Upcoming Presentation: Argument in the Real World

turner-and-hicks-argument-presentation-finalPlease join us for a free professional development event on Thursday, September 29, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, in 314 Anspach Hall as Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner and Dr. Troy Hicks present “Argument in the Real World.” (Flyer PDF)

This presentation is co-sponsored by the NCTE@CMU, the Chippewa River Writing Project, & Teacher Education and Professional Development.

Pizza and snacks will be served. This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs appreciated, but not required: http://bit.ly/CRWP-NCTE

Dinner and Dialogue Returns!

Erin Busch-Grabmeyer (right) consults with fellow teacher participant Rose Daum during the 2010 CRWP Summer Institute
Join us for Dinner and Dialogue on February 23, 2015!

Between 2005-2012, we held a couple of Dinner and Dialogue gatherings each semester in order to facilitate communication and conversation between the secondary and post-secondary English teachers.

The events were organized and paid for by Central Michigan University, Mid Michigan Community College, and the Clare-Gladwin Regional School District. High school teachers from over a dozen schools in our area participated, as well as many college and university faculty. So, we want to start the conversation again, and we now have a new partner: Saginaw Valley State University. And, while the focus is on teaching writing in high school and college, all are welcome to attend.

Please join us for the renewal of the Dinner and Dialogue series including — a pizza dinner, some door prizes, and a presentation from Marcy Taylor and Elizabeth Brockman of CMU: ““What Do Professors Really Say about College Writing?” — on Monday, Feb. 23 from 5:00-6:30 in Mt. Pleasant. Details are in this Dinner and Dialogue Flyer Final (Feb 2015).

In short, the events are free to you and your colleagues, so please share this message widely!

Also, if you could, we are trying to get a rough estimate on the count for food and door prizes. If you could fill out this quick survey, it won’t commit you to attending, but will help us with planning. Even if you can’t come, please fill out the survey so we can be in touch.

Thanks in advance for sharing the news and planning to join us in two weeks!

Lucia Elden, Mid-Michigan Community College
Troy Hicks, Central Michigan University
Sherrin Frances, Saginaw Valley State University

A Reflection on Our First Annual Winter Writing Retreat

Jeremy Hyler, Penny Lew, Kathy Kurtze, and Troy Hicks work on a piece of writing at the 2013 CRWP Writing Retreat.
Jeremy Hyler, Penny Lew, Kathy Kurtze, and Troy Hicks work on a piece of writing at the 2013 CRWP Writing Retreat.

As spring comes to Michigan, we reflect on one particularly enjoyable weekend this past February. The East Bay Lodge in Prudenville, Michigan, on the expansive (and frozen) Houghton Lake was the site of our first annual winter retreat for teacher consultants from CRWP.  Eight members of the CRWP met for a three-day experience centered around fostering friendships and collegial discussions, and writing for both personal and professional purposes.

Friday night was time for reconnecting as friends.  As we visited and caught up on each other’s lives, both in the classroom and beyond, we found time to listen and laugh.  A  rousing game of WRITE-O (Kathy’s version of BINGO) led to personal writings that exposed facets of our private lives previously not revealed.  As we retired to our rooms, we took with us a new appreciation for each other.

Saturday started with continental breakfast around the fire, and a brainstorming of what we hoped to accomplish throughout the day.  Ideas were generated, shared via Google Docs, and to work we went! Some sat near the roaring fire, others tucked themselves into the cushiony chairs, and a few retired to the quiet of their rooms.  When pangs of hunger called, we reconvened for lunch and a read-around.  With finger snapping we applauded each other’s writing, offering compliments and suggestions.  Then, we were off to our respective areas to make changes and begin new projects.

Hours later, we drew together again, stirring the log fire to add warmth to the room, and then filling our talk with more ideas.  We generated a plan for Fall offerings, hoping to organize a session of one-credit classes that included a flexible venue and webinar offerings.  We pulled out calendars, sketched a plan, and dreamt up a series of sessions that could be offered and easily be repeated.  By dinner time, we were zealously preparing for a season of educational possibilities. Revived by dinner and conversation about everything but writing, we returned to our pre-dinner tasks with renewed vigor. Our mission: to design a brochure to advertise and promote our plan!

Once that was accomplished, we jumped into Google+ and set up a community, even hosting our first hangout! The objective is to meet each other in a digital space on a regular basis, hoping to keep connections alive throughout the year.  We designated the first Monday of the month as our day to meet, and agreed to a rotating list of topics.  Some may be to share strategies, others to talk about a book, and less formal ones to simply visit.  It will be kind of like any casual get-together—members reconnect, reinvigorate, renew our zest for what we do.  While we missed Tip-Up-Town, Houghton Lake treated us well and we look forward to continuing this tradition in years to come!

CRWP Teacher Explores Multigenre/Multimedia Writing

Digital Is Screenshot
CRWP Teacher Consultant Jeremy Hyler has created a resource on multimedia/multigenre writing for the NWP's "Digital Is" website.

Writing with cell phones and computers.

Writing about bodily functions and war.

Writing multigenre digital media projects.

This is how Fulton Middle School language arts teacher Jeremy Hyler gets 7th and 8th grade boys to enjoy reading and writing in his classroom.

According to Hyler, successfully motivating boys to write means giving them plenty of choices.

“Young adolescent boys are not given enough choices when it comes to reading and writing. I allow my boy students to write about murder, burping, farting, war, etc. I also give them different media to express their ideas, too, such as Wikispaces, Google Docs, Edmodo, Cel.ly, Glogster, AnimotoToondoo and other 21st century tools” explains Hyler.

“If you don’t allow them to use technology, you will lose boys rather quickly. There are few adolescent boys who actually want to put a pencil in their hand and write on a piece of paper.”

Hyler describes reading as an important companion to writing, especially for boys, and allows his students ample opportunities to read and write about activities they are interested in.

To increase motivation, Hyler also focuses on his students’ writing as a whole, rather than just in terms of structure or surface errors. “I really focus on the positives in their writing to make them confident,” he says.

He also gives students plenty of opportunity to write every day using technology as way to further student engagement in more traditional literacy practices. For example, Hyler’s students use Glogster to create multimedia posters based on themes and characters from novels. They log in to Celly and Google Docs to create daily journal entries, store writing portfolios, and draft essays for peer and teacher review. Students complete multigenre research projects on topics of their choice using a wide range of technological tools. This year Hyler is adding two new technology tools to his students’ digital literacy repertoire: Animoto for digital storytelling and Edmodo for discussion posts.

But technology should not be used for its own sake, notes Hyler: “First and foremost, my students write every day in my classroom, and I write with them. I journal with my students and share with them what my mental process is as I write. They need to see how my writing process works as a model.”

For teachers who would like to learn more about using digital technology in their classrooms, Hyler suggests the National Writing Project’s web source Digital Is. The site contains collections of digital resources, created and posted by teachers, which can be adapted for classroom use, including Hyler’s own resource site on using multimedia and multigenre writing.

“As educators, we need to be open to different types of writing and be willing to call text messages, Facebook comments, tweets, blogs and comic strips writing,” says Hyler, who is currently writing his own adolescent fiction novel.

For teachers interested in learning more about how to motivate reluctant writers, Hyler suggests Ralph Fletcher’s book Boy Writer: Reclaiming Their Voices. This year, Hyler is forming a lunchtime writing club for boys, which he hopes will motivate more of his students to enjoy writing.

“Boys, in general, aren’t always comfortable sharing their writing with their classmates,” he explains.

“Bottom line—it is about giving the boys choices, and making them feel comfortable and confident in their writing.”

You can follow Jeremy’s blog, Jeremy Hyler 40, and his tweets @Jeremybballer

This article was authored by Karen Horwath.