Tuesday, November 28, 2006
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
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
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.
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.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
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
Thursday, November 16, 2006
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.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
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.