Slice of Life: Four Presentations in the Days Ahead

(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.)

In the next two weeks, I am facilitating or co-facilitating four different workshops at three different places, and while I am making good progress, I still feel a bit scattered, thinking through all of the tasks I have to do to get it all into place.

October Presentations

This weekend, my Write Out colleague Bethany Silva and I are doing an online presentation for the 4TDW (teachers teaching teachers about technology and digital writing), and we used Zoom this weekend to finalize most of the planning. Online presentations like this are tricky because you want to engage the audience and encourage them to visit resources, but then you need to have them all come back to the platform. The virtual conference is free, by the way, and our session on Write Out (an initiative between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service) is on Saturday, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

A week from today, meanwhile, I am gathering with some grade 3-6 colleagues in our school district, as I have been asked to lead a Professional Learning Community around Project-Based Learning. I have a bunch of activities and activators all set up, but there is limited time, and we will meet only one more time this year. Yeah, not really a PLC. More like a PBL teaser, but I’ll do my best to get conversations started and underway.

Finally, two other presentations take place a week later at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project’s annual fall conference. on October 13 at UMass Amherst. There, I am doing another version of the Write Out workshop (but this time, more localized, around our work with the Springfield Armory National Historic Site) as well as a workshop about digital annotation and the Writing Our Civic Futures project from Educator Innovator. My aim is to get us annotating a text (by Linda Christensen) on paper (first, solo, and then as a workshop), then together, online, joining the crowd annotation project.

Phew. October just started, and it already seems busy.

Peace (sharing it),

#Writeout: The End is Just the Beginning

Where Write Out Goes

We’re wrapping up the summer portion of Write Out, after two full weeks of activity and sharing an open learning network. You can read the last newsletter — which has suggestions for video reflections via Flipgrid and a LRNG Playlist to continue the work of making connections into the school year — and the hope is that teachers find park rangers, and park rangers find teachers.

And that these partnerships help students find places beyond their schools and classrooms to become inspired to write about the world.

As the band, Semisonic, reminds us: Every new beginning starts from some other beginning’s end.

Peace (start at the end),



#Writeout: When Students Explore History Through Writing

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.

Peace (in time),

#Writeout: Hiking the Wild Mind, iteration three (video poem)

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.

Which version do you like?

Peace (in poems),

Curating the Second #WriteOut Twitter Chat

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.

Go to the curating Twitter Chat

Peace (in the sharing),

PS — I pulled out just the haiku poems

#Writeout: Hiking the Wild Mind, version two (audio poem)

The other day, I use some found sounds from the National Park Service website to inspire a poem I called “Hiking the Wild Mind.”

But I didn’t feel satisfied with it in that version. It was text with links to the sounds. What I wanted to do was have the poems and the sounds together, as a podcast.

So this second version — an audio poem —  is all about sound — of my voice mixed with the landscape.

I’ll be doing one more variation of the poem in the next day or two.

Peace (sounding out),



#Writeout: Hanging Out to Talk Writing Out

WriteOut Hangout2Last 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.

Peace (hanging out),

Slice of Life: Get Out and Wander Around

(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.

After the Rain

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.

Walking the Watershed

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.

Mill River Greenway Walk

What have you been seeing in your world?

Learn more about Write Out, a partnership between the National Writing Project and the National Park Service.

Peace (in the world),

From Possibilities to Connections

Write Out Map, wk 2

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.

Read the second Write Out Newsletter

See you on the trails! (Live events include a Connect with Me Google Hangout session on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. est and a Twitter Chat on Thursday at 7 p.m. est).

Peace (outside and in),