Welcome to my digital sandbox

** Since I often ask my student to compose a welcome letter for their professional spaces online, I figured I should do the same. Here goes.**

CDS

Teaching at UWM (February 2015)

I am a professor in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, where I teach classes related to content area reading, new literacies, and English education. Previous to my move to Milwaukee in 2013, I lived, taught, and studied in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota.

While completing my PhD at the University of Minnesota, I worked with many juicy thinkers at the Minnesota Writing Project and the Center for Writing.  My years in Minnesota allowed me to work with undergraduate students and preservice and practicing teachers from a variety of disciplines. It is my work with learners big and small (I used to teach 5th grade as well as middle school and high school language arts) that inspires me to think about how all of us learn through writing with pen and paper or composition via images, sound, and motion online.

3boys

E, G & O – First week of school 2015

When I’m not teaching or researching literacy, I spend much of my time with my family. I have been married for twelve years to my husband, Jimmy. We have three sons: Oliver, Elias, and Gil, who range in age from 10 to 2 years.  Needless to say we have a very energetic home full of building with Legos & Minecraft, and much painting, drawing, music playing and dancing. One of our favorite times of the day is bedtime stories.  We are currently reading the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins.  The books are full of underworld adventures with talking bugs and feisty, raucous rats.

In addition to spending time with my family, I love to make movies. Although I’m not a professional movie maker, I am a huge advocate for digital video composition as medium for exploring the potentials of storytelling as well as creating and sharing content knowledge. Thus, it often is a big part of my courses. I find that composing with images, music, and the human voice makes for a very potent storytelling experience both for the author and audience . Even as reading and writing practices migrate to online spaces, story continues to be a prominent vehicle for learning.  Here is a “digital story” I helped to make about some ways that digital storytelling can be used as a method of teaching. “The Pedagogy of Digital Storytelling in the College Classroom” (12:00).

If you happen to be taking a course with me, the best way to get in touch with me outside of class is via email.  I am online most of the day, checking email and Twitter quite regularly. That said, I do unplug at night to be present with my family and to sleep!

I look forward to learning more about you and your story.

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Affordances … #BlackLivesMatter … Hmm

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The word “affordances” is tossed around a lot these days.  If we are not careful with how we use it, I fear that it may become a phrase or word of invitation opening up more questions than it offers specificity.  In many ways this has been the case with words such as “engagement” or “literacy.”  While I think invitations to think deeper are important and should be maintained, I also think that some words, such as “affordances” might offer a productive angle into our understandings of making meaning using digital technologies.

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@Nettaaaaaaaa

As part of my work  with the NCTE New Literacies CEE subgroup (Commission on English Education), I’ve recently reviewed two articles that I think ask us to re-examine our understandings of the construct “affordances.”  I welcome suggestions for further reading or questions to push us deeper in thinking about this potentially powerful concept.

In the first article, Ranker (2015) calls for a deeper understanding and usage of the construct of “affordances” when conceptualizing and designing literacy experiences that incorporate technologies and multiple media. Analyzing a tool or platform for affordances involves examining its “distinct possibilities and limitations for exploring and representing meaning.” To illustrate, Ranker analyzes the affordances of blogs and digital video, discussing the distinct possibilities of textual linkage and written interaction in blogging as well as montage in digital video.

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@deray

The next article and it’s corresponding video (McDonald & Woo, 2015) showcase the people behind the top three Twitter handles in the #Blacklivesmatter movement: Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaa), DeRay Mckesson (@deray) and Zelli Imani (@zellieimani). The article talks briefly of the specific affordances of Twitter as social media platform to start a political movements (e.g. Black Lives Matter). The companion video is also powerful for providing visual montage and voice to protestors as they read their tweets.

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@zellieimani

Together, these two pieces invite us to revisit our understanding and usage of the concept “affordances.” How might a more disciplined use on the construct “affordances” push us beyond novelty and “show and tell” when discussing digital technologies?

Articles Mentioned Above:

Ranker, J. (2015). The Affordances of Blogs and Digital Video: New Potentials for Exploring Topics and Representing Meaning. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 58(7), 568-578.

McDonald & Woo (August 10, 2015). They Helped Make Twitter Matter in Ferguson Protests. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/us/twitter-black-lives-matter-ferguson-protests.html?_r=0

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Visualizing Content Knowledge

My #Currins545 Students (Reading in josh hthe Content Areas) have just completed their visualization projects for the semester.  Having used this assignment for three semesters, I’ve noticed how this project really tends to signal a turning point in the course, a moment in which the students experience hands-on a deeper understanding of their content.

It seems that so much of the semester is spent walking around the content, through readings and discussion that attempt to list and emphasize what the disciplinary content is and how to scaffold learning of that content. While this is important and creates a necessary space to identify key pedagogical content knowledge, the visualization project seems to cut straight to the heart of how we use visualization to build knowledge in the content areas.

KevinThe visualization project requires students to make a visualization, using a web 2.0 software of their choice, to visualize an aspect of their discipline. Thus far in the semester, the students have been maintaining an inquiry blog about some topic in their discipline so selecting an idea to illustrate or visualize follows easily from this inquiry project.

What impressed me most this semester is how deeply the students were able to analyze their own processes of visualization and then connect it to either their own learning or student learning. Below are some of the visualizations that the students created as well as a selection of their insights on visualizing content knowledge. (Click on links or images below to view complete visualization.)

Visualizing abstract concepts as events

In the examples below, students have taken an abstract concept from their discipline and turned it into an event to be represented either on a timeline or infographic.  First listed, Zak uses the interactive timeline software Dipity to visualizes the notion of authorship and its evolution over time. Similar in approach, Kevin also uses Dipity to illustrate the largely unknown relationship between Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X, exploring how the two hardly knew each other were both such key players in the Civil Rights movement. Next Josh uses the infographic software Piktochart to illustrate the notion of “urban” as it was first enacted by Rome, the first urban city.  Finally, Erin  uses annotation software ThingLink to explore the elements of emotion, color, and form in the work of Wassili Kandinsky.

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“In Grey” by Wassily Kandinsky

The Evolution of Authorship” – Interactive timeline created by Zak Koehn

MLK & Malcolm X” – Interactive timeline created by Kevin Dyke

The First Super City: Rome” – Infographic created by Josh Luterbach

Emotion and Color in Kandinsky” – Image annotation created by Erin Rademacher

Using visual design to organize information from several sources

Many of the students commented on the affordances of visualization and graphic design as vehicles for spatially organizing their thoughts.  Emphasizing more the canvas of the screen instead of the page, several students the spatial assets of visualization, which allowed them to explore the deeper nuances of ideas through purposeful selections of color scheme, font, spatial formatting and blank space. To begin, both Angela and Steffanie use Piktochart to tackle gigantic content topics. Angela takes on the Great Depression, breaking it down to the dust bowl as a lens into daily life, while Steffanie takes the many works of Shakespeare, looking specifically at the female roles. Josh researches the mining induced mudslides of Indonesia, using ThingLink to annotate the activist artwork of Justseeds.

The Dust Bowl” – Infographic created by Angela Gerloski

The Women of Shakespeare” – Infographic created by Steffanie Rowinsky

We Agree: A Crisis In Common” – Image annotation created by Josh Heinrich

Visualizing process

Another set of projects used visualization to distill and prioritize the core aspects of various processes.  To keep this blog entry from becoming too long, I will just include one example of this type. Here tracy uses still photography and movie maker to make a how-to video for making murals.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.43.09 PMMake your Mark in Milwaukee: Episode 1: Make a Mural” – digital video created by Tracy Rolkosky

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Visualization for Learning

As I explore the potentials of media production for learning, I am brought again and again to the idea of visualization as a learning strategy. What exactly is it about making our own representations (visual or other nonlinguistic modes) that helps us to better understand the content we are exploring?

Visual notetaking

“Drawing in Class: Visual Notetaking” Rachel Smith TEDx

I know that some describe this process as one of Dual Coding (Clark and Paivio, 1991), in that creating representations in both linguistic and nonlinguistic modes requires us to process the information using distinct yet interconnected “codes.”  Others describe the process of visualization in terms of multimodality (Gunther & Kress, 2001) and transmediation (Suhor, 1984), which both posit more sophisticated understandings of information when translation across multiple modes. Visual note-taker, Rachel Smith, describes her process of visual notetaking as focused listening.  (Check out her TEDx talk featured above “Drawing in Class“). Whatever the case, I see, feel, and at times even hear, the difference and depth of learning that occurs when learners are asked to visualize what they know.

In sharing this finding with teacher candidates who want to know what they can do tomorrow to promote learning in their content areas, I find that there is little out there exploring digital composition as form of content learning beyond anecdotal descriptions of increased motivation. While motivation is integral to learning, I’m curious to know more about how the messy work of multimodal composition contributes to deeper learning and comprehension.

Below are a list of resources that start exploring the question on just the levels of drawing and sketching as vehicles for deeper learning.  I hope to add to this understanding with resources that discuss more involved forms of visualization and representation such as media production and sound design.

Readings:

  • Albright (2002) – Engaging adolescent readers with picture book read-alouds in the content areas
  • Bruce (2011) – Reframing the Text: Using Storyboards to Engage Students in Reading
  • Hasset & Schieble (2007) – Finding Space and Time for the Visual in K-12 Literacy Instruction
  • Hibbing (2002) – Using Visual Images to Improve Comprehension for Struggling Reader
  • Schmidt (2013) – Sketch as Response and Assessment: From Misunderstanding to Better Judgement

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Making Media for Real Audiences

I always have a weird feeling at the end of a semester, an awkwardness in saying goodbye to students that I’ve spent so much time with over the past 15 weeks.  Perhaps it is because I spend so many hours inside their heads reading their blog entries and post-production reflection essays. Or perhaps it is just because I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not in the full throws of teaching.

One of the things I’ve done in the past to ease the parting of the last day has been to make a video or digital good bye of some sort. The intense focus during hours of digital composition, often writing and revising, and definitely sifting through multimodal resources, has functioned as a way to process through the experience, coalesce it into something tangible in order to peacefully let it go. This year I tried something different.  Along the same lines of my past digital goodbyes, I wanted to make a video.  But this time, I wanted to more deliberately include my students in on the process.

ImageBecause I Eat, Sleep, and Write” (5:29)

The video above is the collaborative work of Currins 547: Curricular Applications of the Internet. In this course, the students take on the role of online writing tutors for a variety of high school students in the Milwaukee metro area. Since the students never actually meet their tutees face to face, we decided to make a video so that the tutees could match the names of their tutors with the faces of the college students who had been responding to their writing throughout the semester.  To give the video some structure beyond a simple photo slideshow, we decided to each write a 6-word memoir about writing and/or life in general.  We then mashed them altogether into this five minute video. Upon completion we sent the video to the classes who participated in the writing exchange as a digital thank you.

Working with my students over the last few weeks of class to make this video highlighted the importance of providing opportunities to make media for real audiences.  I hope to do more collaborative media production like this in the future.

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Hacking books

Hacking Picture Books. I love this concept. It is such a literal use of “cut and paste” and yet such a fundamental practice for critical literacy. Thanks to Amy Stornaiuolo for sharing her photos of the messy yet critically freeing process.

Amy Stornaiuolo

Note: I cross-posted this as a resource at the Digital Is website!

Last month I went to the Educon conference at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia for the first time and was so excited to see all of the amazing work being done by educators to incorporate digital literacies into their practices and classrooms. I was particularly inspired by the hackjam run by Meenoo Rami and Chad Sansing (watch it livehere or read about Chad’s reflections on it here). Immediately I saw how this activity might be a generative one for my digital literacies class at the University of Pennsylvania to help us consider more carefully the ideas of participatory learningcomposing as making, and hacker literacies.

One of the central ideas I was hoping we could explore was how play and Making can help to transform our teaching/learning practices. Hacking (or tweaking…

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Falling in Love with Assessment in Vegas: NWP/NCTE 2012

Vegas wedding chapelThis year’s NWP & NCTE Annual meetings took us to Las Vegas, NV. Amid the nonstop lights, music, and second-hand smoke of the Vegas casinos, I fell in love.  I have a colleague who talks fondly of her elopement in Las Vegas.  My rendezvous, while less romantic, was filled with much wooing on the part of various rubrics, checklists and frameworks for assessing writing. I have always been a fan of words, but the more I explore the words and phrases we use to describe what students are doing when writing, the more  excited I become to use that language to help them grow as writers.

My courtship with assessment did not begin in Las Vegas.  Over the past few years I have been growing more and more interested in the language we use to describe writing, especially as “writing” becomes increasingly complex through integration of digital technologies and social media. My dissertation research on school-based documentary production continues to challenge my understandings of writing and how to “teach” it.

Further fueling my interests have been recent mumblings in our state to remove the burden of high-stakes testing, a campaign issue Governor Mark Dayton voiced and continues to pursue. Would elimination of state-based testing lend itself to incorporating national assessments? With the Common Core initiative many states are considering comprehensive assessments such as PARCC and Smarter Balanced.  Would such moves help us to better understand writing or learning in general?

With these questions in mind, I traveled from assessment session to assessment session, which often took me from one hotel ballroom to another in search of the marriage between writing and assessment. Coincidentally, but not surprisingly, all of the NCTE sessions I attended on assessment presented frameworks that were started in some way through teachers of the National Writing Project.

The first session I attended was on 6 +1 Traits of writing.  This is not a new framewoTraitsrk for assessing writing, but has proven to have staying power with its presentation of 6 + 1 (7 for the non math majors in the group) traits or qualities for assessing and teaching writing: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Word Choice, Sentence Fluency, Conventions, and Presentation. I was impressed to see that some teachers are adapting the 6 Traits framework to digital writing through use of the Presentation trait, including within Presentation an attention to audience and purpose.  Most teachers I have talke with find the Traits to be helpful especially in providing a common terminology to discuss writing. Yet, some educators have complained that it has too heavy a focus on the final product and that it is less flexible with nonfiction texts, especially when discussing the concept of voice.   To learn more about the Traits visit a helpful 6 + 1 Traits resource site.

Another assessment session I attended described the Analytical Writing Continuum (AWC).  This framework, built on the foundation of 6 Traits, also offers a wonderful vocabulary and superb framework or continuum for informing instruction, professional development, and research on the teaching of writing.  It differs mostly from 6+1 Traits in its reconceptualization of the Voice trait as Stance, which allows more for the perspective taking that is necessary when writing and reading nonfiction and informational texts.  What I’m especially drawn to with

My NWP Conference Buddies

My NWP Conference Buddies

this framework is its emphasis on teachers as the central players in assessment.  Implemented ideally, this framework designs assessment as collaborative learning experiences for professionals. The hope with AWC is that teachers who use the framework will not only have a better understanding of what their students can do with writing, but will also feel better prepared to teach and talk about writing with their students.  To find out more about AWC check out these links: What is the Analytical Writing Continuum? and AWC Assessment as a from of teacher inquiry.

The final assessment session I attended was on a newer, and less well-known framework, the Multimodal Assessment

Project or MAP.  This framework seeks to encompass non-print texts as well as traditional texts such as the academic essay.  In doing so, it attempts to deemphasize the final product or artifact of writing in order to consider the entire process of writing into the assessment.  To get started, this framework used well-known rubrics such as the 6+1 Framework, The Washington State Content/Organization/Ideas and Conventions Rubrics (HsCoSSS), the above-mentioned AWC, as well as common film rubrics and applied these to a variety of digital texts such as VoiceThread compositions, digital stories and other media texts.  Through this convergence of assessment rubrics, the team identified elements that were missing and devised instead the following criteria: Context, Artifact, Process Management, Substance/Content, and Habits of Mind.  These five criteria or “domains,” isolate the focus on product and thus limit it, while also heightening focus on Context and Process, and thought processes (Habits of Mind). While I am excited about this new framework, I fear that it may be too ambitious in a time of high- stakes assessment, which assumes all learning can be compressed into some final, tangible product.  That said, I find it paramount to keep my eye on this framework, especially as our definitions of writing expand and become increasingly unstuck in time and space. The following link provides much explanation of this new framework: http://digitalis.nwp.org/resource/2118

BumbysWhat was perhaps most revealing about my explorations in assessment was an event that my colleagues and I experienced on our last night in Las Vegas.  After dining on charred octopus, we strolled through the market place of the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino and stumbled upon an art installation that invited passersby to partake in a “Fair & Honest Appraisal of Your Appearance” by Mr. and Ms. Bumpy.  (Visit here to find out more about the Bumbys and to take a peek at our fast-fingered assessors.

Interested in how these appraisers might assess our appearances, all four of us stepped in line.  We stood alert as cloaked appraisers looked us up and down and typed appraisals of our outward appearance and demeanor in the form of short stories.  As crazy as this may seem, we were not the only ones to so willingly offer ourselves to be judged by strangers;, groups of other tourists and people stood in line, waiting for their turns to be evaluated.

After being appraised I realized that I “have a youthful Meg Ryan quality.”  What does that mean? Is that good or bad? Assuming that this must – be only a Vegas thing, we asked one of the producers about the event.  He said that the installation has experienced much success across the country.  He went on to say that the experience taps into human nature, that we all secretly desire to know how others view us.  Furthermore he explained that the cards or print appraisals produced using old fashioned typewriters serve as ice breakers in a culture that while hyper-connected electronically lacks the social ease to interact in face-to-face settings.

This experience revealed to me that we all harbor a secret love for assessment. We want to know if what we are doing has value to someone other than ourselves. In many ways that is what all forms of assessment or evaluation do. They provide us with coordinates for where we stand.  In terms of formative assessment, they provide us with the “ice-breaker” needed to enter the text, the space to discuss what is working and what is not. Most importantly, the assessment provides us a threshold from which to begin conversations about how to proceed with our writing, our teaching, our lives.  I hope that my many rendezvous with assessment prove fruitful in my own teaching.

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Documentary as “Community Advocacy”

As part of the professional develop ment outreach work I do with the Minnesota Writing Project, I recently had the opportunity to work with a teacher using documentary filmmaking with her students.

“The Dangers of Poverty” (4:36)

The eighteen students in class, mostly juniors and seniors, were enrolled in an advanced language arts course for English language learners.  As part of their reading, research, and writing about community issues, the students made documentaries about issues of poverty and educational access.

My tasks were to assist the teacher in designing the curriculum, work with students in small groups as they drafted their voice over narrations, as well as provide technical assistance and tutorials while working in the computer lab during the final weeks of the project. Working on this project was a blast.  Not only do I love working with innovative teachers up for literacy adventurous big and small (Ms. Ziegler, whom the students affectionately called “Ms. Ina,” was definitely of this ilk), but I also crave working one on one with the students. On this project I got to know many of the students very well, helping them to work through their expression of ideas when writing the voice over narrations and then again as they combined their own writing with the interview footage, images and music.

“Poverty vs Education” (6:19)

Far from what some may call glorified dioramas, these iMovie video projects were very involved, requiring students to critically analyze the data they had gathered on their topics.  In addition to regular “academic research” for the project, the students were required to gather primary resources in the form of interviews with relevant community leaders. Weaving interview clips along side voice over narrations is not an easy task. Students had to decide which information and interview clips to leave behind, which to include, and in what order. The students also had to negotiate with their peers (the students worked in groups of three) regarding which images and music to use in order to add emphasis and tone to their arguments.  I remember hearing many heated conversations related to whether a group should use Michael Jackson’s “You are Not Alone” or Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” The group members wanted the mood to be serious but not sad.

As I continue my work with media composition as it relates to literacy learning and instruction, I hope to continue working with students as they make media.  More importantly I hope to continue working with adventurous literacy educators like Ina Ziegler, who knowingly jumped into the messiness of media composition in the classroom.

“Solving Poverty” (2:54)

Working with Ms. Ziegler as well as with several other K12 educators using digital media forms of writing, my understanding of writing instruction has become more and more complex. While I love to teach word choice and playful phrasing, I realize that words alone are not enough.  In order for our students to persuade their points and advocate their views for 21st-century audiences, they must know how to use media in rhetorical ways.  How else will they gain these critical literacy skills without schools providing the opportunities to create with images, video, music and sound?  So while Ms. Ziegler’s students used documentary to advocate for issues pertinent in their community, I use print, the medium of currency in my profession, to advocate for a broadening of our community values, for a change in how we see writing in the lives of our students.

The final documentaries can be viewed by visiting the course website – Listening to Learn, Speaking to Persuade: Documentary as Community Advocacy.

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My dissertation (in progress)

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Already 31,200 words!!  I’m not surprised that “media” and “voice” came in large. On the other hand, “Chandra” and “focus” were surprising.

Thank you Wordle


			

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Mining for Insights: RFD 2010-2011

Candance and Theresa

It was almost a year ago that Theresa Behnke and I attended the Recruiting for Diversity (RFD) Conference in Minneapolis, MN, as part of NWP’s larger Project Outreach Initiative. We didn’t really know what we were getting into, the friendships that we would develop or the courageous conversations that would be had. What we did know was that we needed guidance and resources for examining our summer institute selection practices and the continuity programming at MWP.

The June 2010 Recruiting for Diversity Conference proved to be very helpful in providing a space for thinking critically about our programming in terms of what’s working, what needs further development, and what’s missing completely.

Bisti Inspiration

We entered the June 2010 conversations with a somewhat limited understanding of how “diversity” is recruited and maintained in writing project work.  Through thoughtful conversations with other writing project leaders (a special shout out to the crew from Bisti National Writing Project) and from poignant readings we attained new lenses for looking at our site’s work. The notions of access and relevance deepened our understandings of the structural constraints and habitual practices that often limit the diversity of participation in ways unseen.

Seeing recruitment as merely a single tool to approach diversity, Theresa and I returned to our site leaders determined to pose important questions about the “relevance” of our programming.  In other words, how might we shift the emphasis of our programming so that it becomes relevant to the needs of a more diverse set of teachers with varying  cultural and disciplinary backgrounds?  Furthermore, we were inspired to explore how our programming might also shift to meet the needs of teachers working with diverse learners.

writing our way into answers and more questions

This exploration into the relevance of MWP programming began shortly after our return form the RFD meeting in Minneapolis.  First we met with our site’s core leaders on July 15th for a two and a half hour meeting. In this meeting we did an abbreviated review of the site data research we had done for RFD, which lead to discussion of different things that could be done in the realms of Summer Institute, Continuity, and Inservice.  This leadership meeting was then followed by an Advisory Board Meeting which harnessed the reflective power of the “Four Faces” activity to discuss the many identities of MWP and how these identities may or may not be seen as relevant or accessible to teachers from different disciplines and backgrounds.  These initial meetings allowed for important conversations and questions to be raised.  After meetings with leadership, sharing questions and concerns we made several small changes.  Some of these changes and/or additions are listed below.  Included with them are links to related publicity and documents, which may be useful as resources for other sites.

July 2010 – Our first implementation in regards to relevance and access was to make it more clearly known to incoming TCs that there are various opportunities to stay involved, some of which invovle leadership roles. To do this we created a leadership opportunity survey to give out to 2010 summer institute participants. This form was inspired by the survey created by Thomas Ferrel and Katie Kline of the Greater Kansas City Writing Project. For more ideas about how the summer institute can be used to forge a diversity of leadership and continued involvement read Kline and Ferrel’s short article “Changing the Face of Leadership

Frank Sentwali

October 2010 – In terms of relevant programming, we selected a topic for our annual Fall Workshop that addresses the needs of Diverse Learners. We titled the event “Expanding the Boundaries of Literacy” and invited local experts and artists, including spoken word artist Frank Sentwali to discuss the many faces of literacy. See specific event posting on MWP Website for more information.

October 2010 – To forward the thinking about access, relevance, and diversity, we needed to create a space within MWP of like-minded educators to come together, talk and plan. To do this we re-established the Urban Sites sub network within MWP. This involved making Theresa Behnke the Program Leader for the group.

November 2010 — Theresa and I attended the follow-up workshop in Orlando, FL–a time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished.

January 2011- June 2011 – To keep our newly established Urban Sites group in tact, Theresa Behnke organized a book study group. Teachers involved include TCs who stated an interest in being part of the urban sites and/or diverse learners sub-network.  Also select TCs were invited to participate based on their work with diverse learners. The book selected by the group members was Becoming Otherwise: Enhancing Critical Reading Perspectives by Ruth Vinz et. al. We will select our next book at the final meeting in June.

March 2011 – Efforts toward relevant programming continued through providing a winter workshop that addressed the needs of diverse learners. This workshop was offered within a series of four workshops done in partnership with the MN Department of Education. All of the workshops focused on implementation of the newly revised MN 2010 English Language Arts Standards. (See specific event posting or visit MWP News & Events page on Website)

Fall  2010 – We redesigned our brochure for the 2011 Summer Institute. Revisions included changes in images to reflect a more diverse participant population, including men who have been very strong leaders in our site yet are not always visible. Also we made significant changes in the language we used to describe the activities and goals of the institute (see excerpt).  These changes were done to be more inclusive to teachers who may not see themselves as writers per se  and to welcome teachers from disciplines other than English Language Arts. The complete revised brochure can be downloaded at the bottom of  the MWP Summer Institute Page.

April 2011 — Theresa attends the Urban Sites Conference in Boston, MA — a much needed time for intellectual rejuvenation and inspiration.

Working Through Challenges

While we definitely have run into challenges in our efforts to bring access, relevance, and diversity to our site, especially given the national funding crisis of recent, I still believe that transformations can occur. While these changes may be occurring primarily at the level of publicity documents, they have opened up avenues of discussion that were not present beforehand.  These avenues are becoming more established in our larger leadership conversations, making more space in our mind to examine our existing habits and imagine new ways of doing things.

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