WITS at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago

The Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance will present a series of panels, meetings, and events at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago. Here is a schedule of all the WITS happenings. Please join us!

 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Membership Meeting

Writers in the Schools Alliance, Robin Reagler

Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance invites current and prospective members to attend a general meeting led by Robin Reagler, Executive Director of WITS-Houston.

Wednesday, February 29

4:30 PM to 5:45 PM

Joliet, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor

 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Celebration in Any Language: Teaching Bilingual Students  
Jack McBride, Alise Alousi, Merna Ann Hecht, Milta Ortiz, Cara Zimmer
As student populations become increasingly diverse, most writing teachers work with bilingual students. We face specific challenges in creating an inclusive classroom community but ultimately celebrate linguistic difference through powerful writing and creativity. Panelists will discuss strategies for reaching all students, the challenges in navigating multiple languages in one classroom, and successes in creating a safe place for students to tell their own individual stories.

Thursday, March 1

9:00 AM to 10:15 AM

Location: Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor

 

What You Need to Know Before You “Stand and Deliver”: K-12 Teaching 101

Rebecca Hoogs, Cecilia Pinto, Valerie Wayson, David Hassler, Cecily Sailer
Standing in front of a classroom and delivering inspiring and effective lessons doesn’t just happen. And just because you’re a great writer doesn’t mean you’re ready to be a great teaching artist in a K-12 classroom. But this panel will help you understand the path to becoming the teacher you want to be, that your teachers expect you to be, and that your students deserve. We’ll share tips and tricks of the trade and offer concrete advice for how to get the experience you need to succeed.

Thursday, March 1

3:00 PM to 4:15 PM

Location: Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level

WITS Alliance Reception

 Thursday, March 1

 7:00 PM to 8:15 PM

Location: Hilton Chicago Hotel, Astoria, Hilton Chicago

 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Finding a Common Language in the Public Schools
Long Chu, Renée Watson, Giuseppe Taurino, Keith Yost
WITS organizations have deep artistic roots, and may approach the teaching of creative writing in ways public school administrators and teachers misunderstand or find irrelevant to their concerns. How do we make the case for WITS programs as valuable partners in meeting schools’ goals for student learning, but still remain true to our artistic identity? This panel of school administrators and WITS leaders share real world ideas to strengthen outreach to school partners.

Friday, March 2

1:30-2:45 PM

Location: Private Dining Room 1, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor

The Wired Writing Classroom: The Marriage of Technology and Teaching

Cecily Sailer, Jeanine Walker, Janet Hurley, Jim Walker, Bertha Rogers
With an endless supply of evolving technology, how can educators capitalize on innovative web platforms and social media to augment classroom teaching, inspire students, and showcase their work? In this panel, several administrators from writers-in-the-schools organizations share multi-media projects that marry technology and traditional teaching methods. These stories of “teachnology” touch upon best practices while considering questions of safety and authenticity.

Friday, March 2

3:00-4:15

Location: Lake Huron Room, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor

 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Low Res, Full Res, No Res: The Poet and the Terminal Degree
Christopher Salerno, Amy Gerstler, Bob Hicock, Timothy Liu, Robin Reagler
This panel will address what about the different MFA/CW program models is transcendent, what is common, and what is hindrance. We’ll discuss ways poets use, ignore, dismiss, or are damaged by aspects of each. What intersections are there amongst the MFA options? How does one take ownership of their track? Is an MFA necessary? Panelists will discuss why they did (or did not) pursue their particular terminal degree, and how those experiences inform their teaching practices in these programs now.

Saturday, March 3

10:30 AM to 11:45 AM

Location: Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor

 

Marketing the Literary, or Putting some Poetry into your PR
Robin Reagler, Alison Granucci, Tree Swenson, Kristine Uyeda
For many writers, the business of promoting literature does not come naturally. Many literary organizations are led by writers for whom marketing is unfamiliar terrain. But some programs are finding surprising ways to connect with a larger public through low-cost campaigns to promote individual writers, literary arts education programs, memberships, and donations.

Saturday, March 3

1:30 PM to 2:45 PM

Location: Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor

 

Saturday, March 3, 2012 (cont.)

Crisis Economics for Nonprofits
Amy Swauger, Rebecca Hoogs, Michele Kotler, Melanie Moore
How are some nonprofits thriving in the current economy while others struggle to keep the doors open from one day to the next? The panelists in this session, who represent presenting organizations, literary publishers, and writers-in-the-schools programs, discuss their strategies for weathering the financial storm by identifying different sources of funding, collaborating with other nonprofits and for-profit partners, and finding ways to maintain programs and services while cutting costs.

Saturday, March 3

3:00 – 4:15 PM

Location: Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor

Sheryl Noethe Named the New Poet Laureate of Montana

Founder and Artistic Director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative, Sheryl Noethe, was named the Poet Laureate for the state of Montana. The Missoula Writing Collaborative is a member of the WITS Alliance.  Governor Brian Schweitzer wrote about Sheryl in his appointment letter:

I was particularly struck by your statement, “a few words from an adult can shape a child’s idea of who they are and who they can become.” Your commitment to teaching children that they “have the ability to find their own literary voice” is evidenced in your outstanding work in Montana schools.

For more information about Sheryl and the Missioula Writing Collaborative, click here. Sheryl’s two-year term begins in August 2011.

Detroit Poets from InsideOut Find Brave New Voices

InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit has a lot to be proud of. This week they welcome back from San Francisco six student poets, where their team placed fourth at Brave New Voices, the national youth slam competition.

“This is not just a slam. These are words for a better tomorrow,” slam team member Justin Rogers proclaimed.   The WITS Alliance congratulates Justin Rogers, Devin Magee, Joseph Verge, Ariana Washington, Breeana Blackmon and Andrew Barnhill. You guys give us hope!

The Bronx Students Who Heard the Sound

Community Word Mural by 7th graders at PS/MS 279, Bronx

Each Writers in the Schools (WITS) program is unique. Community Word Project  in New York City is a great example. All of the WITS programs do culminating events to celebrate what students have learned over the past year. Community Word is the only group to transalate the groups writing into art. Here is one example of a community mural. It was written and created by 7th grade students at PS/MS 279 in the Bronx. Community Word is led by the Founding Director, Michele Kotler.

Our Difficult Sunlight

Georgia Popoff, an independent teaching artist in central New York, has something to celebrate, a new publication. Her book, Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community, written in collaboration with Quraysh Ali Lansana, has just been released.  Georgia was a panelist in one of the WITS Alliance panels at the 2011 AWP Conference in Washington DC last week. You can read more about the book publication and launch schedule here.

The Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance Schedule – AWP 2011

  • Booth #307 in the Bookfair
  • Witsalliance.org on the web

Wednesday

4:30 – 5:45 PM
WITS Membership Meeting.
Thurgood Marshall West Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

Thursday

9:00 – 10:15 AM
Panel: Realities of the Classroom—Personalities and Boundaries
Executive Room, Omni Shoreham Hotel, West Lobby

3:00 – 4:15 PM
Panel: A Classroom as Big as the World.

Virginia A Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

4:30 – 5:45 PM
Reading: Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings

Delaware Suite Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

7:00 – 8:15 PM WITS Alliance Reception
Maryland C, Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

Friday

4:30 – 5:45 PM
Panel:  Poetry and Partnerships: The Critical Elements for Writers-in-the-Schools Programs

Thurgood Marshall East Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

Saturday

9:00 – 10:15 AM
Panel: Paths of Passion: WITS Links to University Teaching and Writing Careers
Virginia B Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

10:30 -11:45 AM
Panel: Camps: Artful Paths for Summer Income
Thurgood Marshall East Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

1:30 – 2:45 PM
Panel: We Were All Poets in the 3rd Grade: What Happened?
Virginia C Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

WITS Alliance Schedule at AWP 2011

The WITS Alliance will be a literary co-sponsor of the AWP Conference 2011 in Washington, D.C. again this year. The dates are Feb. 2 – 5. For anyone interested in starting, joining, or learning more about the Writers in the Schools (WITS) movement, please join us for the following activities.

Wednesday, Feb. 2

12:00 – 5:00 PM
Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level
Bookfair setup
Booth #307

4:30 – 5:45 PM
Thurgood Marshall West Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

W103. WITS Membership Meeting. (Robin Reagler) Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance invites current and prospective members to attend a general meeting led by Robin Reagler, Executive Director of WITS-Houston.

Thursday

9:00 – 10:15 AM
Executive Room
Omni Shoreham Hotel, West Lobby

R119. Realities of the Classroom—Personalities and Boundaries [WITS Alliance]. (Michele Kotler, Giuseppe Taurino, Eli Hastings, Sherina Sharpe, Renée Watson) The classroom in the movies is not the classroom we walk into. How do we shape who we are as teaching artists? How do we create constructive boundaries with our students? How do we navigate gender, race, class, and age with the students we teach? How do we prepare ourselves for this work? How can we respect classroom legalities and our students’ rights? This panel will address the above in an active discussion about the sensitivity and toughness needed to be a successful writer in the school.

3:00 – 4:15 PM
Virginia A Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

R199. [WITS Alliance] A Classroom as Big as the World. (Jane Creighton, Georgia A. Popoff, Loyal Miles, Jim Walker, Nicole Robinson) The New York City sidewalks of Frank O’Hara. The Idaho wilderness. A soul food restaurant in Indianapolis. Forget four walls; the most exciting writing in K-12 education is happening beyond the chalkboard. Writers and administrators from programs that teach writing to young people will talk about their experiences getting kids out of the box of the classroom to get out of the box with their writing.

4:30 – 5:45 PM (Related Event)
Delaware Suite Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

R211. Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings Dramatic Reading. (David Hassler, Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, Long Chu, Bruce Weigl, Alberto Ríos)Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings features original poems written by American children, veterans, and established poets in response to Vietnamese children’s paintings on peace and war collected by the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Created by Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center & School of Art Galleries, with Soldier’s Heart, this exhibit and dramatic reading offers a timely testament to the emotional truth of war and peace. Readers range from award-winning poets to elementary-age children, presenting a readers’ theatre-style performance. To learn more about this project, visit http://www.speakpeace.net.

7:00 – 8:15 PM
Maryland C
Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

A Reception Hosted by Writers in the Schools (WITS). Join Writers in the Schools (WITS) for a Reception.

Friday

4:30 – 5:45 PM
Thurgood Marshall East Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

F215. [WITS Alliance] Poetry and Partnerships: The Critical Elements for Writers-in-the-Schools Programs. (Melanie Moore, Alise Alousi, Loyal Miles, Robin Reagler, Nancy Daugherty, Rebecca Powers) The partnership between working writers and classroom teachers is at the heart of writers-in-the-schools programs, but it’s only one of the critical partnerships required to make a program happen. Panelists from three organizations that have WITS programs will offer insights into the other critical partnerships that enable effective writing initiatives to thrive in schools, including relationships with board members, funders, and key decision-makers for school districts.

Saturday

9:00 – 10:15 AM
Virginia B Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

S114. (WITS ALLIANCE) Paths of Passion: WITS Links to University Teaching and Writing Careers. (Laura Long, Tiphanie Yanique, Cody Walker, Keya Mitra, Robert Fanning, Robin Davidson) A legacy is emerging as WITS teachers develop college-level teaching and writing careers. How does WITS experience help writers get jobs as professors, and then shape that teaching? How does it nurture one’s own writing? How does the WITS commitment to underserved students change the teacher, so art profoundly connects to pleasure, gift exchange, and political activism? The panelists are professors who have taught in diverse settings and write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation.

10:30 -11:45 AM
Thurgood Marshall East Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

S130. [WITS Alliance] Camps: Artful Paths for Summer Income. (Long Chu, Cecily Sailer, Megan McNamer, Janet Hurley) Writing outside the classroom takes us several easy steps toward helping students experience writing as fun, while also anchoring good writing habits during time off from school, and making parents happy. This heady cocktail can allow these tuition-based camps to more than pay their own way, by introducing a writing project and its creative programming in your area that can provide work for writers, and perhaps help launch a writers-in-the-schools program.

1:30 – 2:45 PM
Virginia C Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

S180. [WITS Alliance]—We Were All Poets in the 3rd Grade: What Happened? (Jack McBride, Janine Joseph, Mary Rechner, Giuseppe Taurino, Jeanine Walker) WITS Writers will discuss their paths as writers and teachers, from when they fell in love with writing, how they were discouraged or made to feel anxious about the process, and how they subsequently came back to it. Investigating why K-12 students go from a willingness to engage creative writing (and all it entails: vulnerability, creativity, risk) to being afraid or indifferent, panelists will explore best teaching practices for re-engaging students and collaborating with classroom teachers.

WITS Alliance to Present at the 2011 AWP Conference

Again this year the WITS Alliance is proud to be a Literary Sponsor of the AWP Conference 2011 in Washington DC. If you are interested in starting or developing a Writers in the Schools program, WITS will be offering four days worth of activities to both assist and inspire you. We hope you will join us in DC. Here are the panel discussions. A complete schedule will be posted in the upcoming weeks.

Poetry and Partnerships: The Critical Elements for Writers-in-the-Schools Programs
Melanie Moore, Alise Alousi, Loyal Miles, Robin Reagler
The partnership between working writers and classroom teachers is at the heart of writers-in-the-schools programs, but it’s only one of the critical partnerships required to make a program happen. Panelists from three organizations that have WITS programs will offer insights into the other critical partnerships that enable effective writing initiatives to thrive in schools, including relationships with board members, with funders, and with key decision-makers for school districts.

We Were All Poets in the 3rd Grade: What Happened?
Jane Creighton, Jack McBride, Janine Joseph,  Mary Rechner, Giuseppe Taurino, Jeanine Walker
WITS Writers will discuss their paths as writers and teachers, from when they fell in love with writing, how they were discouraged or made to feel anxious about the process, and how they subsequently came back to it. Investigating why K-12 students go from a willingness to engage creative writing (and all it entails: vulnerability, creativity, risk) to being afraid or indifferent, panelists will explore best teaching practices for re-engaging students and collaborating with classroom teachers.

A Classroom as Big as the World
Georgia Popoff, David Hassler, Loyal Miles, Renee Simms, Jim Walker
The New York City sidewalks of Frank O’Hara. The Idaho wilderness. A soul food restaurant in Indianapolis. Forget four walls; the most exciting writing in K-12 education is happening beyond the chalkboard. Writers and administrators from programs that teach writing to young people will talk about their experiences getting kids out of the box of the classroom to get out of the box with their writing.

Camps: Artful Paths for Summer Income
Long Chu, Cecily Sailer, Megan McNamer, Janet Hurley
Writing outside the classroom takes us several easy steps toward helping students experience writing as fun, while anchoring good writing habits during time off from school and making parents very happy. This heady cocktail can allow these tuition-based camps to more than pay their own way, introducing a writing project and its creative programming in your area that can provide work for writers, and perhaps help launch a writers in the schools program.

Paths of Passion: WITS Links to University Teaching and Writing Careers
Laura Long, Tiphanie Yanique, Cody Walker, Keya Mitra, Robert Fanning, Robin Davidson
A legacy is emerging as WITS teachers develop college-level teaching and writing careers. How does WITS experience help writers get jobs as professors, and then shape that teaching? How does it nurture one’s own writing? How does the WITS commitment to underserved students change the teacher, so art profoundly connects to pleasure, gift exchange, and political activism? The panelists are professors who have taught in diverse settings and write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translation.

Realities of the Classroom – Personalities and Boundaries
Michele Kotler, Giuseppe Taurino, Eli Hastings, Sherina Sharpe
The classroom in the movies is not the classroom we walk into. How do we shape who we are as teaching artists? How do create constructive boundaries with our students? How do we navigate gender, race, class and age with the students we teach? How do we prepare ourselves for this work? How can we respect classroom legalities and our students’ rights? This panel will address the above in an active discussion about the sensitivity and toughness needed to be a successful writer in the school.

Way To Go, Austin!

Badgerdog Literary Publishing, the WITS Alliance member organization serving Austin, Texas, is set to launch a new creative writing workshop series for senior citizens in East Austin this spring. This new addition to Badgerdog’s slate of education programs is made possible by a generous grant from A Glimmer of Hope Foundation, Badgerdog’s first funder. Thanks to their support, Badgerdog will serve 50 seniors at two locations in an often under-served area of Austin. All participants will be published in a new anthology—Silver Voices in Ink.

An additional bit of good news: A Glimmer of Hope recently named Badgerdog Executive Director Melanie Moore its 2010 Angel of the Year. A Glimmer of Hope made the announcement with this video that follows Melanie’s story from a career in business to the inception of a literary nonprofit.

The WITS Alliance at AWP 2009 in Chicago: A Report

The WITS Alliance events at AWP:img_0210

WITS Alliance Members Meeting with Robin Reagler

 My Voice, Wide as the Sun: Preparing to Teach Creative Writing in K-12 Classrooms. (Robin Reagler, Ellen Hagan, Beth Divis, Darel Holnes, Avery Young, Rebecca Hoogs, Jack McBride) How do writers prepare to work with under served youth? Five organizations will share how they train MFA students, graduates of MFA programs, and professional writers to enter the K-12 classroom. As MFA graduates and professional writers look to share their love of writing and earn a living, Writers in the Schools work is an important opportunity. The panel will discuss different internships and training seminars for writers to transform their teaching methods to meet the needs of younger writers.

From The Ground Up, Developing A Writers In The Schools Program At Your College. (Allen Gee, David Hassler, Derrick Medina, John Teschner ) On this panel sponsored by the WITS Alliance, faculty and students from Georgia College and Kent State will discuss the pragmatic aspects of developing a Writers in the Schools program. The panel will talk about developing relationships with public schools, finding funding sources, incorporating service learning components, preparing college students as teachers, planning typical program calendars and events, and the many rewards of community outreach for faculty and students.

WITS Alliance Reception with Terry Blackhawk and John Oliver Simonimg_0235

Building Online Literary Communities: An Overview and Case Studies. (Emily Warn, Robin Reagler, Loyal Miles, Giuseppe Taurino) Emerging online technologies, loosely called Web 2.0, provide exciting new avenues to form literary communities and promote literary culture. For writing educators, technology choices—blogs, podcasts, distance learning, forums, YouTube, and Yahoo and Google groups—can sometimes feel overwhelming. This panel presents an overview of technological options as well as tips on where to start. Panelists will then present case studies from three WITSA programs that have used technology to better serve their students, their instructors, and their broader communities.

A Room of One’s Own: Student Writing Centers. (Amy Swauger, Renee Angle, Sherina Sharpe) Sponsored by the WITS Alliance, this session examines efforts to provide a writing community for students. Picture a young writer in a space where an older author is available to talk conversationally about the student’s work, to discuss the work seriously, critically, with both generosity and honesty. Whether based in a school or on a college campus, writing centers provide a place for students who want to write or to know more about writing to be welcomed and understood.img_0218

Writing Helps Kids…But Can You Prove It? (Melanie Moore, Kirk Lynn, Rebecca Hoogs, Mark Creekmore, Caroline Newman) This is part of the Writers in the Schools Alliance strand of panels addressing various aspects of literary arts programming for children. New and experienced program directors, as well as the countless writers who go into schools to work with kids, will learn the good, the bad, and the ugly of proving the effectiveness of literary programs in today’s data-driven world.

Best Practices: Teaching Expressive Writing With Hospital Populations. (Austin Bunn, Long Chu, Paul Sznewajs) This panel brings together representatives from four programs that teach creative writing to hospital patients and those struggling with illness: The Patient Voice Project (Iowa Writers’ Workshop), WITS Houston, and Snow City Arts in Chicago. The aim of the panel is to study and share the practical approaches to launching these programs, the current research on writing and wellness, and the challenges and rewards of teaching hospital populations. Given the multitude of art therapy programs, our specific focus is on the “best practices” for writing projects related to program design and pedagogy. The Patient Voice Project offers free creative writing classes to the chronically ill, taught by MFA graduate students in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. WITS Houston and Snow City Arts provide creative writing classes expressly to young people, as extensions of hospital education programs.