Thursday, December 14, 2006

Writing Group in For Collins

Here it is eleven days until Christmas, I've finished almost all of my Christmas shopping, need to start working on grades, but all I want to do it drink coffee and write. I'm here at Starry Night, getting ready to work on a new short story, one I started with my students from a music prompt, and I wanted to talk about writing groups one more time.
I will be here every Thursday, starting January 5th, from 6pm to 7pm, to write. If people want to come and sit and write with me, great. If you want to bring stuff to workshop, great. I know the favorite part of everyone's S.I. experience is writing groups. An hour a week, writing, talking about writing, supporting local business. I'm perfectly content to sit and write, but should you want to dig out a morning pages piece you had during the institute or some other thing you wrote, I'd love to read it.
Happy Holidays, folks.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can you help some novice bloggers?

Hi, all,
As I've confessed publically, I'm trying to develop a new blogging habit, at first because I want to be a good model for my students--you know, the ole what's-good-for-the-students-should-be-good-for-the-teacher syndrome--and now because Bud's convinced me that there's something in it for me, too.

When I was working on my book, I always began my writing sessions with a ritual: cup of tea, passage from a writing book (e.g., Bird by Bird), entry in a journal I called "Notes to Self." Well, I finished the book, so I'm keeping the ritual while I'm working on a new one, but this time, I'm trying to blog the "Notes to Self" entry instead.

So here's where you come in as does my shameless personal request...

Will you read my blog and comment occasionally on my developing ideas?

I know your thoughtful responses will help shape my thinking as I write. And then, while you're there, feel free to check out my students' blogs as well. You'll find links to them in the blogroll on the right-hand side of my blog.

I doubt my students and I will maintain the habit if we don't get traffic, which those of you reading this have probably learned from experience. So if your blog is active, be sure to link up to it in your comments so that we can visit as well.

Bud's skein of yarn is coming to mind.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

(Y)our Work is Important

At the NWP Meeting in Nashville, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Lynne Culp in a big ballroom full of fine folks. Lynne and I happened to both be in the back of the room. She told me a story that warmed my soul and made me happy. I thought you should hear it, too. I asked her if she'd write it down to share with you. She did. She writes:

Two summers ago, I began every day with an hour walk around a golf course near my house in Toluca Lake. I listened to wonderful Mp3s I had carefully playlisted on my iPod. Then, I discovered iTunes listing of podcasts. I knew David Warlick so I downloaded his podcasts which were not too regular at first,but was a podcast listing that said nothing but CSU Writing Project. California chauvinist that I am, I thought it was from a California Writing Project...maybe up north. I cheerfully downloaded it, thinking...oh, I'll listen for five minutes then go back to my cooking show. But...that was not to be. I strolled the whole perimeter of the golf course, listening to story after story. I found the and the readings completely compelling. "It's voice, I thought...and it is communicating to me even though I don't know them, don't know where they holds me fast." Very shortly I told Jane Hancock, the co-director of UCLA's Writing Project a bout this amazing opportunity for our writing project people. "We could put on a show too," I cried. However, I remained a voice in the desert until last fall when the NWP requested that UCLA appoint a TL. They did. It's me, and that is how I met you last Friday morning.

If I sound a bit over the top, it is because the listening to those writing project voices was my first understanding of how powerful podcasting could be. Today, when I scroll down the ever-growing iTunes list, I remember how vivid the realization was.

Our work is important. Your voice is important. This time we spend together writing and thinking and learning and teaching is important. The trouble is, we may never know how or to whom it matters. Except today. Thanks, Lynne.
Now -- who wants to podcast? I'm always eager to record your writing, or to help you learn to do so on your own. Just let me know, either via e-mail or through the blog comments.

Monday, November 20, 2006

pride and joy

In case you haven't been paying attention to the lovefest happening below, here's more.

All the CSUWP folks are safely back home from the NWP and NCTE conferences. In some ways, attending these conferences generate the same feelings you have at the conclusion of the summer institute. You're renewed, you're brimming with new ideas, you're tired and sleepy, you've seen firsthand what it feels like to make a difference, you're fat from all the snacks, you're tired and sleepy, and you're convinced you can conquer the world. (Did I mention you're tired and sleepy?)

As a site director, I get to have another great feeling, though. This morning as I was engaged in my annual begging session for more CSUWP $ from the department chair and dean, I was able to say with confidence that CSUWP is making a tremendous difference, well, pretty much everywhere. Did you know that over 530 teachers participated directly in CSUWP programming last year? When you think about how many kids those teachers teach, even a conservative estimate means we've reached about 21,000 students last year alone. Over 125 of them participated in CSUWP programs like Young Writers and book clubs.

Holy cow.

And that's just locally. What was really cool at the conference was to see what a difference we're making nationally as well. You know, sometimes we get our noses so close to the grindstone that we forget that anyone notices or cares what we're doing. Sometimes we don't even notice. But here's where my pride and joy comes in. It was easy to notice this week as I saw Bud with all his groupies (one of them has already e-mailed me for his address. She sounded a little desperate like she had to reach him NOW. Creeped me out a little.); Emily, Tiffany, and Rebecca presenting their little hearts out at NCTE; Cameron taking notes as fast as he possibly could in NWP sessions and carrying laptops, luggage, and LCD projectors without being asked; Jaime Wood glowing as she talked about her new book and her new life as an MFA student in St. Louis; and Rhys Roberts, Stacey Brown, Darren Marshall, and Stephanie Rector soaking it all in. I was in awe just standing by and watching.

And NWP leaders and fellows around the country are noticing your good work as well. Trust me, in four short years, CSUWP is already considered a pretty amazing site.

That's why I am so very proud of all of you. And when I say "proud," I don't mean in a taking-credit sort of way. I mean proud that I get to know you and stand by and watch what you'll do next.

You all are rockin' the world.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Writers Write

Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Ran into a familiar face on the Exhibit Hall floor this afternoon. Jaime R. Wood, one of my classmates in the first CSUWP Summer Institute, was there discussing her recent book on multicultural poetry and middle school students, Living Voices. She graciously allowed me to shoot this picture.
Cindy O'Donnell-Allen, our director, also has a book out right now. The Book Club Companion is about, well, book clubs. I'm hearing good things about both.

Writers write. Writing teachers write. I'm so proud of our CSUWP authors. What have you been writing or reading lately?

Friday, November 17, 2006

more from nwp

Howdy, ya'll, Those of at CSUWP are once again prepared to take over the world. It's amazing how inspired I've managed to get in a little over 48 hours, even in my post-sinus infection haze. The magic of hundreds of fired-up writing teachers under the same roof never fails to take me by surprise. At my very first session, the NWP presenter said, "We are the answer." And as bold as that may sound, you just gotta believe it. Halfway through our trip, here's what we've already done: 1. Written a plan for an Advanced Institute that will integrate teacher research and technology and will be open to any CSUWP teacher THIS SUMMER (if you're interested, you need to ask me about this), identified a potential grant to fund it, and begun to think about staffing 2. Started thinking seriously about a one-day administrator's conference 3. Become convinced that professional development support for early career teachers is a necessity, not an option (this morning we heard that nearly half of all new teachers leave the profession within 5 years, yet the median # of years for a NWP teacher is 25! Coincidence? We think not.) 4. Gotten me to post to post to two blogs in one day, including my own (click on the blogessor post to the right to see the other post) 5. Figured out that my sleep number is 45 and discovered that all Nashville roads are under construction (see Cam's previous post) Tomorrow Rebecca Fox, Tiffany Hunt, Emily Richards Moyer, and I will make a strong CSUWP showing at our NCTE presentation. I'm pretty sure Bud will be posting some pictures and a truly heartwarming story about the impact of your podcasts soon. Stay tuned, Cindy

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Top Ten Reasons to Come to the NWP Conference

10. Cindy and Emily giggling as they play with the controls of the Sleep Number bed
9. Free coffee, bagels and spreads
8. Groupies coming up and asking for their picture with you (right, Bud?)
7. The accents
6. Listening to other amazing professionals talk about how they teach what they teach
5. Listening to other amazing professionals talk about how they teach what they teach
4. Need I say it again?
3. Getting lost in Cordelia Drive, which turned into Lane, which turned into Court
2. The great stories and conversations over dinner and drinks
1. Feeling the urge to make changes that will change lives

One hotel room, two double beds, four people, split four ways = 25 bucks.
Next year, it's in New York City.

Inquiry and Tech

Cindy and I had a great roundtable session today on teacher inquiry and how to build a successful TIC (Teacher Inquiry Community). Specifically, we spent some time discussing a possible intersection between technology and inquiry. If you were at that session, and had a question or comment, please leave your thoughts in the comments so that we can continue the conversation.

NCTE/NWP Annual Meetings

Greetings from Nashville, where several CSUWP TC's and staff are attending the NWP Annual Meeting. Some of us, too, are at the NCTE Annual Convention.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blogging in Walden

I am so excited that I have set up a member's only blog for my fifth grade writers. I asked them what they wanted to do in the writing class, and computer use was first on their list. They are thinking that I will let them type and print, but oh no, it is much more than that. I am hoping that the parents get involved as well. We start blogging after Thanksgiving. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Guess what we're doing at my school!

Hey lovely peeps. I know you’re not going to believe it but we’ve started demos at my school! I'm surprised and delighted and once again very thankful for how the WP has influenced my career. It was scary - I was the first to give a lesson and frankly, rather than try to answer one of my many big questions I stayed on safer ground. I taught something I thought I was pretty good at but could use some tweaking. I was certain I'd get a bunch of criticism – I am a young teacher in the midst of many who are teetering on edges of their last “steps.” But I asked for stars and wishes – did I mention stars? – and I got them. I have useful ideas to take back to the class and we’ve begun a staff discussion that’s more relevant to my life in the classroom than most others I can remember. I’m even considering that a couple teachers might think of me as a professional – and that has been hard to come by teaching at the school I (barely) graduated from.

Y'all helped me realize some of my own potential as a leader and with the support of another fellow at my school I was able to not cave at the last minute. Now I'm looking forward to staff meetings on Friday. I think those close to retirement have a lot to offer me - now I'll have a chance to actually learn from them.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kooser in Golden

Heather C. and I spent a lovely Saturday with former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser at the CLAS fall writing retreat in Golden. No line dancing, but lots of good writing, reading and words of wisdom from the Nebraska poet, not to mention some socializing with folks from the Denver Writing Project, the Rocky Mountain Writing Project and the Colorado Writing Project.

Got me thinking again about trying to have a combined WP event (cocktail party?) at the CLAS conference in March. Whaddya think, Bud?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


"You're good enough, you're smart enough, and gosh darn it - people like you." - Who said it?

I'm looking for a few good (wo)men to present to Preston Junior High School faculty on one of our many inservice days. We're trying to incorporate writing across the curriculum and what better way to get science and math writing than with a real, live human! Anyone interested in presenting either their research from CSUWP or sharing writing prompts that they use in the classroom? I'm sure we could cover substitute pay and maybe even throw in a sassy, little coffee (not literally)... let me know!
Greg Pierson

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Welcome, New Preservice Bloggers

This is a post specifically for Cindy's "about-to-be-blogger" students. Cindy asked me to link you to my blog. You can find it here. I've left you a message there, too.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Hola, fellow WP folks.
We had a Mini-Marathon at my house on the 16th of September, and it was wonderful. I think my favorite line of the day had something to do with a diaper commercial and how it made someone's uterus ache. Good times.
We enjoyed coffee, lots of treats--it's a writing project function--and shared lots of writing, writing ideas, book titles.
If you are interested in hosting an event, please contact Kim Penn about doing so.

Let's Build a Network

Hey, y'all. It's nice to see you again. When last we met, several of you created blogs and said that you wanted more.

Well, here we go.

Today, we're going to be talking about learning networks, and how we can use blogs, podcasts, wikis, and other learning tools to create them.
We're going to begin today here, an article in this month's Edutopia Magazine. The piece is written by Will Richardson, one of my teachers in the edublogosphere, the learning network that I call "home."

After we've read the piece, I'd like for you to take ten minutes and use the comments section of this post to write your thoughts about what you've just read, as well as any questions that this raises for you and/or anything you're hoping we can explore further today.

I won't lie to you -- it's my goal today to convince you that every person -- student, teacher, administrator, parent, or otherwise -- is a person of value who can contribute positively to a learning network. We've all got a lot to learn from each others' experiences, knowledge, questions and concerns.

And today, we're going to look at some of the nuts and bolts of that sharing.

Everyone's network starts with two essential pieces -- your input device and your output device. For us today, Blogger is for output, and Bloglines is for input. While we're a "writing project," We'll start with input today, and move on from there.

By the time you leave today, hopefully you'll have created a personal learning network, as well as populated it with some useful resources for you. Then, it's up to you to become a participant in the networked world. After you're proficient, it's time to get your students involved.

Anything else we accomplish is bonus.

A few links we'll probably end up using (although we might not):

Monday, September 25, 2006

What Is It that Y'all'd Like to Do?

I'm giving a presentation/workshop to a great group of teacher consultants of the CSUWP on Saturday. The focus/topic is "Blogging & Podcasting 102." Do you think you/they'd like to leave with their own blog, or should we work towards an online community ala Elgg? I originally had intended to go the blog route, as I've done with that group in the past, but a conversation with a colleague this week has me thinking that perhaps a supportive online community gathering place might be a better way to go.
What do you think? How would you like to spend that time? I'm particularly interested in your suggestions/opinions/concerns/questions/etc., if you're going to be in the group on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

K12 Online Conference

I'm pleased to report that I'll be giving one of the keynote presentations for the first "K12 Online 2006" conference/convention/virtual meetup/really neat-o mashup of smart folks sharing interesting things. Please read the rest of this post to learn more and to see how you can participate.


Announcing the first annual “K12 Online 2006″ convention for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice. This year’s conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, Oct. 23-27 and Oct. 30- Nov. 3 with the theme “Unleashing the Potential.” A call for proposals is below.

There will be four “conference strands”– two each week. Two presentations will be published in each strand each day, Monday - Friday, so four new presentations will be available each day over the course of the two-weeks. Each presentation will be given in podcast or screencast format and released via the conference blog (URL: TBA) and archived for posterity.


Week 1

Strand A: A Week In The Classroom

These presentations will focus on the practical pedagogical uses of online social tools (Web 2.0) giving concrete examples of how teachers are using the tools in their classes. They will also show how teachers plan for using these tools in the delivery of their curricular objectives.

Strand B: Basic/Advanced Training (one of each per day)

Basic training is “how to” information on tool use in an educational setting, especially for newcomers.

Advanced training is for teachers who have already started using Web 2.0 tools in their classes and are looking for: (a) advanced technology training (eg. how to write your own blog template or hack existing ones), (b) new tools they can make use of in their classes, (c) teaching ideas on how to mash tools together to create “something new,” (d) a pedagogical understanding of how technologies such as Weblogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking sites, RSS feeds and others can deepen learning and increase student achievement, or (e) use of assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of Read/Write Web technologies in their personal practice and with their students.

Week 2

Strand A: Personal Professional Development

Tips, ideas and resources on how to orchestrate your own professional development online; the tools that support Professional Learning Environments (PLEs); how to create opportunities to bring these technologies to the larger school community; how to effectively incorporate the tools into your personal or professional practice; or how to create a supportive, reflective virtual professional community around school-based goals.

Strand B: Overcoming Obstacles

Tips, ideas and resources on how to deal with issues like: lack of access to tools/computers, filtering, parental/district concerns for online safety, and other IT concerns while trying to focus on best practice in the use of Web 2.0 tools.


For organization purposes, each strand is overseen by a conference convenor who will assist and coordinate presenters in their strand. The first presentation in each strand will kick off with a keynote by a well known educator who has distinguished his/herself and is knowledgeable in the context of each topic. This year’s convenors and keynote presenters are:

A Week In The Classroom

Convenor: Darren Kuropatwa

Keynote: Bud Hunt

Bud Hunt teaches high school language arts and journalism at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado. He is a teacher-consultant with and the Tech Liaison for the Colorado State University Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, a group working to improve the teaching of writing in schools via regular and meaningful professional development. Bud is also the co-editor of the New Voices column of English Journal, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English. A consumer of copious amounts of New Media, Bud blogs and podcasts about his practice and larger educational issues at

Basic/Advanced Training

Convenor: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Keynote: TBA

Personal Professional Development

Convenor: Will Richardson

Keynote: Ewan McIntosh

Ewan McIntosh is an educational technologist and teacher of French and German. Based in the Edinburgh area of Scotland he frequently works around the UK and Europe, leading student and teacher workshops and conferences. He is an experienced workshop facilitator in the area of Web 2.0 technologies in education across stages and curricular areas. Ewan blogs at

Overcoming Obstacles

Convener: TBA

Keynote: Anne Davis

Anne is known for seeing the educational possibilities in the use ofweblogs with students in classrooms, having implemented wonderful ideasand weblog projects with students and teachers in K-12 classrooms and atthe university level. She currently works at Georgia State University inthe Instructional Technology Center in the College of Education as anInformation Systems Training Specialist. Her weblog, EduBlog Insights

is a co-winner of the Best Teacher Blog inthe second international Edublog Awards, a web based event thatrecognizes the many diverse and imaginative ways in which weblogs arebeing used within education.


We’d like to invite you to submit a proposal to present at the conference. If you have something you’d like to share with the community, both people who are new to blogs and/or experienced bloggers please email the appropriate conference convenor above with your ideas. The deadline to submit a proposal (just the proposal, not the finished product) is September 30, 2006. One of us will contact you to finalize the date of your presentation. Your presentation may be delivered in any web-based medium (including but not limited to…podcasts, PowerPoint files, blogs, websites, wikis, screencasts, etc.) and must be emailed to your assigned conference convenor one week before it goes live, (see above strands) so that it can be uploaded to the server.

The conference organizers are:

Darren Kuropatwa

Darren Kuropatwa is currently Department Head of Mathematics at Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is known internationally for his ability to weave the use of online social tools meaningfully and concretely into his pedagogical practice and for “child safe” blogging practices. He has more than 20 years experience in both formal and informal education and 13 years experience in team building and leadership training. Darren has been facilitating workshops for educators in groups of 4 to 300 for the last 10 years. Darren’s professional blog is called A Difference (

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach

Sheryl is a technology/education consultant for the National Education Association (NEA), the Center for Teaching Quality, SRI International, the Virginia Community College System, the Virginia Department of Education, the Miami-Dade Public Schools, and the Alabama Best Practices Center. She has had several journal articles and book chapters published, been featured on public broadcasting television and radio shows, and is a regular presenter at local, state, and national conferences speaking on topics of homelessness, teacher leadership, virtual community building, and 21st Century learning initiatives. Sheryl blogs at 21st Century Collaborative (

Will Richardson

Will Richardson is known internationally for his work with educators and students to understand and implement instructional technologies and, more specifically, the tools of the Read/Write Web into their schools, classrooms and communities. A public school educator for 22 years, Will’s own Weblog ( is a primary resource for the creation and implementation of Weblog technologies on the K-12 level and is a leading voice for school reform in the context of the fundamental changes these new technologies are bringing to all aspects of life. Will is the critically acclaimed authour of the best-selling book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Tools for Classrooms (March 2006, Corwin Press).

If you have any questions about any part of this, email one of us:

Darren Kuropatwa

Sheryl Nusbaum-Beach

Will Richardson

Please duplicate this post and distribute it far and wide across the blogosphere. Feel free to republish it on your own blog (actually, we’d really like people to do that ;-) ) or link back to this post (published simultaneously on all our blogs). Please tag all related posts with k12online06.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Update -- Young Writers in St. Vrain

Congratulations to everyone involved in the recent "Teacher as Writer" and "Young Writer" programs conducted in St. Vrain this past week. I know lots of work went into some great programming. The Longmont Daily Times Call wrote up the events in today's paper. Here's a link to the story.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The End... for now.

The end of the SI has come... at least until the end of Sept. when we gather ourselves together one more time, but hopefully not the last. It's been intense, to say the least, both in work and in play, in remodeling old relationships and forming new ones. It’s been beautiful, difficult, comforting, challenging, and ridiculous all at the same time. If you don’t agree, you weren’t paying attention.

Every year I'm asked by my friends why I choose to come back, why I give up 4 weeks of my summer (plus more during the school year) when I've already participated in WP. Didn't I get what I needed? Too many teachers see specific professional development as something they’ve already participated in. Once they’ve done it, they look for something else.

“I did that last year.” “I already took a class on that.” “I already know how to do that.”

But I see it differently. There is no end to my need (for myself and my students) to be a better writing teacher, to be a more thorough and thought-provoking teacher-researcher, to be a deeper and more self-aware writer. It doesn’t matter that I’ve “already tried it” or “already done that”. It’s greater than that. It’s bigger than just my views and limited knowledge.

For me, WP Summer Institute is rebirth, rejuvenation. I see it on the faces of the "graduating" fellows every year. Oftentimes, teachers need to know that they aren't alone. So much of our jobs is behind a closed door. And WP reminds me of this. I'm always looking for new challenges and experiences to keep me in teaching, a job I live for but am afraid I'll burn out on. The writing project is still that for me.

The SI that I was a Fellow participant in was a great moment in time when I realized that I could and would do more for kids in a way I never understood. But the 2 years I've returned as a staff member, I've learned more. I've seen a lot…

…humble teachers realizing how great they can be; master teachers passing on wisdom to young, energetic ones; The same master teachers humbling themselves in the midst of a extraordinary community. I've seen inexperienced teachers see that there is more to teaching writing than what their limited views afford them; all teachers gaining a greater appreciation and understanding for those grade levels they don’t teach. More than anything, I’ve seen people step outside their comfort zone in their teaching and personal lives and be truly transformed by the experience. Every year is a bit different but always incredibly powerful. I’ve always said that every person that enters my life, even for a short time, is there to teach me something.

So Thank you…

To Sherry for illustrating how much the primary grade levels can inform junior high and high school teachers in their teaching of writing.

To Beth for showing me how “collegial” one can be when speaking to adults or ordering food… and how to keep a sense of humor through diversity.

To Kat for reminding me why I still need to travel and how I can make my experiences just as powerful for my students.

To Dani for showing me the most important lessons our kids learn are the ones they get early in life. It’s my job, as a high school teacher, to support those lessons.

To Julie for reminding me how sacrificing those things that are the most important to you for greater experiences can be the most rewarding.

To Colleen C. for demonstrating to me that you can truly make a difference no matter what you are surrounded by as long as you are willing to take a risk.

To Colleen (Stan) for proving to me that peripheral friends can somehow, someway become amazing influences in your life.

To Tami for demonstrating to me that super organized people aren’t necessarily super annoying (which I used to believe)… and that connections with people can take an enormous amount of work or can be instantaneous.

To Donna for reminding me that a strong family is defined by the deep connections between people, not societal stereotypes or monetary possessions.

To Cameron for showing me that no matter how accomplished you are at something, there are always new challenges to undertake.

To Elsa for giving me a much greater perspective on the beauty and successes of the ELA community of students and teachers.

To Trudy for showing us how much we, the teachers, have to learn from the amazing adults that are a part of our students’ lives outside of the stereotypical classroom.

To Cindy for proving to me that Doctors and Professors don’t have to be arrogant and intimidating (though you do scare me occasionally).

To Nancy for showing me how humility, wisdom, understanding, empathy, and knowledge can manifest themselves in a single master teacher.

To Lindsey for reminding me that surrounding yourselves with honest, positive people can enrich your life and experiences.

To Natalie for teaching me how to share… or at least attempting to teach me how to share, something I should have learned a long time ago.

To Laura for demonstrating me how people challenge themselves in so many different ways in so many different arenas.

To Heather for showing me that those that listen first and speak later have the greatest wisdom.

To Liz for reminding me that “the best way to teach students” should be a conversation that all teachers continue to participate in, because there is no one perfect way.

To Gilda for reminding me how important and powerful a sense of humor is for a teacher… and for keeping me honest by flicking me off… three times.

To Jackie for reminding me how much I miss having you as part of my daily life.

To Cam for reminding me how much I never wanted an older brother.

To Megan for demonstrating to me how much love one person can spread around and give to so many others.

To Kyla for reminding me how important it is to laugh and cry in equal amounts as much possible.

To E. Jason for reminding me that teaching students to have an open mind and empathy is more important that any content that we teach to kids.

Thank you all.
See you soon…

Friday, July 07, 2006


Thank you for four fabulous weeks of writing, crying, laughing, eating (that's props to you, Beth!), and writing some more. I really enjoyed the ride and the experience of getting to know all of you. Like we said today, it's not goodbye, just see ya later!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Teachers Telling Stories

Now that the Podcasting is slowly piling up... Thank you Gilda, Tami, and Natalie... and to those of you that I KNOW will be podcasting these last 2 days of SI. Anyway... Bud has finished building our "Teachers Telling Stories" Blog. It is meant to be a podcasting site focused on the reading done by our fellows (CSUWP) and the NYC Writing Project. In time, other sites hopefully will join us. So now there is even more motivation to get your voice and work out there. Check it out... and thanks to Bud. I wonder how many times I've said that.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Colorado State University Writing Project

Colorado State University Writing Project

Just adding to Cameron and Heather's awesome log: You know you're in CSUWP when - you're blogging (even though you hate blogging) on the fourth of July. You really know you're in the project when you don't mind being late to the BBQ because you'd rather be reading and or listening to stuff you've read and or heard already.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


The Writing Project SI process for the Staff and I began 6 months ago... reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, planning pre-institute and summer ongoings... it's been a long beautiful process. This doesn't take into account the other WP events that have taken place, Young Writers Workshops, Two Summer Teacher Workshops, Rural Sites, Writing Retreats, Social Gatherings, all organized by Governing Board Members and their hard-working committees. Somehow Cindy deals with it all.

But to me, the WP Summer Institute is the culmination of it all, although those of us that stay involved know that none of it ever really ends. But this time of year, Tamasag and all, feels like our year is coming to a close. As we speak, we are revising next year's schedules, reevaluating the interview process, and reconsidering next summer's procedures, so as I said, it's really only the beginning of another year of progress. On friday of next week, our WP Fellows will grow to a number around 80 strong. And they are amazing teachers and people that will only help CSUWP continue to grow in a way that very few WP sites have grown, not this quickly and efficiently.

So 2006 WP Fellows... start wondering about, considering, and exploring the many different ways that you can come back to us and make CSUWP stronger. In all of the above programs, we are looking for people to help and lead, and since I will be asking you on Friday about your interests, start thinking about it now. Cindy wants you...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Winding Down

The past 4 weeks (4 months for the staff) has been like driving towards the horizon. And finally, though it always remains at a distance, we seem to getting closer to the end of our time together.

Although we still have a few days left, our trip to Tamasag tomorrow is the beginning of the end in my mind. The time off will be nice when July 7 elapses but the time we've been here has been amazing.

Wednesday felt like a day of "things we NEED to know". From Elsa teaching us about writing in the ELA classroom, which offered more lessons on the ELA population than many of us have learned in years, to Nancy's demo on "How to Change the World" from a kid's perspective, not exactly a light subject but one that does inspire. There is little doubt that both of these amazing teachers do just that everyday.

And lastly... of all of the amazing author's chairs this year, and they have been powerful, profound, and escapist, Donna's struck the biggest cord with me personally. It is a piece (a book hopefully... one day) that NEEDS to be published, NEEDS to be read... by everyone. It will change many. It already has...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A CSUWP "Fairy Tale"

Once upon a time, a little 28 year old girl, we’ll call her Liz, was lucky enough to attend the CSUWP. Her days were busy and filled with many exciting activities before, during, and after school. In the morning she would clop around her house whining about the fact that it is summer, and she is a teacher and why did she make a month long commitment to something when she could be sleeping in everyday. But this feeling didn’t last long.

Soon, she would grab her 98 bags, attach them to her body and her bike, and meet her friend Tami at the corner for a bike ride to CSU. This ride always changed her from the clopping to a bouncier walk. After the first few blocks, she was ready to take on all that personal and professional reflection that causes brain pain.

During the day, Liz and her 20 friends in the CSUWP, plus a few extra around the edges, would laugh together, learn together, cry together, and write together. They would stretch themselves to the edges of their comfort zones and feel safe doing it. They would support each other with stars and a few wishes, and work on changing their teaching and selves for the rest of their lives.

After school, Liz would pedal herself home, bags feeling just a little bit heavier, up the gradual incline known as Mountain Ave. where she would instantly change into her “get sweaty” clothes. From there Liz would jump in her car and zoom to a stinky, carpeted room filled with other people in their “get sweaty” clothes, lead by a woman with giant fake boobs.

There, Liz, her friends Natalie and Lindsey, and 40 other friends in sweatiness would punch the air, knee their imaginary enemies in the face, and squat down until they thought their legs would snap in half. The continued for an entire hour until finally they would drop from exhaustion and pose like people in prayer to stretch their backs.

Finally, after all this sweating, and a day of CSUWP, Liz would go home, feed her face and fall into bed. It was a full day and she was just going to turn around and do it all over again tomorrow. She continued this for four weeks and then taught and wrote happily ever after.

The End.

Something to think about...

Did anyone see the news today, about a new website called You can join for an annual fee of $29.95, and sell your units and lessons to other teachers, or buy from your colleagues around the world. This web-store has just been "opened" by a 33-year-old former teacher. It raises some really controversial issues, and calls into question the type of sharing of demo strategies that we do for free during the SI and in the rest of our professional lives. Should we sell our stuff? Isn't that what consultants do? Aren't we worth the money, too? Or do we have an ethical obligation to share? I just love talking about these issues with anyone who's interested, so post a comment here if you have one.

By the way, I'm so proud to be a part of CSUWP again this summer - what a great community - a talented group of positive, motivated people - and awesome writers, too. I shed tears over author's chair every day. Being around all of you makes me feel so good about our profession. Thanks for that attitude adjustment-

Thank You

I feel a little guilty that I haven't posted more, the first one coming the first week of the institute, but my laptop has been in Texas getting fixed, so I have an excuse, be it marginal.

Author's chair: something everyone in the institute looks forward to each day, except for one day, the day they have to read. I love it for the standpoint that as an adult, I love being read to, but also because there are some amazing teachers here who are amazing writers. Some have been so funny, that my face and stomach hurt from laughing, laughing so hard I was crying. And some, have been so beautiful, so rich in emotion and human experience that I could feel the corners of my mouth being pulled down, one of the signs I'm going to cry, as tears leak onto my cheeks. It's scary for the writer, but such an amazing experience for the audience to be present for shared life experiences.

I feel so blessed to be in the presence of so many gifted teachers and writers, so many wonderful people who make the world a better place by who they are and all the lives they touch. Every day I learn so much, I laugh a lot, and occasionally, am brought to tears by the gifts people give to an audience of careful listeners.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Week Number 3

The third week has begun... from "nervous" Donna (though she showed absolutely no signs of it and her demo was killer) to possibly the best SI Feedback session I've witnessed, it was an amazing beginning of our last full week. This group has finished the honeymoon but yet still seem to respect and love each other just as much as they did the first week, maybe more now that they've spoken to improvements that they wish to see from each other. I'm more impressed everyday.

A few busy days ahead and then... ahhhh... Tamasag.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

East Coast Update

I'm here on the east coast of South Carolina living vicariously through the blog. Ani discovered the ocean yesterday. I hope everyone at the CSUWP is having wonderful discoveries, too. Thanks, y'all, for the updates.

I hope week three finds everyone well -- and that good work is still getting done. For the benefit of our podcast subscribers, who can only receive automatically one mp3 per blog post, here's another link to Kyla's great podcast. Forgive the reposting, but our subscribers will be grateful.

Finally... Podcasts

I finally was able to get over my computer troubles and get the podcasts up and running.
So here are the only ones I have so far... A re-recording of Colleen's Suess Tribute and Kyla's childhood view of her grandmother's house. Both are fantastic.

The Education of Bertrand the Zirk by Colleen S.
My Grandmother Has Two Houses by Kyla C.

Or... Click HERE to get a stream of any and all of the podasts.

Now... if we could only get others to join...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Colorado State University Writing Project

Summer Workshop Success

Well the first of our "Summer Writing Workshops" (aka Open Institutes) is almost over. This has been a fantastic week. I knew we were going to rock the first day when we started piggy backing. Since then we have had all the typical writing project "quirks" - Laughter, clicking on a laptop, tears and food! The week has been so much fun, and we have some great people in the group. Including our own young writer, Bethany. She's going into fourth grade and has been writing and sharing on all of our prompts with us. We think she's ready for Summer Institute right now. She's sure teaching us a lot.

I hope next week's workshop goes as well as this week. I am really looking forward to it.

A big thanks to Cam for helping me out the first day. You were quite the success. Your 6 pack is coming soon. :) Although you did somehow manage to break the electricity in the room. The front outlets haven't worked since you finished presenting on Monday!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Halfway Home

Tomorrow at lunch, we will hit the midpoint of this year's summer institute. Time flies...

Another day of Double Demos, but this group has adjusted extremely well. There is an air of collaboration and respect in the room that always builds over the four weeks. But this year, I am especially impressed. Although the CSUWP fellows have always been amazing, the excellence of this year's demos are a notch above. Though they are still pushing for constructive criticism, this year's participants haven't quite realized how well they are doing so far. Nine demos down and not one weak one in the bunch... not even close. The entire staff has been awed by this year's batch. So far so good.

In addition, I learned today that E. Jason has commemorated the Fort Collins Flood of '97 and everyone in town should hear his rendition. In addition, I learned that I will one day be reading Lindsey's children's book to my Mathphobic kids. Fantastic author's chairs.

This "class" is already quite accomplished... they just keep adding to their repetoire.

The Death of Richard Cory

I'm always very interested in the writing that comes from the demo, but rarely am I inspired to write as much as I was today in Colleen C.'s demo on Rhetorical Analysis. Using "Richard Cory" by Arlington, Colleen had us rewrite from different point of views, analyse from a historical, literal, and/or an emotional perspective, and go to depths of poetry using personal responses. And all I wanted to do the whole time was write. Fantastic demo.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Malone, you're slacking

Well, here it is 9:31 PM and no post from Wednesday. I just want to say that obviously Jason is forgetting his ritual! Just kidding, but I think it is important to applaud Liz and Sherry for two excellent demos! All teachers would benefit from Liz's constructivist approach to teaching expository writing - especially those with a ton of content to cover - kudos to you! Sherry, wow, research in 1st grade. We have expository writing all over the place today! My fellow fellows, you rock! Kat writes Haiku and Colleen C. - WOW! Beautiful writing, I know we were all impressed. Thank you all for sharing in this experience - isn't fun to be a teacher and learner and researcher and leader - all at once?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Double Demo Day

Although I think the fellows were a bit concerned, the first of the "Double Demo Days" has come and gone... very well.

Natalie and Jackie both did amazing jobs of demonstrating constructivist, student-centered, interactive activities that kept everyone engaged. The teaching of personal writing in the form of "gift" poetry and the link between the past and present as part of a high school histroy classroom were both extremely powerful lessons that any grade level or content area can use. Thank you both.

The demos continue to be engaging, amazing, and inspiring.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Week Number One, Intense and Done

Well, the first week is over... and how did it fly...
A wonderful, emotional, intense week of hard work and reflection.

Every year's SI has an aura to it... this year is no different.

They are...
cautious but willing;
Youthful and wise;
Energetic and patient;
Challenging yet supportive.
They are Boisterous in plain clothes.

A bundle of contradictions.
But that's what makes them so special,
They are many things, all things.

They are coming into their own as a class of Fellows
and there is little doubt that they will do great things.
Just keep watching...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Podcast Numero Uno

Colleen S. has graciously graced us with the first podcast of the season, and it is a jolly one. Reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, she reads an amazing poem that belongs on every teachers wall (no matter the age level) in poster form. Check it out.

The Education of Bertrand the Zirk by Colleen S.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Nonreturning Ulcers

I was talking with a new CSUWP fellow the other eve
when my stomach felt like a sieve.
She sounded excited, nervous, tense
My intestines were getting dense.
She told me of all the had to do
(Think of something intestinal that rhymes with "do"- I'm not going to sink to that level).
I missed the WP jumping in
the brass knuckles, piggybacks, and gin.
Then I thought of something that made me mellow
I remembered I was STILL a fellow.
Although I can't promise I'll be consistent
I do promise to NOT be distant.
So may good things come your way
and I'll close with Namaste'.

I wish fortitude to all the new fellows - Greg Pierson

Daily 1/2 Dose

This is where I usually semi-recap the day for those that follow us from afar (or at least for Bud), but its nice to see that other members are starting to speak for all of us. Kyla has been praised, Colleen is pumped, Liz and Tami are wondering what to do with their heads and I already said what I thought of Lindsey and her stage performance this morning... so nothing else needs to be said. Good work people.

Get used to it, you all will hear it a lot if you continue at this pace.

Also... first podcast should be up soon... Thanks Colleen (Stan).

Two, two, two days for the price of one

Good evening all! I swear I come home every night with this strange sensation of being exhaustingly overwhelmed from the ideas and writing that I have been exposed to, countered with this reverance and awe that I get to be a part of this institute. I can't believe that we are not even through our first week together because I already know so many of you on a deep level, but the inquiry and focus makes every day feel like more than 7 hours. Thanks for pushing me as a writer, an educator, and a human! Get ready for an interactive daily log tomorrow!

I third the motion!!

Hello bloggers!
OK, I'm going to cheez out becuse this is my first blog posting ever! What a milestone. Now that I'm over that little moment, my brain really hurts too. In fact, I can't believe I'm sitting here blogging at all. I think it's secretly addicting. Who is Lizard? Lizard, identify yourself man, or woman, or whoever!
On another note, I was amazed by Kyla's Author's Chair this afternoon. Kyla, you blew me away with your honsety, the rich depth of your writing, and your ability to do humor, poetry, tragedy with equal excellence. Way to go girl!!
Have a great night, fellow fellows!


my brain hurts too

my brain secretly hurts too! :) however, i can already tell that this is going to be life-changing and i already have lifetime friends. tami

my brain hurts

I think that the writing project is going to turn out to one of the most fantastic experiences in my life. But, I have to kind of BRAIN HURTS! All of this thinking and reflection is exhausting and I secretly feel like I have run a marathon when I leave here everyday. I was just wondering if anyone else feels like this too!

Get your Fix...

All WP fellows...

I talked about this really cool website in SI today, Great place for random prompts, ideas for left- and right-brainers, interactive writing activities, and tons of ideas for cross-curricular writing and assessment. Check it out.

Lindsey's Promise

Promising young teacher, Lindsey C., again showed me why I need to listen elementary teachers as much as my high school colleagues. She amazingly displayed how first-person experience for kids (of all ages) will improve their writing. Sounds obvious, but the research, personal classroom data, really cool student voice and work made her argument extremely convincing. Great Inquiry-based Demo... wonderful example. If your curious about sources, ideas, etc., she is more than willing to pass her knowledge on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Taking, and Sharing, Pictures

I've had some folks ask me about how they can share pictures they take during the Summer Institute. The answer, it turns out, is very simple. All you need to do is to host your photos via Flickr, a free photo hosting site. Once you've gotten your photos online via Flickr, you've got two options for sharing them with everyone. The first, and easiest, is to tag each photo you take with the tag "csuwp". I know, very creative, huh?
Once your photos are tagged, then you'll automatically see them in the badge on the right side of the blog main page. Click on them to see them in full size.
Also, once your photos are in Flickr and you're registered as a blogger on this blog, you can click the "blog this" tab above your individual photos from Flickr. Then, you can write a blog post and put a particular picture right into the post, as I did with the "Trouble" post below.
This stuff, once you get the hang of it, is all really quite easy. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures.

3 days down, the rest of our lives to go

Now that demos have begun (Tami was everything I expected -- again, creative and inappropriate thinkers, assume what you will), the WP takes on a new life. Every year, the first 2 days are full of awkward fumbling and cautious testing of the surroundings, kind of like a newborn, or 2 teenagers in the backseat of a car. Now that the 3rd day has passed, we are hitting our stride. We are becoming a family, with all of the goods and bads that come with it. Words are being heard, voices are being renewed, and kids, in the end, will be affected.

We had a little bit of home cookin' from Trudy, a dose of lesson learnin' from Tami, and hopefully there will be a lot of story publishin' for Colleen (or Stan if you prefer) in the future. Her first reading is poster-ready, a fitting partner piece to "Everything I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten". Her second was again, a great example of hilarious reality, of the Jackie Sp8 mold.

Another fantastic day focused on writing and sharing. Soon, the demos pick up and, although all else remains, the pace changes. Put your head up and arms out and get ready for liftoff.

hearty pat on the back

Thanks to Tami for getting us off to a roaring start with her demo this morning. She got me thinking about my practice as a writing teacher so I eagerly awaiting each new idea: Linds tomorrow and the next one and the next after that. Also thanks to all for fostering such a positive environment where we can take risks and share pieces we may not have shared in other circumstances.

The Wonderful World of Poetry

So many people have something similar to post-tramatic (or dramatic) stress disorder with things they've experienced (public speaking, doing math on the board in front of a large group of people), one of which being poetry. They hate poetry. They find it stupid, pointless, or just throw their hands up in the air caliming they don't get it--like poetry is something to get like a diploma or a driver's license. Bad experiences leading to closed-off thinking.

This morning, Tami presented a Rockstar demo. on critucal reading and writing, using poetry as a vehicle to get to this important thinking. Well-paced, great activities, wonderful personality and chrisma, and great experiences. We shared and built upon each other's thinking, we shared ideas, explained wy we thougth what we thought, we were allowed to act like 7th graders--always a plus, I took advantage of this by poking my neighbor in the ribs--and we all felt validated through specific feedback from the teacher, and candy, and we were building something very important: we were feeling successful through the positive experiences we were having.

"A mind is like a parachute. It works best when it is open."

Tami's Calming Effect

We walk in this morning, and I expect there to be candles, a masseuse, and incense. Tami has already affected the WP... I wouldn't call her calm but she makes the room feel that way, at least this morning, her demo day. I'm sure it is a good balance for her high energy (she rarely blinks, and speaks faster than me). I have no doubt she is about to set the bar high for the rest of the group. This is the beginning of this quaint cold room below engineers and math geniuses becoming home for the next 4 weeks.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by Bud the Teacher.

Doesn't this look like trouble? Two enthusiastic teachers, two computers, and knowledge about blogging? I think so . . .

It was sure a pleasure working with all y'all today. I certainly hope that you found the time useful. Don't hesitate to ask if you have further questions or need help.

I'm looking forward to seeing the amazing things that you do. So are lots of others -- make sure to use this blog and the other tools at your disposal to share your good work.

It has begun

Well... I'm the first to post on our e-Anthology, so put your toes in the water, wade in slowly, or jump from the highdive, doesn't matter.

Just help build our work on-line... start posting.

Be Good.

No longer have that pukey little feeling....

When I (to be honest) applied to the CSUWP, I didn't really consider myself a "writer" per se. I don't pour out my soul into poetry and journals and don't write short stories and certainly nothing longer than that. I wrote about a million papers in grad school but those were assigned and I make up reading assignments for my kids all the time. So, I just have to say, that quite literally, in the last two days, I became a "writer." I actually sat down and just wrote some stuff, like, for no particular purpose...NEVER happened to me before! This is a major a-ha in my life, and I just wanted to say, THANKS!!!!

Thanks for today

It was great working with all of you today. I hope that Bud and I were able to give you enough information to feel confident about exploring the NWP's E-anthology and to continue blogging here on the CSU blog. Blogging is a great way to find an audience and feed your muse. It can really help you build momentum for yourselves (and your students) as writers.

Tami asked if I would share the electronic files in the packets handed out today. If you email me, I will happily send them to you.

The summer institute is a great place to take risks and try new things. I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to set some personal and professional goals for yourselves. You won't find a more supportive or inspiring environment in which grow.

Have a great month!

Cold and Spicy

Well... it seems that every class, this now being my 3rd to be involved with, has their lingo, inside jokes, words that get said WAY too much. It was once "piggyback" which seems to rear its ugly head on an annual basis, consistently causing me to wince and throw up in my mouth a little bit, which is a good segue to this year...

It seems that the word "spicy" has taken on a special meaning this year, also potentially leading to unwanted bodily functions. From my personal relations with the owner of a local Asian restaurant (take it as you will) to a possible theme for the upcoming anthology... as long as everyone agrees (good luck with that), "spicy" is the first word to penetrate our daily vernacular. I am just glad that I can provide a muse (or a victim) for the class to get ammo from. I'm sure others, people and words, will soon get the chance.

Anyways, the 2nd day has ended. Nancy gave me reason to believe that her storytelling would put me to sleep (in the best way possible). Beautiful, comforting, and compelling. Thanks for sharing with us all. As for Jackie, I know her all too well and saw the voice, humor, and imaginative storytelling coming from miles away. She is living proof that truth is always funnier than fiction. Keep writing Jackie, many need your voice. And both of you need to podcast. Your voice behind your words are what make them yours. Others deserve the experience of hearing it.

Thank you all for making over 6 hours a day in a cold basement room during my 2 months off something I would never consider missing.


As the second day of the CSUWP SI 2006 comes to a close I have the strange feeling that we have been in this "institute" together for weeks now. Wow. What an intelligent group of professionals who genuinely care about teaching - and progressing as learners themselves. As a participant in an intriguing discussion about social equity and how that is played out in school distircts - specifically via boundaries - I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes.

"Do what you can with what you have where you are." -FDR

CSUWP fellows, you are the seeds of change. You are the leaders who will rise to the top and make the changes we desire possible. And, you'll write about it I'm sure. I am convinced Jackie should write a "Dennis the Matress Guy's Guide to Pregnancy." What better way to get through difficult, tough, and challenging times than with a laugh? And Nancy and Cam clearly have a gift for characterization and using sensory images in their writing. What can I say? I predict four powerful weeks of learning together. Thank you for sharing your writing, your experineces, and laughing along the way. It will be a spicy summer.

Ha Ha

I did it! I did it! I think I might actually be motivated to be a tech chick now! When will we be blogging again?

Hello! I am excited about blogging!

Hi CSUWP, you are all amazing!! I am sorry, (Bud especially to you), if I came across as snotty - I am just psyched! Thanks for the great blogging info - I am going to try this out! Megan and Bud are AWESOME!!

So glad to be here!

Hi everyone, and welcome to CSUWP Summer Institute 2006! I'm glad to be back and working with y'all.

I hope everyone takes the opportunity to use the NWP E-Anthology. I love the "bless, press, address" protocol. It's risky posting your stuff, but it's worth it. Enjoy all the feedback you get, and give a little, too.

Feeling Confident...

Wow...I never believed I would be blogging! This is Day 2 and looking forward to continuing to grow...Hasta Luego!

Day Two

Our second day of Writing Institute. Blogging information has been great! Ready to read and post more writing in the future.

A note to Tami

We begin again... very few hiccups the first day. We now are beginning the technical stuff... Blogging w/Bud and Megan. And now Tami wants to know how to do all of this stuff... So Tami... listen up, it's time to learn.

It has begun...

Another fantastic class of random writers, collaborators, thinkers, artists, and believers... in something. First day down... many more to go. Posts coming soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Links from the 2006 Summer Institute Blogging Introduction

Good Morning. This post is a handy online referral and link catch-all for the links that Megan and I will be referring you to during this mornig's presentation. Some of these links you'll find quite interesting and useful. A few, frankly, you won't care for much at all. But they're here, anyway. If we missed any, simply leave a comment and we'll correct the post.

CSU Writing Project Website
NWP Website (Click on Member Login to access the E-Anthology)
Blogging & Aggregator Tutorial (Follow the steps, ignore the time suggestions)
2005 CSUWP Summer Institute Podcasts
Megan's Poetry Blog
The Wednesday Afternoon Poetry Club
Bud's blog (Look on the right side of the main page for the links to educational blogs that Bud reads regularly).

A Beginning

The 2006 Colorado State University Writing Project Summer Institute kicked off its first day today -- I'm sure that it was a full day of fun, surprises, hard work, and amazing educators doing wonderful things. I'm interested in seeing what this talented group of folks comes up with, both collectively and individually. Tomorrow, Megan Freeman and I will be facilitating an introduction to blogging. Hopefully, that introduction will lead to some thorough reports and records of the events that transpire over the next four weeks.

Tell your stories, CSUWP 2006 Fellows, both personal and professional. The world needs to hear them.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

pictures - finally

Sorry about the delay. I haven't moved into the world of high speed wireless yet. And using the old-fashioned dial up takes forever (no matter how I fiddle with image quality, etc.) But here is the one photo from our retreat I know everyone has been waiting for.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Need a Summer Course? Let Us Help

If you're a teacher looking for some handy ways to earn some graduate credit while getting in some writing time, the CSUWP has a couple of options you should consider.
If you'd like more information, feel free to comment here and we'll forward your needs to the appropriate person.

Monday, May 01, 2006

2006 Writing Retreat

The 2006 Writing Retreat proved to be similar in the previous two in that it was eventful. My morning started differently, feeling sick (no matter how many times I move students around, I seem to move the soon-to-be sick one nearer me) but shook it off after a few phone calls—people thought that I was hung over. I also didn’t want to miss spending time with writing project teachers, time being one thing we are always short on.
I made the drive up 287, over roads carved between powder red ridges of rock, and through the trees of the foothills. I had to resist the urge to stop at a few places, walk the sides of the roads and write, but I was already late and didn’t want to miss any of the conversations and writing ideas I knew they were already sharing. I stopped in a restaurant much like any small town restaurant you’d come across in the mountains: the air thick with the smell of fat and grease from cooking food, the smell of wood smoke, and the wind blowing the scent of mountain soil, pine trees down into my face before I walked in. I ate quickly, took note that there was but one beer on draft, paid and left.
I made my way over dirt roads, some damp, some powdery, to the cabin. I was greeted by several teachers, with things that I can’t repeat, when I finally made it.
Now, to protect the innocent, and not so innocent, I will use nicknames for all involved.
After bringing in all of my things, I, known as Token, joined Apple Pie, Light Switch, Brickhouse, Weekend, Uniquely Beautiful and Blue Eyes at the hot tub. We enjoyed each other’s company, a writing prompt, and took time to share. It took quite a long time to share, with all the bathroom breaks and stories.
With the prompt of, Write about a word you or your parents used that was not really a word, Brickhouse had me in tears with, “I think someone burped a Sami, because it sure smells like Job-ee.”
Blue Eyes with her gorgeous rhythm, her incredibly smart prose, read a story about how people in her family who didn’t use the correct alternative language.
Weekend, among the many stories she told, read a story about boys, their propensity of getting naked in their youth, and the many other strange things they do.
Light Switch, a nickname earned after drinking one particular beverage, ten of them, and then changing, and also feeling that change as quick as a light switch, read about the foolish things parents do and don’t say to their children.
I unfortunately can’t remember what everyone read—I too was a little…distracted—but remember laughing until my face and stomach hurt before moving inside. We ate, went back to the hot tub, and told more stories, read some poetry, and talked some more.
When the cold finally chased us inside, we made a fire, laughed at how foolish we all have been in our youth, told stories about our loved ones, and crawled into sleep. We all started in the loft, packed in, giggling like children, before we realized we wouldn’t get to sleep this way. Brickhouse went to another bed, and Apple Pie went to another one as well, her fear of heights getting the better of her. Uniquely Beautiful and Light Switch slept near me, and I, being the token male, had to make a crack after coming back from the bathroom if someone burped a sami, cause it smelled like Job-ee, and grabbed a few small laughs.
We woke with the smell of smoke still in the air, some of us not feeling very well, before cleaning up, trading big hugs and driving home.
I hope you can all make it next year. It’s like summer camp for big, dysfunctional kids.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Retreating Writers...

On Saturday, several of us enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at The Back Porch before heading in to the mountains for the writing retreat. Many thanks to Kim P. for organizing and finding such a beautiful location. Hopefully Jen will share some pictures here soon.

It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and to spend some time writing in such a gorgeous setting. We weren't there long before a certain TC's bra was flying from the flagpole and we were writing about all the skeletons in our closets. Who knew that teachers had such sordid pasts?

I'm working on revising a couple of the things I wrote and I'll post them here if everyone else will share, too. (Apple pie, please please post your confession...?) And by the way, Sue, that poem you were looking for on my blog is now posted there, just for you. I'm glad you remember it almost a year later.

Anyone interested in meeting to write together over the summer?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The New Class

Yesterday, the 2006 CSUWP Summer Institute met for the first of two pre-Institute sessions. I wasn't in attendance, but I am certain that the conversation was good, the work was intense, and the seeds were planted for a summer of amazing teachers coming together to share their experiences and to learn together.
Any chance someone who was there would be willing to share with us what the rest of us missed? I'm a bit out of the day to day loop of this summer institute -- but I know there are important stories to tell.
All CSUWP Teacher Consultants and current Summer Institute fellows are welcome to be authors on this blog and to publish CSUWP info here. If you'd like to contribute, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to: budtheteacher at and I'll be happy to add you.
We're looking forward to your stories.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Big Fat Poetry Weekend

Billy Collins was the keynote speaker at the Colorado Language Arts Society’s conference where Bud and I just presented a session on blogging with students. Collins's speech/reading was great (I heard him read last fall in Loveland and loved it then, too.) I got to ask him a few questions afterward, both at the luncheon and at the book signing. On top of that, our session went well and we had fun. I was happy.

But the Billy Collins story gets better. Ever so much better. Even better than the time I saw Tom Cruise at TCBY in Taluca Lake, California. Or the time I saw Paris Hilton at the California Pizza Kitchen in Beverly Hills. Or the time I saw Paris Hilton in a Tampa, Florida mall. (I think she was stalking me.)

Last night at the gala reception, I walked into the room feeling quite sassy (our presentation had just gone very smoothly and we got two more invitations to present at other schools.) Much to my surprise, Billy Collins was having a drink at one of the tables; I figured he had left town shortly after the luncheon. I wished that I had the nerve to go up and ask him all my questions about publishing poetry. I must have said that out loud, because Bud looked at me and said, “What’s stopping you?”

Wow. Great question.

“What the hell,” I thought. Armed with a vodka tonic, the most grown-up drink I know, I walked over to his table.

“Hey, Megan,” he greeted me.

“Holy-shit-he-remembers-my-name!” I silently gasped, all the while maintaining a very relaxed, hip, outer affect. (The fact that we were all wearing huge name badges may factor in here, but I like to think he remembered me from the time our eyes met when I asked him a question during the keynote address, or perhaps afterward when we chatted intimately at the book signing.)

ANYway, Bud and I ended up hanging out, having drinks with him and talking about publishing and using Poetry 180 in the classroom. After a while, the perky conference chairwoman announced that the line dancing was beginning. Billy Collins looked at us and said, “Shall we?” Next thing I knew we were out on the dance floor doing the Boot Scootin’ Boogie.

I thought that was as good as it could possibly get.

But wait.

When I arrived at the conference this morning, I found that Bud had signed me up as one of only fifteen highly privileged people to take an impromptu master class with the Boot Scooter himself. During the class, I read aloud a piece I had just written, and he said it reminded him of Gertrude Stein. Me and Gertrude Stein in the same sentence. Thank you, Bud.

I can now die a happy woman.

I line danced with the poet laureate.

That beats Paris Hilton hands down, don’t you think?

Friday, March 10, 2006


It turns out that there are five or six CSUWP Teacher Consultants here at the Colorado Language Arts Society Regional Spring Conference in Colorado Springs. Renee Esposito will be presenting some of her work with writing circles tomorrow. Megan Freeman and I are presenting on blogging and podcasting this afternoon. Stay tuned for podcasts and summaries, as well as a few photographs.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Digital Paper

BAWP's got their online e-Zine up. Good stuff. There's even a piece from Jim Gray, the founder of BAWP and NWP who passed away in November.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Getting Published

Had a great first day with other NWP teachers from other parts of the country. We got right to work, though, in true Writing Project fashion -- and I expect I'll be quite tired by the end of the weekend.
Regular readers of this blog probably know that one of the major ideas behind the NWP is that the best teachers of writing are those that are writers themselves. This teacher writing takes a number of forms, this blog being my primary writing environment. Others write poetry, professional articles, keep journals, write fiction, etc. But one end goal of writing is getting that work read, or published. (I've been having some interesting conversations lately about whether or not publishing via blogs is really publishing. What do you think?)
Megan, one of the CSUWP's group of pretty amazing teacher consultants, has put together a really handy resource to help folks who are looking for places to publish. Here's a link to her three-page spreadsheet of literary journals that accept either poetry, or fiction, or both.
What other handy "Where do I get published?" resources do you know about?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Away from Home

I'm writing tonight from the Warwick Hotel in Denver, Colorado, where I am preparing to begin a three day National Writing Project event tomorrow. We'll be looking at information from other NWP sites and coding them to help get a fix on what's going on around the country. (At least, that's how I understand the process right now -- I'll understand it better tomorrow.) In the evenings in between work sessions, I'll be planning a conference presentation on blogging and checking in with a teacher that I am working with on a pen pal project with our students.
Busy weekend, but it's that good, "good things are happening in our classrooms, let's share them" type of busy. I'm really looking forward to it. I hope I can record some audio and pass along our conversations.
One note -- we'll probably be giving that conference presentation on blogging in a room without Internet access or computers. We're thinking that we might use sticky notes as a metaphor for blogging.
How many of you are conferencing in areas without reliable Internet access?

(Cross-posted @ Bud the Teacher)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Virtual Writing Tour

Paul Allison, Tech Liaison for the NYCWP has posted the results of their recent walking and writing tour of the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Check out what they're writing -- and what they're seeing when they do. I like how they've taken the pictures and the text and put them together in Flickr. Their work might make for a good set of writing prompts for you if you're feeling stuck.
Really. Go look and read already.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Update -- Here comes a deadline

From the national folks:

We hope you plan to join us in Nashville for next year’s NWP Annual Meeting, November 16-18, 2006. Due to space limitations, there will not be a call for session proposals for the 2006 meeting. Please consider proposing a session for the 2006 NCTE Annual Convention and keep in mind that the deadline for submitting proposals online to NCTE is approaching quickly: JANUARY 17.

I find it funny that NWP would plan a conference in a space where they can't accept proposals. Seems odd, doesn't it?