Fire Up! You Awesome* Consultants!

*Sorry for using awesome, Kim.

Go here to access the contact information for the Fire Up! conference, which will be on October 17 at Aquinas. I expect a lot of you fellows to be doing workshops there — it can be a mini-reunion 🙂

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Evaluation for NWP Data Collection

Inverness Research Survey

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Protocol of Because Writing Matters and Because Digital Writing Matters

Quotes that are personally meaningful to us:

  • p. 10: “‘Writing has to be learned in school very much the same way that it is practiced out of school.  This means that the writer has a reason to write, an intended audience, and control of subject and form.  It also means that composing is staged across various phases . . . .”
  • p. 11: “. . . all students can learn to write and that writing is the most visible expression not only of what their students know but also of how well they have learned it.”
  • p. 15: “Every teacher who interacts with children has a responsibility for the student’s development in writing as it applies to their subject area.”
  • p. 16: “Teaching writing involves multiple teaching strategies that address both process and product, both form and content.”
  • p. 22: “. . . if kids don’t write more than three days a weeks, they’re dead, and it’s very hard to become a writer.  If you provide frequent writing occasions for writing, then the students start to think about writing when they’re not doing it. . . .”
  • p. 23: “Writing should be a form of inquiry.”
  • p. 31: “Better writers tend to be better readers.”
  • p. 59: “When teachers delight in their own professional discoveries, their students reap the rewards.
  • p. 73: “‘Students must “learn to be inquireres, experimenters, and problem solvers” . . . not only to become more effective writers and readers but to become more fully participating citizens in a rapidly changing world.'”
  • p. 79: “[a portfolio] offers a much richer picture of a student’s writing than a single writing-on-demand assessment can, particularly one administered in a short time frame that precludes student revision.”


  • p. 3: “. . . young people are engaged in a multi-purpose, highly participatory, “always on” relationship with digital media. School, in contrast, is seriously ‘unplugged’.”
  • p. 5: “Equipping students to work across and within contemporary networked spaces and to write in a range of genres and a diversity of modes to audiences local and widespread, will serve students in their higher education experiences and in the workplaces of the future.”
  • p. 5: “‘Teachers at all levels and across all subjects will play a vital role for young people in helping them to learn to think critically aout new media, to develop an understaninding of social and ethical issues involved in all forms of communication, and to recognize the evolving nature of “authorship,” “audience,” and knowledge itself. . . .'”
  • p. 26: “Our students are ‘digital natives.’ We are ‘digital immigrants.'”
  • p. 26: “Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”
  • p. 35: “When . . . students post podcasts on the Web — and when young people engage in texting, IMing, blogging . . . they are not merely rehearsing digital writing. They are writing for real audiences and for real purposes.”
  • p. 35:”Writing today is not what it was yesterday.”
  • p. 45: “‘Trust them.  Even if you are not entirely comfortable with the technology, allow your students to teach you throughout the process.”
  • p. 59: “‘If we engage students in real writing tasks and we use technology in such a way that it complements their innate need to find purposes and audiences for their work, we can have them engaged in a digital writing process that focuses first on the writer, then on the writing, and last on technology.”
  • p. 63: “‘If I can’t engage them, I can’t teach them, no matter how good the tools and strategies are that I have.'”
  • p. 96: What makes a literate person? “Communicates skillfully . . . thinks analytically and creatively . . . uses ELA to identify and solve problems . . . to understand and appreciate commonalities and differences . . . and the aesthetic elements of [many types of] texts.”

Quotes that we wish we could share with administrators:


  • p. 14: “Writing is never learned once and for all.”
  • p. 16: “. . . teachers still receive little instruction in the teaching of writing.”
  • p. 54: “Eventually someone got the bright idea to do things the way they are done in the third grade, and writing across the curriculum was reborn into high school and college curricula as though it were something brand new.”
  • p. 57: “‘teachers’ groups, professional communities variously defined, offer the most effective unit of intervention and powerful opportunity for reform.”
  • p. 66: “‘But real school reform can happen when teachers come together regularly throughout their careers to explore practices and that effective teachers have already proven are successful in their classrooms.”
  • p. 73: “Creating high standards alone is not sufficient to improve learning in schools; it is the teacher who makes them come alive in the classroom.”
  • p. 87: “A critical component in building an effective writing program is an administrative philosophy that understands the power of writing as a tool for achieving high levels of learning and expression across all grades and content areas.”
  • p. 89: “A survey of the state of writing in a school or district can lay the groundwork for a collective vision of what needs to be changed.”
  • p. 93: “School-wide improvement of writing requires collective buy-in. . . .”
  • p. 95: “Administrators can offer leadership by showing that they value reading and writing themselves through their own writing.”


  • p. 144: “Learning how to use digital writing tools is not the primary focus of classroom instruction or professional development. “

Questions these texts raise for us:

  • Why don’t we come together more regularly to make school reform happen?  How can we do this?
  • How do we get everyone to buy in to the plan the school develops?
  • How long does it take to build a relationship to make the change happen?
  • How do we build relationships with our colleagues so they don’t want to be left out of the changes that are happening?
  • How do we move our writers forward in a technology-advanced world when our students don’t have access to technology at home?  When we have too few computers for the students, and eliminate teachers who could help them learn technology?
  • What are best practices when we don’t have access to technology?
  • Will our students have knowledge they need to succeed in the real world if our schools don’t use / have technology?
  • How do we balance the time we spend helping our students compose digitally with the sorts of critical thinking / analysis that they must understand in order to write well? (Critical thinking and analysis i
  • How different are these concepts in the digital world than in the print world?
  • Who has the power? (the people with the computers . . . although they can have a rich life without technology, if we want our students to have access to the power, are we witholding that if we don’t use technology?)
  • What tools will our students need to be successful in their futures (especially when we don’t know what types of jobs will be created in the future)?
  • How do we acknowledge the digital world without losing what we really need to do for a student? (i.e. critical thinking skills)
  • Balance of time / experience / use of tools: how do we do this effectively?
  • Is texting writing? 🙂
  • The push towards brevity — good or bad?  How has technology, the Information Age, and our demanding schedules changed our writing? For better or worse?
  • How can we use this digital world for rich and meaningful learning?
  • Why is there a divide between assessment (we have to teach kids how to read and take tests) and deep, meaningful thinking and writing?
  • Why are we asking our students to write for inauthentic purposes (tests that don’t value how provocative, memorable, moving writing is) and having to take so much time to do it?
  • How do we avoid creating racist / classist assessments — honor home languages and strengths?

Ideas for Assessment:

  • e-Portfolios (beginning of the year writing; middle; end)
  • end-of-school year exhibitions of work — celebration with the community
  • Beginning of the year survey: “why do you write?” (orally? in writing?)
  • How do they reflect on their writing?  (did the writing achieve its purpose? quality of reflection)
  • Reading level vs. writing level — “Fleisch / Kinkade”?
  • Reading / writing interviews — what kind of data do we collect in September?  What do we see there?  What will I do in the middle and at the end of the year to see how my students have grown? (Teacher / Research class focus)
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Link to 2011 Annotated Bibliography

Now that we know how to access a Google doc without needing a Google account, we thought we would use it for our annotated bibliography.  Please paste your annotation in the document and once all the information is there, we will format it so it fits the pages well.

2011 Annotated Bibliography

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Link to our Anthology Document: Paste yours but don’t peek at others’

LMWP 2011 ISI Anthology

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Notes on Discussion of James Kinneavy’s “Basic Aims of Discourse”

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Another voice in the 5 Paragraph Essay controversy

Here’s what Janet Emig had to say about the 5 paragraph essay back in 1971.  She calls it the Fifty-Star Theme because “it is so indigenously American”:

“Why is the Fifty-Star Theme so tightly lodged in the American composition curriculum?  The reason teachers often give is that this essentially redundant form, devoid, or duplicating, of content in at least two of its five parts, exists outside their classrooms, and invery high places–notably, freshman English classes; “business”; and in the “best practices” of the “best writers”–that, in other words, this theme somehow fulfills requirements somewhere in the real world.

This fantasy is easy to disprove.  If one takes a constellation of writers who current critical judgment would agree are among the best American writers…can one find a single example of any variation of the Fifty-Star Theme?”  (The Composing Process of Twelfth Graders, 97)

Her answer is no.   She goes on to say that freshmen English is not monolithic, but creative according to instructor.  She argues that the responsibility for the persistance of the five paragraph essay is “partially attributable to teacher illiteracy,” to teachers’ lack of “direct experience of composing” and reading contemporary writing.  Without working as writers, teachers “underconceptualize and oversimplify the process of composing.  Planning degenerates into outlining; reformulating becomes the correction of minor infelicities.” (98)

Emig doesn’t tackle the crucial, vital work of effectively simplifying (or accurately isolating discrete skills within) the process of composing for teaching in minilessons across the life-span of a young writer.  She leaves that work up to us.

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