The Pandemic has led many families to homeschooling, and WITS Houston has created Quick WITS as a free resource for students in grades K-5. Let Writers in the Schools help you with the writing portion of the school day. These 8-15 minute videos make writing fun and easy for children. Led by incredible teachers such as Jasminne Mendez, Dr. Kathryn Peterson, and Elizabeth Keel, these lessons will make you fall in love with writing.
Marv Hoffman, the founder of WITS Houston and former director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative, has started a blog about his lifelong passion/career in education. You can follow him at http://marvhoffman.com/.
Hoffman is the author of numerous books, including Chasing Hellhounds: A Teacher Learns from his Students (Milkweed 1996) and “You Won’t Remember Me”: The Schoolboys of Barbiana Speak to Today (Teachers College Press, 2007). Having spent many years in the education field, Hoffman’s blog, so far at least, tends to glance backwards, but not in a typical or self-congratulatory way. One essay, The Decline of Daring, also appearing in Teachers and Writers Magazine, begins,
Wisdom is an automatic by-product of age. At least that’s what most people believe, but my experience suggests otherwise.
It is with humor, humility, and love that Hoffman shares his experiences and observations. His blog is a welcome addition to the Internet of ideas.
For 55 years, WITS Alliance Member Program California Poets in the Schools has brought the powerful magic of poetry creation and performance to over one million students. Our work is more important than ever! Studies show that student involvement in the arts is linked to higher academic performance, increased standardized test scores, greater involvement in community service and lower dropout rates. Creativity is the #1 desired skill in today’s job market. Poetry instruction builds empathy and a sense of belonging in the classroom setting. Poetry and the arts can be a powerful, healing tool for schools and communities recovering from natural disasters and other traumas such as gun violence.
California Poets in the Schools will offer a weekend conference is open to the public and geared towards literary teaching artists, literary arts organizational staff, classroom educators, poets, MFA candidates and more. Content will be engaging for those brand new to teaching the literary arts and to “old hats.” Juan Felipe Herrera will be the special guest!
At this Symposium, workshops will be geared towards the theme of Creativity for Change. How can poetry in the classroom be a transformational tool for positive change? How can our lesson plans respond swiftly with resilience and flexibility to the most pressing issues of our time? How do we need to change and grow ourselves in order to best serve our communities? We will learn from experts in our midst and pool our best practices for a weekend of learning, networking, community-building, poetry readings and some good old-fashioned fun.
Click to learn more and to register: https://www.californiapoets.org/events/creativity-for-change-calpoets-2019-statewide-symposium-with-juan-felipe-herrera
49 Mission Vineyard Rd, 49 Mission Vineyard Rd, San Juan Bautista, CA 95045, USA
Aug 02, 2:00 PM – Aug 04, 12:00 PM
Check out this essay by Peter Markus, THROUGH THE EYE OF A FEATHER: HELPING STUDENTS SLOW DOWN, PAY ATTENTION, AND SEE ANEW, published in Teachers & Writers Magazine.
The essay provides a procedural teaching methodology by one of the great WITS masters. Pete works with InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit, and his most recent book is Inside My Pencil: Teaching Poetry in Detroit Public Schools (Dzanc, 2017). Here is one student poem that came out of this lesson.
Through the Eye of the Feather
I can see my dead uncle.
I can hear a pencil writing.
I believe I will heal and walk.
I can touch my future self.
When the feather speaks it says
get out of bed.
When the feather sings it brings
joy into my life.
On August 24th, InsideOut Literary Arts Project will honor founder Terry Blackhawk for her visionary work in Detroit Public Schools. This fundraising event, Share the Light, will support education programs serving thousands of inner city students. The gala will take place at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, a masterpiece of world-renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. The evening will feature live performances by InsideOut students and alum. Supporters can attend the event and/or purchase pages in a tribute book to honor Dr. Blackhawk. For more information, click here.
The University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Writing the Community program recently hosted National Book Critics Circle Award Winner Ross Gay at Borton Magnet School. Read more about this interdisciplinary project, which combines poetry, gardening, food, and political advocacy, here.
This weekend WITS and Meta-four Houston held a free youth slam workshop with Danez Smith at The Pilot on Navigation. Post-rain, students poured into The Pilot’s theater space to hear what Danez would say about the craft of performance poetry. Even WITS writers and educators came out to the event to see what they could……
Peter Markus, senior writer with WITS Alliance member organization, InsideOut Literary Arts Project of Detroit, has a featured lesson plan in this month’s Teachers & Writers Magazine.
Markus (aka Mr. Pete) engages his students in conversation and asks the class to rethink what they know about the moon. Together they dig into their imaginations and create metaphors for the moon. “What I love about bringing the moon into the classroom is that it’s a universal object. A little girl in Manhattan—Kansas or New York—or an old man in Kenya, a mother in Missoula, each of these people has equal access to a shared sky, a sky that has up in it a communal light—a light that is sometimes a circle cut in half, a light that is at other times a hammock hung between stars—a light, in short, that all eyes can see in new, never-before ways.”
AWP 2017 Schedule
Wednesday, February 8
AWP 50th Anniversary Gala
Independence Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis
Thursday, February 9
Dr. STE(A)M-Love, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Technology
Room 102B, Washington Convention Center, Level One
Moderator: Jack McBride
Panelists: Rick Brennan, Elyse Eidman-Aadah, Virginia McErneny, Amy Swauger,
As digital technology becomes a given in classrooms of every discipline, educators are experimenting with a wide range of approaches to teaching. These national experts will share their successes and failures in the realm of education 2.0. Examples will include game-based learning, connected classrooms, and digital media production. Panelists will consider the ways in which technology can enhance or detract from student learning in the current STE(A)M environment.
Who Runs the World? Women with Power and Purpose
Marquis Salon 9 & 10, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
Moderator: Meggie Monahan
Panelists: Jen Benka, Mahogony L. Browne, Amy King, Lori Pourier
Despite longstanding inequity and gender gaps, women are succeeding as nonprofit literary leaders. Panelists will share the political and theoretical stories that propel them with purpose, as well as the personal journey toward their visions. Additionally, they will provide insight on how women can attain leadership roles, find and become mentors, and be successful agents of change.
Friday, February 10
Poetry as Public Art in Public Spaces
Room 102A, Washington Convention Center, Level One
Moderator: Tina Cane
Panelists: Kate Brennan, David Hassler, Alice Quinn, Steve Young
In cities across America, public places are becoming the canvas for poets, transforming American cities and communities. With words adorning sidewalks, walls, banners, trains, and trees, poetry ignites moments of joy and cross-cultural connections between people. Panelists will discuss innovative ways to make poetry more accessible and how to foster literary destinations. Examples will range from the commercial to the monumental.
From Margin to Center: Developing Diverse Leaders
Salon F, Washington Convention Center, Level One
Moderator: Michele Kotler
Panelists: Lauren Bullock, James Kass, Ramiza Koya, Brandie MacDonald
Most organizations and university departments seek a more diverse faculty and staff, but the path to diversity goes far beyond placing a classified ad. Despite challenges in creating meaningful change, how can we build opportunities and systems that fuel those most often marginalized? Panelists will discuss how their organizations are investing in leadership development models that nurture a new generation of diverse leaders.
Saturday, February 11
The Resuscitation of Childhood: A WITS Reading
Room 203AB, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Moderator: Renee Watson
Panelists: Peter Mountford, Glenn Shaheen, Nina Swamidoss McConigley
For many writers, childhood is an invention, an imaginative construction of the past. For writers who teach in Writers in the Schools programs, the students remind us on a daily basis what childhood truly entails. Students and writers inspire one another in a symbiotic style. This panel celebrates childhood and the ways in which teaching young children can enhance your writing. Four writers who have taught in WITS programs share work by a student and then read some of their own.
From MFA to JOB: Making a Living, Making a Difference
Room 202A, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Moderator: Alicia Craven
Panelists: Stephanie Brown, Edward Nawotka, Mohamed Sheriff, Amy Storrow
While tenure-track teaching, publishing, and authorship are often the dream of MFA candidates, the competition for jobs and literary achievements have become increasingly competitive. The creative and nonprofit sectors hold alternative employment possibilities that utilize the craft of writing while making a real difference for communities. This panel ignites the imagination around the journey to meaningful careers that allow MFA graduates to work within a community of writers and artists, cultivate and curate artistic experiences and opportunities, and make a decent living.
If you want to learn all about Writers in the Schools (WITS) opportunities across the US and abroad, please join us at the annual #AWP14, the Conference. This year it will take place in Seattle starting Feb. 26, 2014. Here is a listing of our panels, meetings, and receptions.
Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance
2014 AWP Conference Schedule
Visit us at Booth #200 in the Bookfair
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
W103. WITS Membership Meeting
Room 2A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2
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, February 27, 2014
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
Being Juvenile is a Good Thing: A Reading of Old Writers Inspired by Young Writers
Room 304, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3
Featuring Rebecca Hoogs, Terry Blackhawk, Garth Stein, Nick Flynn, Dorothea Lasky
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
From Page to Stage, Performance Poetry and the WITS Process of Teaching and Learning
Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
Featuring Mary Rechner, Desmond Spann, Aricka Foreman, Monica Prince, Janet Hurley
7 pm to 8:15 pm
Writers in the Schools Reception
Greenwood Room, Sheaton Seattle
Friday, February 28, 2014
9:00 am to 10:15 am
Preparing for Exuberant Life Beyond the MFA
Room 602/603, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Featuring Michele Kotler, Lauren Berry, Peter Hyland, Jason Whitmarsh, Elizabeth Wales
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
F235. Storytelling for a Cause
Cedar Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
Featuring Kate Brennan, Karen Lewis, Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Philip Shaw, Robin
Saturday, March 1, 2014
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Creativity and the Future of K-12 Education
Room 609, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Starring Jack McBride, Cecily Sailer, Harold Terezón, Tina Cane, Sheila Black
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
Rivers and Tides: Balancing Leadership with the Writing Life
Room 615/616/617, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Jeanine Walker, Jennifer Benka, David Hassler, Stephen Young
For more detailed information about each of these panel discussions, click here.
Forthcoming from Bloomsbury in January 2014, Terry Ann Thaxton’s book Creative Writing in the Community makes a powerful statement in favor of the expansion of Writers-in-Schools programs. Here’s some of the buzz surrounding the new book:
“Terry Ann Thaxton’s thorough and thoughtful guide to community-based creative writing programs mixes inspiring stories with concrete strategies to turn inspiration into action. The voices gathered in Creative Writing in the Community make the strongest possible case for the value of the literary arts and convey the joy of helping students
find their voices as writers, whether those students are seven or seventy years old.” – Amy Swauger, Director, Teachers & Writers Collaborative
“Creative Writing in the Community is a unique, comprehensive guidebook – an indispensable, whole-hearted resource both for aspiring writing teachers and practicing writers who, like the author, believe that the union of creative writing and service based learning can build confidence and generate, in learners from all walks of life, a sense of hope, possibility, and purpose.” – Michael Steinberg, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University and co-author (with Robert Root Jr) of Those Who Do, Can; Teachers Writing, Writers Teaching (1996)
From the publisher: Each chapter is packed with easy-to-use resources including: specific lesson plans; case studies of students working with community groups; lists of suitable writing examples; “how to…” sections; examples and theoretical applications of creative writing pedagogy and techniques; reflection questions; writings by workshop participants. Enhanced by contributions from directors, students and teachers at successful public programs, Creative Writing in the Community is more than an essential guide for students on creative writing courses and leaders of community-based learning programs; it is practical demonstration of the value of art in society.
Terry Ann Thaxton is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Central Florida and the founder of Literary Arts Partnerships. Other directors and leaders of WITS Alliance programs who authored chapters are Terry Blackhawk, Allen Gee, David Hassler, and Robin Reagler. To pre-order the book, click here. It will be officially released in January 2014.