Incorporating Equity into your Syllabus: Session 8 of the 2021-22 CRWP Webinar Series

Incorporating Equity into your Syllabus Cover Slide

In our final webinar for the 2021/2022 school year, CRWP’s own Ana Contreras (@AnaContrerasENG), an English faculty member at Harper College near Chicago, helped us evaluate our syllabi to get us to start thinking a bit about our work next year. Ana’s presentation is broken up into chunks of deep thought and discussion followed by examination of our own syllabi and reflective writing. So, grab a syllabus you are interested in looking at and join us!

Ana began her presentation by sharing an equity tool to evaluate syllabi. She told us that this tool would be much more than what she would be able to go over in the hour webinar, but she then touched on some of the main points and encouraged us to use this tool to continue the work later. Before diving in, Ana asked us to reflect on a prompt: “what does equity mean to you?” She also encouraged us to think about how equity is, has been, or has not been present in our classes. 

After a brief discussion about the ideas we have related to equity, Ana defined what it is. She also showed some examples of syllabus revisions, from a time before she considered an equity lens in her syllabus design to what she has created more recently. 

Then Ana walked us through three big key features that you can start to examine in your syllabus:

  • Course transparency 
  • Welcoming tone
  • Diverse representation 

After guiding us through questions to consider, Ana shared how she has altered and adjusted her syllabi with these three lenses in mind. She also ended her presentation by asking us to do some reflection and make a list of actionable items to help further this work in our classroom and curriculum planning. At the end of her session, Ana shared Harper College’s tool for Applying Equity Matrix (AEMy) to help us with our work.

Ana’s presentation is one worth checking out anytime before you start your next teaching session, and you can find the recording here!

CRWP is also holding an open summer learning institute to help you restore, reconnect, and rejuvenate as a teacher writer. Come learn with us!


The Chippewa River Writing Project is a site of the National Writing Project at Central Michigan University. Currently, our site is supported only through grants and professional development work. Teacher consultants involved in the webinar series are donating their time, talent, and energy to these events.

If you appreciate the ideas that these teacher consultants are sharing, and are willing to support our work, please visit <giving.cmich.edu> and select “Chippewa River Writing Project.” If you are interested in having us work with your school or district, please contact our Director, Dr. Troy Hicks <troy.hicks@cmich.edu>. Find out more about CRWP at <chippewariverwp.org>.

A Poet Rests In Wait: Session 7 of the 2021-22 CRWP Webinar Series

A Poet Rests in Wait Cover Slide

In our April webinar, Andy Schoenborn (@aschoenborn), a high school ELA teacher, the Past President of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English, and the current Vice-President of the Michigan Reading Association discussed some of the incredible ways he teaches poetry in his classes. Andy talks about the importance of helping students find their voices and building the belief that they not only have something to say, but they have the ability and multiple ways to express it. 

Andy started his presentation by showing a portion of Jason Reynold’s poem “For Everyone” and inviting us to write about the prompt “why we write” under the starter “Dear Dreamer.” He then talked about how he makes reading and writing relevant to his students in our exhausted education system, and that they, too, are also tired stragglers just like educators themselves. Inviting us to answer the question about why we write, Andy got several participants to share their reflections on why they work with the words. Andy also shared a student’s poem about why she writes, all to remind us of the power our words have. 

Then, Andy introduced us to a variety of ways you could discuss poetry with students. He believes if we take the time to discuss poetry as multimodal text, students will see it as more accessible and something they can write. Andy shows us how we might go about discussing about some of the multimodal strategies with G.Yamazawa’s spoken word poem “Elementary” as a multimodal text, one that engaged students in an effort to understand the power of words. 

For his final demonstration of how you might use the multimedia approach to writing, Andy had participants write about shoes we remembered owning and wearing. He then showed us a model text that he also shares with students; in it, he turns a paragraph into a poem and offers some strategies we might try with our own students. 

Though Andy didn’t get through all of his presentation slides, he has allowed us to share them because they are stuffed full of poetry activities, poems and many other goodies to use in our own classroom. 

CRWP is also holding two open summer learning institutes. One on digital storytelling and one to help you restore, reconnect, and rejuvenate as a teacher writer. Come learn with us! 

The Chippewa River Writing Project is a site of the National Writing Project at Central Michigan University. Currently, our site is supported only through grants and professional development work. Teacher consultants involved in the webinar series are donating their time, talent, and energy to these events.

If you appreciate the ideas that these teacher consultants are sharing, and are willing to support our work, please visit <giving.cmich.edu> and select “Chippewa River Writing Project.” If you are interested in having us work with your school or district, please contact our Director, Dr. Troy Hicks <troy.hicks@cmich.edu>. Find out more about CRWP at <chippewariverwp.org>.

Equity in the Classroom – Session 5 of the 2021-22 CRWP Webinar Series

Equity in the Classroom: Leaning in to Invitations and Appreciation Cover Slide

In our February webinar, Travis Crowder (@teachermantrav), a middle school ELA teacher in North Carolina, invites us to try to tackle the ever-present issue when students tell us, “I have nothing to write about.” He and his students are currently in the midst of the process described in the webinar, and he is seeing some amazing results.

He began his presentation asking us to consider the question: where does writing come from? This got quite a powerful discussion going and made participants reflect on their own writing process and experiences. He invited us to consider how the ordinary gives our lives — and our writing — meaning. Illustrating this, Travis invited participants to dissect the imagery in some poetry and prose from a variety of sources. He discussed how the ordinary creates a theme and a thread that helps inspire students and enriches their knowledge of who they are as well as giving them inspiration for writing.

Then, Travis walked us through the instructional scaffolding that gets students to think and write about the “ordinary” in our lives in detail, both in their reading experiences and their lives more broadly. He invited participants to write about ordinary things in our lives and discuss what this could do for us as writers and for our students. All participants agreed: this in-depth writing exercise will really bring the joy and the magic of writing back for both you and your students. It will also give you something new and exciting for them to study and discuss in their reading lives as well. As an added benefit, this gives students additional mentor texts for inspiration and a new focus for writing.

Travis’ writing activities will challenge your students, make them better writers, inspire them, and lift them up all at once. You will want to try these techniques out in your own classroom!

Here is the link to Travis’ presentation, materials, and the session recording.


The Chippewa River Writing Project is a site of the National Writing Project at Central Michigan University. Currently, our site is supported only through grants and professional development work. Teacher consultants involved in the webinar series are donating their time, talent, and energy to these events.

If you appreciate the ideas that these teacher consultants are sharing, and are willing to support our work, please visit <giving.cmich.edu> and select “Chippewa River Writing Project.” If you are interested in having us work with your school or district, please contact our Director, Dr. Troy Hicks <troy.hicks@cmich.edu>. Find out more about CRWP at <chippewariverwp.org>.

Restore Your Magic at the Middle of the Year – Session 4 of the 2021-22 CRWP Webinar Series

Restore Your Magic at the Beginning of the Year Banner

To kick off 2022 in our webinar series, Angela Berent (@a_berent), a middle school ELA teacher and TC for CRWP, gave us strategies to bring back the sparkle to our rooms. Angela’s love and passion for teaching, writing, and reading will bring a smile to your face and fill your cup. In addition, she discusses how she revamps her teaching schedule mid year based on revisings her beginning of the year goals and focuses her units for the rest of the year. She discussed the importance of micro progressions and growth for our students.

One of her biggest mantras for her magic is the importance of squeezing all of the juice from each lemon she is given in her classes. Every second counts in her mind. Though that sounds stressful at first, she makes a point to tell us it’s not always how much you do in a day, but what you do with what you do in a day.

For example, Angela talks about the importance of starting every single day in her classroom with a poem. She walked us through how she’s found a poem every single day to be the breath of fresh air in her classroom this year. Angela discussed how she got her students even more involved in reading, annotating, writing in this daily ritual and pause. She also shared a plethora of vocabulary strategies with her “Tuesday Terms” routine that has students using the words we try to get them to learn.

In addition to trying to squeeze all the content she can into her days, she also stresses the importance of finding the fun. She shares the idea that it doesn’t cost her a whole lot and she and her students all gain something. She talks about using oil pastels, first chapters Friday, canva, and medium albums to get the kids to read and write more.

Angela is also a self-published author and stresses being a teacher writer as being an incredible way to restore and keep your magic and passion alive. She shared how gratifying it is to have a place to put your writing and to share it with students and others.

Finally, though writing is incredibly important in Angela’s classroom, reading and self-reflection are other huge pillars in her room. She describes her students’ reading loves, her own, and how those get shaped throughout the year. Finally, Angela’s discussion of self-reflection will resonate with writing teachers but also remind you what is important and how to use it in your classroom to continue to get better, but become comfortable in the journey.

Here is the link to Angela’s presentation and session recording.


The Chippewa River Writing Project is a site of the National Writing Project at Central Michigan University. Currently, our site is supported only through grants and professional development work. Teacher consultants involved in the webinar series are donating their time, talent, and energy to these events.

If you appreciate the ideas that these teacher consultants are sharing, and are willing to support our work, please visit <giving.cmich.edu> and select “Chippewa River Writing Project.” If you are interested in having us work with your school or district, please contact our Director, Dr. Troy Hicks <troy.hicks@cmich.edu>. Find out more about CRWP at <chippewariverwp.org>.