Friday, June 29, 2007

permission needed to share your thinking

Hi, all,
It will be SO great to see face-to-face at Tamasag today, but it's also been cool to lurk around here on the blog and get a sense of what's going in SI. Speaking of that...

The National Writing Project has asked our site to participate in a couple of sessions at the national conference in November (it will be in the Big Apple!) to discuss how we've integrated technology into our summer institute. I think it makes a lot of sense to focus on our blog during that session.

Along those lines, I'd like your permission to share these blog entries but also to hear any additional feedback you'd like to offer about your participation here or in other technological aspects (e.g., Diane's demo, the E-anthology) of the SI.

So what do you think? How has the technology piece of SI gone for you? If we didn't have anything happening digitally, how would your experience change?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Because Writing Matters: Chapter 6

Better late than never...

Last week, in a World Cafe format, we had many interesting discussions sparked by Chapter 6 of Because Writing Matters. Here were some of our thoughts:

*Comments on the difference between "assigning" and "teaching"
*Principals rarely ever have the time to observe, interview teachers and examine student writing, as the text suggests. They wear too many hats and only tend to come in for formal evaluations or in response to some kind of problem. We need educational leaders as principals!
*Ongoing process of professional development in the area of writing is necessary
*Great idea to survey teachers about writing and writing instruction
*Principals rarely write themselves...they should be involved in the NWP!
*Principal observations are going toward the "5-minute walk through" epidemic
*Staff buy-in in full is always difficult

I volunteered as "captain" of this group under the impression that we were playing kickball (very sneaky Craig) there a chance we will play at Tamasag? :)

See ya, Bissy

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Some links

Billy Collins' web site includes a link to free audio downloads.

Videos, I think they're flash videos, of something like 12 of Billy Collins' poems are at the Billy Collins--Action Poet web site.

is an interesting site. Poets are asked to compose a poem in 15 minutes or under in response to a prompt. As the poet composes, key strokes are collected. On this site you can watch those keystrokes appear. It's almost like sitting beside Robert Pinsky as he writes. Click on their archive button, and you will see that plenty of notable poets have played the quickmuse "game." I kind of like Matthew Rohrer's rambling poem. Quickmuse asked Rohrer to write in response to Bill Zavatsky's poem "Imaginary Brother."

Born Magazine is also worth exploring. Click on Enter Born Magazine once you're in.

This is a link to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Their Directory holds links to the websites of all of their members. These websites contain submission info. After you click on the word "Directory" right here, or in the previous sentence, the index page will appear. Click on the words "All Members," and the links will appear.

a little message from the advanced institute

It's really cool! But Jason and I miss you, and we'd love it if you'd drop in on our AI blogs virtually to see what's going on. And maybe even leave a comment. And maybe it could say you miss us back :).

If you're curious, you can get to the AI blog at, and you can click on any of the links down the side to get to our individual blogs and see what we're thinking about. We're writing on them daily during Morning Pages.

See you at Tamasag on Friday!
- Cindy

Friday, June 22, 2007


Good morning, SI Fellows. It occurs to me that today you've made it half-way. After this packed Friday, there will only be 8 days of the SI left, and 1 of those will be Tamasag! I hope your weekend is restful and productive. Remember, ask us if you need any support.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will's Morning Pages Sources

Here are the sources that I used for Morning Pages if anyone is interested:

_The Fantastic Art of Jacek Yerka_


_River of Mirrors the Fantastic art of Juson Huss_

-- Will

A Technology Update

I've been enjoying very much getting to see some snapshots of the SI via the blog while I've been traveling lately -- and Megan reminded me in a recent comment here that we should all be updating -- so I thought I'd drop a quick note to introduce myself to those of you in the SI and to update the rest of you on what the CSUWP is up to when it comes to technology.
So -- let's start with the intro.

The Intro

My name is Bud Hunt and I serve as Technology Liaison for the CSUWP. That means that it's my job to help you to integrate technology into your teaching when I can, as well as to help the project think about using technology in meaningful ways. For the most part, I just want to be a friendly face for you to bounce ideas off of or to ask questions of. (Of course, as the project continues to grow -- which is awesome! -- I may not be a real face for some of you -- but I'm happy to be a virtual resource. I check my e-mail lots and am online a great deal of the time -- ask Jason if you don't believe me!)
If you ever need help setting up a project, or have concerns about anything technical, please don't hesitate to ask. It's my job to help, and I take looking after teachers very seriously. You can reach me via e-mail or via this blog.

The Updates

The Spring has been a very busy time for the CSUWP and technology, particularly within the national network. I was pleased to be a facilitator of a meeting on thinking about WP sites' web presences. I was asked to be involved because of the CSUWP's great history of using the web to facilitate our work. (Thanks, Will, for all the great website stuff that you do!) It was cool to help others' think about their web presence and how the work they do is bound up in how it's represented (or not) to the world.
Another project I have been pleased to support is the work of the first ever Advanced Institute at CSUWP. The AI is focused on the intersection of inquiry and technology, and Jason and Cindy have been facilitating folks' use of blogs to talk and reflect about their inquiry work. Those meetings take off next week -- and the online work has been going for a while. You should certainly take some time to read the AI blog and to take a look at individuals' blogs -- I wish I had more time to spend in conversation there, but I'm pleased that the great thinking and learning that's happening there is accessible to others and will ultimately be useful to lots of people.
Earlier this week, I was at a working meeting of the NWP discussing technology and writing in the 21st Century. I was honored to represent the CSUWP as we discussed tech and how it's altering the landscape of literacy, teaching and learning. Several smart folks have written (and podcasted) about their experiences, and I hope to write up some of mine over at my blog soon.
Whew -- that's a lot, huh? I hope you're up to good work and that you're going to share it via the blog. The entire network learns when you share what you can with us -- so always think blog!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Teacher as Writer group calling

I have a proposal for anyone who is interested in continuing a writing group throughout the school year. I recently received a small grant through the CCIRA called the Teacher As Writer grant. With this I want to form a writing group of teachers that enjoy writing, want to pursue personal writing, perhaps publication or what-not with the support of other teachers. We're here to encourage each other, right? I have a few colleagues that have shown interest, however, we haven't gotten started yet due to soccer games, sick kids, etc. If you would like to be part of a writing group that meets perhaps once a month at a coffee shop or home, and would like to continue your own personal growth in writing, please consider joining this. It costs Nothing, but your time and commitment to growth and your fellow writers' growth. I'd love to enlarge it to include you! Let me know.

Kim (the quiet one usually wearing a green top!)

Where did the love of Poetry go?

Kathleen's demo asks a fantastic question...

"How has poetry moved from center stage to the margins of society?"

Wow... quite an issue but Kathleen tackled it well giving us ways of giving kids a different ways to analyze poetry (Junior High Audience) without her being the only one that is breaking it down. Using multiple genres (Bud... you listening?), Kathleen gives kids the chance to explore small sections of poetry to interpret and discover the poet's intentions. It was a great way of tackling a problem that I imagine many English teachers have. She also helped lower the anxiety of people like me (non-english teachers) and encouraged us to continue to utilize it in our classes in unconventional ways. Thanks Kathleen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Teachers

Just got back from Emily and Kim's New Teacher Week-long workshop. I was asked to come in along with Kim D., Katy S., Rebecca F. (or G.), Tami W., and Rhys R. (who got lost on the way I guess). Our goal was to simply tell stories about our early teaching careers including the way we integrate writing. Laid-back, simple and a cool chance to remind myself why I do what I do. I always get inspired by talking with others I respect about what keeps them teaching and with new teachers about what makes it such an amazing career. Thanks for the chance to speak a bit and listen more. Seems like a fantastic week-long workshop so far.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Research Questions Reminder

Thanks, Will, for the post. I've been so busy in that room that I'd barely bothered to glance at them. They are really thoughtful questions.

A couple things we all want you to remember:
  • Your question doesn't have to be pefectly formulated by the end of the SI - just enough to help you get your research prospectus written.
  • Your question doesn't have to be fancy - just something you're wondering about in your classroom - as reflective teachers, you'll naturally be wondering something that other people would be interested in, too.
  • You're not writing a PhD dissertation. We're not even asking you to have any research done by the end of the SI. It's simply a proposal for how you'll try to answer your question in your class(es) in the coming year. And, you include a brief bibliography of a few articles or books that have been written by others who are exploring this question. (My prospectus was 1.5 pages, single-spaced, with some bullets interspersed. No huge deal!)

Good luck - remember to ask us, especially Craig and Cindy, if you need help with teacher research.

Research Questions

I copied some of the research questions that different people came up with. I thought some of these questions might be a good starting point; I am having a difficult time pinning something down, so I thought others might benefit from these ideas as well. We have everything from the larger questions of the disenfranchised to the specifics of how to teach thesis statements. -- Will

How can I help my students from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph – especially with quotations?

How can I break students of the habit of making a topic sentence a thesis? How do I help students make original claims?

How can I support students’ formal writing (essays) that will help them understand the formula and eventually move away from that?

How can I help students use an essay organizer as a tool rather than being controlled by it?

How do I move my students away from formula-based writing and teach them to use higher-level thinking as an analytical tool to drive their writing?

How do I assimilate Bloom’s taxonomy into actual writing pieces?

I wonder if gender grouping in writing groups might influence risk-taking and make for more meaningful writing?
What is the relationship between family literacy and at-home writing?

How do I move from an effective Student Discussion to an effective/meaningful writing piece?

What are children learning from media portrayals . . . how their parents are writing & speaking to issues that are relevant to the disenfranchised?

SI impact so far...

It always happens fast... and I never even saw it coming this year.

The first 5 days of SI are in the bag and we are pushing into the next one as I sit here on my day off at Mugs (surprise, surprise). It has been a quick week but an inspiring one. It seems shorter to me because I've been in and out of the room helping with the other 18 or so (feels like) programs that WP is putting on. It just shows all of us the impact that we are having on writing in FC and other areas near here. Young Writers, Week-long, New Teachers, and now Advanced Institute. And soon, Watershed Workshop, add'l YWWs and Week-longs. It's amazing where Cindy's vision has taken us in such a short time.

But as we all know it begins in that "cozy" room (Trudy's positive spin on everything) with different issues each year. No AC or windows in the past. This year it is simply a walk-in closet. SI has changed many and is having an enormous impact on our students. And as fellows of this year's institute, watch for it... it will show up.

It may be September or December before the impact of SI hits you. Sobering up in July and August is always an important part of the process. But as any staff member will tell you, relish in it for the next 3 weeks. Enjoy the anxiety, hard work, deep thoughts, self-exploration, personal space and above all, the people that are in it with you. Every year I love it and being in the room much less this year, I'm realizing how much I will miss it. It changes me for the better every summer and will continue to do so no matter where I am.

Enjoy it while you can...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Altered Book Poetry

While searching on the topic "altered books" this morning, I found this site. Writers take book pages and create found poetry. No rubber stamps, collage skills, or art papers required. Really. It's a great writing idea. Poetry from book pages. I think kids would love it. It makes me want to tear pages out of books and color them with crayons.

Since I don't get to present a morning pages during SI, indulge me and go to this site.

Saturday morning thoughts

The word that kept going through my mind all afternoon Friday, as we completed Stars and Wishes and gathered feedback and listened to Author's Chair starring Jack, was "generosity." I felt gratitude for everyone's generosity - of spirit, of ideas, of support. We have another great CSUWP SI community forming.

Thanks to Craig and Emily for sharing their home and deck and Daisy with all those people. It was fun to perch on the porch and soak up a beer, salsa, and rich conversation.

My plans: Rest. Enjoy my family and some quiet. Think and write. Post.
Hope you all get some of those things, too.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who are we supposed to be?

Cassy's morning page prompt...

A really great intro. led to this...
"What was your life expectation? Are you, today, the person you thought you would be?"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Delicious Quiet

After a morning with our first demo (good stuff, Will), first world cafe, first stars and wishes, and after lunch I came back to a room filled with a delicious quiet. Lights off, Lori, Margaret, Joan and others enjoying the warm glow from the two o'clock sun, pens moving across the page in precise abandon, the details of narratives and poems guiding the rhythm of their pens' movement. More enter, all recognizing what is going on: the quiet gift of creation, the gift of story leaking onto the page, and the honor it deserves.
That silence, that quiet that comes creative endeavors, was something that deserved recognition and celebration, no matter how long the beautiful quiet lasted.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


As the 2nd day is beginning... the SI is jumping into the Tech aspect of CSUWP. We are surfing the website, posting on the e-Anthology, and maybe even setting up a few blogs along the way. We also are checking out the Advanced Institute blog to see what is happening in our new arena. Who knows... maybe podcasting is next...

Ah... a bunch of little Buds running around at CSU.
That's all we need.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Writers On The Move

My colleague, Kristie Betts Letter, and I won a Fund For Teachers grant to attend the Ouray Writers' Retreat for a two week residency. We leave on Saturday (our last day of school is Thursday), and we will be chronicling our adventures on our new blog Freewomen of Letters. Check us out and read along as we attempt to complete two book drafts in two weeks!

In other CSUWP news, friend and colleague Heather Cyr (SI '06) is going to Scotland to study creative writing as part of the English Speaking Union's British Universities Summer School Program.

We are all excited to be spending our summers in a "state of constant composition", and bringing back new work and new insights to share with our students. Best of luck to all the Summer Institute Fellows for '07. You'll never be the same!

Megan F.
(SI '05)

Off and Running

Well the summer season for the WP is off and rolling today. Lindsey and I drove out to Brush for the first day of our weeklongs. Overall it went very well, just a few minor SNAFUs, like our books aren't here yet; we missed the exit on the way home; and Cindy beat me to the store yesterday and bought out all the composition books! :)

But despite that we had a great time. It is so great to see people light up with passion at writing and teaching writing. And as always, I have come away with some great ideas. Hopefully the first day of the other weeklong went well too.