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Week 1 - Introductions & Expectations

Howdy.  Welcome to the course and here we go. 

My name's Bud Hunt.  For the last ten years, I've been a language arts teacher in northern Colorado.  My classroom experience has been primarily with high school students, but as I've transitioned into a role as an instructional technology coordinator, I am working more and more with students across the range of K-12.  As a teacher, I had an experience with the National Writing Project that literally changed me as a teacher and a writer.  Those continued experiences with the NWP are a big part of why I'm here as your facilitator.

And I think writing is essential to learning.  I've written about that before.  Lots.  So I'll let you take a look there if you want to know more about my thoughts on the importance of writing for teaching and learning, but be warned - while I struggle with writing, and boy, do I mean STRUGGLE, I believe it's worth doing.  

And so that's why we're here.  Over the next six weeks, I'm looking forward to working with you to learn more about how writing works for you and your students.  I'm also looking forward to exploring the Common Core State Standards and what they have to offer teachers of writing.  This should be fun - but know that I don't have all the answers here.  My job, as the facilitator of this course, is to help create an environment where we can explore these standards and writing together. 

I'll know we were successful if you leave this course excited to write with your students.  

To that end - here are my expectations for you for the next six weeks.  

  • I'll have outlines for every week of the course posted.  They'll contain a bunch of activities - sometimes just questions, other times stuff to read and respond to.  Sometimes, I'll ask you to try something with your students or colleagues.  
  • Every Tuesday night at 7:30PM Mountain, I'll have a live session for an hour or so to dig deeper into the week and/or to invite a guest or two in to talk with us about writing in their classroom and/or discipline.  You don't have to attend the live sessions - they'll be recorded, too - but it'd be great if you're willing and able.  
  • I expect that you'll read and respond and try those things out.  Most important - I expect that you'll be an active participant in this course.  We need for you to write and share and think and dream and wonder and critically examine with us.  We will all be better people because of it. We can't learn unless you are actively engaging the content and each other.  Learning is a social process
  • In my mind, I'm thinking you'll spend about four to six hours a week on these activities and in conversation with each other.  Your mileage may vary.  That's okay.  More's great.  And life happens.  

Please introduce yourself to the group in the comments to this task.  Tell us who you are and what you do and what your hopes and fears for writing and learning together are.  Also, please state your willingness to agree to working and talking and writing and learning together.  

Let's get to work.  I'm looking forward to learning with you.  

Task Discussion

  • Jocelyn Condenzio-Hall   Oct. 31, 2011, 5:23 p.m.

    Hello!  First,  I'd like to apologize to everyone for not participating sooner because I actually thought I was still a follower!  That's what happens when you work two teaching jobs!  I promise to catch up and look forward to working with you all.

    Let me introduce myself:  My name is Jocelyn Condenzio-Hall and I am an Adjunct at Daytona State College teaching Developmental Reading courses to incoming freshmen, as well as a remote virtual teacher of Social Studies at Bridgewater Academy.  I'm going non-stop from 8:00am-8:30pm every day! 

    As a teacher of both reading and social science, I strive to teach my students the importance of writing well to express meaning and communicate one's thoughts.  I find it an upward battle at times because many of my students are part of the texting generation where all thoughts are reduced to bite-size bits of words for brevity, not meaning.  I try to help them see the beauty of the English language as a means to express the thoughts and feelings they have deep inside.  It doesn't always work, but I'll keep trying! :)

  • karen   Nov. 1, 2011, 6:26 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jocelyn Condenzio-Hall   Oct. 31, 2011, 5:23 p.m.

    Hi, Jocelyn. It sounds like you are one busy person! At any rate, welcone to this group. If you have time to attend one of the Tuesday night webinars (see syllabus), it would be great to have you there. I have really enjoyed these sessions and getting a chance to chat (and write) with such smart folks.

  • Jessie Shores   Oct. 20, 2011, 9:18 a.m.

    My name is Jessie Shores and I am an English teacher for an online school in MN.  I have been an English teacher for about 4 years, but working for an online school is surprisingly wonderful.  My school has lab hours where students come in to do work, get extra help and to talk with their teachers.  This is nice because I still get the interaction with my students.  I am the sole English teacher for my school, so this term I have 7 preps, which can get a bit overwhelming.  Luckily, I have a very supportive staff that helps when things start to bury my.  :)

    I also have a wonderful family that is very supportive.  I live with my husband, whom I've been with for 10 years, and our 2 year old daughter Elizabeth.  Elizabeth keeps me pretty busy and I also have a baby due in April, so my energy is not what it used to be.  I enjoy scrapbooking, watching movies and reading books.  I mostly like to read books that movies have been based off of.  I watch the movie and then read the book to see the differences.  The book is always better, but this way I'm able to enjoy them both.

    I'm very excited about this experience.  I'm interested to see what everyone has to bring to the table and to learn from all of you.  :) 

  • Paul Oh   Oct. 17, 2011, 7:47 p.m.

    Hi all,

    A little late to the game - my apologies - but I just returned from a two-week trip.

    My name is Paul Oh and I work at the National Writing Project, a grass-roots organization that focuses on writing & teacher leadership. My work is mainly in the realm of digital literacies. Prior to coming to NWP, I taught young kids in a variety of settings. And I worked for a few years as a journalist.

    In response to the hopes and fears prompt, I would say that my hope is to learn as much as I can from other educators in this course about their hopes and fears related to Common Core. My fear is that I have much to learn about writing and the Common Core standards.


  • Susan   Oct. 18, 2011, 4:22 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   Oct. 17, 2011, 7:47 p.m.

    Hi Paul, so glad you are with us. Though I've never been a part of the NWP, it is my go to site for everything I need to do with writing. One day I hope to make a summer seminar, too:)

  • karen   Oct. 19, 2011, 4:16 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Paul Oh   Oct. 17, 2011, 7:47 p.m.

    Welcome (and welcome back), Paul! Hope your trip was fabulous.

  • Cindy Minnich   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:42 p.m.

    I've finally been reunited with a computer (I've realized that this site and my phone are NOT compatible - I'll adjust) to be able to post on this.

    My name is Cindy Minnich and I am a high school English teacher in rural Central Pennsylvania (north of Harrisburg) - blessed to teach the book ends this year - both 9th and 12th grade. I have had my 12th graders before and am still getting to know my 9th graders, but I think I'm in for a pretty fascinating year. They all seem willing to go along for the adventure of learning with me, and for that, I'm incredibly lucky. I also am advisor to the high school yearbook.

    I love to write. I don't even mind sharing what I write. But I will admit: I'm a bit nervous about this undertaking.

    It's not the conversation or the work or the brain sweat all of the above will create. It's not even that I'll be up after my bedtime for our real-time discussions.

    It's the fact that there are "followers" for this course.

    Does that seem weird? There are followers to our blogs. There are followers to the website where we archive #engchat. There are people who follow what I post on Twitter, on Facebook, on ECNing, on my class website. (Eventually, maybe, there will be people who follow my blog.)

    So what's the big deal?

    I never really thought about that extra audience before. I generally just consider the audience I'm interacting with at the moment and don't always think about others watching what I do.

    (That's not to say I don't have my own little angel on my shoulder reminding me that I need to be nice and behave online to make sure that I don't end up having my words bite me in the butt.)

    I'll be fine once I get going (as I apparently have here).

    I feel silly even seeing that "fear" put down in black and white. Totally ridiculous.

    But, you asked and I told.

    Other than that, I'm thrilled at the same opportunity to share in this experiment/experience with people I have so much respect for.

    Ironically, that doesn't make me nervous one bit. What better way is there to learn? :)


  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:48 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Cindy Minnich   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:42 p.m.

    Glad you're here, Cindy.  It IS a little different to be in this space - but I'm looking forward to figuring it out and seeing what we can do with the experience.  

  • karen   Oct. 11, 2011, 2:29 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Cindy Minnich   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:42 p.m.

    Cindy, interesting to read about the "followers" issue. Thanks for writing about it.

    I sometimes feel something similar about other online environments. For example, on Twitter, I never think about the "followers" because I know it's all public anyway, and lots of people follow lots of others.

    But recently on Google + (which I guess is a little more private or at least selectively viewable), I find myself thinking much more about followers. Who are some of these people? Why are they following me? And why do some of them occasionally link a specific post to me? Who are they? Do they know me? Do I know them? It's all a bit paranoid I guess, but interesting to ponder.

    At any rate, I myself am a "follower" in this couse. (I coordinate the P2PU School of Ed and facilitating a couple other classes.) For me, I didn't feel I could commit to the requirements to "participate" (I'm also doing NaNoWriMo), but am keenly interested in seeing what happens here.

    I suspect that other followers are the same.

    At any rate, have fun, and thanks for sharing!

  • KevinHodgson   Oct. 11, 2011, 4:37 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Cindy Minnich   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:42 p.m.

    Hey yo

    I follow your blog.


    I wonder if as the pond gets bigger, we feel less concerned about followers because our ripples are smaller. But the smaller the pond, the louder our voice -- and the more attuned me are to the impact of those words.


  • Amanda   Oct. 10, 2011, 8:01 p.m.

    Good evening!

    My name is Amanda Riddle, and I currently teach 7th grade ELA in Asheville, NC.  This year our district created a team to train all teachers on the new CCSS, and I was chosen to lead one of the middle school ELA teams.  Professionally, my focuses for the past few years have been expanding my knowledge of literacy strategies, 21st century skills, and technology incorporation. There are many issues to overcome in these areas, and I feel that I need to continue to pursue my own learning if I'm also going to encourage my students to as well.  

    As I've lived in the mountains my entire life (currently NC, but previously CO), I enjoy hiking, kayaking, and generally being outside as much as possible.  I try to be fairly active in social media: Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.  Being engaged in my surroundings helps me to learn from everyone!  

    When it comes to writing together, so many times tone is difficult to convey.  Something one person feels is pithy, another person sees as insulting.  Also, many times it is so much easier to convey thought through speech-just getting it out aloud, and hearing it.  There are so many times that as soon as I read what I've written aloud, I, that's really silly, I have to change that.  I don't think any of this cannot be overcome, just extra considerations to take in a learning/writing environment.

    I'm really looking forward to this course to expand my knowledge of Writing within the CCSS, and I agree to all of the expectations.  Unfortunately I won't be able to make the first Tuesday night session, but I should be able to after that!

  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:50 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Amanda   Oct. 10, 2011, 8:01 p.m.

    Amanda - 

    Welcome!  My brother's in Asheville now - and I grew up just outside of Raleigh before I moved out here to Colorado.  Small world sometimes.  

    I am looking forward to learning more about how you're preparing your district for working with the CCSS.  Don't worry about the online session - it'll be recorded and we'll see you next week.

  • Fred Haas   Oct. 10, 2011, 12:56 p.m.

    Greetings all,

    I am an English teacher at a high school in the Boston suburbs. Like Kevin, I too am a technology liaison, only in Eastern Massachusetts, at the Boston Writing Project. This past year I spent a lot of time looking at the Common Core and its impact on writing instruction with a team of teacher consultants from across Massachusetts, as well as teams from around the nation, as part of the Literacy Design Collaborative effort with the National Writing Project, which proved to be a fascinating journey, and ultimately more informative and interesting than even thought when I started. I'll happily share more on that experience.

    In terms of hopes and fears for all of us here. My main fear is that I never feel like I write enough or take enough time to really commit to writing, at least not as much as I ever hope. So I remain hopeful that I can remain consistent and committed to what I might be called a writing life, including a course like this. I feel like I am forever falling off the writing wagon, when it comes to producing my own work for me. Nonetheless, I am always willing to keep trying.



  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:56 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Fred Haas   Oct. 10, 2011, 12:56 p.m.

    Howdy, Fred.  

    Man - I'm looking forward to hearing more about the screenwriting class you're teaching - I think you mentioned it in another post - and I'm always glad to have a WP colleague in spaces like this one.  Your experience with the CCSS will come in handy, too, I suspect - and I'm really curious about the Literacy Design Collaborative - where can I learn more about that work?

    When you write that you're "forever falling off the writing wagon," man.  I know what that feels like - and it's oddy reassuring that it happens to other folks, too.  

    Glad you're here.

  • Fred Haas   Oct. 11, 2011, 4:43 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:56 p.m.


    So the Literacy Design Collaborative is an ongoing effort that NWP is still engaged, funded by the Gates Foundation. Massachusetts had a team of people from the state's three sites as part of the first cohort in year one. On the broadest level, it was a curriculum development effort testing a particualr pedagogical model derived from some university research, out of UCLA if I recall correctly, and the Common Core, among other Gates funded initiatives.

    There is a site available on NWP Connect, although I am only a member and can't invite you to have a look. I bet if you ask Elyse, she might let you take a peek. Beyond that, Colorado is one of the new, current cohrots, currently involved as a state network. So, I am guessing if you ask around at your site, you could very quickly be put in touch with somebody on that team. I'd be happy to chat about more with you too, but there is probably people in your own backyard.



  • KevinHodgson   Oct. 8, 2011, 5:45 a.m.

    Hi everyone

    I am Kevin Hodgson, and I teach sixth grade in Western Massachusetts. I am also a technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. And I am a co-author/editor of the collection Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change and Assessment in the 21st Century. I am here because our state has made the shift to its own version of the Common Core and as I begin to examine my own curriculum in light of those changes, I am trying to navigate a sensible way forward with my curriculum. I am lucky, in that I have a lot flexibility for what I am teaching, as long as I hit the frameworks. Of course, that could change in a heartbeat.

    The biggest shift I see as an ELA teacher is that the Common Core makes a sharp turn into informational text and expository/persuasive writing, and has much less emphasis on narrative writing (although Massachusetts added those elements back in). Much of my writing program has been around narrative writing and craft.

    So, I am excited to begin a conversation about what this all might mean and have a space to think aloud in.


  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 9:59 p.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   Oct. 8, 2011, 5:45 a.m.

    Kevin - 

    Always good to see you, friend.  I've been hearing lots of people worried about the shift away from narrative as you describe it in your intro - but I'm wondering about that.  Seems to me that narrative and personal writing are still present - if less emphasized than in Colorado, and, it sounds like, Massachusetts' previous standards.  As I attack the CCSS standards tonight, I'll be looking for those places where narrative is missing.  Help me draw those out - I think personal writing is important for students, but that perhaps informational writing is sometimes underemphasized.

    Glad that our live sessions won't interfere with band practice.  I wouldn't be okay with you missing that.  

  • Shelly   Oct. 5, 2011, 7:55 a.m.

    Good morning! 

    My name is Shelly Sims, and I have been an educator for 20 years. We moved from the West Coast to the East Coast 5 years ago. I teach at a k-12 school with 1,600 students. We are in three discrete buildings and on the same property, so this is a unusual configuration. I am currently housed in the elementary school (k-5). I have taught from k to high school, so feel that allows me a unique perspective.  I am the Academic Initiatives Mentor which means that I direct curriculum and am an instructional coach. I also assist the principal in her duties. 

    I am a life-long writer - have kept a journal since the 3rd grade. I have not jumped into the blogosphere, but am an active stalker of other's blogs! I am still in the "thinking" stages of writing online. I have a strong PLN on Twitter and have learned so much through these colleagues.

    Recently, I re-discovered the art of letter writing. My oldest son entered the Air Force, and we have only been able to communicate through letters. I have to say that I have learned more about my son through this experience than I had in his entire adolescence. I also discovered that he is quite a talented writer and storyteller with a unique "voice"! When I miss him, I have a tangible stack of letters, written in his own hand, that I can re-read. There is something comforting in that. SO that has also got me thinking, also........

    I am looking forward to learning with all of you as we explore the writing and the Common Core. I have many questions.......

  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 10:28 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Shelly   Oct. 5, 2011, 7:55 a.m.


      Welcome - I wish I did letters - I haven't owned a printer for 8 of the last ten years - and that's made letters tricky.  I've also found that I'm in short frequent contact with most folks - like Twitter can sap my will to write longer blog posts, so IM can strip me of my need/desire to write linger pieces to people.  Certainly something to ponder - as I hae a cigar box full of old letters in my basement.  I don't look at them - but I HAVE them, if that makes sense, and it's important.

    Looking forward to learning with you - 

  • Susan   Oct. 5, 2011, 7:52 a.m.

    Though I recently left the classroom to pursue other educational spaces, my love of writing to reflect always pulls me back to students. I am about to start tutoring middle schoolers in a writing workshop. For most of my career, I taught 8th and 9th graders, either language arts or journalism. I did spend a couple of years working full time for our local newspaper as a reporter (with a different name), and most recently I've worked with the folks from Powerful Learning Practice. I look forward to learning and sharing in this space.

    I have two grown sons, one grandchild, and two more on the way. I live in a historic town in Virginia- in an old home with creaky floors and five fireplaces. My golden retriever barks constantly, and my cat sleeps most of day. 

    I love to connect in online spaces, and I really look forward to getting to know and working with everyone. I don't know much about the Common Core, and this seems like a great place to explore and learn. This blog is where I reflect on a variety of topics, but I'll post here for this class. Sometimes I tweet, too. You may not see me at every Tuesday night class as I am a morning person (I get up at 5am), and I usually go to bed around 9. So staying up for a class that starts at 9:30 will be tough. But I'm up for trying, and I will certainly give it my best shot and listen to the archives:)

  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 10:30 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Susan   Oct. 5, 2011, 7:52 a.m.



      So glad you're here - and I do hope you'll say more or point me to stories about a house with five fireplaces - that sounds cool.  Actually, it sounds better than that - but "cool" seems to be the word I'm capable of at the moment.   Thanks for making a place to write with us - and I'm hoping you'll stay up late occasionally - but don't worry - plenty of ways to share in this course, I hope.

  • Paige928   Oct. 4, 2011, 10:35 p.m.

    Introduction -

    I am very excited to be part of this writing group and to continue my journey as a lifelong learner. My name is Paige Kinnaird and I live in Elmira, New York with my husband of 20 years and our two teenagers who are 17 and 15.  I have worked in the field of education for 17 years, 13 of those years in early childhood education and program administration and the last four years as a classroom teacher at the middle and high school level. This school year I am teaching 10th grade English at a high school that follows a semester block schedule. Even with 80 minute class periods, I feel there is never enough time to cover material and provide students authentic opportunities to write.

    I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge of writing in terms of how it relates to the Common Core Standards and how to best facilitate writing for my students. I have been reading a number of professional development books about writing and look forward to learning more through this course.

  • Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 10:32 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Paige928   Oct. 4, 2011, 10:35 p.m.

    Paige - 

    Working with young children really prepares you for high chool students, doesn't it?  (I always found that to be true.)   I'm hoping that some of our guests in the Webinars towards the end of the month will have some good ideas around writing in class that will be useful to you and your students.  So glad you're here.

  • Paige928   Oct. 17, 2011, 6:44 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bud Hunt   Oct. 10, 2011, 10:32 p.m.

    I have to say that we are in the 7th week of school here in NYS and I am trying to branch out and use a variety of strategies for my students writing. Today, I had my honors 10 English students use my "whisper phones" to read their own writing pieces to themselves. They were as silly as kindergarteners, but many said they realized they need to make revisions to their pieces after hearing themselves read outloud.

    Sometimes I feel like we miss the boat when we rush through too much and do not give the students time for self-discovery. Need more Depth Not Breadth!

    Glad to be here too. Looking forward to learning and growing as an educator.