the blog that you're responding to. Use other hyperlinks when and where you're comfortable.
TASK #3 (11:18-11:33)

Blogs are great, but who has time to go to a ton of different websites every week to check in? I certainly don't -- and I don't expect that you do, either. In fact, no one does. Luckily, we don't have to.

An aggregator is a piece of software that collects and brings blogs and other information to you. It does so using a technology called RSS. If you want to know more about how that works, check out this link. All you need to know right now is that you can use an aggregator to look at lots of blogs in one place.

You're going to subscribe to your brand new blog with your brand new Bloglines account. Bloglines is a web-based aggregator. You can log on and read from anywhere that you have a web connection.

You'll have 20 minutes to create an account at Bloglines and to subscribe to your own blog, as well as any other blogs that you found that you'd like to keep an eye on. Also, you should subscribe to Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed and Anne Davis' Edublog Insights.

To add a blog to your Bloglines account, click on Add in the top left corner of your screen. Follow the on-screen instructions from there. (Hint: All you need to add a Blogger account to Bloglines is the first part of the URL. For example, if you wanted to add the CSUWP blog ( to your account, you'd only need to enter the csuwp from the URL.). I'll be circulating throughout the room to help you through this.

Essential Steps of Task #3
  • Create a Bloglines account.

  • Add your own blog and any others you found interesting or important.

  • Add the blogs of other CSUWP members.

  • Marvel at how much work you've done in the last hour.
TASK #4 (11:33-12:00pm)

Okay. We've done a lot with tech this morning. We'll take the rest of our time to review the CSUWP web site and to answer any questions that you might have about all we've done today.

Then we'll eat some lunch.

You've earned it. I'm asking you to take a big risk for the sake of learning today -- thank you. I hope some piece of it was useful. Let me know how I and the other board members can be helpful to you in your work.

Essential Steps of Task #4
  • Ask good questions.

  • Take a breath.

  • Eat lunch.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blogging 101 . . .or something like that

Here's an entry into the Blogging 101 category -- the latest installment of my "On Writing" column for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Blogging gives students real audiences
by Bud Hunt

Students today have access to a huge network of writing and publishing tools via the Internet. And, to borrow a line from Martha Stewart, that’s a good thing.

If you can send e-mail, and I am guessing that many of you can, you can publish your writing online for the world to see. This is great news for students who wish to communicate their thoughts and ideas to others in their communities or to students in other states or even half way across the world. It’s even better news for teachers, as we know that there’s no better tool for improving writing than a real, non-teacher audience for the students’ work. The Internet, via weblogs or blogs, provides just such an opportunity.

According to Dave Winer, a blogger since 1997, a blog is “the unedited voice of a person.” More specifically, a blog is a collection of posts written for online publication. Blogs and bloggers cover almost all possible topics, from hurricane disaster relief to creative writing pieces to dealing with candy addiction.

Blogs are more and more becoming first stops for those looking for news or information on the Internet. In the classroom and at home, blogs are tools that students can use in order grow as writers and responsible citizens in the digital world. At school, blogs are not yet essential curricular tools, but they will be. While schools are still learning where blogging fits into the curriculum, students are flexing their digital muscles after school.

There are several free sites out there that you can use to start a blog. Perhaps the best known of these is Blogger. After a five-minute registration, you can post your writing directly to the Internet. Many students use free websites like Myspace, Xanga, and LiveJournal to tell stories about their lives, share musical influences, and write about and discuss just about every topic that you could possibly think of. On their blogs, students are talking about the war in Iraq, how to help in the aftermath of Katrina, and who the cutest kids are in class.

To get started, try reading some blogs to get a feel for the genre. Perhaps the best way to do this is to use a search engine that specifically searches blog posts. Two useful ones are Technorati and Icerocket. Try searching for a topic that you are interested in and see what others have to say.

The Internet is a big place – there might be some content out there that you find objectionable. However, the vast majority of bloggers are interested in opinions and viewpoints and good writing. They will welcome you as you begin to comment on their blogs and, preferably, starting your own.

Blogging allows students to both practice their writing and to have a connection to the real world that exists outside of the classroom. Interested in astronomy? Start writing about and linking to interesting astronomy websites. Along the way, you’ll meet others interested in astronomy and begin to have conversations with them about your passion for starts and supernovas. You’ll also be taking control of your learning in a powerful way that was unavailable to students just ten years ago.

Because they contain hyperlinks, blogs are a great way to visualize and show in practice how ideas connect to each other.

Parents have an essential responsibility and privilege to stay up on what their students are writing and thinking about. They should even be regular readers of their child’s blog – both to learn about what learning is going on but also to become a partner in that learning. Because blogs are public, parents should also read to make sure that students are protecting themselves by not sharing too much personal information online – phone numbers and home addresses are probably a no-no. Families should sit down together to review family Internet policies and privacy concerns.

Of course, parents can and maybe should start their own blogs to provide a positive model for writing with their children. Ask your child if you need help getting started. They might just already know how. One estimate says that teenagers are responsible for more than half of the sixteen million blogs current online.

That’s a lot of writing.

Bud Hunt is a board member of the Colorado State University Writing Project. He blogs at

** Originally posted at Bud the Teacher.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Writing from New Orleans

Tracy's posting writing from the annual New Orleans Writing Marathon, sponsored by the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. Stop by and check out what's posted so far. If you've written at the retreat, head on over and share your work.

Stay tuned for a virtual New Orleans Writing Marathon, says Tracy.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back to School

We started back today and I've already used so many ideas, concepts and materials from the CSUWP to plan and begin the first week!

I started today with Greg's I Wish I Weren't So... poems with my seventh graders and with the Where I'm From poems with my ninth graders. I used the idea of mentor texts as a bridge to writing and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY 120 STUDENTS WROTE A POEM! That is amazing. There are usually at least a handful of kids who can't ever seem to get started, no matter how helpful I think I'm being. The mentor texts, combined with the brilliant prompts, were just the ticket to give them the construct they needed in which to begin. Tonight they are decorating the covers of their writer's notebooks (thanks Sue!) and taping some of the quotes from Lorynda's demo on the inside front cover.

I am so grateful to the CSUWP for giving me such an incredible gift, and to all of you kick-ass teachers for sharing your blood, sweat and genius. Here's my latest poem (a bit different than the August anxiety ones that I've been posting lately), written after school today.


I am going to breathe verbs
all over your chair
and pour beakers of adjectives
on all the desktops.

I am going to rub the pencil sharpener
with nouns no paper can resist
and hang contagious phrases from the ceiling.

Your notebooks will run a fever
and your pens will bleed dry
in an effort to keep up with your
Brilliant Ideas.

Don’t bother washing your hands.

Antibiotics and tincture of echinacea
will only encourage me while
lowering your resistance.

This epidemic is airborne
piss-and-vinegar borne
and it doesn’t matter
what kind of immunity
you’ve built up
over years and years of
swimming around in
educational Petri dishes

because we are quarantined
and this condition is permanent
and the date to drop the class
was yesterday.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in September, so I can personally thank you and tell you again what a difference you've made in my life.


Monday, August 08, 2005


Any chance Tiffany would podcast and post the text of her Vitamin C poem? Gary and I went to the Mercury Cafe in Denver last night and heard the Denver poetry slam team in their last public performance before they head to Albuquerque for the national poetry slam competition. I though of Tiff, and I'd love to both hear and read her piece. Also, did you ever tell her about Hip Mama magazine? She should check it out. Kudos to Cindy, too, on her beautiful poem in the latest English Journal.

I'm still writing and blogging my poems, hoping to keep up the momentum and productivity through the school year. Looking forward to seeing everyone in September.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Podcast #17 -- Renee Esposito

Today's podcast is a piece of short fiction written by Renee Esposito. It'll blow your socks off. As always, send your feedback to the blog!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

New Writing Project Blog

Our friends at the Southern Colorado Writing Project in Pueblo are now blogging. Stop by and say hello!
Also -- where'd everybody go? Enjoying the last few days of summer? Afraid to blog now that the institute's over? Here're a couple of ideas to get you started:
1. What's you do with the last of your summer?
2. What new stuff is going to go into your classrooms this fall as a result of your CSUWP work?
3. Any good writing going on?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Podcast #16 -- Nicole Herr

Today's podcast is from Nicole Herr. In the podcast, she reads a piece she wrote about a Semester at Sea experience. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Podcast #15 -- Craig Moyer

We're back. Podcast 14 is working through some personal difficulties -- so we're moving forward. Craig Moyer is an elementary school art teacher. In this podcast, he shares two very serious poems and a humorous story involving a dictionary and various states of undress. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Who qualifies?

I met a wonderful woman at a conference recently who is very interested in NWP training, but is not currently teaching, and hopes to teach at the university level when she finishes her dissertation next year. Can college professors do NWP training or is it available only to K-12 teachers, administrators, counselors, etc.?

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I'll be taking a week-long vacation beginning today. Podcasts will resume in full force when I return. There's lots of good stuff coming . . .please be patient!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Podcast #12 -- Kim Penn

Yup. If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that podcast 13 came before podcast 12. That's because of new math -- and because of the speed at which some files transfer and some don't.
Kim Penn is today's podcaster. She's perhaps the most polite of our group -- I especially love the "thank you's" at the end of each of her pieces. I know that you'll enjoy her writing, too.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Podcast Vacation

Just a quick note to let you know that I've been on a bit of a computer vacation. Podcasts will resume tonight or tomorrow.

Chillin' in Telluride

I am here in Telluride with my family (my husband works at a theater company here in the summers). On Saturday we leave him here and head southwest to LA for some grandparent time. It is breathtakingly beautiful here, of course, and (along with Crested Butte) was the site of origin for much of my poetry last summer. I am not writing a poem a day anymore. My muse is so complicated in motherhood, daughterhood, wifehood. I've written some, but the lack of structured writing time (not to mention daily prompts and sources of inspiration) makes it harder. I also feel some guilt about abandoning the daily poem practice...that's the thing about a practice, I guess. When you DO it, it's great and when you don't, it isn't. My poetry blog is attracting readers, though (come read if you haven't yet) and having an audience is a great motivator. I hope everyone else is finding some down time and resting those teaching muscles. It's hard to relax on vacation while being so inspired (post-institute) about teaching at the same time.


P.S. Julie's still posting on the E-Anthology. Check out her rewrite of Laundry Day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

This'll only take a second

This is too good not to share. Hope y'all are up to good things -- come and blog about them!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record

The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record
Record Setting Drive to Taos!
Steven Church of Fort Collins, Colorado drove in record time to the Taos Summer Writer's Conference. Reporters on the scene say he completed the drive in a mere 5.5 hours. This record has not yet been confirmed, but is baffling nonetheless. At present, there is no information about the amount of Chex Mix this notorious trencherman consumed while setting this record. We'll keep you posted.

CSU Writing Project Summer Institute 2005

CSU Writing Project Summer Institute 2005
I'm in withdrawl from the CSU Writing Project. It felt so good to spend a month with a group of lifelong learners. I learned a lot from all of you about myself as a teacher, writer, and general human being. Thank you for being such amazingly real people.
The more I think about education, the more I realize that what we have done is revolutionary. I believe that a movement like NWP could elevate the teaching PROFESSION like nothing else. Just think what could happen if teachers began sharing their expertise like other professionals, i.e. doctors and lawyers. It could change the world. So, don't read too much of Eggers' new book, because we don't want anyone dropping out. The world needs us!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Podcast #13 -- Rebecca Fox

In today's podcast, Rebecca Fox shares a series of unfortunate dating experiences. You'll enjoy it, I promise.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Podcast #11 -- Julie Meiklejohn

In today's podcast, Julie shares two poems. You'll enjoy how she plays with words.

Poetry in your classroom

Check out Billy Collins' website that highlights a poem a day for use in high school classrooms. I found it on the CLAS site. He is a featured speaker at next year's conference...see you there?

A little slow, but eventually I get there...

I just realized that the list of calls for manuscripts at the side of this blog are calls for manuscripts! Wow, what a great resource and a generous thing to compile and share, Bud. Muchas Gracias.

Good Questions

Clarence is a Canadian educator. I read his blog regularly. Today he writes:

Knowledge is something that many students think is a compiled mass of stuff that they need to memorize and fill their heads with. It is not necessarily something they feel they need to understand, expand upon, or comprehend. To many students, it is finished.

Science Magazine has compiled a list of 100 questions that science needs to solve. 100 big questions for this century. Interesting. What else is interesting is this essay they have posted In Praise of Hard Questions.

The essay explains how hard questions, many of which seem unanswerable push us forward. They push us towards novel ways of thinking, new ways of looking at problems, and ask us to stretch what we feel we are capable of. This would be valuable reading for students (if of course I was not enjoying my second day of summer holidays :) ).

As is equally true in classrooms as in a hard science research lab:

"Unsolved mysteries provide science with motivation and direction. Gaps in the road to scientific knowledge are not potholes to be avoided, but opportunities to be exploited.

"Fundamental questions are guideposts; they stimulate people," says 2004 Nobel physics laureate David Gross. "One of the most creative qualities a research scientist can have is the ability to ask the right questions."

Science's greatest advances occur on the frontiers, at the interface between ignorance and knowledge, where the most profound questions are posed. There's no better way to assess the current condition of science than listing the questions that science cannot answer. "Science," Gross declares, "is shaped by ignorance."

The idea of classrooms being learning communities, where students are pushing the boundaries of their knowledge, and of knowledge in general is one we need to pursue. Classrooms as places of research, of dialogue, of knowledge creation is powerful, gives education relevance, and moves ideas to centre stage in classrooms.

It would be interesting to compile a list in a classroom with students of what they feel the gaps are in their knowledge are. Would they feel there are gaps, or does schooling knock ideas of creativity and curiousity out of them?

NWP E-anthology Participant Survey

Here's the link to the participant survey for CSUWP participants. It'll be up for two days.

UPDATE: Two days came and went. If you'd still like to participate in the survey, log onto the e-Anthology.


Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Tired. But almost home. Hang in there, gang -- two days to go.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sock Puppets

Couldn't resist posting this short video from Craig's log today. I like sock puppets. I hope you do, too.


I've been using Flickr to host the photos that I'm taking of the Summer Institute. I discovered this morning that some folks are using Flickr to host creative writing written in response to photos. Check out flicktion. Click on a photo to read the caption. Some are clever short captions. Others are entire stories. Most are pretty good and the pictures are interesting. Might make for a good writing exercise for your students.
Maybe you can start your own Flickr account (it's free) and write some of your own flicktion. What else are folks doing with ptohos in their classroom?

A Concern

So I've been on the hunt for other Writing Project blogs. I've found a few healthy ones, but I've found an awful lot more "sleeping" or down right dead blogs. It's kind of sad to see writing project sites with dead and dying links and blogs. I know that teachers get busy, and that we all have grand plans that fall by the wayside.
But please. Please. Don't let this blog die.
Many of you are signed up as contributors. Many more of you have expressed an interest. If each of you found the time to make one post or comment every week or two, this blog can stay healthy.
Please. Please. Don't let this blog die.
There are others who aren't in our group who do read this blog. Perhaps they find ideas for their classrooms here. Perhaps they enjoy watching another group at work. For their sake, and ours, please. Please don't let this blog die.
Okay. That's enough groveling. For now.

Podcast #10 -- Rachel Church

Rachel the Podcaster
Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

This is Rachel Church reading a short story for our podcast. She's sitting outside at Tamasag, a retreat center where the CSUWP spent the day before the 4th of July weekend. The sounds of birds and nature combined with her reading voice make for a great podcast.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Teacher's Voice

Megan B. shared this with us this afternoon:

The Teacher’s Voice is a small press literary magazine which contains poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction that reflect the multifaceted and varied American teacher experience. We publish creative writing that ranges from the idiosyncratically personal to the broadly socio-political: work that makes connections between the two gets special consideration. We look for writing that takes risks and is critical without being overly self-indulgent. The American education system has a myriad of problems and some stunning successes that teachers know intimately. Our goal is to provide a literary journal for these very same teachers to creatively communicate their perspectives.

Each fine collectable hardcopy is 8 ½ by 5 ½, 60 pgs., printed on recycled paper, with ivory linen card cover, and saddle-stitched. The bulk of circulation will come through subscriptions, but we plan to place The Teacher's Voice on many independent bookstore and library shelves around the N.Y.C. metropolitan area and other parts of the country.

We are open to all inquiries and are calling for strong poetry especially from teachers. We hope to make The Teacher's Voice the most welcoming literary journal for those committed to education. If you would like to submit work online or by mail, please see our submission guidelines or query:

Grateful appreciation goes out to our subscribers and we trust that more will offer their support by ordering a copy or subscription. Our survival depends on readership support and we ask that readers consider donating an inaugrual year subscription to their local public or school library. Library copies are laminated and reinforced. Such donations will be acknowledged in our Winter 2005 issue.

Submit. Submit. Submit.

Blogging Resources for Your Classrooms

Julie and some others were asking today about the ethics of blogging with kids. I've blogged with kids before, with great success, and I intend to blog with them in the future. (Hmm ... I've never conjugated the word "blog" before -- but it's kind of fun!)
Anyway, if you're going to blog with students, which is still a rather gray area in a lot of places, it's probably a good idea to involve your administrators and parents. I'm sure you knew this already, but better safe than sorry. I've got a wiki where there's lots of stuff that might be useful to you in terms of sample policies, permission slips, student activities and other handouts and conversations.
Check through the links and see what's useful. If you need something that you can't find on the wiki, let me know and I'll track it down for you.
Better yet, go ahead and create what you need and then share it with us on the wiki.

More reading

If you've got a minute, here's another good article on blogging teachers.
Of course you've got a minute. You're here at the blog, instead of working on all the stuff that's due this week. So you must be done.

Kylie's First Post

Smelling Grandparents

Beautifully damp
rich soil spirits oust
meanicing dust devils.

Quiet softens
convening chorals of insects
being conducted
beneath the oaks.

Path guided
lighted by friendly winks
from lighting bugs.

Heart dancing
flowing with floating stalks
bushy buds bout knee high.

Life swirls from life
condensing in soft
melodic scents,
creating my soul.

Bad Writing

MSNBC referenced National Writing Project this morning in an article about how bad writing is leading to money issues in trying to educate state employees properly. Interesting reading... at least it would be if the piece were written well. Ironic. Though, the author did use the word "befuddles". Check it out.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Podcast #9 -- Nicole Herr

Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Nicole's poem and this photograph go together. Enjoy them both.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Poetry Blog

Hey everyone...

Bud's influence was finally too much for me, and I've created my own poetry blog. I know just enough about what I'm doing to be considered dangerous, but the fun of the NWP E-Anthology and the CSUWP blog convinced me to set one up. Check it out.

Hope everyone's enjoying the four-day weekend. Lots of house cleaning happening in between naps at my casa...

Friday, July 01, 2005

What Will's Learned

Will Richardson blogs at Weblogg-ed. He's one of the bloggers that inspired me to try a lot of what I'm doing with blogs. He's also been at it longer than most, as he's just recently celebrated his fourth birthday as an educational blogger. I'd encourage any of you interested in learning more about blogging with your students to check out his website. No, really. Go there now. It's chock full of resources, and they're all good ones. Here's a recent list of Will's "lessons learned" about blogging and students:
  • Weblogs are disruptive. I think that's what I find most intruiging about this technology is the way in which it changes much of what it touches. Weblogs disrupt the notion that the best way to deliver curriculum (or publish the news, or run a campaign) is the same way we've been doing it for eons. It's not.
  • Weblogs are personal. It doesn't matter what I blog about, I leave a piece of my soul every time I blog because I'm always feeling the reader on the other side of the screen, imagined or not. I'm not just putting words out there; I'm putting a part of myself, and even though I've been doing it for four years now, each post still feels like a risk.
  • Blogging is thinking. I know I say that all the time, but if you're not expending some brain cells when you blog, you're not blogging.
  • Blogs take work. They need to be nurtured. They demand attention. It really is like planting a seed and then consistently tending to its growth.
  • Blogs are not for everyone. Although I wish everyone had a blog, I can understand why many choose not to.
  • Blogs are as flexible as your imagination. I'm still amazed by the different ways teachers are employing this technology in classrooms, and I still don't think we've even begun to realize the potential.
  • Blogs are a risk, but not as much of a risk as some would suggest. Common sense tells us to protect our students and to teach them appropriate use, and by and large, most kids play by the rules.
  • Kids love comments. I know Anne said this as well, but it's so true. And they also think they know what this blog thing is about, which they really don't from an instructional sense. And therefore
  • Teaching blogs to students takes a plan. What do you want to achieve? What can you do with a blog that you can't do some other way? Effective use of Weblogs in the classroom comes when teachers have planned well.
  • Blogs empower students and move control away from teachers. It's something that at first takes a while to get used to, but to not see blogs as expansive is to limit their potential.
  • Parents like blogs, the ones that take an interest, at least.
  • I've learned more about teaching, about communicating, about the world, about technology, about community from blogging than anything else I've done.
  • Podcast #8 -- Rhys Roberts

    Rhys Roberts is today's featured podcaster. He reads a piece about his grandmother. Simple, yet powerful. Enjoy.

    Thursday, June 30, 2005

    The Education Podcast Network

    If you're interested in other educational podcasts, you should check out David Warlick's Educational Podcast Network. The podcasts are organized by content area, grade level, and speciality. Let us know what good stuff you find. (Oh -- yeah -- CSUWP is listed in the directory. Pretty cool, huh?)

    Wednesday, June 29, 2005

    Teachers Have It Easy

    To add to Megan's posting regarding Dave Eggers' piece on teaching... I just purchased his new book, Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers. So far it is exactly what I have believed for a long time. He looks at the myths involved in the teaching career and the possibilities that may help make it the professsion we all believe it should be seen as. Finally someone wrote about it. Fascinating... I'll bring it to class but check out the link if interested.

    By the way, if you don't know already... Dave Eggers is amazing. Check him out. He wrote the best memoir you will ever read... and he went to my high school.

    The Next Step

    I was so glad to hgear today that y'all are interested in continuing to podcast and blog. Megan asked me some questions earlier this week that I wanted to share with you, because they represent sort of the "second stage" of blogging.
    Basically, Megan had two questions (that I remember -- tell me if I missed any, Megan). They are (and I'm paraphrasing liberally here):

    1. Is there a way that I can look for other blogs doing stuff that I'm interested it?
    2. How do you follow multiple blogs?

    Here are my answers.

    1. Yes, there are multiple ways to look for other blogs. The simplest is to use a search engine, like Google, to search for subjests that you are interested in. Add a "blog" term into your search to search just for blogs. A better way to search blogs is to use a search engine that only searchs blogs. Technorati is just such a search engine. If you search for somethnig in Technorati, all the hits you'll get are blog hits. They're also sorted by chronology and number of people who link to that particular blog, which is handy. Try Technorati next time you're doing a search. You might be surprised by what you find.

    2. Following multiple blogs can be tricky. I "read" more than a hundred blogs everyday. Imagine how long it would take to go to one hundred websites and do some reading. That would be impossible. But there's a technology in the blogging world that allows the blogs to come to us instead of the other way around. The technology basically allows you to use a piece of software called an aggregator to subscribe to blogs that you think are interesting or important. I use Bloglines as my aggregator. It's web-based (so I can access it from any computer, which is nice because I don't have a dedicated computer at work and am not always at my computer). It's also very user-friendly. Give Bloglines a try if you'd like to explore the world of blogs a little further. It only takes a minute or two to set up an account, and it's completely free. Let's take a look:

    This is a partial screenshot of what Bloglines looks like. You can see that on the left is a list of blogs. If the blog title is bold, that means there are new posts there. The number in parentheses next to each name is the number of unread posts. When I click on the blog name, the right side of the screen displays the blog and the new posts. Adding new blogs is pretty easy.
    I use a similar piece of software to download podcasts to my iTunes and then directly into my iPod. It's called iPodder and you can find a link to it on the main page of this blog. Very little thinking involved once I subscribe to a blog or podcast. Very cool.
    I don't want to drone on anymore -- but if you're interested in more information about aggragators, I'd be happy to provide it -- just ask. Oh -- this is my collection of blogs in Bloglines, in case you were interested. There are several useful educational blogs in there -- check them out.

    NY Times Editorial

    Check out Dave Eggers' opinion piece about teaching and teachers in the June 27 issue of the New York Times. Here's the address of the article on line:

    Sorry, I don't know how to add a link...

    P.S. Awesome job today in Author's Chair, Rebecca!

    Cottonwood Press

    Also during Greg's demo, Kylie mentioned the Cottonwood Press as a great resource for her for some of the funny stuff in her classroom. (Good funny, not weird funny.) Check it out.

    Reduced Shakespeare

    During one of the breaks from laughter during Greg's demo, Beth mentioned the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Not only have they done the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), but they've also done other stuff in a hurry like "Western Civilization: The Complete Musical" and works on the Bible and the history of America. Their website is worth a look. You can buy DVD's of anything they do. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    Podcast #7 -- Beth Cavanaugh

    The first time I heard her read, I told Beth Cavanaugh that I wanted her to come to my house and read to my daughter. Someone quickly shot back that they wanted Beth to come to their house and read to them. I agree. Beth reads wonderfully -- and writes even better. I am pleased to share three of her poems with you. I know you'll enjoy them -- let Beth know what you think.

    Waiting Up for You

    11:59 PM
    I ‘m waiting up for you.
    I turn on the porchlight.

    12:00 AM
    I curl up alone in the oversized chair,
    Nestled beneath a comforter.
    The lamplight softly caresses the pages of my book.
    My eyes move over the words,
    But there is no meaning.
    The seeds of worry are taking root
    Growing quickly, wildly.
    But I calm myself and think,
    You’ll soon be home.

    12:01 AM
    My book slides off to the floor and my page is lost.
    I leave it there, not caring.
    My silent footsteps are heavy
    As I enter the shadowy kitchen
    Searching for comfort.
    Warm smells from our family dinner
    Just a few hours ago still linger.
    But the aftertaste does not satisfy me.
    You’re still not home.

    12:02 AM
    I drift from dark space to dark space
    Until beckoned to the dining room window
    By silvery white curtains bathed in moonlight.
    My trembling fingers pull back the silky softness,
    And I press my face to the hard, cold glass.
    My restless eyes scan the sleeping street,
    Eager for lights.
    Meeting only shadows.
    Why aren’t you home?

    The faint glow of car lights
    Crawls hesitantly around the corner.
    Creating a dance of light and gloom
    Upon my face.
    They pass silently,
    Leaving me devoid of all light.
    Where are you?

    12:04 AM
    The pain of worry in me is so intense
    That I labor to breath.
    My exhausted body is hungry for the sleep
    That my over-fed imagination will not allow.
    Uncle Patrick’s friend was murdered when he was 10.
    Stolen from the bowling alley in broad daylight.
    His bike and headless body found three days later.
    What’s happening to you?
    Out there.
    In the dark.

    12:05 AM
    The passing car has stopped
    Its engine hums quietly
    At the end of the street.
    The passenger door opens
    I hold my breath.
    My eyes strain to identify the dim silhouette
    That runs back up the street.
    The door opens and
    The sweet life smell of you fills my world
    Your youthful brilliance explodes into the hallway
    Pins prick my eyes and stab my heart
    As I offer a silent prayer of thanks.
    You have been delivered safely to me once again.
    I emerge from the darkness as you say,
    “Mom, I’m home.”

    Class Reunion

    It came in the mail on an ordinary day,
    Tucked between magazines and bills to pay.
    A small white envelope that filled me with dread,
    Before it was open and even one sentence read.
    The postmark was from where I’d lived as a teen,
    I was fairly certain what this must mean.

    I opened the envelope carefully with an anxious breath,
    The letter inside began Dear Former Classmate Beth,
    Come join us for memories and a laugh or two,
    Bring the hubby and kids with you.
    Hope to see you in late July,
    Please be so kind as to reply.

    Please reply? What should I say?
    This was only three months away!
    Who was going that I’d want to see?
    Would I have to face snotty Mary T?
    How would I get by butt to be small?
    Did I even want to go at all?

    Should I say yes or throw it away?
    I decided to think on it for a day.
    It might be fun to see the old school,
    And former classmates dorky and cool.
    Hear the old songs that we all used to know,
    Oh what the heck, I guess that I’ll go.

    The days flew by and I ate less and less,
    Struggling to squeeze into that little red dress.
    Hair that’s always in the wrong place,
    Was waxed and plucked from ears, nose, and face.
    My kids looked at me as if to say,
    When I’m old I’ll never act that way.

    It was time to return to the roots of me,
    To dreams of what I wanted to be.
    The crowded halls full of Wildcat pride,
    Going to class with friend by your side.
    The flirting, the gossip, the secrets we’d share,
    Wait, was I sure I wanted to go back there?

    The day had arrived and it was time to go,
    What am I doing? I demanded to know.
    My stomach hurt and I suddenly felt queasy,
    Facing former classmates was not all that easy.
    I opened the doors to the old stomping ground,
    And was wide-eyed at what I found.

    The jukebox was blaring, there was beer free and cold,
    Who were all this people that looked kinda… old?
    Buff Steve was now flabby, and Ed had no hair,
    Sue had wed Jimmy, big surprise there!
    Horny Pam was prowling, Paul was a drunken mess,
    He kept trying to look down my new red dress.

    Beth, over here, I heard someone say,
    Relieved I turned and looked the speaker’s way.
    Marybeth was waving and calling my name,
    Seeing my friend I began to feel glad that I came.
    I saw other old friends, Kath and Mary,
    Suddenly things became a little less scary.

    I weaved my way over, saying hi as I went,
    And talking to other old friends for a short stint.
    Uniting with my best friends at last,
    We laughed and reminisced about the past.
    We kicked off our shoes and danced wild and free,
    My best friends, my husband, my children and me.

    As night turned to morning and we started to leave,
    My husband tugged gently on my left sleeve.
    Over there, he pointed, gazing across the space,
    I looked where he pointed and saw my enemy’s face.
    Blonde Mary T, the biggest snot of our class,
    Was still a snot but with the biggest ass.

    I smiled suddenly from ear to ear,
    High school reunions were nothing to fear.
    I saw the people I cared about most,
    And raised my glass giving my alma mater a toast.
    I went home secure about the friends I still had,
    And able to say, High School’s over, and I am glad!

    Where I'm From

    An accident in a dark, secretive place
    A moment’s uncontrollable passion
    The wrong answer to a prayer.
    What possible grandparents do not want to accept.
    A problem to be handled and a decision to be made.
    A childhood stealer
    Destroyer of freedom, and dreams of the future.
    A lifelong reminder of shame
    I am a lust child, not a love child, a lust child.

    Podcast #6 -- Joy Casey

    Joy shared this piece, an excerpt from a larger work, with us last week on her 26th birthday-- it was so powerful that I asked her to read it again. I love the way she reads. I wish I could describe the way it works -- but I can't. You're just going to have to listen for yourself. Enjoy.

    excerpt from Midwest farmers daughters really make you feel all right

    "Weeping Joy"

    We thought it was hilarious, my brother and me. Mom didn't. We were appalled at the injustice of Ashes the cat lounging on the family room chair when Goblin couldn't even come in. But our incomprehension didn't change the fact; it was back to the barn for Gobby.

    When Gobby was a small, he was 150 pounds of creamy Charolais-cross. A marginalized beef half-breed, he was nonetheless my baby. He would thrust on his gallon sized bottle so hard he'd knock me over my nine-year-old frame. Of course, it's not hard for someone big to plow down someone small.

    I thought he had been abandoned by his mommy; truth is, he had been taken away by my dad. But now he was my baby. He slept in the first stall of our weathered gray barn. His days were spent lolling in a green gold pasture. For entertainment, he would run from us for hours when it was time for his bottle and bed. With gritted teeth and tightened jaw, I would curse him in my mind and love him in my heart. He really was my baby.

    After blizzards and spring buds, summer marched in through wheat in waves of gold. It was time for fair, my first fair, and I knew that I was cute. I pulled up Gobby's neck and poked at his toes, just like a good mommy. I brushed his hair and sprayed his tail. Batting my eyes, I allowed a friendly farmer boy to trim Gobby's belly for me.

    I don't know where I placed in the competition, but I know it didn't matter. We were headed to the ring. Suddenly I was not cute. I was a monster lurking in a brutal farm life truth. I couldn't look in the mirror, so I flipped my switch. At the back of my heart, beneath the hopes and dreams, I have an emergency switch. When the status is code red and I'm facing the destruction of my world, I flip the switch. With ferocious efficiency, my tears dry up. The heavy steel walls of my heart collide shut, smashing any tenderness left in the way.
    I pulled and tugged Goblin\'s lead rope latched to his blue-green halter. I couldn\'t look into his damp brown eyes. Manipulating the buyers with my blue button-up shirt with little pink flowers, tiny white boots, and sweet smile, I was disgusted with my father. After the ring had emptied itself of the animals, my baby and I walked in. Money came flying. Old men were flinging their bids into the air, and I was a ten-year-old prostitute. I turned my head away and locked my heart. A few minutes later it was over.

    A weathered gray farmer was there to take my baby. With him, my Gobby would find no home. Two weeks of grief staining my cheeks, I knelt in shame before the old farmer. My dad assured me the man would take care of him. I scratched and clawed and cried to hold on to this comfort, but I could not deny the truth. I, his second mother, would walk away. My baby was headed to slaughter. With fraying braids plastered to the sweat upon my neck and an indelicate spray of purple feathers atop my head, I was a lost little Indian child mounted by a cowboy hat.

    Wiki Think

    I love that the resource wiki gets attention from time to time. It's sitting out there, patiently waiting for others to discover and add their ideas when then can. (Someday, I've got to do some reorganization work there. Or, you could, if you wanted to.)
    Today, this appeared on the meta-wiki page (a page for listing ideas for using wikis):

    5. Give school alumni and teacher retirees access to a wiki and let them compile a school history.

    What a great idea. Simple, elegant and precisely the type of activity that a wiki can be useful for. A while back, I posted a poem starter that I thought folks might like to add to or play with. It's still there, and, frankly, could use a little help.

    (Cross-posted at Bud the Teacher)


    Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

    Thanks to Craig, not only did I create a duck, but I also got a cool little poem out of it. Here's the poem:

    Bright, vibrant
    Swimming, grinning

    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    Are Blogs "Publications"?

    I've been doing some research into publishing poetry, and according to Poet's Market 2004, "previously published" means "anywhere in print for a public audience...includ[ing] magazines, anthologies, websites and online magazines, and even programs (say for a church service, wedding, etc.)" (Breen, 11.) Does this include Blogs? If so, that's a pretty important thing to consider before posting poetry; it could take it out of contention for broader publication. And what about the E-Anthology? Does it count? I would love feedback and more information on this, as I was considering starting a Poetry Blog, but not if it's at cross purposes with getting published in more traditional venues...

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    Other Writing Project Blogs

    I hope everyone's enjoying the time away. I spent the day with my daughter and nephew, surrounded by babies. It was rough.
    I was doing a little surfing this evening, and I discovered a few other NWP sites that are blogging their Summer Institutes -- I thought you'd like to see them. Here they are:

    I'm sure there are others out there -- if you find any, please share them with us. And, if you're a Writing Project blogger tell us about you and your blog. I asked WP bloggers to leave y'all a comment last week. Here's what they had to say.

    Bring Pictures

    Through poetry and stories we've been hearing so much about all the important people in each other's lives, I think it would be great to have faces to put with the names. So on Monday, bring pictures of your loved ones (human, animal, etc.) and we can start a quiltwall of wonderful faces... Any takers?

    Tom Hoffman on Bloggers and Research

    Tom Hoffman has a really good post this morning over on EdTech Insider about the importance of following the trails that bloggers create to support their arguments. Here's an excerpt:

    How does one determine if a blog is a valid or reliable source? Most importantly, by reading and following links. I often skim over a blog's last two months of archives if I'm trying to get a feel for it. I think you can get a better sense of a person by reading them at length than you can by looking at their credentials.

    Follow the links, both in the posts themselves and the blogroll in the sidebar. If a blog approvingly links to other sources you know to be unreliable, you should consider the linking blog to be unreliable.

    Beyond that, you need to know the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sources, which isn't unique to the internet. Blogs can be any of the three, however, which is one of the things that makes them a tricky case.

    The rest of the article is worth your time, as well as the time of your students, if you ever ask them to do research on the Internet.

    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    Podcast #5 -- SCWP

    The Southern Colorado Writing Project was eager to share some of their work when I pulled out the microphones and explained the concept. Here, for your enjoyment, is one of the best daily logs I've ever heard -- an old-style revival meeting, complete with call and response. Following the log, three of the project's teacher-consultants share their professional papers about writing and what it means for them and to them. (Bonus -- near the end of the track, one participant creates a blog while he's waiting to read his piece!)
    Enjoy the podcast, and, as always, please share your comments here so that the authors can get your feedback!

    List of Ideas for Writing Across the Content Areas

    Today, Nicole asked us to brainstorm a big list of ideas for writing across the content areas. Here's my version of the list (Thanks to Lorynda for helping to type it!):

    Writing Across the Curriculum (from Nicole's Demo)

    History/Social Studies

    • Question/answer books
    • Accordion books
    • Big wig letters
    • Historical war as a dodge ball game
    • Trioramas (paper folding)
    • Treasure maps with written directions
    • Book shares with historical novels
    • Blogging as a historical character
    • Pamphlets for or against a big historical subject (American Revolution)
    • When have you experienced something similar (connecting to history through writing)
    • Newspapers
    • Compromise comic strips
    • Voyage to the Milky Way – Life from a new perspective
    • Nova Builds a Trebuchet (Video from PBS works in multiple content areas)

    Language Arts

    • Blogging as a fictional character
    • Odyssey travel brochure
    • Chris Van Allsburg study
    • Magazine as a final project
    • Students create fictional schools based on the works of Emerson and/or Thoreau, support your creations with quotes from their works
    • Double entry journal (two-sided, works in any content area) put quotes on one side, interpretation on the other)
    • Write personal ads for literary characters seeking companionship


    • One student writes a description of a piece of art, another student tries to reproduce the art
    • Respond to a work of art with a creative writing piece and/or vice versa
    • Write a book and each person in class illustrates a page.
    • Write an interpretation of an illustration
    • Place self in a painting and write from the paintings point of view
    • Personal responses to paintings-interpretations, descriptions, various points of view


    • Sciecne notebooks – toolbox, hypothesis, connections, etc.
    • Create non-fiction books – ask older students to write for younger children explaining concepts
    • Science biography – write about the events that led up to a scientific concept
    • Create your own mythology to explain acts of nature
    • Describe chemical reactions that occur in a favorite recipe
    • Life of a meal-worm and butterfly journals
    • Science lab planning/design
    • Write to Discover Magazine challenging a theory and asking scientists to refute it
    • The use of essential questions to build analysis


    • Teaching nutrition in math
    • Create math strategy toolboxes
    • Class published book of story problems to solve over time.
    • Math word wall


    • Write poetry implied from music
    • Create raps, songs around vocabulary
    • Listen to Romeo and Juliet instrumental and write a story inspired by music
    • Write a song that best represents a book or play
    • Write a piece inspired by music
    Keep a practice journal and write what practicing and, needs to be done.

    Because Writing Matters Ch.3

    This post is for Kylie...

    A summary of thoughts by CSUWP on Ch. 3...

    1. Expressive writing allow you to retain more.
    2. Let content drive the writing not
    the other way around.
    3. This allows students to be more
    actively engaged.
    4. Importance of interconnectedness of
    reading and writing.
    5. Reinforces 4 Key elements of writing
    (what I am doing... or what I believe...)

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Free Write Prompts from Megan F.'s Demo

    Natalie Goldberg's Rules of Writing Practice (from her book Wild Mind)
    1. Keep your hand moving.
    2. Lose control.
    3. Be specific.
    4. Don't think.
    5. Don't worry about punctuation, spelling or grammar.
    6. You are free to write the worst junk in America.
    7. Go for the jugular.

    "Naturally, once you begin writing you might be surprised where your mind takes the topic. That's good. You are not trying to control your writing. You are stepping out of the way. Keep your hand moving." -- Natalie Goldberg from Writing Down the Bones

    Why do you like to write?
    Why don't some students like to write?

    What's the most important thing you assess in student writing?
    What's your biggest frustration in assessing writing?

    Who is your current life gives you one-on-one, undivided attention?
    How much one-on-one attention did you get from adults as a child?

    What purpose or needs did your family serve for you in your childhood?
    What purpose or needs does your family serve for you now?

    We're writing . . .

    We're writing here in Pueblo, and I'm struck by how similar our two sites are. The keys are clattering, pens are scribbling, and I was offered a hefty snack from the smorgasboard in the next room. (Oh, yeah -- they have a separate ROOM for their snacks. No, really. We should look into that.)
    As I'm writing, it just feels good to be in the room with other writers. I'm eager to see what they're crafting on their pages and screens. As with all writing project activities, I can hear the hum of the room's potential.
    I hope it sounds as good there.