Report from AWP Chicago

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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.


Quick WITS at AWP Schedule

The Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance Agenda at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago

Bookfair Booth #609

Twitter Hash Tag #AWP12

Wed. 2/29 4:30 – 5:45 pm Membership Meeting (Prospects welcome) Joliet, Hilton, 3rd Fl
Thursday  3/1 9 –10:30 am Panel: Teaching Bilingual Students Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Thursday 3/1 3 – 4:15 pm Panel: K-12 Teaching 101 Empire Ballroom, Palmer House, Lobby
Thursday 3/1 7 – 8:15 pm WITS Alliance Reception Astoria Room, Hilton Chicago
Friday 3/2 1:30 – 2:45 pm Dealing with Schools Private Dining Room 1, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Friday 3/2 3 – 4:15 pm The Wired Classroom Lake Huron Room, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Sat 3/3 1:30 – 2:45 pm Marketing the Literary Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
Sat 3/3 3 – 4:15 Crisis Economics for Nonprofits Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor

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.

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.

WITS Alliance, Chicago-Bound!

reception-invite-209-jpegThe WITS Alliance is sponsoring a program strand of the AWP Conference in Chicago on Feb. 10-14, 2009.  Here is the 2009  WITS Alliance Schedule of Events at AWP:

Wednesday, February 11

· 12-5 PM: Set up WITSA booth #218 Hilton Chicago, Southeast Hall, lower level

· 4:30–5:45 PM: WITS Membership Meeting—Private Dining Room, 3rd Floor

· 6:30—8:30 PM: Steering Committee Meeting

Thursday, February 12

· 9:00–10:15 AM Panel: My Voice, Wide as the Sun: Preparing to Teach Creative Writing in K–12 Classrooms—Lake Ontario, 8th Floor

· 1:30–2:45 PM Panel: From the Ground Up, Developing a Writers-in-the-Schools Program at Your College—Joliet, 3rd Floor

· 7:00–8:00 PM: WITS Alliance Reception—Marquette, 3rd Floor

Friday, February 13

· 12:00 – 1:15 PM Panel: Building Online Literary Communities: An Overview and Case Studies –Boulevard Room A, B, C, 2nd Floor

Saturday, February 14

· 9:00–10:15 AM Panel: A Room of One’s Own: Student Writing Centers—International Ballroom South, 2nd Floor

· 10:30 – 12 noon Panel: Writing Helps Kids…But Can You Prove It? Private Dining Room 4, 3rd floor

· 4:30–5:45 PM Panel: Best Practices: Teaching Expressive Writing with Hospital Populations—Astoria, 3rd Floor

· 6:00 PM Dismantle booth at bookfair

To learn more about the WITS Alliance , contact Robin Reagler via email at  rreagler (at)