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PLWP Family Newsletter Upcoming Events:

• January 6: Deadline to sign up for Spring 2016 PLWP Graduate Courses

Celebrating 2016 ~ Anticipating 2017

• January 17: Spring 2016 PLWP Graduate Courses Begin • March 1: 2016 Summer Institute Application Deadline

interested teachers to the Summer Institute page on our website.

• March 2: High School Writing Day • April 9: Foodie Writing Marathon

Dear PLWP Family,

Starting in January, our PLWP Advisory Team is pleased to announce that we will be joined by a new Co-Director, Elisabeth Alkier (Bode Middle School, St. Joseph), and a new Summer Institute Director, Dana Barnes (Westview Elementary, Excelsior Spring). Congratulations to these new PLWP leaders!

Welcome to PLWP’s 2017 Holiday Letter! In it, we hope you find lots of information about upcoming PLWP events and programs, including several opportunities for you to reconnect and become involved.

Finally, a special thanks to Co-Director Amy Miller (MWSU) for compiling and editing this lovely newsletter and wrangling content from her fellow Advisory Team members who also organize our annual TC Gathering:

Happy holidays from the Director!

We loved seeing many of you at the TC Gathering, and we hope to see more of you at other events soon, like High School Writing Day on March 2, the Foodie Writing Marathon on April 8, the Writing Retreat at Conception Abbey June 9-11, or maybe on campus in one of our graduate classes.

Christie Jackson, Carden Park Elementary, SJSD

Josie Clark, Bode Middle School, SJSD

Dawn Terrick, MWSU

Heidi Mick, Platte County High School

• June 9-11: Writing Retreat Check your e-mail for more opportunities to reconnect and become involved with PLWP.

Folks, we really need your help recruiting • Valorie Stokes, Platte County High School for our 2017 Invitational Summer Institute. All the emails and flyers in the world don’t • Tom Pankiewicz, MWSU, Retired come close to a personal nudge and a sincere testimonial from YOU, reaching out to teachers who could really use some We hope you enjoyed a warm and restful winter teacher-centered, hands-on, life-changing, break and all the good things that the season has to offer. Best wishes for 2017! free professional development. When you promote this core program, please emphasize that Summer Institute applicants don’t have to be ELA teachers. We love it when friends in other content areas or educational roles can join us! Print off the flyer and application or send

Sincerely, Susan Martens PLWP Director MWSU Assistant Professor of English

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Working with Area Youth Christie Jackson and Josie Clark Youth Camp The quiet halls of higher learning reverberated with the excitement of approximately 110 students from around Saint Joseph for four weeks in June during Write the World on Fire, the 2016 Elementary Writing Project. Five teachers (Elisabeth Alkier, Christie Jackson, Raelynn Stroud, Robin Pettegrew, and JoLynn Venneman) led students from public and private schools in Saint Joseph in writing lessons, writing groups, reading groups, and writing marathons on the MWSU campus. As always, the energy during the camp and the enthusiasm for the experience afterwards were high. Student comments on our end of the year writing project survey included statements like, “I loved writing camp!”, “It was amazing,” and “Thank you for making me a better writer.” This unique partnership between PLWP, MWSU, and the St. Joseph School District continues to write a chapter in the creative lives of our young writers!

prompts to get our voices rolling, and then we dove into writing projects for the remainder of the day. We explored the nooks and crannies of campus, stopping every now and then to write and share on writing marathons--many of the students’ favorite activities. The seventh and eighth grade writers also sprinkled “love letters to strangers” around campus, spreading joy and motivation to those who found them. Students did lots of digital writing too, such as creating children’s books on a site called StoryBird and sharing them with elementary students, crafting videos that told amazing stories, and getting lost in a cool site called Inklewriter. At the end of each day, students wrote to a student-generated prompt, and although it could get pretty silly, some powerful voices were unleashed in the process. Next year’s theme (suggested by a 2016 participant): “Creative Minds.” Here are some student responses to their “Voices Unleashed” experience:

Middle School Camp This summer, 25 middle school authors gathered on the campus of Missouri Western to explore their creativity in this year’s “Voices Unleashed” Middle School Writing Project. Although middle schoolers don’t often find difficulty in unleashing their voices out loud, this year’s theme focused on exploring the power of voices on the page.

“Where do I even begin? It was all such an amazing experience! I really liked the writing marathon, making new friends, writing happy letters, and learning new ways of writing!”

We began our

“Writing, duh!”

High School Writing Day


with random


“It was so fun to just let go and believe in the impossible for a little while.”

Middle School Alliance Josie Clark

Amy Miller This year’s High School Writing Day was another rousing success. We even had to limit enrollment just to avoid last year’s wee issue of a few too few chairs. Our theme for the day, “Mash It Up,” allowed students to blend genres, voices, styles, and other elements of their writing in new and interesting ways. This year, nearly 200 students from 14 area schools attended, including 5 schools new to High School Writing Day. Eleven workshops—each taught twice— were offered by nine Missouri Western English faculty members and two Prairie Lands Teacher Consultants who are also area high school teachers. From pine cones as poetry inspiration to interviewing and shooting footage across campus to create a convergent news piece, students spent the day exploring what it means to be a writer. High School Writing Day 2017 is right around the corner, scheduled for Thursday, March 2nd, and will explore the often blurry line between fact and fiction.

In 2014, PLWP received a SEED Teacher Leadership grant to create partnerships with area teachers that could support creative writing in middle schools. This team, led by Josie Clark and Elisabeth Alkier (Bode Middle School), created a Middle School Writing Alliance and annual reading. Along the way, this cohort reached area teachers, who met with Clark and Alkier to brainstorm, plan, and share ideas. A few area teachers joined the two for fun times at Bode Middle School’s Writing Club with plans to launch clubs at their own schools or get creative writing lesson ideas. It was a blast!

work. We plan on keeping the tradition of Middle School Writing Night alive in the coming years, and we’d love to have students from different schools represented! If you’d be interested in checking out Clark and Alkier’s creative writing club or joining us in the next Middle School Writing Night, please contact Josie Clark ( We would love more teachers

Our second annual Middle School Writing Night was held on April 18, 2016. Coordinated by Clark and Alkier, this reading brought together several area teachers and parents to listen to middle school authors share their amazing Page Two - PLWP 2016 ● ● ● (816) 271-4315

English 100 Students Become Cultural Archivists with Story Corps

I3 College-Ready Writers Program

Amy Miller

On a hot July afternoon, I had the good fortune of being invited, along with several other CRWP Advanced Institute scholars, to visit with the Summer Institute folk for a few minutes. Luck partnered me with Savannah Middle School teacher Blake Thorne, who told me that StoryCorps had an app which would allow students to record interviews and upload them, where they’d be archived in the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center. My colleague, Brooksie Kluge, and I set to work reimagining our English 100 Interview Essay as a chance for our students to become archivists of their own family and community wisdom. Students interviewed close friends and family members about important decisions or circumstances they’d faced in the course of their lives. They touched on everything from a grandfather’s choice to drop out of high school to teen pregnancy, drug addiction, adoption, and so much more. Check out their work on the StoryCorps website and maybe try the app out in your classroom, or interview your own family member!.

Tom Pankiewicz

PLWP concluded its three-year grant work on the College Ready Writers Program last Spring. The third year allowed Prairie Lands TCs to present the CRWP theory and lessons to the study's control schools: Trenton, Winston and Osborn. ELA teachers in those schools received 45 hours of professional development on teaching argument through a series of daylong workshops held at Trenton Middle and High Schools. ELA teachers in grades 7 through 10 practiced routine argument writing, offered four cycles on the skills of reading and writing argument, and revised two arguments. Jane Frick, Janet Jelavich, Terri McAvoy, Amy Miller, Kathy Miller, and Tom Pankiewicz served as coaches, visiting classes, meeting with teachers, and, at times, presenting model lessons. A timed writing sample, written at the end of the school year, was scored as part of a national on-line scoring session in August. While no school received individual results, nationally the late-start schools improved in every category assessed.

Hyde Teachers Study Writing in PLWP PD Series Tom Pankiewicz

Spring 2016 Graduate Courses Congratulations to Jamie Duddy, who graduated this December with her Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing. Jamie teaches first grade in Albany, and she started in the Certificate program with her six graduate credit hours from the Invitational Summer Institute in 2015, then took a graduate class each semester thereafter for a total of 18 graduate credit hours. Each class she took was at the special MWSU/PLWP teacher tuition rate of $75 per credit hour. Two of the classes Jamie took are being offered this Spring, ENG 500 Adolescent Literature (Wednesday 5:00-7:50 with Dr. Mike Cadden) and ENG/EDU 512 Teaching Writing with Technology (Tuesdays 5:00-6:20 and online with Dr. Susan Martens). The deadline for registering is Jan. 6. Summer Institute credit hours may also be applied toward MWSU's Master of Applied Arts in Written Communication or Master of Applied Science in Assessment of Writing degree programs. If you are interested in taking either of these classes or applying for the Graduate Certificate program at MWSU, contact Susan Martens:

Prairie Lands Writing Project is offering a year-long series of workshops and model lessons in the teaching of writing to third through sixth grade teachers at Hyde Elementary School in St. Joseph. Tom Pankiewicz facilitates the professional development with Terri McAvoy and Christie Jackson serving as thinking partners. After an August launch focused on using the Writer's Notebook for

practice and play and establishing a routine of daily writing, teachers examined approaches to narrative writing in September and opinion/argument writing in November. Each full-day professional development session included time for teachers to write in the genre as well as time for grade-level teams to study how the PD could be woven into the their current and future lessons. Following each PD day, Tom presented two days of model lessons in each grade and held debriefing conversations with the teachers. The model lesson topics were selected by the classroom teachers to blend into current lessons. The final day-long workshop and model lesson cycle on informational writing will be held in February.

PLWP Goes to Atlanta Tom Pankiewicz Susan Martens, Amy Miller and Tom Pankiewicz represented Prairie Lands at National Writing Project's Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 17 and 18. On Thursday, Susan and Amy led one of the table conversations in the “Addressing Issues of Equity and Diversity” workshop. Their table discussion focused on using the Writing Marathon with at-risk students. Following this workshop and the General

Meeting, the Prairie Lands attended a variety of workshops.


On Friday, Susan took part in the Atlanta Writing Marathon while Amy and Tom attended the College Ready Writers Program's Mid-Year Meeting. Amy and Tom served as table leaders for CRWP teams from Writing Project sites in New Hampshire, Northern California, and Central Arizona.

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Invitational Summer Institute Welcomes New TCs Susan Martens In addition to recognizing TC Tori Grable (Bode Middle School, St. Joseph) for completing the Summer Institute for her second time, CoFacilitators Dana Barnes, Elisabeth Alkier, and Susan Martens certified the following teachers: • Nicole Carter (South Nodaway Middle School) • Danyal Coon (Tri-County R-VII Jr/Sr High School) • Keith Edmonston (Braymer Jr/Sr High School) • Cindy Faucett (Eugene Field Elementary School, SJSD) • Michelle Geeting (Nodaway-Holt Jr/Sr High School) • Lisa Kirk (Winston Elementary School) • Reilly Maloney (East Buchanan High School) • Diane Mora (Northwest Missouri/UMKC RPDC) • Lisa Owen (Clinton County Middle School)

PLWP is on Instagram


• Jay Scott (South Holt Jr/Sr High School) • Blake Thorne (Savannah Middle School)


Congratulations on your new credentials as PLWP and National Writing Project Teacher Consultants!

Follow @theplwp

Please join us in welcoming these new TCs into the professional home that mean so much to so many of us, and please be sure to share information with other educators, K-College, from all content areas, to apply for the 2017 Invitational Summer Institute.

2016 Fall TC Gathering Dawn Terrick

well as the significance of Prairie Lands Writing Project.

The Fall TC Gathering was held on Saturday, October 8, 2106, at Missouri Western State University. Even though this was only the second year for the TC Gathering, I realize that each year has had its own character and has provided something more than lessons to bring back to our students. I have found a sense of something a bit more intangible, a feeling of reflection and satisfaction. This year, connecting with two students from the past, that are now TCs, moved me to reflect upon my teaching career as

To begin the event, I hosted “Writing Into the Day” where I read Grace Paley’s poem, “Responsibility,” and then asked participants to write about what they want to “keep an eye on” in this world, whether that world is their family, classroom, city, country or globe. TCs were encouraged to think about why they want to be heard. Next, Susan Martens, Director of Prairie Lands Writing Project, offered her State of the NWP. The gathering continued with Ignite Talks which made everyone reflect upon their own teaching. Stacia Studer, from Bode Middle School, asked “What is the Role of Talk in the Reading and Writing Classroom?” Rachel Daniels, from Lathrop Middle School, presented on the “Digital

Writing Workshop” and Cindy Faucett, from Eugene Field Elementary School, provided insight into “Canned Curriculum.” The event ended with a celebration of the written and spoken word through the powerful slam poetry of Diane Mora and Terrance Sanders. With each presentation and activity, I found ideas and activities to bring back to my own classroom as well as motivation for my own writing. Yet, what was even more powerful, was the realization of the personal and professional relationships I have created and fostered over the years while a TC. When I first sat down at my table that Saturday morning, I saw a familiar face – Jay Scott. Just a couple of years ago, Jay sat in my ENG 466

classroom. He was preparing to graduate and I was preparing him to be a teacher. And to hear him, on this Saturday morning, share his teaching stories and see how he is cultivating his passion and career was incredible. Then, sitting on the other side of me was Cindy Faucett, who, I come to find out, was a student of mine from 15 years ago! I believe it is these connections – connections with our past, present and future teaching selves, connections with literacy and education and, most important, connections with our students and colleagues – that make Prairie Lands Writing Project and events like the TC Gathering exceptionally valuable and authentic. I look forward to next year’s gathering and hope to see you there. You never know what you will learn and who you will meet!

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Reconnect with Writing and Your Writing Project Family Writing Marathon Susan Martens PLWP's 2017 Open Writing Marathon will be our "Foodie Writing Marathon" on Saturday, April 8, launching from MWSU at 9:30 and wrapping up in downtown St. Joseph by 3:30. This year, TCs with experience in the culinary world will give brief talks to inspire our taste buds, our memories, and our pens.

Writing Retreat Susan Martens PLWP will again host our Writing Retreat at Conception Abbey in Conception, MO. It will run from 6 p.m. on Friday, June 9, through 2 p.m. Sunday, June 11, 2017. The Retreat offers: • TIME—to reflect, to converse with fellow writers, to break away from life’s distractions, and mostly to write • SUPPORT—a community of National Writing Project Teacher Consultants who can help develop all types of writing and offer publishing advice • FOCUS—a quiet, meditative environment where participants can focus on writing • GENRE FREEDOM—This retreat is open to all kinds of writing: creative and professional, fiction and nonfiction, poetry, memoir, and other forms. • A GUEST EDITOR—Dr. Marianne Kunkel (MWSU) will give a talk on publishing and be available for individual conversations on Saturday. Marianne is the author of the chapbook The Laughing Game (Finishing Line Press) as well as poems that have appeared in Notre Dame Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Columbia Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She served as managing editor of Prairie Schooner at UNL and currently serves as editor-in-chief of MWSU’s The Mochila Review. • OPTIONAL WRITING MARATHON—Prairie Lands Writing Project Director Dr. Susan Martens will lead an optional writing marathon on Saturday morning.

Mark your calendars and come out to hear Diane Mora (UMKC/NW RPDC), Jody Yuille (Cameron HS FACS) and Stephanie Haenni (St. Joseph Central HS FACS). This event is free and open to all of your writing-friendly family and friends. We would especially love to see Career and Technical Education teachers join us to see that PLWP isn't just for ELA teachers, so find a CTE or FACS teacher friend and bring them along! PLWP Writing Marathons inspired lots of writing from Teacher Consultants and community members in 2016. In April, seven writers gathered to explore St. Joseph and draw inspiration from each other’s good company at favorite stops like Café Pony Espresso, the Downtown St. Joseph Library, and Bourbon Street. In the fall, nine writers participated in the PLWP graduate course ENG/EDU 502: Professional Learning Communities—Writing Marathons and wrote at several more stops, including Paradox Coffee and Theater, the St. Joseph Frontier Casino, and the First Ward House, in addition to a diverse array of solo stops which they shared on a virtual writing marathon as part of the class. Participants in both of these marathon experiences were invited to develop their writing into pieces for a feature story on the PLWP website. Check it out!

• OPTIONAL GRADUATE CREDIT—Participants may register for one Missouri Western State University graduate credit hour: EDU/ENG 502 Professional Learning Community: Professional Writing Retreat. Dr. Susan Martens, PLWP Director, will serve as graduate instructor. The graduate credit fee is $75, plus MWSU’s one-time graduate application fee of $45, if not already paid. This course counts toward several MWSU graduate degrees. The cost for the retreat by itself is $175, which includes two nights’ lodging in a private room at the Abbey and five meals. The cost of the retreat plus one graduate credit hour is $250. Registration deadline: May 15. To reserve a space, email PLWP Director Dr. Susan Martens at: Include your name, email, school and/or NWP site affiliation, evening phone, and grad credit option.

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TC Spotlight Valorie Stokes & Heidi Mick

In our PLWP spotlight this year are two TCs, Geoff Heckman ‘04 and Stacia Studer ‘07, who earned high accolades this past year at district and state levels. PLWP congratulates both of these outstanding teacher leaders. Please send your kudos for any TC accomplishments so that we can share the good news with the PLWP Network to

Geoff Heckman, 2004 PLWP TC and Platte County R3 High School’s Counseling Department Head, was recognized earlier this fall as Missouri's Counselor of the Year by the Missouri School Counselor Association. Recognition is given annually to individuals who have made major contributions to the counseling profession. Mr. Heckman was honored at the MSCA Fall Conference at Tan-Tar-A and was not only selected as the Secondary Counselor of the Year for Missouri, but also the State Counselor of the Year. He'll go on to compete at the National level for his work in school counseling. In his nomination recommendation, Dr. Chad Sayre, PCHS Principal, stated, "What makes him an exceptional candidate for Counselor of the Year is the positive impact he has made with our students, staff, parents, and other counselors at PCHS and from across the state."

Stacia Studer, 2007 PLWP TC and Eighth Grade Communication Arts teacher at Bode Middle School in St. Joseph, Missouri, was recognized as the school district’s Teacher of the Year 2016, at a ceremony in the spring. The St. Joseph School District Foundation, in partnership with several St. Joseph businesses, announced the honor at their annual Tribute to Teachers and Staff event at the Fulkerson Center on the MWSU Campus. “This award is not about me,” said Studer, “This award is about the mentors that my instructional leaders placed around me to grow and challenge me as an educator. This award is about my students; each one of them has shaped the educator I am today.” Principal Roberta Dias offered these observations about her honoree: “Stacia is the ultimate example, modeling her thinking about a piece of rich text with students, sharing her own examples of writing, even poems, and continually encouraging students to become great readers and writers.” In other words, Studer lives and breathes the NWP philosophy in her classroom to the benefit of both her colleagues and students.

Meet the Newest Addition to our PLWP Family! Hi Everyone! I’m Piper. You may have seen me in the PLWP office window, or perhaps at the Fall Gathering back in October. You can generally find me around the office trying to help out. On a typical day, I might answer phones, fill out paperwork, print documents, organize book shelves, heat lunches, and generally try to add a bit of holiday cheer to the office by decorating or showing off my fashion forward sense of style. Stop by and say hi when you have a chance, or keep an eye out for my appearance at PLWP events!

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PLWP Holiday Newsletter 2016  
PLWP Holiday Newsletter 2016