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.

Southern Colorado Writing Project

I'm sitting in a wonderful, window-rich and computer -loaded classroom at CSU-Pueblo where I'm about to give my demo. It's exciting to wander into another site (I'm listening to a participant discussing an afternoon pages assignment as I work out the bugs in my computer set up).
Wondering what y'all are up to today -- we're talking multigenre writing down south. Hopefully, I can recruit a podcaster or two down here -- and hopefully, too, some of you are eager to read for our podcast when I return.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Nixon Michael Williams

Nixon Michael Williams
Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Eight pounds. Three ounces. 2:40pm, June 21st, 2005.

He is a poem. He's pleased to meet you, too.

CSU Writing Project Summer Institute 2005

Welcome to World Cafe Chapter 5-Standards and Assessments for Writing

We disscussed Portfolios pro's and con's--we know they a good way to assess but how do we manage them and find the time to assess them. We would like to look more into Kentucky's asssessment on the state level. We love the Holistic Scoring Guide

A couple stand out quotes--
"Hillocks found that writing assessments vary widely from state to state." pg. 76 How does this align with NCLB
"Unfortunatly, what we have in too many districts ... is test-driven reform masquerading as standards-based reform." pg. 74
"Student ownership is key. The best practice is a portfolio where student's best writing determines the grade for the term." pg. 80

Final Thoughs--Why is our educational policy being driven by Texas, the state ranked 49th in education? Rhys

Thank you for visiting Chapter 5!

Great Demo Today

I thought the demo Rhys did today was fabulous. Loved the text of the Ferdinand Marcos article and thought the exercise of revising it was really effective (and painful). This afternoon I've been trying to write a piece entirely in sentence fragments. SO HARD! (Nicole wants a piece composed of fragments that she can give her sixth graders to revise and correct using complete sentences. She wants it to be a topic they would relate to, so I chose whizpopping -- that's farts, for non-BFG fans.)

It's turned in to a great exercise, though, and could really help students start to identify what IS a complete sentence. Nothing like forbidding them to use sentences to get them to start to recognize what makes a sentence complete.

Thanks for another great day of super-stimulation and sizzling brain activity. (We missed you, Bud). Extra credit points to anyone who can identify the fragments in this post...

BWM, So What?

CSU Writing Project Summer Institute 2005

The "So What?" round of our World Cafe came up with the following insights. "Schools need to be considered as places for teachers to lead scholarly lives." (59) CSUWP is helping us feel empowered. But there are many forces that work against our expertise in schools: inappropriate or inadequate professional development, cookie cutter curriculum, standardized tests. Society needs to support schools with real dollars, and we deserve the trust of our communities and our administrators. The question is, how can we take our sense of empowerment, our new-found writer/researcher/leader skills, back to the classroom and our schools?

Because Writing Matters Ch. 6

Within in Chapter 6 discussion surrounded the idea that administrators need to have buy-in themselves in order to implement a writing staff development. We discussed what we believe are already good things happening in our schools and classrooms. Key phrases that continued to come up were parental involvement, student ownership and teachers as experts. :)

Response to Public Speaking Question from Megan F.'s Demo

I was asked in my Stars and Wishes how I keep my class engaged when students are presenting their papers to each other in the oral presentation part of the writing process. The answer is, I always give them something to listen for, and have them record what they hear. For example, in the Underworld Quest project, they have to listen for several different things: Who is the hero's guide? What are the three challenges/tests the hero has to accomplish? What is the name of the invented Underworld? etc. At the end of a day of presentations, I collect their notes. (Sometimes I give them a form that they fill in as they listen, and other times I have them use their own notepaper.) Engagement and accountability, baby!

I was also asked for a copy of the questions that I used for the freewrites at the beginning of the demo. Stay tuned and I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2005

In Good Company

I host our podcasts with a site called the Internet Archive. It's a free repository of media on the Internet. It's their goal to, ahem, archive all of the interesting stuff that's out there. They have an extensive audio collection that's worth checking out in one of your free moments (okay -- after the Institute is over). One item definitely worth a listen is the Presidential Recordings Collection. They've got all the good stuff, including secret White House recordings from the 1940s until the mid 1970s.
So, basically, your writing is kept in the same collection as the speeches and secrets of presidents.

Podcast #4 -- Megan Baker

Live, from Studio P, it's Megan Baker! In this podcast, she reads two pieces, reprinted below. Like what you hear? Tell her -- leave a comment in this post. As always, if you're local and you know of a piece that we should be podcasting, be sure to let us know. If you're not local, and you're listening to our little contribution to the podcasting community, please drop us a line and tell us how we're doing.

The Nest
Magpies have built a
nest in the pine
north of the house.
A basket for all their
eggs. It takes
forty to fifty days,
according to Ehrlich. Forty to
fifty days I watch them gather
sticks, flying up hill
to sage and
mountain mahogany, south to the neighbors’
poplars, down to
service berry. They work
next to each other, parallel
play. My arms would
just reach around it top to bottom,
this strong C of sticks poked and
pulled into place, an intricate and
sturdy basket, lined with a cloth,
cradling steamy bread.

The neighbor cat, a soft, orange
tiger, wanders the slope
to the west. He’s a Science Diet cat.
Not lean. Doesn’t need the
mouse he’s stalking, but can’t
avoid the gut force compelling him -
do this thing.

I watch the cat, watch the
nest, link them in my mind.
He’d have to climb 15, 16 feet up
that tree to get them.
He couldn’t do it, but
I clear my head of magpies,
nests, eggs. Everyone knows cats
are telepathic.

Megan Baker

June 2005

Baking A Poetics

I practice the poetry of
the kind that don’t need
yeast no
kneading no rising no
punching down no
waiting to rise again.
When I bake I want
cream the butter sugar fast
beat the eggs
whisk spices into
breathless batter. My mind is on
I only know I’ll have a heavy
sweetcake soon.
And after do I take
the time to sprinkle
something through a doily,
make it pretty? We’ll hack
it up and eat it
anyway. Even the words
p o w d e r e d s u g a r
sound slow and I want to
eat it now.
Did I ever have
the patience it
Not since
age 11 when I baked with
Granny who told my mother I was
Not lazy so much
I think
as wanting the task
done. By the time I write the
leavening’s already happened.
I’ve punched this dough
of pumpkin bread and poetry and
maternal judgment down two or
three times
today. It just looks like

There’s a difference between her
batter and mine. Her rounded anger
waited in the bowl,
exploded like a tiny snore under a
floured fist. Mine resides on the
page, butter melting thin across this
pecan-spackled slice.
She saw my sudden
flurry, its unleavened product and
declared me
unfit for real
baking. Granny couldn’t
see me knead the bread
inside my head.

Megan L. Baker
June 2005

The World Cafe

Since my wife introduced me to the format, I've used the World Cafe discussion model a handful of times in my classes. I didn't know it had a website until now.

(Cross-posted at Bud the Teacher)

Other Writing Project Sites

Today during our feedback session, some folks mentioned that they'd like to know more about other Writing Project sites around the country. I thought I'd share a couple of links with you, and point you to the NWP's map of all sites so that you could see some of what's going on elsewhere. Here are a few other sites:

What other sites should we be looking at? Are you from another site? Leave us a comment so that we can discover what y'all are up to.

The Daily Show Looks at Blogging

The Daily Show is where some of our kids get all of their news. Here's a fabulous piece that they did on blogging a little while back. Enjoy.

Kylie's Demo

Kylie did a great demo this morning on using visualization in the writing process to assist the development of student idea articulation. If you are interested in The Power of One, the book that Kylie used as her example in the demo, or Tangerine, another of Kylie's recommendations for using the Mind Maps, check out the links. Her Demo is another great example of the interdisciplinary teaching of writing. Fantastic work, Kylie.

Can you tell that I am a reader... all I talk about is books.

Second Week

We're beginning our second week at the Summer Institute. Looking around the room, not only did everyone come back for more hard work, but folks are energetic and excited. Lots of good work going on -- stay tuned for more!

Joy's Daily Log

Joy created a beautiful piece of work when she did her daily log on the second day of the institute, and we wanted to share it with you. I'll post it as a PDF when I get a chance to reformat the file.

Update: Here's the new link to the PDF. Thanks to Douglas for creating it for us. Isn't it cool to have such kind folks in our community?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Podcast #3 -- Lorynda Sampson

I think you'll really like Lorynda Sampson's work. Recorded in a makeshift studio with great acoustics (read: my downstairs powder room) during our Friday potluck, her work is very personal, but I found myself nodding in agreement as I listened. Her writing really hit home. (Yes, that is a pun, but not a joke -- you'll see what I mean when you listen to Lorynda.)
I hope you enjoy this podcast -- please tell the author what you thought by leaving some stars and wishes in the comments section of this post.

Inside the 14 year-old mind

It's Sunday and I'm working on my Science and Literacy manuscript for The Science Teacher (Cindy and Bud would be proud), and I stumbled across an interesting but potentially challenging book that is HIGHLY recommended by both the NSTA and numerous readers, including junior high and high school students (it's considered a YA book).

The Burn Journals is an autobiographical account of a 14 year-old that tries to readjust to school and life after trying to commit suicide, but failing. It looks fascinating and seems to be read by all ages above 14. Interesting look inside a 14 year-olds mind regarding the world around him. After all that goes on in our lives, especially at Poudre HS the last couple of months, I thought a few of you may be interested. Also, it's great to see a young writer looking for positives in such a difficult, potentially tragic event.

I have it on order so I'll bring it in when it shows. Hope everyone is having a relaxing, renewing weekend. See you Monday.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Good Research Resource

On Friday, Julie asked me about accessing the ERIC database. I didn't think that could be done outside of the campus computer system, and, it turns out, I was completely wrong. Check out this great resource for full text research articles, presentations, and other good stuff.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Wow, now I've blogged, too. Thanks to everyone for the fascinating week. What a lot of fun (and work) we'll have for three more. Enjoy your time off with family, friends, and self. Write!

Megan B.


Hey everyone! The potluck was a great time. Thanks Bud for inviting us to your home. Now I have offically become a "blogger" Have a great weekend!

Advice for Teacher Bloggers

A good place to learn more about educational technology from teachers who are actually using it in classrooms is eSchool News's Ed Tech Insider.
This morning, Tom Hoffman has some really good advice for teachers who want to blog. A lengthy excerpt:

But based on my reading of the growing crop of teacher weblogs, I think the most important pieces of advice I'd give a teacher starting to blog is to assume that:

  • you're going to keep doing it for a long time;

  • lots of people are going to read your blog eventually;

  • you will create a body of work which will benefit your career.

I would imagine that if you start blogging, you must on some level believe that those things are possible, but especially now, when there are still relatively few teachers doing this and interest is growing by leaps and bounds, if you've got any aptitude for it, you'll be successful.

Now, there are some implications of assuming you're going to successfully and professionally blog for a long time. Most importantly, you are going to want to take credit for your work. Even if you start out blogging anonymously, which may not be a bad idea, you should write as if everyone knows who you are. If 90% of your posts are professional and insightful, and 10% are sloppy, catty veiled attacks on people in your community, or references to issues with unnamed but identifiable students or parents, then you've screwed yourself. You can get away with that when you're anonymous (if nobody figures out who you are) but you can never take credit for the good stuff because you've saddled yourself forever with the lax, unprofessional crap.

If you're interested in more of Tom Hoffman's very frank and often fascinating ideas, check out his blog.

Science Book List

Inspired by Beth L. and her demo on science writing/book clubs and because I've had a few requests for my book list that I use in my 9th grade Biology class, I've posted it for those of you that would like to see it. So look at it, steal it, or ignore it if it scares you.

I use book clubs, writing of many forms, as well as detailed scientific analysis of their texts.

See... you can read and write in Science.

What We Leave Behind

I read this article today:

In the fall of 1886, 17-year-old John Rothrock was late to school eight times; his older brother, William, 18, was tardy five times.

Their teacher, Mary Killgore, earned $65 a month; her male counterpart earned $111.

And between January and May 1887, there were several incidents of corporal punishment in Miss E.B. White’s secondary class in Longmont.

For years, the documents that hold that mundane record of school life sat in a box, often shuffled between the boiler room and storage closets at Longmont High School, which was moved from Main Street to its current location at Sunset Street and 11th Avenue in 1964.

“I wondered why we were keeping all of this,” head custodian Carlos Alvarez said of the box that held a handful of teachers’ old record books. “And I got tired of moving it around. I know I moved that box five or six times,” he added, chuckling.

I read this blog post last night:

Accidental time capsules of all kinds tonight, or what anthropologists of the future will be talking about — furtive text messages? Capri Sun pouches? patio furniture? — when they talk about us. Listen in, jump on the show’s comment thread, or call us at (877) 673 6767 and join the conversation. Just what are the messages we’re leaving for future anthropologists and what are we writing them with?

When I put the two together, I begin to wonder about the "accidental time capsules" that I'm creating in my classroom and on the Internet. What, do you think, will we leave behind that might be interesting to others? How long will my Flickr photos be online? A Blogger blog? The podcasts in the Internet Archive? It's weird to think that the content that I'm creating now might outlive me.
But it's pretty cool.

(Cross-posted at Bud the Teacher)

Day 5
What will the theme of today be? Yeah! Renee is back!!!! We will have to rally 'round her so she won't feel any more overwhelmed than the rest of us!
Kim W

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Podcast #2 -- Kim Donegan

Today's podcast features Kim Donegan, a high school math teacher. She's reading a piece she wrote in response to today's teaching demonstration. Enjoy the piece.
Here's a direct link to the podcast. Please give Kim your feedback by leaving a comment.

Somebody's Watching . . .

. . . and that's a good thing. We've just received our first mention elsewhere in the blogosphere. It's pretty cool to know that someone's paying attention, huh?

Sweatin' over CSUWP homework

Deanna and I are melting in a coffee shop here in Old Town as we focus earnestly on our work for tomorrow. (Actually, she's working on her Author's Chair pieces and I am surfing around the blog and the E-anthology -- although I should be reading. I posted my poems on the e-anthology, by the way! So exciting!)

As the week comes to a close, I certainly feel proud to be part of the NWP. I find it inspiring, important, validating and motivating. AND MY DEMO'S DONE!! Yay! I earned a little surf time!

Some guy here just tried to pick us up (Deanna, really) by asking us if we liked Gershwin. Not too bad for a couple of married women loose in the big city! Deanna says he must like sweaty women. (It's really hot in here...or is it just our brains cranking out the overtime in fellowship mode?) Thanks for all the techno support, Bud. You are a model of patience and grace.

Arising Themes

As one of my ongoing duties...
I am attempting to collect what might be arising as themes of
this year's Summer Institute. So far...

"Victim No More"
Pssitaceous - "Parrot-like"

If any others creep up on you...

Let me know... or blog it yourself.

Jason' First Blogging Experience

Jason' First Blogging Experience
Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

This morning, Jason and I took a look at Blogger to get him started blogging. It didn't take him long, and now he's a blogging pro. Why aren't you blogging yet?

Science and Literacy

I found an NSTA call for publication for their high school journal, The Science Teacher. The specific call that interests me is the call for writing regarding Science and Literacy (deadline Aug. 1), focused on the use of writing and reading in a science classroom...

Just an example of the many opportunities that are available for ALL of us to publish our random thoughts, ideas, and rambling.

Check it out.

Color Poem

Just because I feel like it... here is my color poem,
inspired by Beth C. and Nicole.

Writing in Color

"The Santa Fe sky on the long drive home
Flavor Flav’s teeth before they went chrome
The reason our ancestors all moved out West
My 2nd grade teacher’s macramé vest
Puff Daddy’s wheels, so damn bling bling.
That hidden away, once used little ring.
The color I’ve always considered a bit too bold.
The color my Mom hates more than red is Gold."

Simplicity at its finest.

Oh Sue... we miss you.

Sue is gone...

Today is a sad day at CSUWP...
our teacher as "writer", our fearless organizational leader,
our screamer, our crazed chinese food addict... is gone.

Just till Monday, though.
Thank goodness.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Silly Science Songs

Okay. After this post, I promise I'll quit for the night. I discovered this collection of science songs from an old 40's record collection. If you have a minute or two to spare, it might be worth a listen.
Right. This is the writing project.
You probably don't have a spare minute. But these songs are worth it. Might even be handy at school.

Kim's Question -- Sort Of

Today during our book discussion of Because Writing Matters, Kim raised a good point about how we need to help to build the relationships between teachers in different content areas so that we can help teach writing across disciplines. I'll ask y'all now, what are some steps that you can take in your schools and spheres of influence to help to create some of those relationships? Please post your answers -- I suspect that we'll all find your ideas to be helpful.

Our First Podcast -- Megan Freeman

Below, you'll find a direct link to the CSUWP's first podcast. Over the next few days, I'll be posting more information about what podcasting is, how you can subscribe to podcasts, and the free software that you can use to make a podcast and receive them right on your home computer and in your MP3 player (although you certainly don't need an MP3 player to listen to podcasts).
Our featured author today is Peak to Peak Charter School's very own Megan Freeman. She's reading three poems on the show. Below, you'll find the full text of her poems. If you'd like to be a featured author on a future podcast (I'll do them every day that we've got a volunteer. Or I'll volunteer you.), simply ask me and I'll get you recorded.
Enjoy, and congratulations, Megan. Good stuff here and a great first podcast.
Here is the direct link to the podcast. You will need software capable of playing MP3's to hear it. I like ITunes or Windows Media Player. (They're both free.)


Ears are shrinking.

With each generation
people’s ears are getting smaller.
The oldest members of the population
have the largest ears.

Ear lobes used to hang down and away
from the sides of the face.
Now they are attached.
New babies’ ears slope gently into their cheeks
with no space/no dangly skin.
Perhaps that’s why people are finding
other places to pierce?

Uncle Bud could fold up his ear
and tuck it
into his head.
It was like a deformed knob on the side
of his bumpy bald skull.
Then he’d growl and
exhale tobacco breath laughter
as we watched
enthralled and terrified.

“Count to three!” he’d bark and we’d
leap out of our skin, practically peeing with fear.
“One, two, three,” we’d say
with what little breath we had.

Fwuap! His ear would explode out of his head
as his yellow teeth grinned and
he wheezed with pleasure at the execution
of his best trick.

satisfied silence

she reading her novel
me reading her hand

pink chenille in the early mornings and
olives in the guacamole

cross stitch and postage stamps

if she’s an acquired taste
I’m a connoisseur

discerning ear
exacting brain

my only onliest mother
sending me London Fog and goose down
in the icy January of the break-apart

holding me up with her ether

no doormat here
only a fortress of loyalty

heart broken in many tiny shards
repaired with duct tape and ferocity
a mosaic
of good intentions and questionable judgment

Lioness of my pride.

All I Want For Christmas

little wolf cub
pushing lisped syllables
over naked pink gums

sharp incisors
pointing out
the absence
of the anchor teeth

apples gnawed on like sugar cane
sticky-lickable cheeks

milky spoonfuls of corn
shaved from the cob

dedicated tongue
earnest conversation
made somehow more dear
by the gaping
victory of your little body

I see you, little wolf cub.
I am listening.
I am paying attention.

The Carnival of Education

If you are interested in learning more about teachers who blog and what it is that they talk about, a good place to start is at the weekly Carnival of Education, hosted by a teacher blogger known as the Education Wonk. Each week's collection of posts and links (which, in blogger-speak, is called a carnival) is a round-up of the stuff going on on teacher blogs all over the blogosphere.
There's always an interesting post or two (or fifteen), and any teacher blogger is welcome to submit their articles/posts/links for consideration. They're usually added in.
I'd encourage you to check it out -- lots of interesting stuff and it's posted once a week on Wednesdays.
If you do check it out, drop in with a comment here to give us your feedback.

Tools for Found Poetry

Tools for Found Poetry
Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Today, Megan shared some stories of American immigration and asked us to write found poems from their words. These are my tools. Please share your found poems in the comments section of this post.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Wiki, Wiki

Newspapers are only a one-way medium, right? The journalists write them and we read them. Well, that used to be the case -- but check this out (via Will):

(Via Ross Mayfield) The Los Angeles Times says that it's going to start letting its readers compose editorials via a wiki:

Watch next week for the introduction of "wikitorials" — an online feature that will empower you to rewrite Los Angeles Times editorials.

Wikis are excellent composition tools. Basically, they're webpages that anyone can edit. (Here's an encyclopedia that is being built on a wiki -- anyone can add to it at any time.)

Can you imagine the potential for collaborative writing in our classrooms? I've started a wiki-poem -- come and write it with me. (Just click on the "Edit-Me" button in the wiki to add or edit.)

How do your students write or work collaboratively in your classrooms?

Writing Tools

Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Monday was a good first day for the 2005 Summer Institute -- lots of fabulous potential and ideas in the room. We all brought our different writing tools with us into the classroom. As the jumble of gadgets and wire above illustrates, I may have brought a few too many.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

In the Beginning . . .

. . .was the CSU Writing Project. The 2005 CSUWP Summer Institute kicks off tomorrow, June 13th, 2005. As it begins, so, too, does this blog. This is an experimental space to see if there is both time for and interest in publishing via this format. (If you want to know more about blogs, perhaps you should click here.)
During the Institute, we'll discover writing prompts, have big ideas, and do some pretty powerful writing. Some of that work will be highly personal, and shouldn't be out in public. But much of our work should be.
The good stuff will require attention. Perhaps this blog could be a place to publish it. Perhaps, too, this could be a place to share ideas about how to teach writing. We'll see, I guess.
If you want to write for this blog and you are affiliated with the CSUWP, send me an e-mail and I'll add you to the author's list. This is a team sport, if you want it to be.
Looking forward to sharing with you.