Writers in the Schools (WITS) Groups Celebrate National Poetry Month

Many WITS groups across the country celebrate April as National Poetry Month. Follow these links to find out all about it:

Many of the projects for National Poetry Month are online so you can participate, no matter where you live.

For Advanced Teaching Artists Only

Writers in the Schools Alliance member Community Word Project is offering a summer training opportunity for Teaching Artists with 2 or more years of experience. Here are some details about the program:

2012 Summer Institute for
Advanced Teaching Artists
July 20, 23 and 24, 2012

WHAT: A three-day, intensive workshop focusing on Innovation, Multi-disciplinary Arts Integration, Curriculum Development, Evaluation/Assessment, Critical Thinking Skills and Classroom Management.

WHERE: Community Resource Exchange
42 Broadway, Suite 2000, New York, NY 10004

WHEN: Friday, July 20; Monday, July 23; and Tuesday, July 24

WHO: Creative Writers, Visual and Multi-Media Artists, Musicians, Dancers and Theater Artists with 2+ years experience teaching their art form in a public school setting.

The Summer Institute’s training curriculum is based on Community Word Project’s creative process exploration methods, teaching practices and philosophy developed over 12 years in NYC public school system.

Participants gain hands-on experience through classroom exercises, discussions, role-playing and collaboration in these focus areas:

• Transforming your Creative Process into Innovative Teaching Methods
• Developing Critical Thinking Skills through Arts Exercises
• Collaborating with Teaching Artists of a Different Art Form
• Evaluating and Assessing Student Work
• Arts Integration
• Cultivating environments of Social Change within classrooms
• Co-teaching with Classroom Teachers
• Classroom Management Techniques

For further details, please visit the Community Word Project website or contact Program Director Khalil Murrell at TATIP@communitywordproject.org

AWP Feedback for WITS Panels

Now that you’ve recuperated from Chicago, what did it all mean? If you benefited from the WITS activities at AWP 2012, please let the conference folks know by responding to their surveys, which are due soon. Here are the links:

Individual AWP Event Surveys: Available Online through March 14
Do you have something to say about a specific AWP conference event? To submit an individual event survey, click here:

http://www.awpwriter.org/forms/eventsurvey12/

General AWP Conference Survey: Available Online through March 22
Please take a few moments to provide commentary about your overall conference experience:
Here are the names of the WITS Alliance panels:

Celebration in Any Language: Teaching Bilingual Students  
Jack McBride, Alise Alousi, Merna Ann Hecht, Milta Ortiz, Cara Zimmer

What You Need to Know Before You “Stand and Deliver”: K-12 Teaching 101
Rebecca Hoogs, Cecilia Pinto, Valerie Wayson, David Hassler, Cecily Sailer

Finding a Common Language in the Public Schools
Long Chu, Renée Watson, Giuseppe Taurino, Keith Yost

The Wired Writing Classroom: The Marriage of Technology and Teaching
Cecily Sailer, Jeanine Walker, Janet Hurley, Jim Walker, Bertha Rogers

Marketing the Literary, or Putting some Poetry into your PR
Robin Reagler, Alison Granucci, Tree Swenson, Kristine Uyeda

Crisis Economics for Nonprofits
Amy Swauger, Rebecca Hoogs, Michele Kotler, Melanie Moore

Report from AWP Chicago

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had a great time at AWP 2012. Thanks for your enthusiasm about the Writers in the Schools movement. We loved seeing you at the WITS booth, at our panels, and at our reception. Once you’ve recuperated, please be in touch.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) at AWP 2012 in Chicago – Join the Movement!

The Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance will present an exciting series of panels, meetings, and events at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago. Here is a schedule of all the WITS happenings. We will be in the Bookfair the entire time. Come say hello at Booth #609. See you in Chicago!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Membership Meeting
Wednesday, February 29th, 4:30 to 5:45 PM
Joliet, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
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, March 1, 2012

Celebration in Any Language: Teaching Bilingual Students  
Jack McBride, Alise Alousi, Merna Ann Hecht, Milta Ortiz, Cara Zimmer
Thursday, March 1st, 9:00 to 10:15 AM
Location: Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
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.

What You Need to Know Before You “Stand and Deliver”: K-12 Teaching 101
Rebecca Hoogs, Cecilia Pinto, Valerie Wayson, David Hassler, Cecily Sailer
3:00 to 4:15 PM
Location: Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
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.

WITS Alliance Reception
Thursday, March 1st, 7:00 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
Friday, March 2nd, 1:30-2:45 PM
Location: Private Dining Room 1, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
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.

The Wired Writing Classroom: The Marriage of Technology and Teaching
Cecily Sailer, Jeanine Walker, Janet Hurley, Jim Walker, Bertha Rogers
Friday, March 2nd, 3:00-4:15 PM
Location: Lake Huron Room, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
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.

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
Saturday, March 3rd, 10:30 AM to 11:45 AM
Location: Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
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.

Marketing the Literary, or Putting some Poetry into your PR
Robin Reagler, Alison Granucci, Tree Swenson, Kristine Uyeda
Saturday, March 3rd, 1:30 PM to 2:45 PM
Location: Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
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.

Crisis Economics for Nonprofits
Amy Swauger, Rebecca Hoogs, Michele Kotler, Melanie Moore
Saturday, March 3rd, 3:00 – 4:15 PM
Location: Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
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.

News from Colorado Writers in the Schools

Fall 2011 has been a stellar season for WITS Colorado, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. We have included two new sites in Pueblo and Grand Junction, which means we are now across the entire state!

During a series of six to ten-week residencies we helped 675 students from elementary, middle, and high schools create writing and published it in an anthology for each school. In October our resident writers were trained by national River of Words co-founder Pamela Michaels, and they helped teachers submit their students poetry to the River of Words contest. Our anthology celebrations were a big hit, attended by parents and community alike.

This Spring we will continue our partnership with University of Denver’s Creative Writing program, training their graduate and undergraduate students in the WITS model. We will also expand the program to the northern part of the state, adding two new schools in Greeley and one more in the Grand Junction area.

by Tim Hernandez, WITS Colorado

Colorado Arts and Humanities

WITS at Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon

During the 2010-2011 school year the WITS program of Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon employed 23 professional writers to teach 49 semester-long creative writing residencies, serving all of Portland Public School’s high schools and several alternative programs.

WITS coordinated 13 student readings at local bookstores, cafes and libraries.  A whopping 181 students publically shared their writing with friends, classmates, families and community members.

World-renowned writers such as poet Natasha Trethewey and comic artist Art Spielgelman visited schools, and WITS partnered with Multnomah County Library on Everybody Reads, providing books, tickets and transportation to over 900 students and teachers to see Wes Moore author of The Other Wes Moore.

WITS convened its annual WITS Summit to support WITS-like writing programs throughout Oregon, and piloted a College Essay Writing Workshop where trained volunteers worked one on one with high school juniors and seniors on the essays they need for college and scholarship applications.

The WITS anthology No One Carries an Umbrella Here showcases student poetry, prose, drama and comics, and additional student work can be found on the WITS blog W.o.o.t.s. and in the WITS digital chapbooks.

For more details about the WITS program of Literary Arts in Portland, read the full WITS Report.

WITS Alliance Folks in the News

Art by Carmelo Arden Quin

There’s plenty of good Writers in the Schools (WITS) news around the world. Here are a few articles about WITS Alliance members and the work they’re doing.

  • Terry Blackhawk, founding director of InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit has been a featured blogger this month on the Huffington Post. Check out her column here.
  • Cecily Sailor, Education Programs Manager for Badgerdog Literary Publishing in Austin, TX, was interviewed by Write by Night magazine.
  • Seattle WITS has the highest level of service in its 16-year program: 26 elementary, middle, and high schools and one hospital.
  • In the fall of 2010 the Missoula Writing Collaborative received new funding from the Heineman Foundation ($30,000) to
    support their work teaching kids to love to write, and this funding was renewed in November 2011 at the same level.
  • WITS Houston’s Executive Director Robin Reagler was elected to the AWP Board of Directors. Her first term will begin in February 2012.

Share your literary education news with us, please.

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!