Current/Recent Reading List

29 July 2008

Digging Out

Well, the Writing Project summer institute is over, and I feel like I just went through another school year all within the span of three weeks. Seriously - as we reached the end of the line last week, I had that same vibe I get when we enter the last week of the school year: satisfaction, relief, and fatigue all at once. Now I've got three weeks to recover, and organize the tremendous amount of information I received at the institute, before I report to duty. Well, realistically, let's make that a week to recover and organize, and then two weeks to get ready before reporting to duty.

After persevering through it all, though, I can now proudly call myself a Fellow of the National Writing Project.

So, was it all worth it, and what was a typical day like at the institute? Here is my attempt at digestable answers to those burning questions, with a couple of follow-up posts coming soon:

Was it worth it? Absolutely. On a purely selfish level, I was able to work on my own writing, receive great feedback on it from others, and get encouragement to write more for potential publication. We'll see where all that goes, but it's nice to have the enthusiasm. On a professional level, the institute provided a high level of useful training and knowledge, which anyone who has to attend professional development of any kind can appreciate. Not every minute or every presentation was completely outstanding, but most of what we did was at least useful, and at most convinced me to make life-altering changes in the classroom. In addition, there was a tremendous sense of community built up between all of the participants, and I can now count several new, genuine friendships as a result. More on both of these latter points soon.

What was a typical day like? Well, first it was nice that our instructors and fellow participants were all fairly laid back, but not frivolous with time. Most mornings started with a short writing activity or idea, and then the days were filled with a combination of the following: presentations by participants, writing peer group meetings for feedback/criticism on our own work, demonstrations of writing activities, short lectures on academic research about writing, reading our work aloud, developing lesson plans or writing assignments for our students, and learning all about Web 2.0 (I hate that pretentious phrase) and what it might offer writing teachers (wikis, class blogs, class eZines, digital storytelling, Delicious, aggregators, etc.). Most of the web stuff was new to me, and I can't say I'll use much of it, but will use some.

Yes, we had homework, too, which is a real pain in the ass when you also have to get your child to and from evening swim lessons, and do stuff like, you know, eat. But it was mostly writing, and I'm fairly pleased with the final products. Without the deadlines, I would never have written as much as I did.

In the next couple of posts I'll go into some detail on a few of the things I've learned, what I've decided to change in the classroom, and how much crying I had to put up with (you can guess, I'm sure).

No comments: