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.
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.”
The WITS Alliance welcomes the very much needed Digital Resource Center to the Internet. It is an online repository of lesson plans designed by writers for teachers and writers. Access to these materials is FREE.
Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York has led this project, raising funds from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the National Endowment for the Arts. Currently the resources made available by the site include materials from the extensive Teachers & Writers archives, several decades of book publications and magazine articles. In the coming year, member organizations of the WITS Alliance will help build the collection by adding their best lessons. According to Amy Swauger, the Executive Director of Teachers & Writers, “The Digital Resource Center grew out of our desire to give new audiences easy access to T&W’s 45 years of print resources. We are delighted to work with our colleagues in the WITS Alliance to add materials from other organizations to this new database, which we believe will be of value to both existing programs and to those just starting to send writers to teach in K-12 schools.”
Key West Literary Seminar has added new lectures to their Audio Archives Project, presenting the finest recordings from acclaimed poets such as Poet Laureate Kay Ryan and past laureates Richard Wilbur, Billy Collins, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove, Charles Simic, Maxine Kumin, and Mark Strand. The archive also houses lectures from historians Eric Foner and David Levering Lewis in addition to readings from Pulitzer Prize novelists Geraldine Brooks, Junot Diaz, and William Kennedy.
The Audio Archives Project is an essential resource for teachers and professors of literature. You can listen to the podcasts online and subscribe to current recordings via iTunes or through RSS feed.
As the new school year looms ahead in the not-so-distant future, it might be a good moment to restock your library of teaching materials. Teachers & Writers Collaborative has published more than 80 books to support WITS teaching. Favorite resources for writers who teach include:
Poetry Everywhere: Teaching Poetry Writing in School and in the Community, by Jack Collom and Sheryl Noethe, contains 60 writing exercises and more than 450 example poems by children, teachers, and poets. It also discusses how to integrate poetry writing into the English class, sound and rhythm, using great poems as models, traditional poetic forms, poetry units, investing and adapting exercises, revision, publishing, and other essential topics.
The Adventures of Dr. Alphabet: 104 Unusual Ways to Write Poetry in the Classroom and in the Community, by Dave Morice, features innovative ideas for engaging students, including poetry mobiles, poetry robots, postage stamp poems, rolodex poems, chopstick quatrains, and other inventive exercises.
Old Faithful: 18 Writers Present Their Favorite Writing Assignments, edited by Christopher Edgar and Ron Padgett. In this book, 18 writers describe their single best writing assignment: the one that never fails to inspire students to write autobiographical pieces, fiction, poetry, and plays.
In addition to books, T&W publishes the quarterly Teachers & Writers magazine, winner of 10 Educational PressAwards for Excellence. The magazine covers contemporary issues and innovations in creative writing education, and engages writers, educators, and students in a conversation on the nature of creativity and the imagination.
To see the full catalog of books offered by T&W, to read a sample article from Teachers & Writers, or to order books or a subscription, go to the T&W website. You can also place orders via phone (toll-free) at 1-888-BOOKS-TW.
Teachers & Writers Collaborative has recently announced two new fellowships for writers, the T & W Fellowships and the Ellen Levine Fund fellowship.
1) Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W) announces the 2009–2010 T&W Fellowships, awarded to support early-career development for two emerging writers. The 2009–2010 Fellowships are made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, following initial support from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund in the New York Community Trust.
Applicants for T&W Fellowships must:
- Be age 35 or younger at the beginning of the Fellowship period
- Live in New York City or be able to plan an extended stay in the area (T&W cannot assist with finding housing for individuals who do not currently live in New York.)
- Show exceptional artistic promise and a commitment to a writing career
- Demonstrate financial need
The 2009–2010 T&W Fellowship period is September 14, 2009, to June 18, 2010. During that time, T&W Fellows will receive:
- A $20,000 stipend and the opportunity to apply for an additional small stipend to support research or travel
- Office space and resources (e.g., computer, supplies) at T&W
- Opportunities to meet with experienced professionals from publishing, literary arts, theater, or other fields related to the Fellow’s work
- Exposure to all aspects of T&W’s work, including writing residencies, publications, and the 2020 Visions reading series
As part of their fellowships, the 2008–2009 T&W Fellows are participating in a pilot two-week residency program at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The opportunity to spend time at Pocantico may be made available to the 2009–2010 Fellows. Visit the Teachers & Writers site for complete guidelines.
2) Later this year, the New York Community Trust will make the second annual award of at least $7,500 to a writer working on a second or third book of fiction or creative, literary nonfiction, who doesn’t yet have a publishing contract for the work. This award is supported by the Ellen Levine Fund for Writers.
Teachers & Writers Collaborative will again serve as a nominator for the award this year. The 2008 award went to a writer whose work T&W submitted: Gabriel Brownstein for his novel in progress titled I Was Here but I Disappeared.
Submissions to be considered for nomination by T&W should include contact information for the author (mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number(s)), an outline of the book, and 50-75 pages of the manuscript. Submissions should be mailed or hand-delivered to:
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
520 Eighth Ave., Ste. 2020
New York, NY 10018
Submissions will not be accepted via e-mail or fax.
The deadline for submitting work to T&W is 5:00 PM (Eastern), Friday, May 15, 2009. T&W will review submissions and select one or two as nominees for the award. The winner of the 2009 award will be notified by the New York Community Trust in late summer/early fall.
Please send questions regarding the 2009 award to aswauger at twc.org, or call 212-691-6590.
What: Rockefeller Foundation Accepting Applications for Bellagio Center Creative Arts Residencies
When: Deadline: February 11, 2009
The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center creative arts residencies are designed to give composers, novelists, playwrights, poets, video/filmmakers, and visual artists time for disciplined work, individual reflection, and collegial engagement free of the usual interruptions of their professional and personal life.
Located on a peninsula adjacent to Lake Como, two hours north of Milan, Italy, the Bellagio Center typically offers one-month stays for no more than three to five creative artists at a time. The foundation seeks applicants from any country in the world who are able to demonstrate a history of significant achievement in their respective artistic disciplines. Individuals from developing countries and young artists with significant accomplishments — exhibitions, publications, performances — are particularly encouraged to apply. Decisions are based on the quality of the proposed project, the ability of the applicant to articulate the project’s purpose and goals, the professional qualifications and achievements of the applicant, and the suitability and value of the center for the proposed activity. Spouses/life partners may accompany the resident, or may apply for a concurrent residency. The center also offers collaborative residencies for two to four persons working on the same project.
Residencies are typically four weeks long; however, shorter periods may be available. Room and board are provided without charge to all residents and their spouses/partners. Residents and spouses/partners must pay for their own airfare and local transportation to/from Bellagio. Assistance with round-trip economy airfare between the home country and Milan is available on a financial needs basis to qualifying residents and their spouses/partners from developing countries.
The February 11, 2009, deadline is for a possible residency occurring between mid-August through November 26, 2009.
For detailed program information, visit the Rockefeller Foundation Web site.
The WITS Alliance is launching its first campaign, I Wish I’d Written That, this month. Five renown authors participated in a series of six television public service announcements. All five authors donated their performances to the cause. The idea for the campaign came from the Houston production company ttweak, and funding was provided by an anonymous donor.