Tag Archives: NWP

A Place I Love: #writeout

When I learned that the National Day on Writing, the National Park Service, and the National Writing Project would join forces to celebrate writing through #writeout in October, I was all in.  #writeout is meant to help writers focus on stories of place…particularly if there is a national park nearby.  I don’t happen to live near a national park, but I do live by spectacular outdoor spaces where I spend lots of time walking…and that inspire my writing.

As October began, students read and studied the poem, City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  The rhythms and patterns of the poem were friendly to students, they were able to notice many techniques Hopkins employed.  And better yet, they were eager and ready to write their own versions using this poem as their mentor text.

City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins

 

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

mornings wake

to swishes, swashes,

sputters

of sweepers

swooshing litter

from gutters.

 

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

afternoons pulse

with people hurrying,

scurrying—

races of faces

pacing to

must-get-there

places.

 

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

nights shimmer

with lights

competing

with stars

above

unknown heights.

  

In the city

I live in—

city I love—

as dreams

start to creep

my city

of senses

lulls

me

to

sleep.

With this poem as a mentor text, I wrote my own version, focusing on a favorite place of mine.  Of course, I had to write about walking on the beach!

img_2614

Beach I Love

 

At the beach

I walk on

The beach I love

Seagulls hover

Squawking and flapping

Searching for treats

In unattended 

Beach bags. 

 

At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Salty waves

Curl and break

Tossing swimmers 

And tempting surfers

Into the cool, refreshing

Depths. 

 

At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Squishy sand

Sucks at my toes

Tiny grains sanding 

My soles smooth

And sheltering 

Tiny frisky crabs and 

Multitudes of bean clams. 

 

At the beach 

I walk on

The beach I love

Rhythmic seas

Slow my breath

Warm my heart

And clear my mind. 

 

Kim Douillard 

So in honor of the National Day on Writing and #writeout, I let the outdoors inspire my writing.  I will include my students’ writing in days to come!

 

 

 

Angular: Teaching and Learning on the Slant

For the last few days I’ve been in Washington DC attending the National Writing Project Annual Meeting, a conference for those connected with writing projects all over the country. In this space we come together to reconnect, learn together, and envision and re-vision possibilities for both our national network and our local sites. And while I was in this rich, intellectually stimulating space, I found myself thinking about angles, the slant that is essential in the work of learning and teaching.

Tell the truth but tell it slant.  Emily Dickinson

The hallmark of writing projects has been their longevity (we’re in our 40th year as an organization), which attests to their ability to adapt to new mandates and contexts in education, their ability to remain responsive to changing needs in the educational community while holding on to their core beliefs, and their ability to innovate as they strive to anticipate upcoming needs and trends and develop more effective and relevant approaches to supporting teachers with the goal of improving the teaching of writing. And even in our own community, what that means and how that looks does not assume that we all agree or even that we all understand our charge in the same ways.

And as I consider my own learning experiences, my observations of others, and continue to think about presenting ideas to my own students and to my writing project colleagues I realize that the straight path is not always the best path. I can’t assume what I have come to understand over a number of years will be clear to others as I explain what I now know. I have to find ways to communicate the truth…but find the slant that gives others access. Sometimes looking straight up or straight ahead actually works to obscure your view and understanding.

straight up

As I spent some time at the National Cathedral yesterday, I started to see the embodiment of some of these slants. What I noticed as I walked into the nave…the main body of the cathedral…were the incredible angles.

cathedral inside

Columns reached high, curved, and then met in angular points. In that expansive and intricate structure, I could feel the careful study of architectural soundness. I felt reassured that this long-standing building would continue to stand, in spite of some damage from a recent earthquake. And so I’m thinking about the underlying structures that inform work some of us as educators do around the concept of connected learning.  How do we make the structures and educational soundness visible?  What experience will adult and student learners need to feel the expansiveness?

There is a beautiful infographic that I’ve seen shown over and over again and that I have used myself, but like the beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral, it requires not only a close look but an understanding of the underlying design, accompanied by some personal experiences related to the concepts to truly begin to make sense of it.

stained glass

And like the stained glass window, light shining from outside reveals details and intricacies that are not otherwise noticeable. Rubbing emerging ideas and persistent questions against those of my colleagues works like that shining light, revealing nuances and pushing me to rethink and reconsider my own understanding. When I can see my thoughts reflected through the ideas of others, they take new shapes and create new possibilities like these intricate shadows the wrought-iron work reflects on the cathedral walls..

angles of reflection

And while that sounds pretty easy and productive, it isn’t always that straightforward. There are more slants and angles to consider. Sometimes the learners and teachers must wander down seemingly endless corridors, making false starts and running into dead ends before finding their way in. But repeated opportunities to try and stumble, reflect and reengage eventually reveal a pathway—maybe not THE pathway—to understanding.

corridors

Sometimes you have to crane your neck while your nose is right against the window to catch a glimpse of possibility like I had to as I searched for gargoyles. And sometimes that view might be terrifying, monsters seem to come into view, until you realize you are not alone and there are other meanings to be made of what you are seeing and experiencing.

gargoyle

As I have reflected on my experiences this week, I am reminded of the value in taking a step back, considering other perspectives and the role that resistance (my own and that of others) plays in learning. How do I play the doubting and believing game (Elbow) in productive ways that opens doors rather than closes them? And how do I facilitate processes like these for my students and my colleagues?

looking upI know it’s about the slant, the angular nature of our personal biases and the complexity of learning itself.  And just like the straight path isn’t for everyone, I know that there are many slants to consider as we continue to learn ourselves and to support learners in this fast-changing, information-driven, connected world we live in.  My trip to the cathedral not only allowed me to explore this beautiful national treasure and take interesting photos, it also helped me think about learning and angles and envision the role I might play in creating entry points and interactions to extend opportunities to consider alternatives to our current educational system. I’m looking forward to exploring the slants…and I’m appreciating the angular.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Round

Here’s the week 9 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 1234567, and 8 if you want to look back.)

I just realized that today is Thursday…and I haven’t yet thought about a weekly prompt.  I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the DML 2014 conference (Digital Media and Learning) conference in Boston today through Saturday, but it means being off my usual schedule and out of my time zone!  It seems like last week’s prompt might have felt like too much of a stretch…which tells me that maybe I needed to offer some more varied examples to create more pathways for you all to find your way and your own interpretation.

So this week I am heading in a different direction and inviting you to find images of round.  It might be as deceptively simple as a single raindrop on a dandelion plant.

water drop on dandelion

Or maybe the circle of a hula hoop or the sphere of a basketball on the cart that students use for recess play.

hoops

Or maybe even the flat, rounded paddles of the prickly pear cactus.

prickly pear

So this week’s photo challenge is to share a photo that is round is some way. It might just have a hint of roundness or it could be completely spherical…or anything in between.  Share a photo (or several) that pictures round in some way.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #round and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I am excited to see how you represent round through your lens!

Field Trippin’ Through the Intersections

The bus pulled up in front of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center as the much-needed rain pelted down.  Excited fifth graders poured from the bus into the rain, ready to explore.

photo-97

And waiting just inside were a group of classroom teachers and museum educators ready to watch closely and think carefully about how these students’ teachers and chaperones support student learning and promote student inquiry during the field trip.

This was the pilot of the materials developed by the participants of the Intersections project–a collaboration between the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP), the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Natural History Museum funded by a National Science Foundation Grant to the National Writing Project and the Association of Science and Technology Centers.  This group of educators has been meeting and learning together–with a focus on inquiry, science, writing, and field trips since the fall.  And just a week ago they designed “tools” for use to prepare for and facilitate the field trip to the two museums.

And the field trip was an opportunity to examine the tools in use, with the aim of improving them in a next iteration.  We watched the kids in action, noting their conversation, their body language, their interaction with the exhibits…taking pictures, detailed field notes, video and audiotape…all with the goal of understanding their experience in order to improve students’ opportunities for learning and engagement.  And…we were under strict orders to only observe–something very difficult for this group of hands-on educators dedicated to facilitating engaging learning experiences for students!

photo-98

After lunch, students moved across the park plaza to the NAT and we repeated the process.

photo-99

Students sketched and wrote, questioned and connected what they were seeing and learning to things they already knew.

And one of my favorite moments was at the end of the trip, just before the students headed back to board their bus for the ride back home.  They had discovered the pendulum at the NAT and were curious about the little blocks set up inside the circle where the pendulum swung.  Would the ball of the pendulum knock the blocks over?  They started watching by learning on the rail…and then got lower…until they were laying on their bellies on the floor, feet bent up behind them, noses pushed up against the railing.  And they watched, almost holding their breath as the ball closely avoided the tiny blocks.  And then it happened.  The block fell…and the cheer broke the quiet!

photo-103

After the students left we took some time to reflect on our experience…and also hear the experience of the teachers in our group who brought these students to the museums.  There were lots of things that went well…and plenty that we still want to improve.  And plans are already being made for improved tools and new tools for our next field trip pilot…sometime in April.

There is something amazing about the opportunity for educators to collaborate, to design and then to test, to take time for careful, considered observation and data collection, and then time to reflect on their learning.  If only there were more opportunities like this one, for educators to come together to make sure that students have optimal learning experiences…how would that change our world?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Here’s the week 8 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 123456, and 7 if you want to look back.)

If we’re lucky, there are places in our communities where cultural experiences take place.  That word culture has lots of different meanings depending on your frame of reference.  But commonly, culture has to do with access to music, art, and other learning opportunities.

In San Diego we are lucky to have Balboa Park, a beautiful urban park right in the downtown area.  It has many museums, our world famous zoo, a botanical garden and lily pond, international houses, a theatre, an organ pavilion, gardens, a world class restaurant, lots and lots of walking and hiking trails and so much more.  It was the site of the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, and is about to celebrate its centennial anniversary.

balboa park fountain

This iconic fountain is a favorite place for people to meet, to relax, to cool off, to people watch, and to enjoy the outdoors.  Even on a rainy day like today (hooray for rain!), you can sense the beauty and specialness of this place.  And for me Balboa Park is a cultural experience–whether I am exploring the museums or simply people watching, this is a place where culture is alive and well.

So this week’s photo challenge is to share a photo that represents culture to you. What image stirs up a cultural experience or helps you explore your own culture?  Share a photo (or several) that pictures culture in some way.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #culture and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I am excited to see how you represent culture through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: STEM

Here’s the week 7 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 12345, and 6 if you want to look back.)

Probably because I have been busily writing a grant this week for state funding for our writing project site, all the current educational buzz words are bouncing around my brain.  One that has been getting lots of play lately is the acronym, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

So that has me thinking, what does STEM look like in my photographs?  Today I happened to attend a technology event at the new public library in downtown San Diego called Innovation Day.  The goal was to bring technology leaders of all sorts (from superintendents to ed tech and IT folks to classroom teachers) together to examine some products from vendors and to hear some short presentations about the use of a variety of technological tools.  Walking around the beautiful new library building was a treat in itself, featuring breathtaking views of the city and the bay and some unique architectural features.  This fits the “E” in STEM for me (could probably include some “M” too!)

SD library dome

The beach seems to fit every photo category for me.  This pairing of seashells shows symmetry and the fibonacci sequence.  We don’t always think about math when we look at seashells…but they are perfect examples of those mathematical concepts I just mentioned. Do you know which is which?

photo-97

And then there are the intricacies of science.  The biology of grasses that grow on the sea cliffs, the slow and constant wearing of erosion on the geologic features, the physics of waves…

photo-98

So this week’s photo challenge is to represent STEM in photos. Where do you find science, technology, engineering and math?  How does looking through your camera lens through the lens of STEM impact what you see and what you share?  Share a photo (or several) that pictures STEM in some way.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #STEM and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I am excited to see how you represent STEM through your lens!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection

Here’s the week 6 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 1234, and 5 if you want to look back.)

Reflection is one of those words that is layered with meaning for me.  It can be as literal as peering into a mirror or as abstract as considering the way that wind, light, and life transform an image.

In photography, sometimes reflection is obvious…sunlight on water is one of those I notice often, yet never tire of like this photo of the sun setting reflected in the lagoon.

lagoon reflection

Sometimes I only notice the reflections when I go back and look closely at a photograph after I get home.  In this shot of the fisherman my goal was to capture the sense of aloneness that comes with the overcast sunless sky.  But there is something significant about his reflection appearing wavering in the mirror-like water at the edge of the sea.

fisherman reflection

Similarly, this photo of the giraffe at the Oakland zoo almost suggests another life in the reflection where the fences are not visible, and you can see the trees and shrubs that are less obvious in the actual image.

giraffe

I love this subtle reflection I found in a creek in the Muir Woods.  If you look closely, the forest is reflected in the water creating almost a multimedia collage with the leaves and sticks floating in the water.

forest view]

And today I was intentionally looking for a reflection to photograph and wondered if I was going to have to resort to a photo of the sun reflecting on water.  As I walked up to the Writing Project office I noticed the reflection of the courtyard in the windows of the building.  (It turns out that it is a bit of a “selfie” as well, you’ll notice I am there in the reflection as well.)

photo-93

So this week’s photo challenge is to represent your image of reflection. Do you find reflection in water, in mirrors, on shiny surfaces?  Are your reflections lonely, filled with life, colorful? Share a photo that creates an image of reflection for you.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #reflection and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I am excited to see how you represent reflection through your lens!