210 East Rosedale The Literary and Education Journal of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project Summer/Fall 2012-Volume 1, Issue 1
210 East Rosedale Summer/Fall 2012 – Volume 1, Issue 1 Contributors
Teaching Memoir In Retrospect: A Life Devoted to Teaching by Jean Shervais A Teacher’s Epiphany……………………………………4 by Heather Winterbottom
Personal Memoir History is Found in a Kitchen……………………………6 by Brian Kelley Rhythms of Reality……………………………………….8 by Rita Sorrentino Tell Me a Story…………………………………………..11 by Diane Dougherty Azalea Benches…………………………………………13 by Carrie Hagen
Education Article/Tips Reflections and Applications on……………………….16 How Big Questions Engage and Motivate Students who have Grown up Digitally – a Jim Burke podcast
by Sandra Crook Reader’s Theater: A Recipe for Research……………18 by Rita DiCarne Imagine Making Matters………………………………..21 by Judy Jester The Tipping Point……………………………………….23 by Maryellen Kenney Decorate the Classroom with Student Thought……...27 by Richard Mitchell Kindness Matters………………………………………..28 by Kate Walton
Photographs and cover photographs by Tricia Ebarvia
Poetry Lilacs………………………………………………….30 by Rita DiCarne After the First Elegy…………………………………31 by Don LaBranche After the Eighth Elegy………………………………32 by Don LaBranche Inquiry………………………………………………...33 by Janice Ewing
Book Reviews Good Reads: Fiction………………………………..34 by Linda Walker Photography Tricia Ebarvia Meg Griffin Patty Koller
210 Rosedale Literary Journal Staff The Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project A National Writing Project Site since 1980
Director: Dr. Mary Buckelew Production Editor: Meg Griffin Assistant Production Editors: Brian Kelley, Sally Malarney and Janice Ewing PAWLP Staff: Ann Mascherino, Toni Kershaw and Sally Malarney
From the Director
Dear PAWLP Fellows & Friends,
I am delighted to introduce the inaugural Summer/Fall issue of 210 East Rosedale: The Literary and Education Journal of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project. There is truly something for everyone in our first issue. From poetry, to teaching memoirs and personal memoirs, to strategies for teaching informational essays, the varied interests and passions of PAWLP Fellows are showcased in our first journal. PAWLP Fellows share their insights, wisdom, and joy for life and teaching through their writing and photography. Brian Kelley’s (WCU Fellow 2011) enthusiasm and willingness to tackle the initial organizational challenges were invaluable and moved us forward. Without the editorial leadership of Meg Griffin (Bucks Fellow 2005), this first issue would not be possible. In between and around teaching, hiking in New Hampshire, and dog sitting for her children, Meg brought this journal to life. Her creativity and diligence made all the difference! Many thanks Meg & Brian! The title of the journal was inspired by the continuity Saturdays facilitated by Diane Dougherty and a call for a title that might connect to a PAWLP location or connect with the heart of PAWLP. PAWLP fellow, Janice Ewing suggested “210 East Rosedale,” and it seems like a good fit. Although PAWLP activities take place in myriad locations from the Michener Museum in Doylestown, to Valley Forge National Park, to Longwood Gardens, PAWLP’S energy radiates from the offices at Rosedale – where the PAWLP Staff , Ann Mascherino, Toni Kershaw, and Sally Malarney hold down the PAWLP Palace (or fort – depending on the season) and assist PAWLP Fellows in their good works to enhance the literacy lives of students and teachers of grades K-16. Although far flung in our work, the meetings, the comings and goings, and the socializing at Rosedale shape and strengthen our community. 210 East Rosedale offers something for everyone -- from the humorous to the profound -Enjoy! Sincerely,
Photograph by Patty Koller
IN RETROSPECT: A LIFE DEVOTED TO TEACHING By Jean Shervais The ancient Greeks got it right: the key to a happy life is balance in all things. Looking back on my decades of teaching adolescents, I’ve come to realize that it’s been a balance of many things that has kept me happy and content in teaching while many around me were becoming embittered or frustrated. Of course it’s also been a little luck, a lot of passion, and a certain joie de vivre. You say you’d like to know the secret to a long and happy teaching career? Well, I can’t promise that, but I can share a few things I’ve learned. As new teachers, we all have a passion for the subject we’ve chosen. Being a teacher of literature and the written word, I am an avid reader and writer and want to share what I uncover with others. The tricky part of teaching adolescents is that they are skeptical about whether that passion for a subject is justified or true. They have to be convinced. That means much of a teacher’s job is learning how to persuade others to give something a try. I realized early on that all of my students were not going to love Shakespeare with the same level of intensity that I do. That didn’t stop me from sharing my love of his masterful wordcraft, his sound plot structures, and his finely developed characters. For my students who preferred contemporary or futuristic works, I sought out well written modern pieces that could offer them the thrills in language or storyline to hook them into lifelong reading habits. And even for my weakest readers, I helped them to see that there were works out there worth reading to gain an insight on themselves and on the world around them. All experienced teachers share a secret: the kids keep us young because we learn from them everyday. Valuing our students and their youth and inexperience is one of the hallmarks of a good teacher. I have been fortunate enough to teach students of all ages, of many backgrounds, and of varying temperaments. Finding the balance in reaching all the students in a classroom yet keeping order has never been an easy task. I wrote the following poem remembering back to a day in my first year of teaching:
CAT AND MOUSE Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Standing in front of my desk as a first year teacher, I register the smug smiles and the air of expectancy hovering in the room. Leaning towards my desk drawer, I hesitate Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! then turn decisively to the chalkboard and begin writing the day’s assignment. Excited faces fall. Several students shuffle their notebooks. Eyes dart back and forth in a kind of Morse code: “What should we do?” Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Boldly, Darting Eyes in row three raises his hand. “Yes, Brad?” “What’s that noise coming from your desk?” How to respond? Ignore it? Deny it? Reject it? Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Scritch! Slowly I pull back the drawer. Two beady eyes stare up at me. I grab the small brown mouse firmly in hand, “What a lovely present! Thank you!” walk to the outside door just beyond my room
release the frightened creature who scampers off while I turn back for the next game of Cat and Mouse.
I wrote the poem because I remembered vividly how exciting yet scary life as a beginning teacher can be. For every daily success, there are many more challenges and setbacks, but doesn’t that describe life in general as well? Accepting what works and learning from what doesn’t can provide the best grounding for a happy life and a successful teaching career. I haven’t said nearly enough about the importance of being upbeat, of respecting your students so that they will respect you, or of seeing the humor present in even the most challenging situations. These are the building blocks that help create each year’s layer of successful teaching and learning. Working with professional colleagues who also recognize the importance of optimism, respect, and a good laugh is the blessing that crowns the whole structure. With the right attitude, a little luck, and a deep sense of the sacred trust we as teachers hold—helping our individual students to grow and recognize their own strengths— we are influencing the future of our society. When we realize this, how can teaching be anything but a joyful challenge? It has been for me, and I hope it will be for you as well. Jean Shervais taught in the Owen J. Roberts School District for 36 years as a high school and middle school English teacher. She currently works as an adjunct professor for Cabrini College. She describes her teaching experiences as a “wonderful way to spend a life.” She is a lifelong native of Chester County and is both a Writing and Reading Fellow of the National Writing Project. Jean hopes to continue working with PA Writing & Literature Project during her retirement and is looking forward to having time to enjoy the beauty of Chester County and to contribute to making it a better place in any way she can.
Photograph by Patty Koller
A Teacher’s Epiphany By Heather Winterbottom When asked what I took away from my student teaching experience, I respond with the expected. “I had an awesome cooperating teacher. We got along and she respected my ideas and encouraged me every step of the way.” True. “I had a fabulous university supervisor, with whom I still communicate and share my successes.” Also true. And, “I had a healthy support system.” I lived with Mom and Dad—lunches packed, laundry done. I wrote textbook perfect lesson plans. All my materials were thoroughly researched and organized. I even had the quintessential student teaching wardrobe. I had hoped that because of my organization and hard work my students would blow me away with their brilliance—brilliance they achieved, obviously, from my well rehearsed thoughtprovoking questions and inspiring lectures. They did impress me to an extent. They were nice. They nailed the 3x5 exposition on why Oedipus is the Aristotelian tragic hero, and they understood that Julius Caesar was about Brutus, not J.C. Big deal—everyone has that. But there was no epiphany—no affirmation that I was going to be a great teacher—that I had what it takes. Nothing that solidified what kind of teacher I was going to become. Epiphanies, however, don’t come in neat packages with rays of light and an angelic chorus. I learned my most valuable lesson from a nightmare situation—one that didn’t fit into my scaffolded plan. I did the most fabulous anticipatory activity for Lord of the Flies. I “dropped” groups of kids on a deserted island and asked them to create a community. The kids theorized and built and fought—it was wonderful—I was wonderful. After the clay models and dioramas of their islands were turned in, I asked the students to reflect on their group experience and determine whether a leader emerged and what conflicts developed while creating their community. The connections to the novel and the creation of an actual microcosm were brilliant—this was going to earn me the gold star of student teaching. During the experimental phase of the assignment, I wanted to observe (but not influence) the progress of the groups. Equipped with pen and clipboard, I adopted the persona of a tree—just watching and going with the flow.
I got to Joe’s group and they, like the rubric driven students they were, started asking questions. I refused to answer them. I told them I was a tree. I could only listen. Joe asked, “What kind of tree are you?” “A palm tree, of course. You are on a tropical island.” “Cool. Can I hold your coconuts?” An innocent question, but we both got the other meaning. Our faces turned five shades of red as embarrassment rose like cartoon characters. How was I supposed to react? What do the classroom management gurus say about situations like this? I knew I should probably scold Joe for being inappropriate, and I knew I should let him know that I would not tolerate that type of language in my classroom. I also knew that his eyes could not open any wider and that his face was redder than mine. I let myself be human. I laughed. It was funny. It was a mistake. We got over it and moved on. Now that I’m a “real” teacher I’ve faced many similar situations. Like when Ben pulled down his pants because the room was hot and when discussing a sexual scene with euphemisms Brian sang the theme song to a porno, I laughed. They were in high school. They were funny. My epiphany couldn’t be studied from a book or copied from a lecture. It was authentic. It was important. I can be serious, and I do work from structure. I learned not to break down if life doesn’t go according to plan. The real world—the one I’m supposed to be preparing my students for—doesn’t go according to plan. Teaching is an art of modeling behaviors. So, laugh.
Photograph by Meg Griffin Heather Winterbottom is starting her 10th year of teaching English at Avon Grove High School. Over the years she has taught students with abilities ranging from special needs to Advanced Placement. She recently finished the West Chester University graduate program with a M.A. in Teaching, Writing, and Criticism. Heather has previously published in The Prentice Hall Reader 9th ed. wherein she prepares students for the AP Language and Composition Exam. She completed the PAWLP Writing Institute in 2007 and hopes to participate in the Reading Institute soon. In her “spare” time, Heather enjoys reading but will be busy planning her June wedding and her sister’s wedding four months later!
History is Found in a Kitchen by Brian Kelley Through a text message my mother asked if I wanted Aunt Connie’s china. I didn’t remember Aunt Connie ever cooking...let alone having china. Aunt Connie (born Conchetta Quattrone) barely cooked--to be fair, she tried, but just wasn’t good at it--married for a cup of coffee, and lived most of her 90 years of life in the row house she was born in--the older daughter of five children of Ferdinand and Josephine Quattrone. Her father, Ferdinand, left Italy on the steamship Bolivia on May 1, 1901 and arrived at Ellis Island on May 21, 1901. He missed the tsunami of 1906 that leveled his home town of Reggio Calabria--driving fast-acting survivors to wait out the catastrophe up into caves high inside the mountains. It so ravaged Messina and Reggio Calabria that Italian women in our family refused to even place their feet in the Atlantic Ocean--they believed it to be possessed with evil. Ferdinand raised a family on a meager salary generated from plucking slim strands of boiling straw from enormous iron drums. Bent and molded over a hat block, he used his bare hands to manipulate the scalding reeds. Aunt Connie recalled her father’s hands as eternally swollen, hard, and red--his hands were not best described as burnt, but cooked. As a latch-key kid waiting for my mother to return home from any number of jobs, I spent many hours in Aunt Connie’s home through the 1970s and 1980s. One of the many houses on 10th Street managed by an Italian woman, I found myself peeling my bare legs from plastic slip covers or staring with fear at the hard marble slab corners of the tables. Some Italian women ran their house alone in the 1970s because America took their husbands through work or war. While others ran the house, as in my aunt’s case, because it was left to them while brothers and sisters married themselves into their own brick and families. In addition to watching Merv Griffin with my aunt after school, and Happy Days at night in the house I lived in with my mother, our extended family lived in two additional homes on the same block--at any time, family could be found walking freely to and from to any one of four houses. We all ate many of our meals among the other houses.
As I grew older I learned a few things from hanging out with all of those rough-hewn Italian women: how to cook; the throbbing sting of a wooden spoon; wine tastes best snuck in a jelly glass; and the life of a family evolves around a kitchen table--where you share much more than just a plate. I asked my mom to text a picture of something from the china set. When it arrived, it was a round plate. While I still do not recall ever eating from that china in Aunt Connieâ€™s house, it came as no surprise that my mother added that Aunt Connie wanted me to have the china. When I pick it up and bring it to my house, my first order of business is not to find a place to store it, but the right recipe to fill it and the right people to sit around it. Brian Kelley teaches 8th grade creative writing in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. He writes about his experiences teaching writing to middle school students in his professional blog Walk the Walk (www.walkthewalkblog.blogspot.com). Previous publication includes Shakespeare Magazine (Georgetown University) in 1995 and the literary journal Passager in 1992. In addition to writing, Brian serves as an assistant football coach at West Chester University. He lives in Kemblesville, PA with his fiance Karla and their six rescue dogs and cats.
Photograph by Meg Griffin
Rhythms of Reality by Rita Sorrentino Despite the fact that I find reality shows contemptible, I must confess that I participated in one, perhaps one of the very first ones. No, I didn’t have to eat worms, survive a trek through an infested jungle, or betray someone for money, marriage or a makeover de jour. Instead, I stood in line for hours at 46th and Market Streets while praying feverishly that I would get into the Arena before the cutoff. If so, one hurdle down, one to go.Once inside I had to subdue my built-up excitement and impatiently listen to a list of house rules that most of the teenagers waiting to get into Bandstand already knew by heart. “No …,” an important looking dark suited man began. “…chewing gum,” we’d respond hoping to speed up the process. “No suggestive dancing,” he’d continue “No..” he could hardly get his words out. “…pants or shorts for girls,” we spieled off. “And boys must have suits jackets,” masculine voices pipe up. With verbal agreement and visual compliance taken care of, we were ushered into the studio’s small dance floor, framed with wooden bleachers. Rushing to get a good front and center seat, we giggled, fussed with hair, and anticipated dancing alongside or possibly with the “regulars.” Add to that the delight of sharing in the popular Rate-A-Record ritual. “I like the words. It has a good beat. I give it 90. “ Life seemed simple then: follow the rules, clear-cut, black and white reality. When fall arrived my dreams of being a dancing queen were only footsteps away. I attended West Catholic High School just around the corner from the Arena that hosted the WFIL Bandstand. However, this proximity did not come at an easy price. Our teachers warned us that we were not permitted to go on Bandstand, or heaven-forbid, appear on this suspicious TV show in our uniforms. Whatever the consequence, creative Catholic-school girls across the city devised the fad of wearing the infamous maroon sweater backwards. Hiding the school emblem became a badge of courage perhaps foreshadowing later religious disloyalties. But for then I had an opportunity to enjoy the music, meet new friends, and appear on an ahead-of-its-time reality show. We could dance the afternoon away without any worries (except perhaps to wonder what our teachers thought was so reprehensible about this simple pleasure).
When the show was over, a mad dash to Pop Singers, a nearby soda fountain, followed. Inside a jammed booth we sipped cokes, rubbed elbows with the regulars and listened to songs from the jukebox. “Does Your Chewing Gum Stick to the Bedpost Overnight?” “Little Darlin’,” “ I Will follow Him,” and “A Whole Lot of Shaking Going’ On” to name a few. My friends and I treasured these moments of innocence and friendship accompanied by lively music. Life slowly changed. Responsibilities at home, and gradually, extra curricular activities at school occupied my time. The daily dance show changed to a weekly show, and eventually moved to California. Our teenage dreams of being dancing queens also relocated. We took turns hosting basement parties where we played our 45’s, practiced new steps, danced to tunes of popular girl groups and found rock-n-roll relevant to our adolescence. Never again would life be that innocent. Assassinations, the civil rights struggle, and the Vietnam War framed the next decade. The Beatles “yeah yeah yeahed” us with their new sounds, but sooner or later they, too, yearned for the peace and certainty of “Yesterday.” The Beach Boy went “Surfin’ USA” while Simon and Garfunkel preferred “The Sound of Silence” during these tumultuous times.Subsequently, rock music turned hard and acidic. I can’t say for certain what day the music died for me, but as rock became less personal and harder to listen to, I tuned out. But not for long! “Hi, Rita. It’s Judy. Pick up or call me back ASAP,” the answering machine greeted me late one Sunday evening. I hesitated for a moment but then returned the call. “What’s up, and what’s so urgent?’ I asked in an almost uninterested tone. “Did you watch American Dream tonight?” she started the inquisition. “No, and I didn’t tape it if that is your next question.” “Too bad,” Judy started to tease but then blurted out. “I think I saw you on a piece of old Bandstand footage. A line of kids were doing the stroll and my eyes caught two girls in uniforms with pageboy fluff hairdos. It really looked like you and Joan.” Well, there went my 15 seconds of fame. I sighed and said goodbye promising to talk later in the week. Remembering poodle skirts and bobby socks was not on my agenda for the few remaining hours of that weekend. My sister and I will pick up the conversation again. She enjoys reminiscing about the days of old. I think it soothes her long-distance soul that craves a closer connection to family and
friends. I’m not overly nostalgic, yet, my Bandstand days hold fond memories for me. The rockn-roll of the 50’s resonates with a good time in my life. Recently, I discovered a pseudo-bandstand at Curves for Women Fitness Center. The music is lively and there’s a “Whole Lotta Shaking Goin’ On.” I don’t have to wait in line to dance to the beat, because now I’m a regular. What goes around comes around – slightly altered to accommodate reality.
Rita Sorrentino is the technology teacher at Overbrook Elementary School in Philadelphia. Rita joined the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project in 2004 and the Philadelphia Writing Project in 1994. This year Rita was honored with a "Teacher as Hero" award from the National Liberty Museum for her commitment to professional development through her work with teacher institutes and networks. Rita is currently interested in finding opportunities to assist today’s digital kids in using digital tools for their writing and publishing. Rita’s piece, “Rhythms of Reality” was written during the PAWLP 2004 Writing Institute.
Photograph by Meg Griffin
Tell Me a Story by Diane Dougherty He has tanned and muscled arms and hands calloused from years of hard work in the coal mines. Embedded just under the skin of those arms and those hands are bits of anthracite coal, remnants of a mine explosion that nearly took his life and did take one lung, leaving the other barely capable of breath. Yet, those hands pick tomatoes, weed the garden, and pluck raspberries with a delicacy that belies their appearance. “Daddy, why did you go back to work in the mines after the war instead of running away to be a cowboy?” He pauses his gardening and looks at me thoughtfully. “Uncle Guilio’s been telling stories again, has he?” “Daddy, Uncle told us you wanted to be a cowboy. Isn’t that true?” “There’s lots of things that aren’t lies, honey, that aren’t exactly true either.” My father understood the concept of “story truth.” In our family there are lots of stories: “The day the pig got loose” “Ma takes a stand” “Daddy chases Poncho Villa across the Rio Grande” “Anthony breaks his arm pretending to be Superman” Each story told again and again over Thanksgiving dinner, during picnics at the lake, or on leisurely Sunday afternoons. Stories with the same plot lines told a little bit differently depending on the narrator. “There’s a lot of things that aren’t lies, honey, that aren’t exactly true either.” Is that why, when I read a memory story, one of my sisters invariably says, “That’s not the way it happened at all.” My memories are clear as crystal; they just aren’t true facts, apparently. The morning I questioned Daddy might have really been late afternoon; it might have happened not in the garden but on the back porch. Maybe it was raining—a thunderstorm, and since I am terrified of thunderstorms, Daddy tells me a story to distract me from my fear, a story about chasing bandits when he was in the U.S. Cavalry. I am thinking of all of this because of the trailer for War Horse, a movie to be released on Christmas Day. When he sees the trailer my grandson, Collin, wants to know about his great-
grandfather. “Mom-mom, didn’t you say that your father was a soldier with the cavalry in World War I?” “Yes, Collin. He never talked about the war, but my Uncle Guilio told me stories about it. My father served under General Jack Pershing and was caught behind enemy lines at Chateau Thierry. Under cover of darkness he and two companions made it back to the U.S. line, dodging German soldiers throughout the night. My uncle said that the three men were lucky to have escaped capture, but I like to think they were clever and brave.” The “clever and brave” story is not mine "Diane in San Antonio...her father's daughter"
to tell nor was it my uncle’s. Still, we tell it
anyway. How my father lay still, face-down in the mud, pretending to be dead. How he waited until the sounds of German voices faded into the woods before inching his way forward towards escape. How he met two other soldiers trying to get to the American line to resume fighting. How they returned to duty and served honorably until Armistice Day. My uncle told me all of these stories. I believe every one. “There’s lots of things that aren’t lies, honey, that aren’t exactly true either.”
Diane Esolen Dougherty is a retired teacher from the Coatesville Area School District where she also served as Department Chair in English. She is a teacher consultant for PAWLP and lives in Downingtown with her husband Joe. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Azalea Benches By Carrie Hagen My father encouraged his children to talk to strangers. Dad could befriend almost anybody. He said hello to people he passed on the street, and he even talked to crossing guards. Whenever someone returned his wave, I would ask who the person was. “I don’t know,” Dad usually replied. “How do you not know?” “I don’t have to know everything,” he would say. “And neither do you. Work on that.” My younger brothers and I didn’t want to work on being friendlier. The three of us shied away from meeting new people. Dad tried to combat our social awkwardness by finding shared interests between us and whomever we encountered -- like the vendors at Phillies games, the waitresses in the old Woolworth’s diner, the homeless guy who mopped the floor of 7-11 in exchange for hot dogs. We ignored his conversation attempts. Unless he tried to make connections with people who kind of looked our age. More than a few times, Dad turned to teenagers in the football stadium or at the ice cream stand and asked if we knew them from school. Mortified, my brothers and I cut him off. “Shut up, Dad!” “They don’t care, Dad.” “Dad, what’s your problem?” Our tone varied depending upon the attractiveness of the person before us. Dad, though, didn’t mind any overt disrespect. Laughing, he would shrug and say “God bless” to the bewildered onlooker. Back in our Dodge minivan, he tried to analyze our discomfort. “What’s wrong with you kids?” Our answers were the same. “They don’t care, Dad.” “Dad, what’s your problem?” “Shut up, Dad!” And again, he would laugh.
What we -- his children -- didn’t notice was how many people welcomed Dad’s attempts at conversation. I realized this after his heart attack, when familiar-looking strangers approached and asked me about him. Dad hadn’t been feeling well when my brother David got married. The doctor knew that his heart was in bad shape, but Dad didn’t want the prognosis to interrupt my brother’s wedding plans. He spent the morning of the wedding in his hotel room, trying to hide his constant cough from my concerned mother. A few days later, on his commute home from work, a coughing fit forced him off the road. Two state troopers noticed his erratic driving and assumed he was drunk. Once they recognized Dad as a medical emergency, they pulled him out of his van and rushed him to the hospital. None of us had recognized the coughing fits as mini-heart attacks. My brothers and I knew that heart disease ran in our family, but Dad’s gregarious personality dismissed his doctors’ concerns, even after the quadruple bypass. The first time I visited him in the hospital, he asked me to pray for him. Then he introduced me to his nurse, a woman my age who also didn’t like her new sister-in-law. I wanted to pray, but the effort became one more awkward conversation that my father forced me into having. Before visiting the hospital the next night, I walked through my Philadelphia neighborhood, towards the azalea garden that borders the Art Museum grounds. Every spring, the wind pushes sweet fragrances of pink, white and purple blooms into the traffic that clogs Kelly Drive. I sat on a bench behind a wine-colored bush and looked across the street. A homeless man sat on a bench opposite me. I had noticed him before. He wore a neck brace and pushed around a large cart full of flannel shirts and stuffed bags. As soon as the hospital released Dad, he began to retain water weight and struggled to breathe. Mom took him to the emergency room; this time, doctors officially diagnosed him with congenital heart failure. I asked my parents what I could do. “Pray,” they both said. I walked again to the azalea garden. The same homeless man sat on the bench across the street. I started seeing him there every day. Sometimes he stood next to his cart behind the bench and held onto a cane. On rainy days, he wore a blue poncho. I wondered what would happen if a speeding car lost control, jumped the curb, and crashed into him. I wondered if I would be the only person to call the police. I wondered if I would even make the call.
Dad entered the hospital for another operation; he returned home with a defibrillator in his chest. Further tests had revealed greater damage, and the medications werenâ€™t keeping enough water out of his bloodstream. I visited him the night after the implant. The light was out in his room. I sat in a chair and watched him sleep. An unseasonably warm Indian summer extended into the fall. The homeless man took off his flannel jacket and began standing in a T-shirt underneath a tree a little distance behind the bench. I thought about asking if he went to the homeless feeding on the Parkway every Friday night. I thought about making him a sandwich, or buying him a hot dog from the vendor down the road. I wondered if anybody bothered him at night or gave him coffee in the morning. Each afternoon, I told myself that I would cross the street to say hello on my way home. And then, one day, he was gone.
Carrie Hagen is the author of we is got him, the narrative nonfiction account of the first recorded ransom kidnapping in American history (The Overlook Press, 2011). Her essays and commentary have appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, Nerve.com, SN Review, and other publications. She taught high school English in the Council Rock School District for twelve years.
Photograph by Patty Koller
Reflections and Applications on Jim Burke’s Podcast “How Big Questions Engage and Motivate Students who have Grown up Digitally” by Sandra Crook http://www.heinemann.com/podcastDetail.aspx?id=18 I had an opportunity to listen to one of Jim Burke’s podcasts. I was intrigued by his fiveminute podcast because it forced me to reflect on my teaching style. Jim Burke asks, “Who gets to ask the questions in our class and which questions are asked?” Typically questions coming from the teacher imply the teacher is assessing students’ understanding and in general encouraging literary discourse among students. Traditionally, when students ask questions, they are looking for clarification and a check for understanding. In Burke’s lesson, the roles are altered. Instead, it is not about the teacher asking the questions, rather the students getting an opportunity to be guided in asking (and answering) the bigger questions. Burke points out this generation, native to technology, have grown accustomed to having input. In the digital world, students interact, navigate and challenge. Unfortunately, it does not always happen in the classroom and we risk our students shutting down. As teachers, Burke suggests we give them “a seat at the table” and share the power of inquiry. Giving power to the students to ask the questions allows students to create their own learning opportunities. Burke suggests at the start of a unit, to give the students a subject and as the unit unfolds, allow the students to ask the bigger questions that directly affect their lives. I wanted to try this out for myself. After we read Beowulf in my senior English class, I asked my students to form small groups and identify the central themes. Next, I asked my students to record on chart paper some “bigger” questions that connected those themes with today. This part was a bit trickier, but as I walked around the class, there was insightful discussion taking place. Groups recorded their questions under each theme, hung them up and presented their questions to their peers. Interestingly, common themes were shared but there were different questions between the groups. Next, everyone walked around and informally responded to the questions on the chart paper. One of my students asked, “What happens if I disagree with what someone else said?” All the better, I thought!
Once students responded to the questions posed, it was evident there was a lot to compare with modern connections. Discussion focused on the themes, like whether good always prevails. Several people spoke about the most recent wars in the Middle East and what makes someone “good” or “evil”. Others related conversation to the theme of glory. The students asked whether glory was necessary to die for in modern times. Finally, I asked students to choose one of the many questions and respond to that question in an informal essay. To my delight, the students were eager to write and share their opinions. This lesson allowed students to get to the heart of the story while making modern connections. This lesson gave students not only a “seat at the table,” but a strong voice.
Sandra Crook is in her twelfth year teaching English at Twin Valley High School. Her experience includes working with ELL to Advanced Placement students. Sandra serves as the English department chair and also advises the National Honor Society. Sandra is also actively involved in the WCU community. She is a double-Fellow of the PAWLP summer institutes and has presented at the Saturday seminars. Currently, Sandra is in her third semester at WCU as an adjunct in the Languages and Cultures department. Sandra enjoys traveling and learning about new cultures. Over the years, she has led several delegations with the People to People student ambassador program. This past summer, Sandra spent two weeks in Nepal helping to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.
Photograph by Patty Koller
Readers’ Theater: A Recipe for Research by Rita DiCarne Take 20 enthusiastic seventh graders with an idea One adventurous teacher Two cups of research skills Three tablespoons of group cooperation A pinch of problem solving And a dash of critical thinking Gently sift through ideas. Fold in research with cooperation. Add the problem solving, and carefully stir until all lumps disappear. Blend in critical thinking. Allow mixture to whip itself into shape (approximately six –eight class meetings over several weeks). Serve to an attentive audience. Recently, I had the opportunity of looping with my sixth grade language arts class. While the thought of having the same group of students two years in a row was very exciting because I just loved the kids, it was also a little daunting. I had never taught seventh grade language arts before, and I wondered whether or not I had enough tricks up my sleeve left to keep my students sufficiently engaged and motivated. One of the first questions the kids had when they found out that we would be together again was whether we would again be doing Readers’ Theater (one of their favorite activities). I was not sure about Readers’ Theater since we had already performed the scripts that I owned. I told them that I would check to see if I could find any 7th grade level scripts. Well, leave it to the kids to solve the problem at hand. They wanted to know why we could not write our own scripts. Frankly, I did not have an answer – why couldn’t we? So we set off on our journey into the land of script writing. Pre-heat the oven. At our first meeting the students discussed various topics they were interested in exploring. The students simply listed all the topics on the board and then began to discuss the pros and cons of each topic. Would they be able to find enough information on a particular topic? Would it be interesting to an audience? Did the topic lend itself to the dialogue format of Readers’ Theater?
Whet the Appetite. Once the groups decided on topics, they then began to list subtopics that would require research. For example, Group 1 chose World War II. They gathered a list of subtopics including: Pearl Harbor, concentration camps, fleeing from Germany, women in the war, rulers, generals, weaponry, battles, children, and music. Group 2 chose to research the origins of London Bridge. Each member of the group was then assigned a subtopic to research for their next team meeting. Gather the ingredients. Students came to class prepared with the information they had researched about their subtopic. Each student took a turn giving a summary of his or her material. Through discussion, students sifted through the information and began to narrow down the topic. The World War II group decided to focus their attention on fleeing from Germany (one student had a first person account from his grandmother), Pearl Harbor, the role of women in the war, and D-Day. Group 2 decided they needed to research the origin of London Bridge and Henry VIII and his six wives. Let simmer. Once the students narrowed down their subjects, they choose parts and began writing dialogue. Their job was to capture the essence of the material within the constructs of a play that could last no more than fifteen minutes. All members of the group were required to have a speaking role. Taste Test. As with all writing, the scripts needed some revising. Students took turns reading their parts aloud. The group first listened for accuracy of facts, interesting language, correct chronological order, and of course grammatical mistakes. Then they listened for fluency, rate of speed, volume, and expression as each person read. Serve the dish. Students were given a few class periods to rehearse their lines (students read from scripts during the actual performance), add some stage movement, and come up with a few minimal props. A date and time were selected, and each group performed on stage for an audience of fellow students, faculty, and parents. (Other times we have simply performed in our classroom and invited another class in to see the performance). Review the Restaurant. The day after the performance, students were asked to write a reflection of their Readersâ€™ Theater experience. They were to include strengths, weaknesses, comments, and suggestions. The feedback was wonderful. The students wrote about the fun they had researching, the collaboration skills needed for the group to be successful, and the feeling of satisfaction that they felt after performing an original script. They enjoyed it so much that they
persuaded their science teacher to allow them to create a Readers’ Theater as their presentation mode on a chapter about the ocean. She used their performance as the assessment of the chapter. Vary the Recipe. I continue to use Readers Theater with my Language Arts Class in a variety of ways. Last year we adapted two picture books into Readers’ Theater Scripts. This year we are revising an existing script to better meet the needs of the makeup of our class. But by far the most rewarding experience has been using it for research. The students learned many research skills such as: generating a question, narrowing a topic, consulting various sources including first person accounts as well as writing skills including: drafting, revising more than once, and editing. They also learned that publishing can take on many forms including a stage performance. I knew I had hit a gold mine when in the eighth grade yearbook one of my former students wrote that her fondest memory was creating and performing a Readers’ Theater.
Excerpt from London Bridge Catherine of Aragon (#1) When I was young a pact was made To marry a king, but I was afraid Although I was wife number one, He divorced me because I gave him no son. Jane Seymour (#3) King Henry VIII thought I was the one But when I became sick after bearing his son He made it quite clear whose life he would save So our son survived, and I went to the grave King Henry She was the one I desperately loved But when it was time to choose I gave her the shove. Anne of Cleves (#4) I am the King’s 4th but not up to his level He felt that I looked just like the devil Even though it was a huge hassle It worked out OK, and I got the castle Rita DiCarne currently teaches seventh grade ELA at Our Lady of Mercy Regional Catholic School in Maple Glen, PA. She leads professional development workshops as a teacher/consultant for PAWLP, specializing in the area of Content Area Literacy. She is Wilson Language Certified and enjoys working one-on-one with struggling readers and writers. Rita serves as an adjunct faculty member at Bucks County Community College where she teaches Introduction to Rhetorical Skills and at Delaware Valley College where she teaches Content Area Literacy in their TCIP program. In addition, DiCarne has been published in Today’s Catholic Teacher Magazine and A Cup of Comfort for Teachers. Rita resides in Horsham, PA with her husband Chuck and is thoroughly enjoying her newest role in life: mother-in-law.
by Judy Jester
Quick tip: Showing them your own writing in process is a huge boon in this process. Both you and they better understand what youâ€™re attempting. If you make something and interview someone all the better.
Judy Jester has been teaching middle school English for twenty-five years in the Kennett Consolidated School District. A graduate of Immaculata College, she earned her masterâ€™s degree from the University of Delaware. She is a fellow of the National Writing Project and serves as a co-director of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project at West Chester University. She has taught graduate courses in the teaching of writing and reading for over fifteen years.
The Tipping Point By Maryellen Kenney
This past January I began to explore writing with the high school students in my Written Communications class. This is an elective class populated by freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. A few enrolled because they love writing. Some signed up because they wanted to improve their writing skills. Most were there because a parent or guidance counselor told them it would be “a good idea” to take the course. I have discovered that a ”good idea” can mean anything from, “you better get some help with writing” to “we have this empty place in your schedule next semester and…” I’ve been teaching long enough to know that creating a community within a classroom is a necessary first step to creating a safe place to learn, a safe place to take risks with writing. The sense of community comes first and the learning comes after that. I had been struggling to create a community of writers, a safe place where writers could work, depending on one another to help lift the level of their pieces. This time it was truly a struggle. John hated writing and was angry at his mom who forced him to take the course. Anna was a shy freshman, intimidated by the seniors. Carla would rather have been in another course with all of her friends but it didn’t fit her schedule. Joe and Candi are boyfriend and girlfriend. They signed up to be together. (Sigh) Several weeks into the semester, I could not understand why these students would not come together. Despite my best efforts, they would not write honestly and care about what they wrote and one another. We wrote every day. I wrote with them. Every day any student who wanted to share something they wrote had an opportunity. We filled our writer’s notebooks with rich fodder for further thinking and writing. There was choice, lots of choice of topic and genre. We conferenced with one another. I modeled my own writing process. We studied the writing of mentors whose writing inspired and moved us. Still the vibe in the classroom was not right. I knew that many of the seniors were burdened by their graduation project, a major research paper. This writing elective course was taking a back seat to that. I knew that many of them did not need this course to graduate. What I couldn’t understand was the lack of response of the underclassmen to all my efforts to have a fully functioning writing workshop. As a seasoned teacher, experienced with many years of
using writing workshop in my classroom, I was frustrated at my inability to bring this class together. I knew that I had to keep trying. In November of 2006 Smith Magazine asked readers to submit six-word memoirs. You may remember reading Hemmingway’s: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” A colleague across the hall had mentioned six-word memoir to me and so I went to the Smith Magazine site. I was delighted by the challenge that writing a good six-word memoir might be and thought my students would be also. In class the next day, we perused the site, reading the memoirs submitted and talking about them. Some said so much. Some raised so many questions and then left those questions unanswered. They were intrigued. Over the next few days we played with writing sixword memoirs, sharing them, talking about what made some better than others. During that effort I sensed that the climate in my classroom was changing. Indeed, this assignment was the tipping point for creating community. Why? To write a six-word memoir requires cutting to the chase, using a small number of words to say much. It’s hard. These novice writers finally really cared about their pieces and knew that despite their best efforts their message may not come across. They were unwilling to leave any questions unanswered. They wanted to make sure that everyone knew what their struggle was and where they stood with it. I allowed them to write a short paragraph giving some background on their six-word memoir, an explanation, if you will. Some of the memoirs were, well, memorable. Many were not. But the paragraphs were the powerful part. Finally they were buying into their own writing.
The best stories are inside you. by Naomi I don’t like to share my stories and experiences with people. I like to make them happen, and let life go, and think about my memories, maybe write them out, but it’s always for me, and me alone.
Finding the way back to myself. by Taylor, 17 Throughout my life I have changed who I am just to please others. But I believe I’m finally coming to terms with myself; I’m finding out who I really am as a person.
Those tiny voices await loving ears. by Ashani I somehow manage to forget that Ashayla may have something meaningful to say. I think it’s the case with most people, especially older brothers or sisters like me: you don’t expect younger children to have something worth saying, so you choose not to listen. That is a foolish mistake to make. She’s silly and ditsy. She likes terrible music. She’s awkward to be around. But she also needs someone there to listen when she’s having trouble figuring stuff out. I haven’t been home enough to talk to her about anything, so when I found out that she was in counseling for self mutilation, I hated myself the most. I didn’t judge her for what she did; I understood. I still can’t live with the fact that at her age she has to bottle all those things, silly or not, from anyone. I’ll make sure to ask, and listen, next time.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Inattentive Type by Nate Those six words have made my life what it is. I don’t like to call it a disability because people assume I’m just hiding behind a crutch. I am not asking for sympathy or empathy, I simply wish to be heard. When I was younger my mother didn’t know I had ADHD and therefore she thought I was just “lazy, irresponsible, and immature.” I think my mother struggled with the stress from my father, who was a recovering alcoholic, and raising two other children. I was a boy who would frequently act out in class, forget to write down his homework, or even forget his backpack on the bus as late as third grade. When I was little I would always get in trouble towards November or December for reasons as simple as not doing my work or acting out in class. I knew my mother had a temper that was easy to lose but things like that never occurred to me when I would act out. One year I did something in the weeks before Christmas, which is four days after my birthday. When my mother got a call from the school telling her that her son was being disruptive and a distraction in class she saw red. On my birthday night I sat at the kitchen table with tears streaming down my face, dripping onto my cake. No one in my family joined me as I opened my presents. Not my younger brother, my older sister or even my mild-mannered father. They all left me to sit alone when I was eight. This kind of treatment towards me continued until high school started.
Not only did my relationship with my mother deteriorate, my grades slipped more and more as the years went on. On occasion I would do better than the year before, which I accredit to teachers that were able to work with my ADHD, but they only increased by a small margin. In sixth grade, after my pediatrician recommended that I should be tested for ADHD I went to a doctor in a big house in Bryn Athen to find out what was wrong with me. I remember the room I was in like I’d been there a thousand times when it had really only been three visits. It was a circular room with a desk at the center and a tall bay window to the left of the desk, white shades and a small bench with a pale green pillow. The man who sat at the desk asked me simple questions and had me solve puzzles. Silly things I thought had nothing to do with testing me for ADHD. When my mom and I found out that I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Inattentive-type I looked at her and I just said “I told you so.” My “disability” may not be exactly what shaped me into who I am, maybe it was and compiled with my mother’s abuse it formed me. I am Nathan and I have ADHD I-T.
I’m my own mother and bestfriend. by Christina, 16 My mother was never really around much in my life, and when she was it was in a very negative way. So a little over two years ago I decided to cut her from my life completely. Recently I lost my best friend. She just decided our friendship wasn’t working anymore. I think the absence of people you care about in your life can definitely be a bad thing but it’s also a great chance to gain newfound independence too.
I write with my students every day. I learn right alongside them. This year, with this class, I learned another lesson in persistence and creativity. This particular writing experience cracked open the door to that place where writers need to live. Not all my students were willing to walk in and be there. But some were and I was there to work with them. Reluctant writers need someone who cares enough not to give up. They need someone who will push to find the writing assignment that clicks with them. This year I learned to keep trying because there is a tipping point.
Maryellen Kenney teaches English at Upper Moreland High School in Willow Grove, PA. She has been a Fellow of the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project since 2002. Over the past 26 years she has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school level.
Decorate the Classroom with Student Thought By Richard Mitchell This year I put a stop to the boredom and tediousness of the first day of school by asking my students what they “think.” In my beautiful maroon-velvet storytelling chair, I read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go to my Advanced Placement seniors. I then asked them to consider what “High heights” they aspired to, and what “hang-ups and bang-ups” they thought might leave them in a “lurch.” Each student discussed their dreams, some openly, some unwillingly. When I calculated they were ready, I asked them the following question: What are you thinking right now, in September of your senior year? Myriad responses followed. Some students were thinking about college, others about the discomfort of new clothes and haircuts. One student pined over a girl he met at camp. Another’s concern for a sick relative showed on her creased forehead. I asked my students to represent their thoughts in a poster for display in the classroom. Their hand in decorating the soulless, beige walls would set the tone for the entire school year. Any English class should be built on student thinking. The “I Think” poster necessitates student ownership of the classroom and the work that will occur within it. The posters illustrate immediately that student thought is the most important element in the learning process. They offer an initial opportunity for students to relate their lives to what they will learn throughout the year. Finally, each poster represents a piece of personal landscape in the space of the room, the collection of which build a community of thought. Students can look to their piece of the wall for reassurance, courage and strength and their classmate’s posters for inspiration and challenge. “I Think” posters reinforce the significance of each individual mind and the fact that what comes from it is important, helpful and necessary to each student in the class.
Richard Mitchell is an English teacher at West Chester East High School. He is a PAWLP and NWP Fellow and co-directs the Summer Writing Institute at West Chester University. He lives with his wife Maggie, a former music teacher and author of The Big Stink and Kacey the Paper Cat and their daughter Evelyn Rae, a budding musician and writer herself.
KINDNESS MATTERS By Kate Walton “Kindness Matters” is what I sign on every one of my books. Making kindness matter to young people has been a deep passion of mine, infiltrating every crevice of my life. The first time I stepped foot into a classroom back in 1991, I consciously decided to make kindness the foundation of my teaching practices. I believed it was my job, as the adult, to discuss and address bullying each time it reared its hideous head. Language arts afforded me a unique and powerful opportunity to get to the heart of that difficult matter. Minds are opened when you purposefully craft your language arts lessons to have an undercurrent of “Kindness Matters.” Allowing students to read and respond to ageappropriate emotionally charged and honest material provides moments to revolutionize students’ thinking. I used to call those moments Explicit Conversations. The effects of bullying (or racism, or intolerance) were openly discussed or written about and shared. I wanted my students to see each other for the human beings they were, not the labels or assumptions they were expert at attaching to each other. Common ground is built, layer by layer. When bullying is openly discussed and addressed, empathetic thinking blooms. Respect and kindness grow from empathetic thinking, because when you understand where someone is coming from, it makes it a lot harder to humiliate them. Adult involvement is crucial to end bullying. Many young people have no idea what it looks, sounds, or feels like to be empathetic or kind—often times those behaviors don’t come naturally. Students must be taught by the adults in their lives. They don’t know how to “work it out on their own” because they don’t have the tools yet. They need adults to teach them the tools. Language Arts affords glorious opportunities to teach those tools. By their very nature, reading and writing provide a deeper look into the human condition. Language Arts allows students to see themselves in the printed word, to stretch or change their thinking, and to connect to each other in profound ways. Seize the opportunities.
Ask your students to journal or discuss what they’d like their legacy to be, how they’d like to be remembered later in life. The jerk? The creep who ruined people’s lives? The one who ripped other people’s hearts out? Or, the kid who treated everyone with dignity and respect? Ask your students to journal or discuss this quotation by American editor and writer, Thomas Dreier: “The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are. If you are loving, if you are friendly, if you are helpful, the world will prove loving and friendly and helpful to you. The world is what you are.” Gone are the days where a simple teacher reprimand has the power to stop bullying. Today’s students need more. Demand more. In this age of information, they need specifics. In addition to reading and writing on the issues, explain your clear expectations and consequences. Share and constantly refer to concrete examples of what it looks and sounds like to treat other people with basic human dignity: Looking people in the eyes Holding the door for people Smiling Saying hello or good morning Offering help Giving compliments It’s rather black and white. Bullying in schools will never stop unless the bully is brought to an understanding of the pain they have caused. They need to know that their actions are the reason for the pain (or the stomach ache, the headache, the missed school, the suicide attempt). Bullies, regardless of age, need to realize what their behavior has caused. Explicit conversations—whether on paper or out loud—in the safety of the learning community you’ve built, are the ideal venue for bullies to be brought to that crucial understanding. Having students leave your classroom believing that Kindness Matters, and knowing what that looks like in real life, is quite a legacy.
K. M. Walton is the author of Cracked and the upcoming Empty (releasing 1-1-13). As a former middle-school language-arts teacher and teaching coach, she is passionate about education and ending peer bullying. She gives school presentations on the topic, “The Power of Human Kindness.” K. M. is a graduate of West Chester University and a PAWLP Fellow. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family. You can find her online at KMWalton.com and on Twitter at @KMWalton1.
Lilacs Rita DiCarne I didnâ€™t see it coming; the day had me agitated. A routine pass through the school office catches me off guard. Whispers of lilacs, the delicate scent of childhood spring times, summons memories of Philadelphia. Dad in his suspendered blue jeans with his trusty gardening shears is carefully pruning each fragile branch. Mom suspends her afternoon to gently arrange each pale purple sprig. All of us circling the table to inhale the beauty of these perennials. The dining room table, usually a collection of clutter, is now clear and dressed in white starched lace. A crystal vase â€“ imported from Poland overflows with the lavender bouquet, bringing the perimeters of our property to its core.
AFTER THE FIRST ELEGY By Don LaBranche
Angels (they say) donâ€™t know whether it is the living they are moving among, or the dead. --Rilke
Every angel is terrifying and we like Magdalene at the tomb before dawn on the third day, tread lightly. But here I think of another Mary visiting the group home where they love her broken son who although he cannot see her, laughs heartily when he hears her voice on music therapy morning, as the horns & tambourines & penny whistles bring to life the old hymns and the singers sway arm in arm in arm, mostly in the same key. After lunch she applies herbs and spices to her sonâ€™s tormented skin and not even death can cloud her thoughts nor any doubt concerning whom she moves among.
Photograph by Meg Griffin
AFTER THE EIGHTH ELEGY By Don LaBranche A child may wander there for hours, Through the timeless stillness, may get lost in it… --Rilke In the spring of fifth grade roy lugged his diorama—a refrigerator box laid out on the long side—into our Civil War classroom. Regiments of plastic soldiers marched in tight ranks up and over the bloody hills and orchards of Gettysburg shielded from incoming fire by rows of Sherman tanks done up in desert camouflage. He and I lay on the floor for a long time as the battle unfolded then I wondered out loud about tanks on a battlefield in 1863. His eyes glowed with the fierce conviction, the unequivocal response of a scholar-warrior, It doesn’t matter.
Photograph by Meg Griffin Donald LaBranche graduated from West Chester State College and Widener University. He taught physical education, swimming, third grade, and fifth grade in the Chichester School District. He is a 1993 PAWLP Writing Fellow. In 2002 he participated in a week long internship at the Center for Teaching and Learning, Nanci Atwell's demonstration school in Maine. He has taught graduate level courses for PAWLP as well as classes in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror to fascinating writers in the Young Writer's summer program. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications.
Inquiry By Janice Ewing We lingered with uncertainty sensing questions just beyond our reach Tension grew as we tried to grasp nebulous threads slipping away like dreams at dawn Still we waited questions began to come into focus take shape and breathe like us alive and hungry for answers.
Photograph by Meg Griffin
Janice Ewing is a PAWLP 2004 teacher consultant. For most of her career she was a reading specialist and literacy coach in the William Penn School District. She is currently an adjunct professor in Cabrini Collegeâ€™s Reading Specialist Certification Program. She is interested in teacher inquiry and in helping others to find and sustain their writing identities.
Good Reads: Fiction by Linda Walker The following Good Reads connect nature to the characters and action whether it’s through the use of place or living things both real and imaginary. The authors use the senses and details making the reader feel like part of the story.
Wildwood by Colin Meloy A middle grade fantasy adventure. Prue is a different sort of girl whose younger brother is abducted by a band of crows. She and her friend Curtis venture deep into Wildwood, a wilderness filled with secrets and dangers to recover Prue’s captured brother. The illustrations enhance the text so the reader can visualize the setting and characters the way the author intended. Visit http://www.wildwoodchronicles.com for a preview of the book and read about the author and illustrator.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu A middle grade fantasy adventure inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. Hazel and Jack are friends who share a liking of fantasy. Even though they are in the fourth grade and are boy and girl they are best friends until one day Jack stops talking to Hazel and disappears into an enchanted forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now Hazel must rescue her friend who may not want to be saved. Visit http://www.anneursu.com/books/books.html to read about the author and other books of interest.
A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole A lower grade (3-5) story centered on the adventures of a small mouse, Celeste. Celeste lives under a plantation home where John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph come to sketch the birdlife in the area. As the story opens Celeste is bullied by two rats to bring them food. Celeste makes a narrow escape from the house cat, meets new friends and makes discoveries. The pencil drawing illustrations help develop the story. Visit www.henrycole.com to view more of his contribution to childrenâ€™s literature through his art.
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens An upper middle grade (5-7) fantasy adventure novel is the first book in a series. Kate, Michael and Emma are separated from their parents and transported in time to a place ruled by a fair-haired Countess and her army of Screechers. Three books hold the secret to unimaginable power. The children are at the center of a journey to retrieve the emerald atlas, the first book, and find their parents. The book combines the story elements of the Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of the Rings books into one good read. Visit www.emeraldatlas.com to meet the characters, read a chapter and watch a trailer of The Emerald Atlas.
The Guardians of Gaâ€™Hoole, Book 1 The Capture by Kathryn Lasky Deep in the forest of Tyto, nestled into the arms of the fir trees, the Barn Owls dwell. Soren is born into their tranquil kingdom. But evil lurks in the owl world, evil that threatens to shatter Tyto's peace and change the course of Soren's life forever. First eggs begin to mysteriously disappear from their nests, then Soren himself is captured by a part of strange yellow-eyed owls. He finds himself in a dark and forbidding canyon. It's called an orphanage, the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, but Soren knows it's something far worse. Within his gizzard, the hope for escape remains alive, no matter how many rules, punishments, and sleepless days he faces at St. Aggie's.
He and his best friend, Gylfie, know the only way out of this place is up, so they will need to do something they have never done before — fly. Read
Secrets at Sea by Richard Peck Mice are not my favorite critters but I did enjoy the adventures of Helena and her three siblings. The Cranstons are the human family who want to marry off one of their daughters by sailing to London. Louisa, Helena’s mouse sister, has formed a close attachment to Camilla, the human Cranston and announces she would be most tragically sad to lose her. In order to keep Louisa happy and keep the mouse family together Helena agrees to stow away and join the Cranstons ocean voyage to London, a not too happy a prospect since mice do not like water. Ship board adventures keep the book moving at a lively pace. Sprinkled throughout the book Mr. Peck has included historical and cultural tidbits of the Victorian era which can lead to interesting discussions of that time period.
The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell I’m not one for ghost stories but I do like enchantment. Clara lives with her mother, Harriet, and Ruby the cook in a decaying mansion. The house is owned by Mrs. Glendoveer, the wife of a famous deceased magician. When Mrs. Glendoveer dies Clara becomes part of a mystery involving the name Elliot, a group of enchanted birds locked up in an aviary in the back yard, a key and a diary. As she attempts to unravel the secrets of the Glendoveer mansion she stumbles onto mysteries of her own past and enlists a new found friend to help her solve them.
Emmy And The Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell Rats are not an animal that people look upon kindly. In the book Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat Emmy, the good child never noticed in class, not even by the teacher, develops an unusual relationship with an opinionated, complaining rat, aka Raston or Ratty. Emmy’s life is controlled by Miss Barmy, her horrible nanny. Miss Barmy uses potions to control Emmy’s parents (the Addison’s), children in her class and anyone or rodent that comes between her and what she wants which is the Addison fortune. With the help of Ratty and Joe, Emmy’s soccer-loving classmate who shrinks to the size of an action figure, Emmy sets upon exposing Miss Barmy and her wicked plan. Amusing dialogue keeps the reader turning pages to discover what challenges Emmy will face next. Lynne Jonell has developed her characters so well that I found myself offering help in solving their problems. Many laugh out loud moments make this an engaging read. There are two sequels to Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat; Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls and Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry. I hope she writes more. Visit Lynne Jonell’s website at www.lynnejonell.com for more of her books and sections dedicated to teachers and children. After reading Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat do visit the ratblog at www.lynnejonell.com/ratblog/kids.html . It’s fun for children and adults.
Linda Walker was a teacher for 33 years with experience in several grade levels including teaching children with learning disabilities and the gifted. She is a 2005 Fellow of the National Writing Project. For many summers Linda has facilitated two specialty courses, Young History Writers and Young Nature Writers, for West Chester University’s Young Writers and Readers Program. She has been published in Highlights for Children.
Photography Credits Cover and table of contents Tulips
Tricia Ebarvia has been teaching English at Conestoga High School in the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District since 2001. Over the years, she has taught world, American, and European literature, as well as AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition. Tricia has taken several PAWLP courses and completed the PAWLP Reading and Literature Institute in 2008 and the Writing Institute in 2011. In addition to her love of reading and writing, Tricia also enjoys taking photographs and looking at the ways in which the visual and written worlds intersect. Tricia co-facilitated the Visualizing Words and Worlds course at the Brandywine with Teresa Moslak this past summer. Pier Reflections, Natureâ€™s Pathway, Sunset Calling, Golden Splendor
Patty has taught elementary school for the past 34 years in Ohio and Pennsylvania. She is currently an instructional support teacher for students in grades K-2 in the Downingtown Area School District. Patty is a PAWLP Fellow and has facilitated a variety of courses for teachers over the past 20 years. Most recently Patty has been teaching courses for youth and teachers at Longwood Gardens where she gets to combine her love of teaching and nature.
Monarch, Sunday China, North Sea Beach, Celtic Cemetery, Time Stands Still, Dragonfly
Meg has had many careers in her adult life from stockbroker to baker to brain injury nurse. The fates conspired until she finally found her passion â€“ teaching. A PAWLP Writing Fellow since 2005, Meg teaches fourth grade in the Central Bucks School District. She regularly presents at local and national conferences, particularly on technology integration. Meg facilitated Moving Writing into the 21 st Century: Integrating Technology and Language Arts in Bucks County this summer.
Photograph by Meg Griffin
Submission Guidelines Manuscripts should be sent by email as a word document attachment to PAWLPJOURNAL@wcupa.edu.Manuscripts should be double-spaced throughout (including quotations, endnotes, and works cited), with standard margins. Word 2000 or later is preferred. Authors using Macintosh software should save their work as Word for Windows. Paper submissions should be sent only when email is impossible. Please save copies of anything you send us. We cannot return any materials to authors.
Feature Articles: In general, manuscripts for articles should be no more than 10-15 doublespaced, typed pages in length (approximately 2500-3500 words). Feature articles can be on nearly anything dealing with the teaching of writing and reading. Provide a statement guaranteeing that the manuscript or photo has not been published or submitted elsewhere present or future in any format. Lessons: 300 – 750 words. Short, practical lesson plans to bring writing and reading into the classroom; cross-curricular ideas are encouraged. Book Reviews: 300 – 750 words. Reviews of recent books about the teaching of writing and reading, YA Literature, Children’s Literature, other books pertinent to education. Poetry & Prose: 6 – 750 words. As space permits, we’ll publish poetry and prose. Teacher Voice: 300 or fewer words on something you need to say! Original Photographs: Send title and location. Make sure all permissions are secured. Original Cartoons: Pertinent to Teaching Other: Something you know we should include but isn’t listed. General Guidelines Number all pages. Use in-text documentation, following the current edition of the MLA Handbook. Where applicable, a list of works cited and any other bibliographic information should also follow MLA style. List your name, address, school affiliation, the year that you became a PAWLP Fellow, telephone number, and email address on the title page only, not on the numbered pages of the manuscript. Receipt of manuscripts will be acknowledged by email, when possible.
210 East Rosedale is refereed, and manuscripts will be read by two or more reviewers. We will attempt to reach a decision on each article within four months. Prospective contributors should obtain a copy of the Guidelines for Gender-Fair use of Language.