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teacher showcase archives

Showcasing MWP teachers

Much of what we read in the local education section of the newspaper describes shifting tests scores or school closings. It is infrequent that we are offered a peek into the mind and heart of teachers. Our Teacher Showcase feature will give our recent ISI participants a chance to speak their mind about the teaching of writing and the need for quality professional development. Return often to read these profiles.

2016 ISI cohort

photo of teacherSuzanne Temple
Grade you teach:
10–12
School: Henry Sibley High School
Summer Institute Writing:
S.O.S.
Summer Institute Demonstration: This I Believe: Prewriting Lesson (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has benefited my teaching in multiple ways. First of all, it has allowed me to be both mindful and reflective of how I approach writing in my classroom. I leave ISI with many new ideas and resources. Secondly, the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers from other schools was valuable. I now have connections across the Twin Cities, connections that I plan to use when I'm feeling stumped or disenchanted. Finally, I leave with a renewed sense of the power of writing. Having gotten to write so much myself, I now remember just how much I love it, and I am inspired to pass that love on to my students.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing is power. Writing is a way of making sense of the world, others, and ourselves. Thus, it is something that can empower anyone.
image of book
What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Kelly Gallagher's In the Best Interest of Students gives a lot of bite-sized ideas that one can implement easily. He also gives really powerful reminders of the importance of modeling alongside practical strategies on how to do so.

 

 

 

photo of teacherSusie Springer
Grade you teach:
First
School: Eagle Creek Elementary
Summer Institute Writing:
Fear
Summer Institute Demonstration: Personal Narratives (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? It has made me a better writer, which will help me be a better teacher. I believe I can write and I like to write. MWP has also given me many tools that I can take back to my classroom and use with my students.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is hard, but I believe all students can write; they just need to be taught the process, helped through the process, and given the time to write every day.
image of book
What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Crafting Writers by Elizabeth Hale. It is a very practical, easy-read book. A lot of ideas you can take and apply to your classroom.

 

 

 

photo of teacherEmily Porter
Grade you teach:
10–12
School: Hopkins High School
Summer Institute Writing:
Water Poems
Summer Institute Demonstration: Human Rights Investigation (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I've collected many new strategies to use in my classroom. Also, the writing process has helped me ground myself in what people actually need to have in order to be successful writers in a workshop context.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing is one of the most important things that we can do as human beings. I believe that access to writing means access to power; that writing gives us the ability to speak our truths and our experiences to a wider audience; and that those who write (and are published) are those who get to define the world.
image of book
What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is probably the best book I've ever read about writing. She is funny and approachable and honest about the writing process.

 

 

 

 

photo of teacherDeanna Perchyshyn
Grade you teach:
Adult ESL
School: Roseville Adult Learning Center
Summer Institute Writing:
Best Summer Ever
Summer Institute Demonstration: Prepositions of Place (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? It has been delightful to be around a host of other educators who have influenced my practice with their insights and ideas. With so many great examples of lesson plans, I have a host of new plans to use in the coming months. My technical literacy has been strengthened as well, and I hope to stay in touch with these fabulous people!

What are your beliefs about writing? It should be done daily. Everyone is a writer.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Stephen King's On Writing 

 

 

 

 

 

photo of teacherMariam Adam
Grade you teach:
3–5 and newcomers
School: Anne Sullivan Communication Center
Summer Institute Writing:
We Have A Crazy One
Summer Institute Demonstration: Ancient Civilization (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has impacted my teaching in so many ways and at so many levels. I was blessed to have the opportunity to be among talented and dedicated teachers and educators. I was exposed to different styles of teaching and many different strategies and ideas for impacting students, empowering students, and reaching out to the diverse and multilingual backgrounds of our 21st century classrooms.

What are your beliefs about writing? My beliefs about writing have changed for the better. I feel more comfortable and deserving of writing my thoughts, fears, desires, and much more. The MWP encouraged sincerity and a space that all thoughts, beliefs, and connections were permissible in a safe and educative environment.

image of bookWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? A book I recently read is by Carl Anderson called How's It Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring With Student Writers. One important aspect about the book I enjoyed was how the book encourages meeting the student at his or her level. It guides the educators towards the importance of using mentor texts as a teaching tool. Since I work with newcomer students, I see the benefit of such texts at various levels as a tool to assist the students' writing process. The book is practical and provides various ideas, strategies, mini lessons, and much much more.

 

photo of teacherStephanie Duncomb
Grade you teach:
Kindergarten and 2nd Grade ESL
School: Richfield Dual Language School
Summer Institute Writing:
My First Students
Summer Institute Demonstration: Botany and Adjectives (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I have enjoyed being a part of the MWP community and meeting with like-minded teachers who are passionate about education as well as writing. The teaching demonstrations, writing groups, book study groups, and ongoing thoughtful conversations have inspired many new ideas that I plan on incorporating into my teaching practice in the fall.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is equal parts art and craft. As teachers, we have the complex role of teaching the craft to our students in the hopes that they will be able to add their own voices and tell their own experiences to make the art.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend Crafting Writers by Elizabeth Hale because it breaks the task of teaching writing down into small, manageable teaching points that Hale labels as specific craft. The book contains many examples of specific craft as well as how to teach them to students. I have found her explanation of the mini-lesson and how to use it routinely in the classroom to be especially helpful.

 

 

photo of teacherDr. Kate Fullmer
Grade you teach:
juniors and seniors
School: Eden Prairie High School
Summer Institute Writing:
Mostly
Summer Institute Demonstration: Position Paper (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has impacted my teaching because it allowed me to work with writing teachers across all grades. We shared ideas, triumphs, and struggles. It also allowed me to better understand the challenges of teaching writing at all grade levels and in all contexts.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing is hard work and that it is never finished.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend What is "College-Level" Writing by Sullivan and Tinberg. This book is geared towards high school writing teachers and First Year Writing instructors and provides multiple viewpoints surrounding the problems with college-ready writing.

 

 

 

 

photo of teacherMai Huynh
Grade you teach:
first grade
School: Birchview Elementary
Summer Institute Writing:
I'm the Only One that Can Save Them
Summer Institute Demonstration: The Best Part of Me (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I have a bag of new tools to take with me to my new teaching position thanks to my Reflective Practice Group and the book Crafting Writers. I also have a lesson plan grounded in a social justice theme that incorporates best practices in writing.

What are your beliefs about writing? To be an effective teacher of writing, one must engage in the writing process. I have come to believe that everyone is a writer.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Crafting Writers by Elizabeth Hale is the book I would recommend. Teaching craft is essential in writing and this book has lots of ideas for practical application.

 

 

 

 

photo of teacherCarleen Matts-Behrends
Grade you teach:
ninth grade
School: Hopkins North Junior High
Summer Institute Writing:
The Story of Our Stories
Summer Institute Demonstration: Darkness and Light (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has renewed my resolve to slow down and allow my students to experience a higher volume of writing, rather than focus solely on making sure I am covering all of the Common Core State Standards requirements. We are building minds, not checklists, and in order for our students to be fully engaged in the learning process, we need to honor their stories, connections, and idea test drives.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is both a personal and communal expression of who we are as human beings. It is one of the finest dualities in existence because it has the power to:

• rip us apart and put us back together
• connect and alienate
• build and deconstruct
• celebrate and critique
• solve and convolute
• organize and make a mess
• reveal and disguise
• shout and whisper
• be simple or complicated ...often at the same time and in the same place.

Thank goodness for this beautiful paradox!

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Write Like This, by Kelly Gallagher, is a practical guide for exploring a wide range of writing styles in the classroom that is both accessible to teachers of all levels and grounded in the lives of their students. Gallagher shows us how to use mentor texts to help students grow into the idea that they are writers—and when they understand that they, themselves, make choices as writers, they better grasp that professionals do the very same thing. Seeing that lightbulb go off for them is one of those perks of being an English teacher! 

2015 ISI cohort

(click this bar to see their showcases)

 

 

 

photo of teacherSean Bailey
Grade you teach:
7th and 8th
School: Ramsey Middle School
Teacher website: ramsey.spps.org/bailey
Summer Institute Writing: Look Both Ways
Summer Institute Demonstration: Stake Your Claim! (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Participating in a writing group with caring, passionate, and creative professional educators has really shown me the power of creating a writing community. Through the course of our group sessions and the demonstration lessons I rediscovered the power of writing on a personal level, which has energized me as a teacher of writing.

Being surrounded by this awesome group of people has also allowed me to see how other folks passionate about teaching people of all ages approach the often-daunting task of literacy education. To put it more simply: I have all sorts of new tools and ideas for my own classroom!

What are your beliefs about writing? “I want my students to know they have choices in their lives, and those choices affect others as well as themselves. I want them to know that many of those choices are based on their personal beliefs and opinions that are grounded in their experiences. Their ability to share their beliefs and opinions can nudge the world a little.” — Linda Rief in Read Write Teach

I want to empower my students by helping them find their voice and nudge the world a little.

But beyond writing’s “nudging” ability I also believe writing is a tool to organize thinking, a powerful form of self-expression, and ultimately a way to make meaning in the world and in our personal lives.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)?
I would recommend the book Read Write Teach by Linda Rief. As I mentioned above I really agree with her philosophy, and she has tons of really cool activities that I plan to implement in my 7th and 8th grade ELA Workshop classes.

 


photo of teacherJimmy Dreese
Grade you teach:
10th–12th
School: Forest Lake High School
Teacher website
Summer Institute Writing: The Myth of the Aran Sweater
Summer Institute Demonstration: Agree-Disagree Discussions (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Working with the Minnesota Writing Project has considerably broadened my perspective as a teacher through the many novel writing activities I discovered (and got to try), the great variety of teachers with whom I have been able to connect, and the deeper understanding I have built of myself as a teacher and writer.

What are your beliefs about writing? To me, teaching writing is about empowering others to discover their own voices, to take a stand on what they believe, and to express the sometimes wonderful, sometimes painful, always powerful truths that every person carries. Writers of the past and across the world give us insights into other people’s lives; when we write, we give others the opportunity to see a window into our lives. Writing is thus an essential avenue for social justice and human connection. Watching a student express something meaningful to them is among the greatest rewards of teaching writing.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)?
59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner—this book is great for teachers looking to improve their own writing as an avenue to help students. The strategies and activities in this book are helpful for teachers and students alike.




photo of teacherEmily Foyt
Grade you teach:
8th grade Geography
School: Cloquet Middle School
Summer Institute Writing: Don’t Call 9-1-1 and Other First Year Advice
Summer Institute Demonstration: JS Story Map Creator: Using Online Tools to Create and Assess Student Learning (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has instilled a passion for writing and implementing writing into my classroom. Most importantly I have gained the confidence and resources to try new things and ideas in my classroom. Armed with the great ideas and collaborative efforts of fellow teachers from MWP, I know that I will be able to support student writers in my classroom.

What are your beliefs about writing?

Writing can be hard,
Writing can be scary,
Writing can be fun,
Writing can be fulfilling,

It all depends on support and scaffolding,
and your ability to let go and to try.

Writing can be serious,
Writing can be light,

It is way more than journal prompts,
Prose and nonfiction,
Poetry and creative writing

Open your mind to the possibilities,
Find colleagues to help you out and share ideas,
Open a book,
And start a writing notebook!


book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)?
59 Reasons to Write by Katie Messner. This is a great resource for any teacher who either wants to become a better writer or become a better teacher of writing. It is full of writing prompts and ideas to get started with writing and challenges writers to explore all the aspects of writing from theme and plot to characterization and organization. Even as a Social Studies teacher I was able to use this great resource and apply the same principles and key ideas into my own writing and into the teaching of writing in my classroom.
photo of teacherMary Hall
Grade you teach:
6th
School: A.I. Jedlicka Middle School
Summer Institute Writing: Adam and Amanda Love Story
Summer Institute Demonstration: Writing in Social Studies: An Ojibwe Naming Project (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has given me many tools to further encourage and be able to cultivate learning within my Minnesota History classroom. I am always striving to incorporate more writing into social studies, and this workshop has been a great resource for ideas and networking to make that happen!

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is NOT just for the ELA classroom. Writing is everywhere. As with anything, I believe that the more you practice, the better you will get at it. Additionally, I feel that students who “hate writing” just need to be exposed to more mediums and opportunities to find the type of writing that resounds with them. By making a conscious effort to incorporate writing across all curriculum, I feel that this will strengthen not only writing skills, but students’ attitudes towards writing as well!

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I was not privy to many sources of good writing books for teaching writing prior to the MWP… but my colleagues have opened my eyes to anything by “KG!” – Kelly Gallagher. The works that I have perused by her have all been excellent resources for teaching audiences!




photo of teacherAlison Humpal
Grade you teach:
6th–8th
School: Columbia Academy
Teacher website
Teacher twitter: @MsAHumpal
Summer Institute Writing: First Snow
Summer Institute Demonstration: You Ought to Be in Pictures (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Being a part of the MWP Summer Institute has been inspiring! In the institute, I was surrounded by educators committed to improving their own practice as well as “nudging” others in our profession to improve literacy instruction in our schools; knowing that others believe and are advocating for the same things that I am is empowering! On a more personal level, after years of writing academic texts, I finally returned to creative writing and writing purely for my own enjoyment. I am ready to model my identity as a writer to my students!

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that all teachers are teachers of writing and, as such, need to engage in frequent writing. Too often, we ask our students to do things that we ourselves are not willing to do. We need to model our writing (and reading!) to students if we have any hopes of encouraging them to truly engage in the process. We hold more power than we realize in shaping our students’ identities as writers, readers, and scholars.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Anything and everything by Kelly Gallagher! He is still in the “trenches” so ideas come right from his classroom and can immediately be applied to your own teaching. I also look to Linda Christensen in Teaching for Joy and Justice and Reading, Writing, and Rising Up for building community in a diverse environment and having students write about things that MATTER.

photo of teacherJoanna Imm
Grade you teach:
9th, 10th, 11th
School: Henry Sibley High School
Teacher website
Summer Institute Writing: Why I Run
Summer Institute Demonstration: Describe a Room, Describe a Person (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The institute has reinvigorated my drive to create meaningful opportunities for students to write in my classroom, especially my ninth graders who are new to the high school and often struggle with the transition. I also have found myself working among a great group of passionate, intelligent, and thoughtful teachers whose support I’ve found invaluable. It has also reminded me that I am a writer, and that I can share my process and products with my own students.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that the only bad draft is no draft at all. I believe that students need to write every day in order to become comfortable with it. I believe that all writers need to think about purpose and have a clear audience in mind, otherwise they will lack a strong will to revise their work. I believe that students need real audiences for their writing. And I believe that all students have stories to tell and their voices need to be heard.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? For a fascinating read about teaching writing in a very different world than we’re all used to, I’d recommend Richard Shelton’s memoir Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years As a Prison Volunteer. Dick started working with prison writers in 1970 when he was a young professor and poet and has run writing workshops in prisons for over forty years now. He mentored two writers, Jimmy Santiago Baca and Ken Lamberton, who both went on to have successful writing careers after their release. A great reminder of the transformative power of writing!

 


photo of teacherRebecca Ney
Grade you teach:
9th, 10th, 12th
School: Simley High School
Summer Institute Writing: The Doorframe
Summer Institute Demonstration: Redefining the Literacy Narrative (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The Minnesota Writing Project Summer Institute has helped shape my goals and philosophy for my continuing future as an educator. I have been teaching for three years and have incorporated writing into my classroom on a daily basis. However, the MWP helped me make conscious choices about my own practice as a writer and how to engage in this process more effectively with students. Taking part in this community allowed me to take risks with my writing, practice teaching in front of other practitioners, and learn to be more empathetic with my students. I will continue to change, grow, and reflect upon my practice as a lifelong learner and teacher.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe writing is a social process that allows individuals to express themselves and engage in a community. Writing should be shared with others and adapted based on the discussions developed by readers and writers. We may not always believe that we are writers, but every individual is capable of being a writer. This is what makes us human, and we must participate in this process on a daily basis in order to become more reflective and conscientious individuals.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Relocating the Personal by Barbara Kamler is a reflective text that approaches teaching personal writing. Kamler’s critical approach offers insight on how to incorporate personal writing even in an analytical text. Offering various strategies on how to provide feedback, Kamler provides vivid metaphors for organizing a piece of writing. For example, her use of a tree metaphor in which the roots are the prompt, the trunk is the thesis, the branches are the main topic areas, and the leaves are details, is an incredibly powerful image that allows students to see their writing in a visual way.


photo of teacherLinda O'Malley
Grade you teach:
ABE English Learners
School: Hubbs Center for Lifelong Learning
Summer Institute Writing: Two or Three
Summer Institute Demonstration: Writing as Pre-Reading: One Way to Find Meaning (and Joy) in Texts (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I was a teacher whose number one classroom goal was for students to “appreciate the social nature of writing, to understand the classroom as a community of readers and writers.” After participating in the MWP, this goal has not changed. But it has deepened. I have experienced first-hand how writing groups—the social bedrock of writing communities—can strengthen one’s writing. Writing improves when it is shared. And with the act of sharing writing, community is fostered, trust grows, and literacy emerges. How has the MWP impacted my teaching? It has made me a believer in writing communities and strengthened my conviction that writing is not an individual act. When convictions are deepened, impact becomes lasting. Thank you MWP.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that when learners enter the classroom, we become a community of writers and readers. If classrooms are places where learners trust enough to share their written work, make comments to others, receive feedback on their own work, know their audience, and feel joy with each text read and written, then literacy moves with learners beyond the classroom to the outside world. This is the meaning of literacy, bringing the written and spoken word into the community, which allows learners to participate, engage, work, and effect change. Decades ago Kenneth Bruffee discussed the “conversation of mankind,” and indeed, for learners to be able to enter into that conversation—both spoken and written—at work, school, and community groups, literacy becomes real. Therefore, authentic, supportive, and collaborative writing in a classroom may be the foundational key for learners on their literacy journey.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Newly published in 2015 by Teachers College Press, The National Writing Project, and TESOL International, Helping English Learners to Write: Meeting Common Core Standards, Grades 6-12, is bound to be a trusted resource on the shelves of all K-12 and ABE writing teachers. Olson, Scarcella, and Matuchniak take the reader through the three forms of writing highlighted by the CCSS—narrative, informative/explanatory, and argumentative—and analyze the language demands of each genre. By explicitly teaching ELs how to unlock meaning from the academic language found in these genres, teachers are giving students toolkits in how to decipher complex texts when reading and writing. I especially like the chapter on narrative writing. Olson et al. ask the question, “Why Prioritize Narrative Writing with English Learners?” (64). With the CCSS and the CCRS seemingly discounting narration, it is important for K-12 and ABE teachers to have scholarly evidence to support narrative work with ELs. This slim volume provides a wealth of teaching ideas based on research; it emphasizes language teaching without weighing you down. Highly recommended.
photo of teacherKay Rosheim
Grade you teach:
6th grade
School: Forest Hills Elementary, Eden Prairie
Teacher twitter: KayRosheim
Summer Institute Writing: The Gift of Life
Summer Institute Demonstration: Real-World Writing in the Classroom (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The opportunity to work with teacher-writers has inspired me to try writing groups in my own middle school classroom. I will use flexible writing groups in my classroom and teach students how to give and receive feedback and to work collaboratively. Besides instructing students on how to develop their writing skills, the lessons learned in writing groups transcends the classroom into developing life skills.

What are your beliefs about writing? Reading and writing are reciprocal and should be taught this way. Both are foundational literacy skills that should be incorporated into all content areas in order to acquire knowledge. In order to become a writer one has to dedicate time to write. Teachers should write and model their writing in front of students so students can understand the kinds of decisions writers make. When students see themselves as writers they see their voices have power.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Read Write Teach: Choice and Challenge in the Reading–Writing Workshop by Linda Rief is filled with valuable ideas that I will use in my classroom. The book is grounded in beliefs and goals for students that align with the goals I hold for my own students.

 

 


photo of teacherJen Secor Nelson
Grade you teach:
8th grade
School: Coon Rapids Middle School
Summer Institute Writing: “We’re a Musical Family”: The Burden of Idyllic Memories
Summer Institute Demonstration: For the Love of Language: Using Found Text to Create Poetry (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has impacted my teaching by providing a structure I can use to be a writer. As a result of having re-discovered myself as a writer, I am now better able to teach my students writing as well. They will be able to experience the struggles and joys I experience in my own writing. In addition, I am eager to bring several of the writing pieces I began in the Summer Institute to publication in my classroom to use as mentor texts for my students' writings.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that everyone has a story to tell, a unique experience to share, and a contribution to make to the world via their writing. I believe that writing is the best way to show evidence of critical thinking. Writing both creates and reflects understanding. Writing clearly, deliberately, and with conviction is a critically important skill. Everyone, whether self-described as a writer or not, should strive to improve their writing at every opportunity in the quest to become better writers and thinkers.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? 59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner. I recommend this book because it is a great resource for teachers who are also committed to sharpening their own writing. This is a great resource for anyone interested in writing a novel or a short story, filled with tips and tools for writing. In addition, it is full of writing prompts and activities designed to help bring students' writings to life.

photo of teacherZua Vang-Kong
Grade you teach:
Kindergarten
School: Eastern Heights Elementary School
Summer Institute Writing: Worth Preserving
Summer Institute Demonstration: Making the Small Moments Count (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? During my time at the MWP, I learned how important it is to allow students to do some prewriting, showing students different ways to generate ideas and details for their topic choice. I’ve also taken away how important it is to just focus on writing first and not so much on the structure of it. Give students time to do some freewriting!

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing usually gets pushed to the back burner as we only have writing three to four days a week. Because of my lack of confidence in my own writing skills, I was okay with this. However, after this experience I think that I will make more efforts to have students write even on days we do not have writing.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I read Writing Essentials by Regie Routman for the Summer Institute. In this text, she gives you the 12 writing essentials that writers need at all grade levels. She states, “the skills and strategies that writers use are the same across the grade levels; their depth and sophistication are what increase.” (p.13) Routman also gives great examples of and tips for helping students and teachers to enjoy writing.

photo of teacherMolly Vasich
Grade you teach:
11th and 12th grades, IB Language and Literature
School: Washburn High School
Teacher website
Summer Institute Writing:
Shopping with Mom
Summer Institute Demonstration: PODCON: Adventures in Digital Literacy and Production (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The Minnesota Writing Project challenged me to incorporate writing in all aspects of my life—at home, in my community, in professional circles, and, of course, at school! Understanding and developing the relationship between teaching, learning, and writing is pivotal for building dynamic and connected classrooms. I love the idea of students and teachers working next to each other, in collaboration, through writing groups, read arounds, and digital production. I hope to share my writing with my students as a way to model writing as a process and a lifelong practice.

What are your beliefs about writing? To me, writing is self-discovery or self-expression, or sometimes both. I feel free when I write without a vision of a future audience. It is exciting to unearth a new realization, perspective, or feeling that was buried somewhere inside but I have yet to muddle over. Writing can also be self-expression. I find that an authentic audience can fuel me to produce more work. It is empowering when my writing encourages someone to reach out and connect with me because my words have sparked something in their hearts or minds.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. I love Natalie Goldberg because she provides readers with writing prompts, encouragement, and advice. As a practitioner of Zen meditation, Natalie inspires writers to let go of expectations and to view the act of writing as a journey of acceptance and discovery. Throughout my life, I have returned to this book to remind me to stop complicating or judging my writing, and instead, just start writing!


photo of teacherKristen Wilking
Grade you teach:
K–5 Instructional Coach
School: Red Oak Elementary
Summer Institute Writing:
Two Classrooms
Summer Institute Demonstration: Where are you From?: Writing “Where I’m From” Poems (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has made me not only a better writer, but a better teacher of writing. I believe it will also impact my coaching because I will be able to help teachers see themselves as writers. I learned so much from other fellows at the MWP Summer Institute and I will be taking these resources and strategies back to the teachers I work with every day.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is tough, but I believe every student has the ability to become a writer. It is our job as teachers to instill confidence in our students and to show them that we are writers, too. I also believe that writing is essential, in every aspect of life. We need to make writing authentic and purposeful in schools.book cover

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? The 9 Rights of Every Writer by Vicki Spandel transformed the way I thought about writing and teaching writing. By reading it, teachers can help instill confidence in their students as writers. It is practical and balanced.

 

2014 ISI cohort

(click this bar to see their showcases)

photo of teacherDana Amdahl
Grade you teach:
9–12
School: Albany Senior High School
Teacher website, blog, twitter: @danaamdahl @AlbanySpeech
Summer Institute Writing: He Wants to Save Me, Dammit
Summer Institute Demonstration: Using Blogs in Composition Class, Or Writing for an Audience Who Is Not My Teacher (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? As I was writing and sharing my own writing with my colleagues at ISI, I experienced both a new empathy for my students and a greater understanding of the potential for collaborative writing. I am excited to share my experience with them and hope that I can foster a similar climate in my classroom.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe teachers and students should write every day—with pen and paper and digitally. I believe a classroom is a community of learners and should be a safe space where everyone feels comfortable exploring and sharing writing. I believe that writing transforms thinking.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? book coverWrite Beside Them: Risk, Voice, and Clarity in High School Writing by Penny Kittle gave me a lot of ideas for using a writer’s notebook not only as a quickwriting space but also as a resource for students to revisit, develop, and revise writing.





photo of teacherSarah Bassett
Grade you teach:
11th grade English
School: Hmong College Prep Academy in St. Paul, MN
Summer Institute Writing: Practice Parenting
Summer Institute Demonstration: Socratic Seminar Discussions (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? At the time of writing this, it’s still summertime for a few more weeks, but I’m incredibly excited to try out some of the lessons I saw my cohort-mates model during the Summer Institute. Their collective knowledge about teaching writing was SO encouraging, especially to know that there are teachers out there who are committed to writing, the teaching profession, and improving their teaching. I feel lucky to be counted among them.

It was also an amazing experience to participate in a writing group and become a writer again. It put me in the shoes of my students when I ask them to write; it completely shifted my frame of reference. I’m grateful for the feedback I got on my own writing and very pleased to say that our writing group will continue to meet throughout the school year to work on our writing.

What are your beliefs about writing? Students need to write frequently, have choice in writing topics, and write for authentic audiences in order to truly feel like their writing matters. If a student is only asked to write few-and-far-between formal papers on mandated topics, that’s the fastest way to lose student engagement and curiosity about writing. Also, there are so many ways to teach reading and writing simultaneously, which can really be powerful for students.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? ANYTHING by Kelly Gallagher! I read Teaching Adolescent Writers during the Summer Institute, but Write Like This! and Readicide have also been recommended to me several times by valued colleagues and cohort-mates of the Summer Institute. Kelly Gallagher provides a practical approach to literacy theory with activities you could take into your classroom the next day, which I greatly appreciate.
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photo of teacherAnne Sawyer Beach
Grade you teach:
6th
School: Ramsey Middle School, St. Paul
Summer Institute Writing: “Extreme Angle-Sampras-Bam!” and Digital Story “Four Friends, One Mountain”
Summer Institute Demonstration: Write a Poem – Off You Go! (Using mentor text and modeling) (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I became a kid again! I experienced the anxiety and unknown that comes with being in a new community and a writing group yet developed a confidence that comes from working with positive peers. Putting my own writing out there in front of others was something that I’m proud of but the process was messy, scary, and fulfilling all in three weeks, which are emotions I’m sure my students experience throughout the year in my class. I also learned more ways to foster community, which is so important for literacy work with my students. I loved hearing new teachers’ voices, learning lesson ideas by experiencing them, and exchanging opinions on current issues related to teaching and literacy.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is hard. It’s hard to get started, to find an idea, to identify purpose and audience, to play with word choice, meaning, dialogue, and format, and then you do all this work and often realize that some of these things don’t matter! Or more importantly, what matters is what the writer wants to matter. Writing is important. This is the first time I’ve taken time to write for myself and not for a teacher, professor, a speech, a lesson, or a letter to a specific person. Writing in this way made me feel more free and comfortable with writing, but it also reminded that me that as teachers, we have to help our students play with their writing and make it meaningful to them…not necessarily for a specific assignment with a set rubric.

book imageWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5 by Lucy Calkins, Kathleen Tolan, Mary Ehrenworth

is a set of books I used for the first time this year as a new Writer’s Workshop teacher coming from years of language arts teaching where I was able to create my own curriculum. Lucy Calkins’ beliefs on writing workshops are helpful to put students first in the writing process.
photo of teacherGreg Dahlstrom
Grade you teach:
College
School: Inver Hills Community College
Summer Institute Writing: A Teacher's Protocol
Summer Institute Demonstration: T-Notes (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has inspired me to look more critically at my teaching. I will enter the new school year a more reflective and thoughtful teacher of reading and composition.

What are your beliefs about writing? Through writing, individuals can clarify their thinking. We must always be open to surprises in our writing. The end product might not resemble our starting point at all. In this way, writing is a lot like life!

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Anything by Donald Murray is worth the reading. He was a wonderful writing teacher and a wonderful writer about writing.

 

 

 


photo of teacherJessica Holte Emery

Grade you teach:
9–12 ELL
School: Henry Sibley High School
Summer Institute Writing: Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Food Life
Summer Institute Demonstration: Modeling Writing for Expression: Watermark Event Piece (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Participating in the Summer Institute was inspiring on so many levels. Professionally, as I was surrounded by passionate teachers who are all striving to continually become better and to learn from each other. Personally, as I had the great privilege of being part of a community of writers and exploring my own writing practice. This experience, as thoughtfully organized and meaningfully planned as they were, will greatly impact my teaching on both an inspirational and practical level.

What are your beliefs about writing?

—Students need to believe that they are writers, no matter their level of technical skill or perceived experience.
—Students need meaningful reasons to write.
—Students need to read others’ writing to become better writers.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Write Like This, Kelly Gallagher: Gallagher relates in a conversational, straightforward tone his experiences in his own classroom.  The book is structured in a way that teachers can use it as a supplement or even a main component in their writing curriculum. His activities and lessons are meaningful, creative, and speak to the needs especially of high school students who need reason and motivation for writing.


book cover10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know, Jeff Anderson: This book is a great resource for teachers who are already teaching writing courses, as well as those who are creating a new course or curriculum and need a starting point. Through his descriptions of 10 “elements” of writing, Anderson puts a fresh spin on traditional ways of teaching writing. He includes numerous lesson and unit ideas, as well as practical resources (charts, reproducibles). He also devotes time in the book to relate the dialogue that happens between him and his students in the classroom, which is helpful in thinking about implementing his suggestions.
photo of teacherLee Fisher
Grade you teach:
9–12
School: Robbinsdale Armstrong High School
Summer Institute Writing: D is for Dough
Summer Institute Demonstration: Student Choice and Photo Essays (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? More so than any professional development that I have experienced, MWP has connected me with like-minded individuals with a variety of experiences and breadth of knowledge that I can call on and contribute to at anytime. The experiences have helped me to understand how students may feel during the writing process and given me a wealth of tools to help them. Equally valuable has been the practice of becoming more of a writer myself, for the writing group process has been illuminated in a way that will allow me to set them up in my classroom to help students learn from one another, giving them the ability to see themselves as experts and keepers of knowledge, as subjects instead of objects in their learning.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is the mathematics of human emotion. It is a way that, with enough practice and the right words, we can communicate with others what would otherwise be a solitary experience or thought. Writing allows us to communicate and, through communication, build communities based on knowledge, empathy, and understanding. Doors are unlocked, walls are taken down, confidence is built through one’s success in writing, and no one person should be denied that power. Though it does not level the playing field, it is an invitation to play and participate, and a chance to succeed.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher is a wonderfully practical resource for the teacher who knows students need to write as much as possible but would like strategies to supplement the ones already being used and a framework through which to structure constructive, timely, and meaningful feedback in a way that helps students develop as writers instead of judges of student writing ability.

photo of teacherKat Jordahl
Grade you teach:
5th grade9-12
School: St. Paul Central High School
Summer Institute Writing: The Tiny Woman Who Was a Giant in Our Lives
Summer Institute Demonstration: Character Journeys in Othello (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has impacted my teaching in many different ways. I learned a variety of new activities and lessons from my peers through the demonstration lessons. That was such a valuable experience because so often as teachers we are too busy to spend time watching other teachers teach and we can learn so much from one another. Reading Kelly Gallagher’s Teaching Adolescent Writers was a great part of the MWP experience this summer. That book has changed the way I view the teaching of writing. Most importantly, being a part of this community of teachers/writers has helped me to remember that I enjoy writing and that it is important for me to write with my students.

What are your beliefs about writing?
These are Kelly Gallagher’s beliefs about writing and I agree with KG. Always.

Everyone needs more writing practice
Everyone needs people who model good writing
Everyone needs the opportunity to read and study other writers
Everyone needs choice when it comes to writing topics
Everyone needs to write for authentic purposes and for authentic audiences Everyone needs meaningful feedback

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend Linda Christensen’s Teaching for Joy and Justice because it is a book that inspires you to teach social justice writing and provides practical and meaningful writing activities and lessons that you can easily implement in your classroom. Christensen writes as if she is a collaborative colleague instead of an expert preaching to classroom teachers.

photo of teacherKristen Konop (KK)
Grade you teach:
5th grade
School: Hmong College Prep Academy
Teacher twitter: @KKwnds
Summer Institute Writing: The Color of Honey
Summer Institute Demonstration: Storyboarding: a Pre-Writing Activity (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has taught me how to see myself not just as a facilitator of writers but also as a writer myself. It has allowed me to have a much stronger student lens to look through when it comes to facilitating the writing process in my classroom. By having my own adult writing group, and the power of that process, this is a process that will live in our community of writers at school.

What are your beliefs about writing?
“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.” —Peter Handke

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Because Writing Matters: Improving Student Writing in Our Schools by Carl Nagin. This is a good book for grade level teams, PLCs, Leadership Teams, Administration, or any group that is looking to make a school wide change in how writing is being taught in all content areas and to all learners.


photo of teacherLanka Liyanapathiranage
Grade you teach:
7th Grade – Language Arts
School: Woodbury Middle School
Summer Institute Writing: Paper Boats
Summer Institute Demonstration: Conversations on Peace (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching?
  • It has given me a community of educators with shared beliefs and passions that I can use as resources.
  • It has reinforced the effectiveness of being self-reflective and writing about it.
  • It has reinvigorated me to be more effective in the classroom by using new, practical ideas and new, practical strategies.
What are your beliefs about writing?
  • I believe writing can be an effective way to clarify thoughts.
  • I believe writing can be liberating.
  • I believe writing can be powerful, life changing, and influential.
  • I believe writing takes on many forms.
  • I believe writing is subjective.
What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Both of the books I have chosen are good resources for prompts, as well as getting to know your students better. They can both be extended based on how teachers use them in class.
    book cover
  • Listography—This is one of a series of books. They provide many different lists for students (as well as teachers) to come up with. Having these lists can be springboards for many other writing projects. Other titles in this series: Music Listography, My Future Listography, Friends Listography, and Travel Listography.



    book cover
  • 642 Things to Write About offers many writing prompts that teachers can use in a well-crafted lesson or as a last minute tool.

 


photo of teacherHolly Loiselle
Grade you teach:
English 9
School: Shakopee East Junior High
Summer Institute Writing: First Impressions
Summer Institute Demonstration: Theme Support (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? After our school took a hiatus from teaching writing except in writer’s workshop in 6th grade, I feel energized and supported in my new writing endeavors. We at Shakopee Junior High were pushed to get reading scores up, so reading, reading, reading for the MCA test was of utmost importance. I am enthralled to start getting my students’ pens in motion and continuing this throughout the entire year. I am in year 21, but I now feel like an idealist again! I have a semester’s worth of writing prompts, products, and mentor texts both written and digital. I also have a plethora of places to find resources that I know how to apply. Every one of the participants gave me a lesson to expand and adapt for my classroom, for which I am grateful.

I am a better writer. I feel so much more comfortable now being a writer. I feel that learning how to better give “two stars and a wish” to my writing group will help me with my students. I had to become a student again in a writer’s group in order to better help my future students. I am very appreciative to my three groupies for all the compliments and encouragement. I was withdrawn as a writer before the Writing Project, but every day as I drove home, I was grabbing at ideas to write about and yelling into my phone, “Holly you can write about . . .,” and I would dictate all the ideas rushing out of me to later type into my documents when I got home. I am beginning to split my own reading time with writing tim,e even though writing seems more demanding than a pleasurable novel. I am refreshed and renewed!

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe now that students need to get in motion and stay in motion all year. A writer’s notebook is so valuable as a collection of samples, memories, lessons, and potential Newbery Award winners to look back at and revise! I think a 1:4 ratio of looking at student work is now manageable. I would also agree that content is way more valuable than grammar and mechanics when starting students in motion.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Jeff Anderson. It is practical, has charts, and uses narrative stories about how to use the charts. It is user friendly for teachers of grades 5-12. Even though the 10 things listed may be renamed by other teachers, each idea is fully introduced and examples provided; even mentor texts and models are shared to clearly explain his monikers.

image of teacherKate Mabel
Grade you teach:
1st grade
School: Monroe Elementary, Anoka-Hennepin
Summer Institute Writing: It's...
Summer Institute Demonstration: Thriving with Poetry: Giving Students Tools to Think, Talk, and Write about Poems (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I am amazed how much I grew personally and professionally. The Minnesota Writing Project Summer Institute gave me freedom to explore, challenge, and express my voice as a writer and teacher of writers. Through class writing prompts and writing with my writing group, I had time and space to think, question, and create in new ways. The opportunity to learn alongside a diverse group with shared interests and optimism is something I want for the students in my classroom. I will use the relationships and experiences fostered by the Minnesota Writing Project to support my work with young writers in my classroom, along with colleagues in my building and district.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is power. Regardless of the audience or purpose, writing gives us the power to create and send messages that are important to us. It is my job as a teacher of young writers 1) to honor and celebrate written messages and 2) provide the time and tools needed to create written messages.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study by Katie Wood Ray is an excellent resource for teachers of writers in kindergarten through second grade. As a first grade teacher, I know how much my students love picture books and drawing pictures. Wood Ray’s In Pictures and In Words helps me engage my first grade writers through illustration study and creation with the use of mentor texts and illustrations. Her ideas for planning and implementing a unit of study in illustration nurture and empower emerging and early writers by helping them identify, explore, and connect illustration and writing crafts and techniques.
image of teacherRobyn Dettling Madson
Grade you teach:
10–12
School: Forest Lake High School
Teacher website: Mad Classes
Summer Institute Writing: This Time Will Be Even Better; Drug Narrative Mosaic
Summer Institute Demonstration: PhilosoFriday (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I am sure the Minnesota Writing Project Summer Institute will impact my teaching in a variety of large and small ways, but at this point, I see it as benefitting me in a couple major ways. First, I was reminded what it’s like to write, share that writing with people you don’t necessarily know, and face honest feedback without defensiveness. This is what I ask my students to do every day, and to be in that position again helps me to understand more clearly what they might be going through. Next, I have a new community of writing educators from across the state from whom I have learned new tips and tricks, and with whom I will continue to learn into the future. Finally, I have so many new strategies and ideas that I feel renewed. In our profession, it can be easy to get bogged down in negativity. I feel excited to go back in the fall and teach. That’s maybe the most important result for me—I’m excited to go back.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe writing is a life skill, first and foremost, that allows our students (and ourselves) more access to the world. For example, I once had a professor who said “write your way into a job,” and I’ve found that the ability to write has benefited my professional life tremendously. I want my students to be competent, confident writers.

Writing is a conduit for thought—as we write, we must consider carefully our ideas, our logic, our support and thought process, our audience, and our craft. We write to learn new things about ourselves, to take risks, to see our ideas drawn out on paper and then, if needed, to dash those ideas from the page.

Finally, while the craft of writing is typically thought of as a solitary endeavor, I believe that writing is a community builder. People write to be understood, to impart some knowledge, to share their worlds, and to create. Obviously writing can be a deeply personal activity meant to be shared only within the pages of a diary, but in a bigger way, writing draws together a community of readers and thinkers, across both space and time.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I recommend They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Cathy Birkenstein and Gerald Graff as a fantastic book for introducing how to write as part of an academic conversation and respond to other people’s writing. The book offers very simple to follow templates for how to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and respond to various writing. The book is probably best for high school students learning to write rhetorically using research or outside resources.


book coverI also recommend Everything’s an Argument by Andrea A. Lunsford, John J. Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters, a fabulous book about argumentative analysis and writing. It has a number of helpful ways to think about the rhetorical situations and world around us, and how to write and speak well about them. It is probably best for high school or above.

 

image of teacherKatie Murphy-Olsen
Grade you teach:
9-12 ESL
School: Wellstone International High School, Minneapolis School District
Twitter: Katie Murphy-Olsen
Summer Institute Writing: Sitting in a Chandelier
Summer Institute Demonstration: Absent Narratives-Prewriting (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has impacted my teaching approach by impacting my personal life. The Summer Institute offered me the opportunity to do what we ask our students to do: take risks! I was able to take risks within my writing group, my reflective practice group and my teaching demonstration. With my writing group, I began to develop a habit of writing. (It is my hope that we will continue to meet!)  Together, we had time to share and offer feedback to each person. Our group decided each writer would choose a question or two for the group to think about when we each read our work.

Explicit teaching and learning through writing groups will become a part of my students’ literacy development this year. In my reflective practice group, we read Writing and Teaching to Change the World (Jones, 2014). This resource is driving my individual action plan. I plan to implement purposeful, reflective writing about teaching and learning on a weekly basis. Like Jones’ comments on the teacher-authors’ reflective processes in her text, my writing might be lists, notes, reactions, thoughts on decision making or full-length stories. My purpose will be to capture my thoughts as students struggle and celebrate in and out of the classroom. The writing will also draw on my relationships with students within their challenges and triumphs.

While creating my teaching demonstration, I worked to implement best practices of EL strategies for my “students” to experience. Simply put, presenting in front of colleagues was a huge risk. I am learning that like yoga, there is no finish line in teaching; to grow in my teaching practice as well as in my yoga practice, I must make time to experience different poses by using breath and by being present to go deeper into them.

It is my hope as my teaching practice evolves the process of capturing my feelings, my reactions, and my change through writing, I will be able to go deeper into situations and to respond with thought and integrity for my students and for our profession. Finally, Jones restates the purpose (and the power) of writing our students' stories as a medium for those stories to become our stories, our growth, our thinking and our hope as we work to change the world and ourselves, and is this not the purpose of teaching and learning and writing?

What are your beliefs about writing?
    I believe…..
  • writing is a medium for teaching and learning.
  • the words tell us something about a student-author, teacher-author or author-author (!).
  • the words that are left out are also messages for readers to decode and ponder.
  • writing is a process, writing is an ever-evolving product, writing is never done.
  • writing can be a tool for fostering intra- and inter-personal relationships.
  • writing is an (re)active form of growing up and growing in oneself.
  • writing is powerful.
  • writing is reading and reading is writing.
  • speaking is writing in the air.
book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? The daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades (Boushey & Moser, 2006): This resource provides a framework for introducing and sustaining literacy development in a student-centered, explicit, meaningful way. Although this text is aimed at designing literacy structures in the elementary levels, its systems, like building stamina when writing, are appropriate for secondary English language learners.


book coverWriting Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Goldberg, 2005): This resource offers insights to the writing process, which can be scaffolded for English language learners and mainstream learners.The writing strategies presented in this text could serve as a cornerstone for a creative writing class. Parts of the text, like the chapter “A List of Topics for Writing Practice,” is perfect place to begin a poetry unit.

 

image of teacherCory Pedersen
Grade you teach:
7-8
School: Milaca High School
Summer Institute Writing: The Entry
Summer Institute Demonstration: Multi-Paragraph Essay (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching?The MWP was a transformational experience for me. Between the text that we read for my Reflective Practice Group and the teacher demonstrations, I will be changing the way I teach in my own classroom. I have experienced growth both personally and professionally over the course of the institute. I would recommend this experience to all teachers.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that every person has a story to tell and those stories are valuable. By sharing our stories, we are able to connect with people in a deep and meaningful way. Since we all have stories, we can all write. Sometimes it will be pretty, other times, messy, but always valuable.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)?
I found the book Teaching Adolescent Writers by Kelly Gallagher was extremely helpful for me. He has a way of laying out complex ideas in a simple and manageable way that is accessible to teachers and students.



photo of teacherMolly Schned
Grade you teach:
9th
School: Irondale High School, Mounds View
Summer Institute Writing: An Encounter
Summer Institute Demonstration: Inspiring Original Student Voice with ArtsLiteracy (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP has impacted my teaching by highlighting all the ways in which teachers can teach, support, and inspire each other. Being surrounded by thoughtful, reflective, and passionate teachers for three weeks in the midst of the summer months, away from the stress and bustle of the school year, reignited the enthusiasm and excitement I had for teaching when I first became a teacher and that a few tough years had somewhat diminished. I’m leaving the MWP filled with ideas, lessons, words of wisdom, support systems, and action plans for the year ahead that actually make me anxious to get back into the classroom.

What are your beliefs about writing? There is academic writing, which instructs, argues, or entertains, and academic writing is a necessary and valuable tool to get us through school and work and life. But there is also the kind of writing that just helps us sort through our own minds and our own experiences. It is a kind of writing that is difficult to teach because there is no right or wrong way of doing it. There is only doing it or not doing it. Doing it, though, is as valuable and as necessary as the academic writing is and arguably more so. This type of writing still requires the focus and the reflection needed to hone an academic piece, but it’s more personal and reflective or exploratory. For me, this kind of writing has been hard to do and it’s hard to get myself to do it. Having a group of people to show up for and share with and with whom I can work stuff out, though, has been the biggest step I’ve made towards becoming more of the writer I want to be—reflective, adventurous, and observant.

photo of teacherLaura Stelter
Grade you teach:
10-12 ESL
School: Shattuck-St. Mary’s School
Summer Institute Writing: Bus Sisters
Summer Institute Demonstration: Access Points: Inviting Students into Complex Text (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Ideas that I gleaned from the MWP experience are going to reshape a lot of the work that I do in my classroom. I learned a great deal during the Institute from my talented peers, and I look forward to drawing on those connections in the future. I found that I was doing well, but I can take my teaching of reading and writing to whole new level with the information I was exposed to here. I also felt I found my voice as a writer, and I have new insight into how I might help my students find their own.

What are your beliefs about writing? People often seem to feel that writing is a gift reserved for a chosen few, but I believe it is a skill that can be developed. With practice and supportive guidance, anyone can become a better writer. I also believe writing and thinking are closely connected—the process of writing can help us explore our thoughts and lead us to new discoveries. Writing can bring order to the chaos of our thoughts, because it requires that we articulate them—or at least put them out there. Writing is also empowering, giving us a series of choices that are ours to make, and by making those choices, allowing us to influence others.

book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)?
My favorite book about writing is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. She makes writing feel accessible, emphasizing that anyone can do it (though not everyone will be published…but that isn’t important!). Also, she makes you laugh, and when you can laugh with your writing, it feels less like a daunting task and more like a dear friend with whom you would like to spend some time.

 

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Photo of Elisabeth CharboneauElisabeth Charboneau
Grade you teach:
6th–8th grade
School: Ramsey Middle School (St. Paul)
Teacher website: Ms. Charboneau's English Class
Summer Institute Writing: The End of the World
Summer Institute Demonstration: Snapshots and Sensory Details (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP has had and will continue to have an impact on my teaching in a number of positive ways. I feel that I am better prepared to teach writing lessons than ever before because I have been able to learn from so many other talented teachers. I have also expanded my beliefs about writing instruction and how it can be integrated into many other types of learning.  

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing helps us learn in so many ways: it helps us explore our thinking, become more reflective, clarify what we know, and share our experiences and thoughts with others. I believe that writing that you do for yourself can be just as powerful as the writing you do for an audience—it allows us to be free and unrestricted in our thoughts. However, I think that it is important for everyone to be able to write for an audience, as well, so that we can share our stories with the world, because everyone has a story to tell.

Image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend the book Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher because he organizes the book based on the different purposes for writing, which makes it very easy to present to students the purpose for their writing. He never fails to give teachers explanations that they can use with students to show why being able to write in a certain style and for a particular purpose will be useful later in life. He includes a wealth of lesson ideas that will be appealing to a variety of students.

image of book coverI would also recommend the book After the End by Barry Lane because it is full of useful ideas that are presented in a way that is easy to read and practical to implement. This book helps teachers learn how to help students develop their writing as a craft as well as work with students who struggle with writing.

 

 

photo of Andrew CurrieAndrew Currie
Grade you teach: 
5th grade
School: Saint Paul Academy and Summit School
Summer Institute Writing: My Grandfather’s Chisels
Summer Institute Demonstration: Staggering Sentences (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Participating in the MWP has impacted my teaching in a number of ways. I think the most concrete way has been providing me with specific language to use with the subject of writing. Having the power to name specific examples of writing craft will help me approach writing instruction in a more focused and direct way. This clarity will hopefully translate into growth for my students as well.   

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing provides a voice. It is a way for students and adults alike to organize and communicate their ideas. Writers can write for themselves or larger audiences. Writing can be used as a way to solidify understandings in content areas, or as a forum to respond to and reflect about literature. For students who may be lost or uncomfortable during large group discussions, writing can be a great forum to share thoughts, ideas, and perspectives.
image of book cover
What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I really enjoyed Crafting Writers K-6 by Elizabeth Hale. This book provides clear and specific examples of ways to name and model writing craft. It’s organized and provides a structure to follow for mini lessons and writing conferences. 

 

 

photo of Merry DavinMerry Davin
Grade you teach:
with K-8 teachers as a Literacy Coach
School: American Indian Magnet School, Saint Paul
Summer Institute Writing: Confluence
Summer Institute Demonstration: Confluence:  Using Metaphor to Deepen Understanding (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I have always loved writing, and as a result of the MWP experience, I have been reinvigorated and restored to a daily personal writing practice. As a Literacy Coach, this will help me to be a stronger writing model for the teachers I serve, and, ultimately, the students. I am excited to share all that I’ve learned and experienced this summer and can’t wait for the school year to start!  

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe writing is a necessary avenue of expression for all people, and perhaps most especially children. Kids don’t always have a trusted listening ear available, and being able to write their thoughts and feelings is a way to process what they are living each day. Writing is voice in printed form, and we all need to be heard. Students also need to know how to write for specific purposes and audiences in order to have equitable opportunities in the world they will enter as adults.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo. It’s an oldie (1979), but almost every page has my underlining, checks, stars, marginal notes, exclamation points. It’s a beautiful little book, purse-size, and very unpretentious looking!

image of book coverHere’s a favorite passage: “The poet’s relation to the triggering subject should never be as strong as (must be weaker than) his relation to his words. The words should not serve the subject. The subject should serve the words. This may mean violating the facts. For example, if the poem needs the word “black” at some point and the grain elevator is yellow, the grain elevator may have to be black in the poem. You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything." (Emphasis mine)

 

 

photo of Merry DavinTeresa Fenske-Fanucci
Grade you teach:
4th grade
School: Valley View Elementary School, Columbia Heights
Teacher website: bit.ly/vvgr4 (grade level site)
Summer Institute Writing: Excerpts from my Journal
Summer Institute Demonstration: A Day in the Life of a Crayfish: Teaching Perspective and Point of View (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has brought me more confidence as a writer, collaboration with talented teachers, and a plethora of teaching strategies and ideas to bring to my classroom. My writing group was very valuable to my personal writing and it has given me more confidence to share my writing. The ideas and strategies from the teaching demonstrations have enriched my curriculum and provided me with several different ways to structure writing. My reflective practice group and the book Crafting Digital Writing has given me ways to set up and bring in new (and existing) technology to my classroom.  

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing is a free form of communication and expression. No piece of writing should look or sound the same, and it gives writers the freedom to create with their own voice and style (even if it is outlined or structured by teacher expectations). Helping a writer to discover his/her voice is a gift that will stay with the writer forever.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend Crafting Digital Writing by Troy Hicks. It provides several types of digital resources to implement technology into writing. It does this while providing ways to examine digital craft using digital mentor texts the same way we examine written craft using written mentor texts.

 

 

photo of teacherAudrey French
Grade you teach:
11, CIS, 12
School: Milaca High School
Summer Institute Writing: Commuting, Literally
Summer Institute Demonstration: Parallelism (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The energy and ideas I will be taking away from the MWP have revived my creative drive to try new lessons and bring some zip into my old lessons. The staff, teachers, and authors/texts we worked with confirmed my ability to ensure a productive classroom.  

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing should be done every day. It may need to be forced at times, thrown away at times, and revised every time, but it needs to be a routine practice in the daily life of students and teachers. By modeling the writing process for students, connections and success will follow.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? For teachers in their first five years, I do recommend Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher. It is easy to adapt and has great starter ideas.

 

 

 

photo of teacherAlexandra Howes
Grade you teach:
9-12 (but primarily 9th and 11th)
School: Twin Cities Academy High School
Summer Institute Writing: “Proprioception” and “...nel tempo de li dèi falsi e bugiardi”
Summer Institute Demonstration: Pre-Reading Strategies: Using Drama to Increase Literacy (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Being in a cohort with my teaching peers has given me new confidence in what I do in the classroom. After my demonstration, the feedback that I received was encouraging, positive, and also helped me see further extensions of my lesson. As teachers, we often exist in a vacuum and while administration and students are in our classrooms, we often don’t have other teachers observe us. To have a room of educators of varying grade levels and types of schools experience my lesson and give me feedback has been invaluable.

The writing group has also been an enriching experience, not only for my own writing, but for what I will bring back to my classroom. I know that I can now integrate writing groups within my classroom and feel I have the knowledge on how to successfully do that. I plan, in the upcoming school year and beyond, to make sure that I also model my own writing for my students, whether thesis generation or brainstorming for a creative piece, so that they see that even their teacher must work hard and revise her writing.  

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is paramount to success in life. I never take for granted that I am capable of writing my name or a piece of poetry or an analysis of a work of literature. At one time, and even in the present day, writing was kept from people by those in power. I will not forget that as a woman, at one time, I would not have been allowed to read and write; and in fact, many girls are still kept from writing. With that in mind, I believe writing is one of the most powerful acts that a human can undertake. Writing is the concrete result of thinking, and feeling, and discussing, and finally putting on paper all that is important in the world. Through writing, people can find a voice, whether in their own writing, or the writing of someone else. I want to impart this passion for and importance of writing to my students and those around me, that they should never pigeonhole themselves as a “good writer” or a “bad writer” and to simply write!

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland. I first received this book when I was a high school student and my love of writing was evident to everyone: my family, my teachers, and my friends. This is a book for the writer, and as Ueland prefaces, “This book should be a great help in the freeing of your thoughts and the genius that is in all of us.” A Minneapolis native, Ueland shares the process of writing and how to tap into the creative center that is within everyone. This is a truly inspiring work on writing for writers or those who want to write.

 

 

photo of teacherNathan Miller
Grade you teach:
9-12
School: Rosemount High School
Website: http://www.NathanRMiller.com
Summer Institute Writing: Securing My Mask
Summer Institute Demonstration: Easing Into Poetry: Thinking Poetically and Creating with Found Text (.pdf file)
Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The impact is so varied and complex that it’s hard to explain. In fact, I doubt I’m even fully aware yet of just how much this experience has shaped my teaching. I can point to this much: I have new resources to use, stronger lessons in mind, a reinvigorated philosophy to guide me, and a renewed commitment to establishing writing groups in my class.

What are your beliefs about writing? In both my own writing life and when working with students, I strongly believe in the importance of trusting the process. In other words, don’t think about what to write; write to find out what you think. From there, trust that deeper meaning and themes will emerge effectively and organically. Writing something important to you will often turn out clever and brilliant, but writing something clever and brilliant to you will rarely turn out important.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? For general thoughts on writing, I keep returning to Natalie Goldberg. When it comes to the teaching of writing, I have found Kelly Gallagher to be very useful—especially Teaching Adolescent Writers.

 

 

 

photo of teacherLisa Monson
Grade you teach:
1st
School: Folwell Performing Arts Magnet
Summer Institute Writing: The Coffee Shop
Summer Institute Demonstration: A Day With Abby Sunshine: A Sequencing Lesson (.pdf file)
Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? By experiencing lessons from teachers in grade areas other than what I teach, my eyes were opened to new ideas that could be adapted to first grade. I am excited to use new techniques.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing goes beyond the skill of putting words together. I think it is a way of organizing thoughts and establishing beliefs. It can be reflective and an avenue to big thinking.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I recommend Crafting Writers K-6 by Elizabeth Hale. This book is an excellent read and provides a number of helpful tables to use while working with students. The idea of making writing “flavorful” through strong craft is worthwhile.

 

 

 

photo of teacherDaniel Muro LaMere
Grade you teach:
10th
School: Humbolt High School, Saint Paul
Summer Institute Writing: “Sanford Florida Public Works” and “I am Fong Lee”
Summer Institute Demonstration: Argument Writing: Generating a Thesis (.pdf file)
Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? More than anything, it has caused me to think more deliberately about writing instruction. While certainly a part of my practice, the term “mentor text” wasn’t necessarily on my radar prior to the summer institute, during which I heard it at least a dozen times a day. That’s just one example of the ways in which immersing myself in a thoughtful exploration of the teaching of writing has changed me, and ultimately, how I approach what I do in the classroom.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that everyone has a story to tell, and that everyone else can learn from that story. I also believe that such a statement doesn’t have to be limited to the sort of personal/narrative/memoir writing that we’re all so familiar with. Writing is a powerful means of communication—to be able to communicate an idea, publish it in the world, and put your name on it, this is power. This is the kind of power that can be transformative in a life, and so then in a family, and so then in a community.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)?

In Teaching for Joy and Justice, Linda Christensen uses writing as a means to empower her students, young people who often come to her feeling as though they have very little power in the world.

 

 

Image of book coverMy Reflective Practice Group book for the summer institute was Kimberly Hill Campbell and Kristi Latimer’s Beyond the Five Paragraph Essay. While the title is maybe a bit misleading (Campbell and Latimer don’t quite take readers all the way “beyond” and into what an alternative formal summative assessment might look like), they do a good job of pointing out the flaws in the 5-paragraph essay, as well as providing resources for teachers who are interested in creating a real culture of writing in their classrooms. They talk about writing to explore ideas, something that’s not often taught. Most interesting to me was their reworking of the writing process, which placed thesis generation near the end.

 

 

photo of teacherAndrea Nelson
Grade you teach:
6th
School: Anoka Middle School for the Arts
Teacher website, blog, twitter: @MsNelsonsClass
Summer Institute Writing: Lessons from My Son
Summer Institute Demonstration: Acting Interferences (.pdf file)
Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP has drastically changed the way I view writing in my classroom. Because of the MWP, writing will no longer be what we do when we have time or when it’s a required learning target. Writing will be what we do all the time. I always knew that writing on a routine basis was what I wanted to do, and what would be best for my students, but it somehow seemed to be what landed on the backburner in my classroom when there were more “important” topics to cover and tests to prepare for. Thanks to the MWP, I have gained invaluable insight on how to integrate writing routinely into my classroom without it becoming overwhelming.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing is not only a tool necessary to a well-informed and high-functioning member of the modern world, but also a form of self-expression. Much like painting, dance, and the other arts, writing allows us to express our individuality and the innermost workings of our souls. Encouraging students to write gives them essential skills they will need to be successful in life, and it gives them another outlet to express their unique and beautiful creative selves.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher. Gallagher’s book offers a myriad of lesson starters and ideas for how to engage students in writing. The lessons are extremely practical and ready to take into your classroom with little or no modification necessary. Gallagher also does a fantastic job of suggesting how these lessons could fit within the context of larger units that are already found in many classrooms.

 

photo of teacherMegan Peterson
Grade you teach:
1st
School: Lake Nokomis-Wenonah
Summer Institute Writing: Never Again
Summer Institute Demonstration: Introduction to Poetry (.pdf file)
Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Before my experience with the Minnesota Writing Project I did not consider myself to be a writer. I loved to teach writing but didn’t believe in myself as a writer. The various activities and writing groups that I participated in during the summer institute helped me gain confidence while validating my voice as a writer. This newfound confidence and perspective will greatly impact my instruction and approach to teaching primary writers.  I will now be able to share the struggles and triumphs of what it feels like to be a writer with my students. This realistic perspective will deepen my ability to motivate and engage my students in writing activities that will in turn foster a love for writing.

 

The Minnesota Writing Project has also given me an opportunity to research best practices in meeting the needs of individual students. Talking with colleagues in reflective practice groups, along with reading Crafting Writers by Elizabeth Hale, has answered all of my questions in regards to conferencing with students. I now have the tools I need as an educator to enhance my students’ writing on an individual basis, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is a personalized journey that encourages us to find our inner voice. It is this inner voice that, when discovered, can unlock our true potential. As a teacher of writing, I believe it is important to understand that our students have unique voices, and these voices should be celebrated within the classroom. Providing meaningful writing instruction that celebrates the craft in writing will support students in finding their own inner voice.

image of book coverWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would highly recommend the book Crafting Writers by Elizabeth Hale. This book has answered my questions on how to teach craft and how to conference with students in meaningful ways. The examples she gives on how to recognize craft, name it, and explain its importance, provided me with a fresh new perspective on how to teach writing in the classroom. I now feel better equipped to recognize craft in the books I am already using in my classroom, and in student writing during conferences. If you are a teacher who already implements writer’s workshop and is unsure of how to teach craft, this is the book for you.

 

photo of teacherAbby Rombalski
Grade you teach:
Student teachers (formerly middle school)
School: University of MN (formerly at FAIR School)
Twitter: MsAbby @abbyrombalski
Summer Institute Writing: Grandpa, Mandela, DeShawn, and Me: What Did You Learn in School Today?
Summer Institute Demonstration: Paideia Seminar using Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The Minnesota Writing Project creates a space of creativity and reflection, two crucial characteristics of progressive educators that may not be fostered enough in the middle of a hectic school year. MWP affirms a philosophy of student-centered instruction without dabbling in the potential panacea of a prescribed writing curriculum. Teacher leaders introduce engaging topics designed to address student skills and belief in their own practice of writing. MWP impacted my teaching by helping to keep in mind what’s most important to improve writing: meaningful sharing and being challenged by someone else’s words, in either their creation or their critique.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing, like reading, is for two purposes: to further explore one’s own beliefs, struggles, and triumphs, and to explore a realm outside of one’s self. Writing can offer students a sense of style, pride, and purpose. I believe in using elements of the writing process to improve writing: mentor texts, sharing, re-writing, and putting text to a visual or publishable use, especially through the use of digital media.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Three...
book coverLinda Christensen’s Teaching for Joy and Justice for student samples of mentor texts and pedagogical ideas that help push current curriculum into a critical space that engages and accelerates student learning.

book coverAdolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice by editors Kylene Beers, Robert E. Probst, and Linda Rief. Including sections by Deborah Appleman, Yvette Jackson, Alfred Tatum, the editors themselves, and more, this book is organized to give teachers rationale, reflection, tools, and templates for unleashing student potential.

book coverKelly Gallagher’s Write Like This for quick tricks teachers can mark and turn to throughout their busy year. Turn up!




 

photo of teacherNick S. Ross
Grade you teach: 
6-8
School: Columbia Academy
Summer Institute Writing: Square Peg
Summer Institute Demonstration: Theme in Comic Strips(.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? My experience in MWP has given me practical lesson plans and classroom procedures to immediately improve my students’ reading and writing. It has also reaffirmed my belief that teachers have the most to teach each other, and the Writing Program’s format is an excellent way to do it. Most importantly, MWP has given me a community of teachers and writers to continue learning with for the rest of my career.

What are your beliefs about writing? My beliefs about the teaching of reading and writing are layered. One way of articulating them would be to begin from the most local and immediate, then work outward. The heart of literacy instruction is imparting a practical skill to students. Reading and writing are some of our most ancient skills and, ironically, are growing increasingly important as technological innovations become a bigger part of our lives. It is one of the primary ways we communicate our ideas to one another. Our ability to do it well helps us to be better friends, partners, and employees.

Moving out from the most immediate, reading and writing are important intellectual endeavors. By putting pen to paper, we can put our thoughts in a place outside our minds and reflect on them. Publishing our written work allows others to read and learn from our own ideas. They can contribute their knowledge to our own, thus collectively refining our ideas. Writing also allows us to use evidentiary reasoning, to state our beliefs and support them with examples. Evidentiary reasoning is in many ways the core of not only academic institutions, but also explaining ideas to others in the social and business worlds.

Literacy is also a powerful political instrument. As higher education becomes more important for obtaining living-wage jobs, being able to read and write allows one to access that education. Reading and writing are “the keys to the castle” of academia, a decent job, and better quality of life. The ability to code-switch in speaking and writing allows those outside the predominantly white world of business to enter that sphere.  It is an empowering skill.

Finally, on a spiritual level, reading and writing can help one find peace and understanding. Life is a difficult text to read.  Literacy provides us a valuable tool to make sense of it.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? book coverHip-Hop Poetry and the Classics by Alan Lawrence Sitomer has practical lesson plans that use Hip-Hop lyrics as a bridge for students to understand poetic literary devices and classic poetry. In doing so, he puts the work of Public Enemy, 2Pac, and the Notorious B.I.G. where they belong: in the canon alongside that of Frost, Shakespeare, and Shelley.

 

 

photo of teacherMerrily Wolters
Grade you teach:
3rd grade, K-5 professional development
School: Lakeaires Elementary, White Bear Lake Area Schools
Summer Institute Writing: Breakfast with Dad; Summed Up By Dad; My Reading Places; Heartrise; Growing Tomatoes
Summer Institute Demonstration: “I See What You Mean”: Reading Response Through Sketching and
Writing
(.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Participating in the Minnesota Writing Project has made me a more confident writer and a more competent literacy teacher. Although each member of my writing group had different amounts of experience with creative writing, we all provided valuable perspectives as we talked about powerful points in the writing, places where we were confused, and opportunities for improvement. I experienced first-hand how my students must feel when they don’t know what to write, are hesitant to share an idea, or are nervous about receiving feedback. Participating in demonstration lessons helped me start to formulate a mental picture of the K-12 continuum of development for writers. Each teacher shared classroom ideas that prompted me to become a literacy teacher who has more strategies for reaching more students with my instruction.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing goes hand-in-hand with reading, both built on the foundation of listening and speaking. One never “arrives” as a writer so the goal is to be a growing writer, supported by a strong writing community. Teachers have the opportunity to lead students in this growth by reading aloud, bringing attention to great writing in mentor texts (including student writing), helping students learn and experience the writing process, and coaching students based upon what they are writing every day. A writing teacher needs an understanding of how writing develops, extended time for students to write, and a process for student-teacher conferring—the foundations for setting up instructional routines to support writing growth. There will be times to instruct the entire class, just as there will be times to instruct small groups and individuals based upon how they need to grow into new genres, new skills, and new writing behaviors. The key is understanding the specific teaching point (about craft, genre, or writing process) that is the next step for a student’s growth.

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? book coverAwakening the Heart opens the possibilities of making poetry an everyday phenomenon in your classroom. Georgia Heard shares classroom-tested ideas for creating an environment of poetry, reading and discussing poetry, guiding students to find inspiration for writing poetry, and helping students build mental Poetry Craft Toolboxes. The ideas are applicable for K-12. If you have been looking for a way to introduce poetry writing without following step-by-step directions, this book is a must read!

 

2012 ISI cohort

(click this bar to see their showcases)

Katie BelangerKatie Houlihan Belanger
Grade you teach:
9-10
School: Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Summer Institute Writing: a digital story, “Remembering”
Summer Institute Demonstration: Campfire Memories:  Introduction to the Writing Process with a focus on Revision (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience has impacted my teaching this school year by serving as a curriculum guide. Specifically, I have implemented both the format of the Writing Project’s daily writing prompts and Kelly Gallagher’s (see below) grammar guide, “Sentence of the Week,” with my 9th grade composition class. I’ve also already used three of my colleague’s demonstration lessons in just the fourth week of school—tailored, of course, to the content we’re studying at the moment.

Aside from the practical applications of the Writing Project in my classroom, I feel it has impacted me as a teacher by making me more reflective. This summer, I was reminded what it was like to be a student again; I loved the joy of discovery and creation, and I was challenged by vulnerable situations (when sharing my writing). I was also reminded of how hard writing can be, and how necessary revision is to good writing. These are important lessons for a teacher to remember.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that I am a better person when I write on a regular basis. For me, it is both creative expression and quiet therapy; it is a safe place to vent my frustration, and a playful place to work out the what-ifs in life. It is a place to let my brain catch up with my words, and to let my heart express all it holds. Without writing, I would be lost. It is because of this strong belief in writing that I want so desperately for others to experience the joy of writing for themselves. It doesn’t matter, to me, that everyone’s approach to the writing process is slightly different, or slightly quirky. What matters to me is that students put forth a sincere effort and, hopefully, take some risks.

cover of Write Like ThisWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher: As our combined reflective practice group described this summer, this book reads “like a cookbook,” and comes in handy in a pinch. In addition to being able to pick and choose various activities, it also explains the many purposes of writing and offers a valuable, realistic approach to teaching grammar and sentence structure, with Gallagher’s “Sentence of the Week.” 


cover of 9 Rights of Every Writer9 Rights of Every Writer by Vicki Spandel: This text formed the basis for my approach to writing workshop because it gave me the tools to create a writing space within the classroom that was equal parts community and personal, challenging and silly—kind of like writing should be.

 

 


Mindy ChristiansonMindy Christianson
Grade you teach:
10–12
School: Underwood High School
Summer Institute Writing: Minnesotans like their water, don'tcha know?
Summer Institute Demonstration: Roadside Poetry (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Sometimes it feels like my first year of teaching again even though it's my eighth! I am incorporating so many new things into my teaching thanks to MWP. In my sophomore classes, I use the Sentence of the Week method from Kelly Gallager's book, Write Like This. I have found great success with it so far. I also use unique writing prompts every Tuesday and Thursday with them—many of them come from here. The students really enjoy this writing time. My poetry class has benefited from many new prompts, and I am often writing the poems right along with them. The students don't mind sharing their poems as much if I do it, too!

In my writing classes (College Writing I, College Writing II, and Intro to College Writing), I have started using peer response groups with each essay. The same groups meet each time to discuss their essays, and the essays are shared a day ahead of time, so students edit each essay as homework the night before. I have been impressed with their rich discussions and their positive feedback about how their groups have helped them become better writers.

Last, I have tried many of the lessons that my fellow cohort members presented at the institute. I actually combined my colleagues’ lessons for a silent discussion using critical lenses to look at The Poisonwood Bible in my College Writing II class.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is a lifelong skill that our students are going to need no matter what their future holds. While it can be hard to convince some students of this, it's the truth. It's so important for students to be writing in all of their classes, and it's important that they are given good writing assignments. Rather than being assigned a few essays a year and leaving it at that, students need to be writing all the time. I've personally seen the change in my sophomores with the creative writing prompts I've been giving them twice a week. There is no grumbling or complaining—they are used to it, and they like it!

cover of Bird by Birdcover of On WritingWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? My two favorite books on writing are Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott and On Writing by Stephen King. To me, it makes sense to learn from the experts. These seasoned writers know what it takes to come up with something others want to read, and their advice is great for high school students and adults alike.


Rebekah LundRebekah Lund
Grade you teach:
8, 9, and 10
School: Willow River Schools
Teacher website: www.willowriver.k12.mn.us
Summer Institute Writing: Porcelain; First Day at Riverview High
Summer Institute Demonstration: Paint Chip Poetry (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP has given me more confidence in my own teaching practice, provided me with a valuable network of other teacher-writers, and offered me endless opportunities for continued professional development. 

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that writing is undervalued in many areas of society. We can gain so much from ourselves and each other through writing, including increased understanding of ourselves, others, and subject matter. Writing is essentially thinking. It can occur on a piece of paper, in our heads, while conversing with others, or on multiple apps, programs, or technologies. Most of all, writing is fun. Once you start writing, it’s hard to stop. It’s so rewarding.

cover of Write like thisWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I love Kelly Gallagher’s Write Like This. We read it at the MWP last summer, and it encourages teachers to model writing for their students as Gallagher believes this is the most effective way to teach writing. It offers many prompts and ideas for writing. Mostly, it’s relevant for teachers and students. It encourages relevant, real world writing, not boring, or stuffy, “typical English class” writing. It’s great.
Erin MohrErin Mohr
Grade you teach:
Middle School 6-8
School: Bloomington Public Schools
Summer Institute Writing: Dinnertime
Summer Institute Demonstration: Red, Blue, Green Paragraph (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Working with and learning from talented teachers not only was inspiring, but also provided a trove of resources to draw on, from the demonstration lessons to the ideas generated in book discussions with teachers. Learning from teachers, especially those as dedicated to their teaching as MWP teachers, provides the best professional development I’ve ever had. 

What are your beliefs about writing? I want students to be able to write in order to communicate their ideas in a way that others can understand them. I want my students to be able to write in a variety of genres on topics that are meaningful to them so their voices can be not only heard but also understood by their audiences. Writing can be very personal and powerful and I think students need plenty of access to and practice with writing to get their powerful ideas down.

cover of But How Do You Teach Writing?What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? But How Do You Teach Writing? by Barry Lane is a funny and practical resource for teaching writing. It has ready-to-use resources like the “Do-It-Yourself Teacher Conference Form” students can use when the teacher is conferencing with other students as well as a reflective and thoughtful look at why giving students choice is important. Lane shows how you can teach writing not as a discreet set of skills in a class but rather as an important way to express what students have to say.
photo of Sonja OlsonSonja Olson
Grade you teach:
9-12, but mainly 10th grade
School: Johnson High School
Teacher website: (follow me on Twitter instead) Twitter @SonjaTweeting
Summer Institute Writing: Reviews and Questions for a Multicultural Classroom Library
Summer Institute Demonstration: Poetry through the Class and Social Power Lens (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has strengthened my teaching with practical, experienced voices from other teachers.  I left with several ideas that I wanted to try in my classroom, some which worked better than others. The ones that worked well have found a lasting place in my curriculum, and the ones that didn't work will be re-tooled for my students and tried again.  

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe writing opens doors to the rest of the world. Communicating effectively through writing makes moving through our academic, professional, and personal lives just a little bit easier.  On the other hand, writing opens me to myself. I know that not everybody sees writing as an act of creating one's self. For me though, writing shows me my own emotions; my journals take my rantings, then turn to me saying, "Here, this is what you value. This is what you want most of all."

book cover of writing warm-up activitiesWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? In the summer, I relax, rejuvenate, and read as much as possible. Once Labor Day comes, I find it very hard to find the time to reference a writing text! However, every year, I use writing prompts from Writing: Warm-up Activities (The Daily Spark). I especially like prompt that asks the kids to imagine the life of a dollar bill, and write a story about it in first person. 

 

 

 

2011 ISI cohort

(click this bar to see their showcases)

Jacqueline ArnoldJacqueline Arnold
Grade you teach:
Post-Secondary, English Education
School: Minnesota State University, Mankato
Summer Institute Writing: Apology
Summer Institute Demonstration: Multi-genre Writing: The Writing Portfolio Assignment (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? The MWP experience made me more confident about my own writing. Interacting with teachers in the K-12 classroom helped me stay connected with current practice. I brought my personal writing experience into my English methods classroom—the MWP experience gave me an opportunity to practice what I preach. Also my students and I journaled to prompts this semester during the portion of the methods course that focused on teaching writing. The journaling helped build community in the classroom, making the overall course experience better.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is a form of communication and expression. With technology, writing has become even more important as a means to communicate and express oneself.

cover of Within and Beyond the Writing ProcessWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend Within and Beyond the Writing Process in the Secondary English Classroom (Dornan, Rosen and Wilson). The book combines theory and practice, offering an overview of where we have been as English teachers (the context) and ideas for teaching writing.



Carmen Barbone Carmen Barbone
Grade you teach:
10th – 12th English
School: Shakopee High School
Summer Institute Writing: The Toad Conciliation
Summer Institute Demonstration: From Narrative to Poetry (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? To be immersed in writing for three weeks has impacted my teaching more than I ever thought possible. By being a student of my peers' and my own writing, I am able to see my students' writing through a fresh lens and can relate with them just as I did when I was a brand new teacher. For example, when my students and I write together, they see my excitement or my struggles with my own writing, and we talk about how to work with or through our process. Before MWP, I wrote with my students, but for years I hadn't felt the process of writing as strongly as I do now.

What are your beliefs about writing? I believe that all students can write if we foster the process. Teaching writing means many mini lessons paired with consistent writing practice. If students consistently write, they will improve and they will be encouraged to think critically.

Cover of Teaching Writing in High School and CollegeWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I've more recently read various chapters from Thomas Thompson's Teaching Writing in High School and College: Conversations and Collaborations. It was published in 2002, so maybe most have read it, but if people haven't, it is geared toward high school teachers who contemplate how to best prepare our students for college. This text explores some of the most pressing questions and offers a strong defense of writing to teach critical thinking. Click here for an NCTE review of the book.

Leslie GeisslerLeslie Geissler
Grade you teach:
7th & 8th Language Arts
School: Chaska Middle School East
Summer Institute Writing: Budging
Summer Institute Demonstration: Interdisciplinary Unit with Civics and ELL—Using Anticipatory Guides (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP gave me the opportunity to become a student of the game through finding myself again as a writer, sharing my writing and reflecting on and about writing! It also gave me experience as a student writer, enabling me to reflect on and connect with a much more powerful writing experience as a writer in progress. I continuously write and share my writing with my students—we give each other feedback making it a shared experience—a two-way street rather than a one-way!

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is a form of communication and expression. With technology, writing has become even more important as a means to communicate and express oneself.

cover of Teaching Adolescent WritersWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Everyone needs to read Kelly Gallagher's Teaching Adolescent Writers—it is filled with writing strategies that truly enhance, engage, and develop student writers.




Kristin GiffordKristin Gifford
Grade you teach: 8th Grade Language Arts
School: Anoka Middle School for the Arts
Summer Institute Writing: Marriage in January; Providence; National Zombie Pub Crawl, Minneapolis
Summer Institute Demonstration: Show Some Character! (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Since the MWP experience, I am incredibly intentional in finding time to teach writing. With the many state standards and standardized tests, writing instruction can often get pushed to the side. MWP has given me the tools and encouragement to keep best-practice writing instruction in the forefront of my teaching.

What are your beliefs about writing? My belief about teaching writing is it will happen less and less in our schools unless we rise up and intentionally integrate writing in all our classrooms.

cover of Writing workshop imageWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Writing Workshop by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi. This book provides both the philosophy and the practical tips for using a writing workshop on a regular basis in your classroom. I also recommend ANY book by Ralph Fletcher, especially his books written for young writers, like How Writers Work, Poetry Matters, Live Writing, and A Writer's Notebook.

Marie HansenMarie Hansen
Grade you teach:
10th & 11th
School: Burnsville High School
Summer Institute Writing: The Top Five Reasons Why My Job as a High School Teacher is Like a Reality Show
Summer Institute Demonstration: Voice Out/Voice In: Developing Personal Voice (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? After attending the summer institute, I'm much more willing to try new, sometimes crazy lessons. I have a better idea of what could work in my classroom based on all the ideas I saw from other Minnesota teachers. I don't feel as if I'm going into my classroom as one isolated teacher; instead I gained experience from seeing other teachers work.

What are your beliefs about writing? My belief about teaching writing is that you have to show students that writing is a long, difficult, and messy process. We have to model how to forget that fear of not producing a great first draft. If they put words on paper and try many different ideas and approaches, they will eventually arrive at a piece that works.

cover of Successful Writing CenterWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? The Successful High School Writing Center: Building the Best Program with Your Students, co-authored by Dawn Fels and Jennifer Wells. I must admit that I am not finished reading it yet, but it has been very useful so far. Anyone who works in a writing center or is thinking about starting one would find the practical stories and advice from various types of centers very useful.


Anthony Jacobs Anthony Jacobs
Grade you teach: 9-12 Language Arts
School: St. Paul Central High School
Website: web.mac.com/anthonyjacobs/Mr.Jacobs_English/Welcome.html
Summer Institute Writing: Leaving Grace
Summer Institute Demonstration: Embodying Your Author and Finding Metaphorical Significance in a Vignette from Their Life (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP encouraged me to find more ways to make writing a part of my students' lives. It has also made me share with them how writing is a part of my life.

What are your beliefs about writing? Rather than practice what you teach, teach what you practice... share with the students how you approach writing and deal with the challenges of being a writer.

cover of Bird by BirdWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott. A great book that students can connect to—see especially the chapter called “Sh*$ty First Drafts.”


 


Jen Kohan Jen Kohan
Grade you teach: Instructional Coach 6-12
School: Minnetonka Middle Schools
Website: jenkohan.com
Summer Institute Writing: Undercover; Limited Time Only; Cover Your Ears and Close Your Eyes
Summer Institute Demonstration: Using Models—Writing Poetry (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I have embedded our cohort's theme of “Ritual, Reflection, and Relationships" into every aspect of my writing instruction—I think about it as I plan, implement, and revisit lessons and workshops.

What are your beliefs about writing? My belief about teaching writing is that every writer is a developing writer, regardless of experience—we are novices whenever we try something new

cover of Breathing in, Breathing outWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Ralph Fletcher's Breathing in, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer’s Notebook, because I believe keeping a notebook is a writer's most important ritual practice.




 


Katherine Kunz Katherine Kunz
Grade you teach: 9th – 12th English
School: Buffalo High School
Summer Institute Writing: What I Remember
Summer Institute Demonstration: Forbidden and Freed Fragments (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? My grammar class has been enriched. Now it is a writing workshop complete with a writing project, differentiation, a sentence-composing approach, writer's notebooks, and supplemental independent reading.

What are your beliefs about writing? The teaching of writing is messy, but students learn best from teachers who write, from a classroom in which all share their writing.

cover of Teaching Adolescent WritersWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Kelly Gallagher's Teaching Adolescent Writers because it is easy to read, is rooted in best practice, and any teacher can use the ideas as is or modify them to fit individual needs.




Janice LavenJanice Laven
Grade you teach:
4
School: Cornelia Elementary School
Website: https://sites.google.com/a/apps.edina.k12.mn.us/mrs-laven-s-fourth-grade/?AuthEventSource=SSO
Summer Institute Writing: Nightcrawler Hunting
Summer Institute Demonstration: How to Introduce Peer Conferencing (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? Summer Institute 2011 has rekindled my fire for teaching writing. The opportunities to invest time in my own writing, participate in a writing group, learn best practices from my colleagues, and read and discuss two exemplary books helped me to grow as a writer, learn new teaching strategies, discover new resources, and gain new insight about writing conferences. Most important, participation in Summer Institute renewed my commitment to teaching writing and spurred me on to learn more about best practices in teaching writing and reading.

What are your beliefs about writing? Students need to develop effective writing skills in writer's workshop as well as write to learn across the curriculum. Teachers need to model the writing process explicitly. Students need ample opportunity to choose their topic for writing. Digital writing provides a powerful tool for motivating students to write, providing a broader audience for writing, and developing 21st century skills.

Cover of Crafting Writers, K-6What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I would recommend is Elizabeth Hale's Crafting Writers, K-6, by Stenhouse Publishers (2008). Hale shows teachers how to use anchor texts to help students practice writing craft. She also outlines a detailed protocol for effective writing conferences.


Stephanie LundorffStephanie Lundorff
Grade you teach: 9th & 10th grade Language Arts
School: Concordia Academy-Roseville
Summer Institute Writing: Mean, Mean, Menopause
Summer Institute Demonstration: Writing the Prairie—Diction and Author Perspective (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? I have used lessons from the Summer Institute teacher demonstrations over and over again. Having seen the lessons demonstrated, instead of simply reading them, allowed me to experience what was really possible in my classroom. In my classroom, we are not only writing more and writing better, but we are also sharing more, and sharing better!

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is the most important skill in the "unfinished" category of methods instruction in college. Teaching writing is hard, but is the most rewarding part of teaching. It gives students individual voices.

cover of Teaching english on the blockWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Teaching English in the Block by Joseph Strzepk, Jeff Newton, and Dan Walker. This book offers practical models of time allocation for all parts of the writing process.



Zachariah ProwellZachariah Prowell
Grade: 3rd
School: Highlands Elementary
Teacher website: www.mrprowell.com
Summer Institute Writing: “Cycling Pedaled Thoughts” and “Dylan’s Diner”
Summer Institute Demonstration: Revision through Modeling Clay (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP opened my eyes to a world I never thought of as a typical writing experience. I grew up thinking I could not change the attitudes of many of my reluctant 3rd grade writers, and now I look forward to sharing how vast the world of writing can be for them.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is an opportunity to help students not only capture a moment, but also explore the meaning of it and even create moments.

bookcover of Live WritingWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? Ralph Fletcher’s Live Writing: Breathing Life into Your Words (all of his books are wonderful). As an elementary teacher, I find the tips and tools very applicable and full of ways to connect it to my students’ lives. With all the dry textbook resources out there, his style of writing is fun to read.


 

Julie Stauber Julie Stauber
Grade you teach:
10, 11, and 12 English
School: Proctor High School
Summer Institute Writing: Senior Year; The Rink
Summer Institute Demonstration: Creative Inspirations (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:
How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? My MWP experience has led me to realize that writing offers my students not only the chance to show me what they've learned in my classroom, but also the opportunity to be creative. With all the testing that students face throughout a school year, the creative process has been squeezed out of so much of what we do. Our students need that creative opportunity, and writing is just the ticket.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing is such a painstaking, creative outlet, that one cannot help but feel refreshed and rejuvenated when done. It's like running a marathon.  All those days of training seem grueling and never-ending, but the day of the race, although painful and almost unbearable, offers the greatest, most exuberant feelings ever. We say to ourselves, "Yeah, I did it!"

cover of On WritingWhat is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing—I read and re-read bits and pieces of this regularly. I take one little bit of advice and have to hold onto it for a while and try it out. For example, minimize the use of adverbs in your writing. Instead, choose better verbs. It's great advice, really. First, you take a second look at verb choice all the time, and in the end, your piece offers so much more action.


Cary Yang Cary Yang
Grade you teach: 3rd
School: Fair School Downtown WMEP District
Website: https://sites.google.com/a/wmep.k12.mn.us/staff-yang/
Summer Institute Writing: The Thai Fisherman
Summer Institute Demonstration: How Do You Use Mentor Text in the Primary Classroom? (.pdf file)

Reflections on teaching:

How has the MWP experience impacted your teaching? MWP has shown me the scope and sequence of K-12 writing, as I continue re-focusing the role of writing for students as it shifts from paper content to digital. Also, I have been recharged with more focused lesson planning that impacts my teaching and community building.

What are your beliefs about writing? Writing gives people a voice to communicate their story.

cover of The Art of Teaching Writing

What is a book on writing or the teaching of writing that you would recommend (and why)? I recommend The Art of Teaching Writing by Lucy Calkins because it lays down the basic framework of how we want to give students a voice at their level using a love of storytelling and literature as a base, rather than to focus on grammar and what is correct and what is not.