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.