This is a bit of time-warp sharing, I guess. Although the two-week Write Out project formally is coming to a close this weekend, this writing camp project at our local National Park Service site — the Springfield Armory — happened just before Write Out started. But I finally got a video together to share out as we sorted out media permissions of students. Write Out is a partnership from National Writing Project and the National Park Service to connect educators to park spaces for place-based writing activities.
Our free summer camp — Minds Made for Stories — was aimed at middle school students from a social justice middle school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Funding for the camp came from Mass Humanities. Coordination of the camp involves the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, the Armory, the school system and the Veterans Education Project.
A component of this project is a series of Professional Development sessions that I facilitated with the Springfield teachers, who then helped run the camp. We are planning more PD at the Armory for the Fall as well, thanks to a grant from the National Writing Project.
We had nearly 20 students for a full week, at the Springfield Armory itself, exploring primary source material, using the museum itself as our “text,” welcoming visitors to the program to talk about women’s roles during WW2 and the Double V campaign for civil rights as well as a soldier’s life in the Civil War, and lots of different kinds of writing.
What kinds of writing? Some of the activities …
Every day, they wrote into the day in notebooks, reflecting on different topics that then framed the learning and exploration of the day
They conducted some research on issues related to the role of the Armory in history as a source of innovation and technology and chose from different genres to share their learning
They designed museums of their interest as architectural drawings, imagining themselves as architects and presented their plans to the group
They created an advertising campaign aimed at women during World War II after learning about propaganda and the ways words and image can come together
They wrote about our visitors — one women helped them understand rationing during the war as well as the role of the mythical Rosie the Riveter, another was a Vietnam War vet who talked about being a black American in the armed forces and the role of the Double V Campaign to spark the Civil Rights movement, and a third was a Civil War Re-Enactor who marched our campers through the fields
They reflected on their learning as they wrote out of the day in their notebooks
The video captures some of the student explorations, and one of our final “publishing” events for the camp was the creation of a public display of student work that is now on the floor of the Springfield Armory museum, giving Armory visitors a look into some of the writing that students did this summer.
All this to say, while a lot of Write Out work took place outside, and in beautiful forests and mountains and streams, there are also plenty of urban landscapes and history-rich buildings to explore, too.
This is the third version of a poem I wrote for Write Out, using found sounds from the National Park Service sound site. The first version was a text poem, with links to sounds. The second version was a podcast, with my voice layered with the sounds. This final version is a digital poem, with image and sound and voice.
What I have been trying to get at is how to best incorporate sound with a poem. While this version is the most visually pleasing, I admit that I sort of like the podcast — the version of just voice and sound — the best, for it forces you to imagine the animals and scenery. Here, I show you the image from the sound files.
I could not attend the second Twitter Chat for Write Out last night, so this morning, I spent some time digging into the questions and the responses as part of my curation after the fact.
I loved the use of a haiku inspired by the work of others (that is so Writing Project, as Dave says in his tweet) and the sharing of explorations as well as the thinking around student writing and publication. It was nice to see some new folks in the mix and the conversation is another example of how networking builds connections. Which is a main goal of Write Out itself.
Last night, the Write Out project had its second Google Hangout, and it was a full house of educators and park rangers. Dorothy and Vicki did a masterful job of coordinating the large group of participants.
We celebrated some of the work already being done in various spaces, explored ways we might get student writing published and connected during the school year, and then we focused a lot on partnerships between National Writing Project sites and National Park sites. The Write Out venture, now in its second week, is designed to help connect teachers and park rangers, and to encourage place-based writing (even if you don’t live or teach near a National Park.)
I joined in the discussion, too, with my NPS partner and friend – Scott Gausen — from the Springfield Armory. We shared our summer camp for youths and the professional development we do for teachers at the Armory itself, as we explore themes of social justice and civic action with primary source materials at the historic site.
Here is the recording of the conversation from last night:
Note: there’s a Twitter Chat tomorrow (Thurs) at the #writeout hashtag, starting at 7 p.m. EST.
(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)
I’ve been part of the Write Out project, and although I have in the past spent quite some time at our local National Park Historic Site — the Springfield Armory — mostly the past week, I have been wandering our local neighborhood on foot to pay closer attention to nature.
Yesterday, I started a walk before the summer rains returned. In the early morning, it was downpours for long stretches of time, following on the heels of rain the day before. I wanted to see the river, and boy, was it flowing! I had wanted to get a few more pictures, but the rains drove me home.
Recently, I wandered on foot to the nearby city-protected watershed area. It’s a beautiful place, and I startled a Blue Heron on my walk and then watched it float effortlessly and seemingly with patience right over the reservoir. I didn’t get the heron on camera because I didn’t want to interrupt the moment.
Finally, the nearby bike path is also a protected Greenway Space, so I spent time along there the past few days, too, poking my way off the foot trails.
We’re entering the second week of Write Out, where the themes do a natural shift from “mapping possibilities” to “mapping connections” as we urge educators and park rangers to make plans and efforts to connect with each other.
We have nearly 85 pins on our GeoLocation Map (which has been viewed now more than 1,300 times) and this week’s newsletter is now out with all sorts of invitations for you to think about. While the hope is that teachers will write with rangers, the larger aim is to make connections so that students will also have those opportunities.
As with the first week, we have broken down possibilities based on time you have available, so whether you only have a little bit of time (you might Wander) or a significant amount of time (you might Camp Out), there are possibilities for you to consider.
For our Write Out project, Ranger Cris Constantine of the NPS Northeast Regional Office shared out a wonderful page of park resources for teachers, which included a link from the Park Service of collected sounds from various park sites. I soon found myself immersed in the audio. I decided a day of approaching rain was a good day for an imaginary hike in the form of a poem, with embedded audio clips after each stanza. The source link for each audio file is down below. — Kevin
Hiking the Wild Mind
This morning, we heard
the rain fall
after many days
of sun (audio link)
Spending time at the Springfield Armory Historic Site immerses you in many maps. They are all over the place, helping to tell the story of the Armory over the course of time. Our writing project has a strong partnership with the Armory, where we have run professional development for teachers and summer camps for urban middle school students.
The collage above is some of the maps on display, and below is a poem I wrote about maps.
This is for Write Out, an open learning project sponsored by the partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service.
Last night, Bethany hosted an amazing Twitter Chat for WriteOut, in which participants explored a sense of place, the value of maps as a literacy tools, whose stories are not being told and more. This curation does not collect every tweet (there were more than 250 responses to just six questions, if my count is right), but I tried to gather as many as I could that kept the discussion flow going. I apologize if something you tweeted that seemed important to you got left out of the mix.
From a personal stance, I found the thread about a common appreciation for maps to uncover stories to be interesting, and it makes me think about explicit teaching of not just reading maps (valuable) but also the making of maps to tell stories. And there is the notion of what is left off the map, of course, and whose hand is behind the construction of a map (and what they want to highlight and what they want to leave off).
I also think the final question — about whose stories remain hidden in public spaces like National Parks and other historic sites — is critical for teachers to help students grapple with. Using primary sources and other historic materials, we can find those stories, and bring them to the surface in interesting ways. Park spaces are part of a nation’s memory, and we can’t forget the stories of those who have been lost or purposefully marginalized.