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 low-and-behold...here 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 are...it 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.