Hudson Valley Writing Project

Last Day of Our First Week: SI 2013

I am back in my town, up early, sitting with my brother Jeff ,drinking my first cup of coffee.  We are both early risers still but  he has to have CNBC on TV to catch up on the latest stock news.  I need my gang on MSNBC.  I used to switch the channel when he wasn’t looking but he keeps reminding me that he’s the king of his kingdom and  over time I gave up. Jeff dictates in his kitchen as he listens up to stock news and reads the local newspapers, multitasking with ease.  I am quiet, thinking about our upcoming final day  for the week.

It’s good to be back home with my family.  I am far removed from my own life in the town when I was teaching at our local high school.  I’ve been a visitor since I moved away in 1986.   Of course, I carry my history with me, but in real time we are feeling the loss of my mom, especially the morning after her birthday and my dad living just on the parallel street.

Christine and I have planned an interesting day with lots of structured writing time.  We have been revisiting the calendar often, moving things around.  We keep the updates on our blog.  We have been using that blog all week and pushing the SI to do so as well.  We are saving lots of paper and getting the group into the habit of clicking to the blog often to find the SI resources.

I leave later than usual, stopping by to see my dad.  On the way out I make sure I can be in and out of the  Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot for an extra large coffee for car ride sipping. I am met with a smile, a familiar smile.  We know each other.  My server is Rosa, Rosa Vega.  I see her back in my English classroom in room 101, the room at the end of the hallway. She is small as a grown up. I remember her smaller as a 7th grader,  in a wild class with lots of loud boys  and even though she was tiny,  I remember she was unintimidated by characters like Odell Whitaker, who   took her very seriously.  How can I remember that?

On my ride over the mountain, even with a bit of rain,  by the time I get to the amazing panoramic spot where you can view the valley, the sun was burning away the mist.  I didn’t stop for the picture.  Yes, I know, STUPID! I had the time and there’s no going back.

So I arrive at our SI room and I’m alone in the cool ac, but not for long. Jennie and Rebecca are right behind me and they remember that we have to reorganize the room, grouping the desks in groups.  I make sure we are set with the classroom computer and I open our blog for the morning writing into the day and our rituals that are getting to be routine, we hope.DSC_0107

A happy accident in scheduling has allowed us to offer the group blocks of writing time that some of our cohort may never have experienced- extended writing: writing into the day for 15 minutes, another  30 minute block for later in the morning to revisit previous starts and  more time after that…


In between the writing Jennie offers a workshop in collaborative digital storytelling, working with clay to create our own characters and as much as I turned away from drawing with Rebecca, I embrace the colored clay, create my Molly, work with my group to create a story and then  move around the room, checking out the work of the  other groups.  I think our group rocks the house even though Christine used her camera to offer photos for a digital start.

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For SPECIAL THURSDAY we had everyone bring something for a pot luck lunch and even though we kept them working, yes it was wonderful to enjoy a communal lunch. I wonder, did anyone notice I didn’t get to bring anything?  I owe you all!

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The afternoon was for making everyone comfortable on our SI blog and for each of our group to play with their own blogs. It was challenging, but Christine took the lead with clarity and sensitivity to the nervous techies.

Then there was one more slot for me to share my work with digital storytelling and I used an old piece I created for my dad.  I shared it  to allow the group to consider how they might take up the challenge of writing a digital story and locating images that might not work directly with the text.  As I worked through the past- when my parents were first together, I teared up. Some members of the group did as well.

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At some point in my chat I realized we were all feeling the need to get out of our room, ending the day.  They only thing they had left to do was write us an reflection on this week’s work and suggestions for the future.  Silence once again.  I was feeling good, really good all the way to Tuvia.

Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SI 2013 | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Another Full July Day




I’m remembering the heat of July at SUNY’s Old Main building before central air and renovation: the obstacles to our comfort.  But now, in the luxury of the remodel, I am in heaven.  I arrive early enough to select my parking spot in the front of the building or in back.  I walk to the elevator and it is waiting to lift me up to the 2nd floor. Just me and my array of bags, of course.

And I arrive and make my way to the last room in the maze of hallways.  We are just before the bathrooms.  In the old days I had to pick my personal bathroom breaks selectively, after all the closest bathroom to our 3rd floor classrooms was back down on the second floor, way down on the second floor.  I luxuriate in the modern version of Old Main!

It’s early and quiet and the soft hum of the cool AC air keeps me awake.  The table has been laid for today’s breakfast by Jennie and the group is still following Christine’s healthy modeling. I wonder if today I will actually eat the lunch I put together 🙂

Camille steps up with an intriguing prompt moving us to write about difficult events in our lives and many  race to share in Christine’s elegant author’s chair.. It’s a great start!

Jackie logs with a Wordle, Heather has her TIW reflection and Sarah, her photos and everyone is comfortably already on the blog.


Rebecca steps up confidently with her TIW focused on the study of illustration and text inspired by mentor Katie Wood Ray.  I find that this Si I am engaged, anchored in the TIWs, fully present comfortable. I find myself though, hating the drawing section of the work.  I am remembering my own inadequacy when it comes to art.  Yes, I have artist friends but me, I am an appreciator.  I am impressed with Rebecca’s movement to the groups, engaging with each of us, supporting us, asking questions, mentoring.  She am visualizing her with her 2nd graders.

We move through her workshop, examining her student work, sharing our observations.  She is grateful for our time and effort.   I am thinking deeply about what happened to me in elementary art.

We set up the Writing Groups strand and send the groups off for some writing and sharing.  Christine and I spend time focusing on playing with Google’s We Videos as our platform for teaching the SI participants about digital stories.  It has gotten easier since the last time I opened it when I was working with Jack two years ago.  Much better than Photo Story 3.  Not iMovie, but we have lots of Mac users who are interested in taking on iMovie, so we can work on both platforms.

Maybe we provided too much time for the first writing group, hoping that they would all break and write, but a break is good.  Everyone returns from lunch with more of our SI life under their belts and time to prepare for Odell’s Community Reading session.  It’s a good piece but I let the conversation go a bit, inspired by the text to write about my own writing life and the first adult story I wrote about my  torments as a kid in my 5th grade classroom with Mary Otens.  Where is that piece?  Time for a rewrite?

We linger a bit with the team but we are exhausted and I am anxious to get in my car and ride over the mountain to Ellenville for dinner with my dad and time with my brother and s-i-l on July 10, my mom’s birthday.

The ride is breath-taking and I take it slower than usual. Just before I hit town, I am passing the cemetery.  I double back, ride my car up through the open gate and stop at my mom’s spot.  I am alone, surrounded by the Jewish dead of our town.  Of course, it’s me, and I race back to the car for my camera. It’s muggy still but peaceful.  I walk among the tombstones, recognizing the names of the dead.  I recall each one vividly.

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I sit with my mom and I am remembering my first theater experience with Our Town.  I was in the 7th grade and that year Our Town was the senior play.  The boy/man who played George was a guy named Marvin who I watched (not stalked) from a far, my crush of sorts.  I was so tiny and he was a school star.  Here in the play, as the lead, I let the fantasy engulf me. Until we moved from the romance of dating to marriage and then… death? really?

The grave yard scenes hit me hard as a 7th grader and I never forgot that first experience with Wilder.  One of my favorite plays even now.  I started to consider life and death then.  As I sat with my mom, I thought about that first experience with Our Town.

It was good to leave for life.  My dad was waiting and I would not be sharing this experience with him.  In the early months after my mom’s death he came to visit her every day but since the unveiling of the stone he would break down when he visited and finally decided it was too much for him.  The stone seemed to make her death more real.

We went out to dinner and it was good to be with him.

Another rich day for me.


Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SI 2013 | Tags: , | 9 Comments

Day 2? Really? Slice of Life at the SI

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Another smooth morning after a night of sleep.  Today Tara was joining me for my rides up and back and for a day as my guest at the SI.  Day 2 was our only shot at the perfect opportunity for her to experience the HVWP’s Summer Institute and maybe it was better that we are still fluid, not quite yet a bonded community of learning women.  Tara felt comfortable and the group was welcoming. As I took the morning prompt, sharing our lives as Slicers with Two Writing Teachers on a Slice of Life Tuesday, Tara was the first one up with a posted Slice and it was perfect and easy to click right to her Slice and have her read it to the group. I knew Tara wouldn’t flinch. Perfect start and then a solid writing for 15 minutes now that I’ve traded in my bells for my guitar timer sounds of mystic river. I can write too, without distraction.  I did.

I liked it when Christine suggested we all shared something… all the voices, sharing.  I loved that!

And then we moved through the rituals- my pictures, Odell’s log, Christine’s TIW reflections and even with computer issues, now that everyone comes with a laptop and can easily access the web, we are free!  Heather was smooth with her TIW and I thought about my own relationship to science, wondering a lot about how real scientists feel about the way science is taught in most high school classrooms.  I thought about how Janine has been incorporating writing into her science.  I remembered Alan Alda’s work on stage and in the real world.  My mind was racing and I was engaged and relaxed. Two days and I’m still relaxed.

We took a break. Gathered the group downstairs for a full photo and then back up for TIW groups.  Each new opening seems to be moving smoothly. I loved our conversations about the TIWs in my group.

It was a love day for me.  Well, I didn’t love the kale lunch, or eating outside in the heat or that stale sweet potato muffin.  But I loved the company and that’s more important.  I have my lovely lunch back in the room.

Back in the room, Mary appeared to get us engaged in our writing museum.  I remembered grabbing up books, a journal before I left for the SI on day one. I had a good bunch but for the first time I took the time to think through the time line I created and I was annoyed I didn’t have other things.  Really I had enough, but that writing experience was more for me.

I loved setting up next to Tara who probably would have liked to have brought more but it was so good that I remembered to send her the assignment so she could participate fully in the day.  I hope it’s not too late to join the NWP for her at Rutgers.  Do they still exist?

I was tired as we finished our small group debrief.  I wanted to watch Jennie’s digital story but I had a trip to make and then another beyond.  Too much ahead of me and Tara was patiently waiting.

So I am home and almost finished with this reflection of Day 2.  It’s good, really good.  So glad I came back after a two-year break.

More coming my way tomorrow.  Shorter ride home to Ellenville.

Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SI 2013 | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Two Lovely Weeks: Slice of Life Tuesdays


Morning Slicers,

I am so enjoying my memories of the All Write Conference and my two weeks of transition before I plunge back into my wild riding up and down the NYS Thruway for our annual Hudson Valley Writing Project’s Summer Institute 2013.  After two summers off, I’m back in as lead co-facilitator with my buddy Christine and a great team of Returning Fellows.  We are a smaller group this summer.  Seems like teachers are more exhausted than ever after tough battles with the ed “reforms” that are kicking in. Some great applicants had to bow out, but we continue on.

We always begin after the 4th and just like Labor Day determines the start of school in our area, when the 4th lands in mid week, we get to enjoy a longer summer start before our SI Day One officially begins on Monday the 8th. Of course we do end in early August, but tomorrow we meet with our leadership  at Christine’s for a planning meeting.  Thanks to Google and their docs, Christine and I have been sharing the crafting of our agenda for the day.

So these weeks of break offered me time to read, to meet up with family, ( my 92-year-old aunt, Sally, a family favorite, is arriving on the 5th to see my dad, visit my mom’s grave(her sister, she’s the only remaining sister from the 4) and in her honor, we are dining on Friday night with lots of family who are joining us to see her.  I got to be a learner yesterday in a photo workshop led by one of my best buds, Sharon who collaborated with me regularly when we both taught at Pearl River High School.  She taught art, I taught English and together we met on the stage for at least on play a year.  But yesterday it was her show and probably I am best as a learner, when it’s something I want to learn.  How about that, I realized that  I do love abstract photography even though I usually capture humans.  And yes, I can move off the automatic settings to the challenges of manual, easier than I once could.  I loved yesterday even though we couldn’t shoot outside 🙂


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And last but not least, on Friday I met up with a Slicer who was missing from All Write 2013.  Tara Smith and I were back at our original meet-up spot in Ridgewood, New Jersey, drinking coffee and tea and not breaking down to scarf down my absolute favorite Crumbs Red Velvet  cupcakes.  We were caught in talk: catching up, sharing and planning a project that will take more shape next Tuesday when she joins me for a day at our SI.  I am SURE she will love it and the group will love her.  Too bad New Paltz in an impossible trek for her on a regular basis, but for one day, I can’t wait to have her with us.


So,  even with more rain on the way, I refuse to be held back from the fun of downtime: books, movies, video work, planning, family, friends  and Tuvia.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Bonnie K.

Read more Slices at Two Writing Teachers


Categories: All Write 2013, Hudson Valley Writing Project, Slice of Life Tuesdays 2013 | Tags: , | 28 Comments

Big Day Today: Slice #27

Morning Slicers,

I’m loving this sunrise.  Still cold in the northeast but no new snowfall over the Hudson. Maybe there will be spring!

Today, around noon, I’ll be flying up the Thruway to join my Hudson Valley Writing Project buddies to interview candidates for our Summer Institute 2014.  I’ve been away from the heart of our site for the last two years and I’m back in the mix to return to the facilitation team with my newbie friend, Christine.

It was good to take a break, it was good to have my July back, it was good to give my car a break from the 120 mile roundtrip journey each day. Of course I left it in a good hands.  Tom Meyer, Director of our project took the reins up with Katelin who had been facilitating with me, so he had continuity and freedom to move it in new directions.

Our NWP network offers a wonderful model for work with teachers and today, we get to interview a new crop of wonderful teachers using our model of collaborative, group interviewing. Our new candidates will get to know one another with us, our interviewing team. They will come to our table and share themselves and their work and as the day ends, our leadership team will meet together for one last session to begin to create the new SI…

I can’t say that I’m not a bit nervous after being away but that’s a good thing.  After facilitating 10 SIs it was time for me to take a break and do other things, but it’s still the center of everything we do and I did miss getting to know and work with our newest teachers.

You can’t have it all, right?

Once the team is set, then the work begins to get ready for the new SI… good thing we have returning fellows who have worked with me previously and have been with Tom for the past summer.

I write a lot about my 2nd career as an HVWP Co-Director/Teacher Consultant. It’s been such a gift.

I’ll let you know how things good.  Wish me luck…


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Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, Slice of Life 2013 | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Slicing #22 at the Gramercy B & B: Slice: Conversations with Eileen

Evening Slicers,

So sorry that I couldn’t read any slices today or even write along with you but between yesterday and today I’m not grounded.  Yes, I’ve been enjoying life but I’ve been moving around…

Yesterday our writing project raced around the Capital meeting with Congressional  aides, sharing our site work, advocating for continued federal support and grabbing a photo where we could.  Hey, I even got a handshake from Chuck Schumer as he raced ahead of me into his office, while he continued talking on his cell phone.  We did get  to meet a new congressman, who defeated that crazy Tea Party rep, Nan Hayworth.  We met her when she first arrived two years ago.  She was insane and Sean Maloney is a breath of fresh air:


We are not where we were the year after Obama first won the White House, but we are still here and those reps we met with are supporting us even though we all have the 50 tea party nuts to deal with in the House.

We were glad to be together, meeting with the larger network even if our numbers were tiny this year.  We still continue to advocate for great teachers.

In fact, far away, in very cold Finland, Christine has been reworking her letter, transforming it into a digital piece.

Check it out if you have 4 1/2 minutes


Our work on the Hill ended this morning and now I’m back with Joseph and Patti and the U of Maryland Writing Project at a wonderful B and B outside Baltimore. Here we are documenting Patti’s great work, chatting with writing project teachers here and enjoying great Thai food.


So it’s all good my friends.  I’m exhausted.  Hope I don’t have too many errors in this draft.

More tomorrow.  Things are slowing down… almost back to normal just before we kick off Passover on Monday night.


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, Hudson Valley Writing Project, National Writing Project, Slice of Life 2013 | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Powerful Hours At Duzene: Conversations with Eileen

Morning Friend,

I know I complain a lot about being up early, but I’m really a lover of  writing in the darkness especially when the guy in the other room is snoring away.  I know he is sleeping and with a day of work ahead of him, he needs another precious hour. Me, I have nap opportunities coming up before a trip up north for some of my favorite work-documenting today a group of elementary teachers learning and sharing together. Ahhh Hudson Valley Writing Project, I love you!

It’s a big day today and somehow I just can’t go on right now. Maybe I can get an extra hour of sleep right now…

24 hours later…

Sorry, I just couldn’t get back to my blog yesterday but I’m fired up this morning 🙂

So, I had a great workout with Anthony at the gym, maybe  I was working on GIG power now that my computer is living life with a lift!  In seconds I went from 8GBS of storage on Tuesday, to 330. Can you believe that? Video is a serious issue for hard drive storage.  Kudos to my new Apple geek, Maersk who gently helped me through a necessary computer spring cleaning before it was too late 🙂  I love my Apple store 🙂

I got home from the gym, from ShopRite, sat down on my couch and wondered if I had the energy to get moving, to get to my guitar, to get back into my car and make my way up the Thruway to New Paltz for a visit to Rebecca’s Elementary Study Group.  Honestly, I did want to get up and for an hour, I didn’t.

But then… yes, I did grab up my guitar and play for  almost an hour.  I did change, collect my digital documenting toys, dress up for the winter outside and shut the house down.

The trip up was not fun… somewhere between the tollbooth and the Newburgh exit, I lost my energy and fought hard to stay awake, but as I got closer, in the last stretch of the hour, I found my mojo and I opened my eyes wide, with a bit of help from some active Stones tunes.

I took the backroad close to the Thurway entrance, stopping only for some oddly placed stop signs,until route 218?and a right turn on Sunset Ridge. (How did I remember that?)  Out of the car, in control of my digital bundles and I was welcomed into the school’s library.  Rebecca was setting up and I was already happy to be there.  We caught up, I set up, and smiled, no I grinned at being back in this sweet school.

The principal, stopped by (very funky haircut) and we shared my new YWP teaser.  Pleasant surprise 🙂

The teachers arrived in small groups…no one was dragging in.  I thought about those after school activities that I had been required to attend when I was still teaching.  There was a lot of dragging then. No always of course.  I did get to work and know Nancy Letts. And these teachers came out of their own desire to rejoin their HVWP study group community.  Some have been with the group for 2 years or more.

Not everyone would be there today, but soon the clumped grouping of desks was comfortably filled with a dozen teachers and Rebecca introduced me warmly, reflecting our strong history of professional and personal friendship.  Yes, I was present to document the session but Rebecca was so gracious and smart to invite me to share something, something that I loved doing… “Prompt Queen” Yes, I remembered.  Rebecca had suggested “My Name” using Sandra Cisneros as a mentor text to anchor the writing. Surprisingly, maybe because the teachers were elementary, they didn’t know House of Mango Street.  That made the share even more exciting: a fresh group opened to meet Sandra Cisneros. And we wrote together for a good 15 minutes… a bit more… and most everyone shared… and I closed my eyes and listened, took in the power of their voices, the commitment to their heartfelt stories. And conditions were absolutely perfect to capture the moments with my camera.

Everyone shared something within the few hours we were together.  One teacher shared student work using the HVWP Protocols…we ate dinner together and I was sooo good- just plates of salad. No PIZZA!

And I have so much video to edit for Rebecca to return to this session and relive the power of a community of passionate teachers.  How lucky we still are to have the HVWP!

No video piece ready but here’s a few photos to make yesterday more real:

I’m over my 750 today!

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Categories: 750 words, Conversations with Eileen, Hudson Valley Writing Project | Tags: , | Leave a comment

In the Digital Groove: Conversations with Eileen/ Slice of Life Tuesdays

Morning Eileen and Slicers,

I am feeling good, really good, living and working for the last few weeks, in my digital world.  I’ve been working on two new digital pieces  simultaneously.  That’s a first for me.  Another first is the absence  of  my crazed obsession.  I’ve been rather cool and available  throughout the process.  Usually, Tuvia has to keep calling me back from the tree.

I can’t explain it, but I’m enjoying it.  I am now in the last stages of the piece I’m going to share with you.  I want this teaser to represent our Hudson Valley Project’s Young Writers Programs that we offer in the summer for elementary- high school kids.  We have great teachers ready to work, we usually get enough kids to run more than one program, but in the past, we have had no one person in charge and no organization for focused planning.

This year we have a team meeting now and I’ve been charged with the challenge to create a digital piece that showcases our work, a teaser. I worked on this piece for a good amount of time when we first talked about it as a team.  I had lots of video and photos collected over time.   That’s my passion, as you know. And then I left it during the week of vacation.  Not that I was engaged in other activities, but I guess I need to torture myself with some usual procrastination right up to the weekend before, when I was engaged in the second piece due  first.

When I opened the draft, I had lots to video to cut.  The razor blade tool in Final Cut is one of my best friends and the editing began.  It was easier than I thought.  I had a session at the Apple store built into the process for all the questions I was listing as I worked.  One great hour with anApple techie for a fresh eye  and some tech support on the software changes and  I had an interesting first draft that I was ready to share with a small group.  Yes, I was nervous.  I’m not used to any panel judging my work.  Not even if they are people I love and respect.

In those first silent  tortuous seconds after the piece ended, I wondered.  I didn’t get an initial round of applause the way we always greet a reading of prose, so when the group members started picking out things they liked etc. I stopped them, asked for the applause and reset the conversation to the big ideas of the piece… Stunned and silent at first, I did get what I asked for.  Interesting, that we need a structure to support digital composers.

Actually, I’m very open to feedback and I have been revising ever since that first session last week and loving it.  I think this piece is meant for a diverse audience.  Sure, it’s for friends and educators who are interested in the work of the Hudson Valley Writing Project. Prospective teachers, but the primary group is parents, who are looking for a simulating summer program for their kids.  We have programs for elementary, middle school and high school kids and we have great teachers.  Actually, right after the viewing with that first team Tom and I sat together and he spontaneously  added his piece that appears  the end of the piece, folding in some of what seemed to be missing.

So, finally, I’m asking you.  If you have 6 1/2 minutes could you take a look at my piece and let me know what you think.  Applause is not necessary. 🙂



Categories: Conversations with Eileen, Hudson Valley Writing Project, Slice of Life Tuesdays 2013 | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Glorious Work: Conversations with Eileen

Morning Friend,

I don’t know if you can hear this but my house is humming: clothes are being washed, Dana is here cleaning, the Ladies of the View are squabbling about Oscar nominees and me, I’m just enjoying a sunny morning with time to write after an early morning exercise workout at my gym.  All I need to add in guitar practice and I’m all good.

So I’m smiling right now.  Dana is going wild, catching me up on her adventures and I’m clicking away,  sifting through two action-packed days of work.


Tuesday, at Highland Falls Schools with our inquiry teacher team!


Andrea and I put in our time planning the day as a mid point to the goals of our project.  I think that instead of reinventing the wheel, I’m just going to rework my late night reflections written in the darkness, with Tuvia snoring to my left 🙂

This was a wonderfully rich and full day for everyone, I think… hope!  It was for me.

We began with a fresh, new digital piece I created from  classroom observations and the last workshop day to motivate the group into a reflective Writing into the Day writing prompt.

As usual, I was working from plenty and during one of our planning conversations, just before vacation, I committed myself to a new piece that we could use to inspire team reflection on how they have benefited from our work together.

I was mildly overwhelmed and often, in the two weeks of break, opened my computer, clicked  around a bit, watched a few clips and escaped from the program  without making any progress on a new piece.  As I got closer to the end of the holidays, I started worrying about the time it would take to share something from each of the teacher observations I’d made and then, when I least expected it, BRAINSTORM!

 How about a focus on just one teacher who had participated in my protocol group as well, so we could view her whole process with one of the two strategies we modeled with the team on the first team workshop day.

 I worked up a piece, a case study on Nicolette, a young science teacher open to experimenting and moving out of her comfort zone. She opted for the Believing and Doubting strategy that I had modeled in a workshop. She hoped  to push her students to look at both sides of an issue. We then got to look at a piece of her student work during the second team workshop using the HVWP protocols, introduced by Mary.

The group commented on what they noticed about Nicole’s work and then they took time to reflect on their own experiences as a member of this inquiry team.

Everyone responded positively, commenting on successfully using the modeled strategies and sharing at the team sessions with their peers..( I have more now for a revised piece :))

In the next segment the teachers shared their wonderful pieces modeled on the 5 image story from a workshop recently created by Andrea and myself. Again, they took the strategy and made it their own, working it into their curriculum.  It will be wonderful to share some of their work when Andrea and I present this workshop again.

NEXT UP: Sean O’Brien was a perfect HVWP presenter.(Thanks Tom) 

 He had a wonderful way of connecting with each individual teacher and then sharing his work with the group in an open and authentic way. He set up a nice framework for MG projects, building on my initial intro during the last team team and then moving the group to his student projects so the group had concrete  moving them to a continuing conversation of next steps for their MG work.

It was great too that Sean was able to see their work before he presented his workshop giving him a better sense of what they could do and where we are hoping to go with this.

After lunch,  Andrea offered another MG strategy, the two voice poem, anchoring it in Science and Social Studies around the Tsunami event, using a variety of resources and the web tool, The team again worked through the process, creating  their two-voice poems in groups. Again, the team got another reading/writing strategy that they could use with students.

To help the group move to next steps, Andrea,created a chart to give the team the big picture, visually moving them from where we started, what strategies they now have in their tool box, and where we are headed.

There remains the disconnect with some teachers who don’t see that these strategies are not independent of supporting the teaching of their content. HS teachers in particular are still focused on the racing to cover information. They don’t yet see that their classrooms can  be more student-centered with the kind of strategies we are sharing, but they are open.

The last hour was spent thinking deeply with a MG chapter we shared during the last session that’s filled with strategies. The HS teachers are dealing now with their im-class midterms but between now and February 8th, (our next full team session) most of the MS teachers will probably experiment with more of the strategies and will have student work to share at the next session.

Additionally, at this upcoming February session the team will work with their partners to settle on an issue to study, then select articles to have their students read,  and create a MG list of strategies their students can choose from for their project work. 

Finally we will share the digital essay that each student will compose as the final piece of their project.  Troy Hicks shared two excellent pieces of student work with us during our collaborative keynote and Andrea will offer tech support in having each student create a web page in Google Docs to house their digital essays and MG pieces for this unit.

From February-March teachers will be able to determine when they can work on this unit and during this period I will join them to support and document their classroom work, interviewing their students as well.

There’s more to say, but it’s now 12:30 and I have another video to work on for the HVWP tomorrow.

It was a day to remember!

See what I mean? And I still didn’t share anything about yesterday in New Paltz.  I almost didn’t make the trip up from my house. In an early morning conversation with Tom, I started wondering if I had enough to do there.  A hour up and then one back home.  Would it be worth it?  After a call from my buddy Jackie, sure, of course!  I left for the Apple store and a session with my new techie bud, Maersk for some last minute support before I presented another new piece to the HVWP team of Tom, Diane and Jackie.  Yikes… This piece is a new challenge, a teaser for the Young Writer Camps scheduled for the summer.  This year we are more focused and this piece will be used to build interest and answer questions for the parents who will send their children to us.  Okay… I had something good, I thought it was good but would the team?

I had lunch with Jackie to catch up and adjust to the world of our writing project and then we moved to the school, to set up for the screening… I clicked the computer and it began to play…silence and concentration from the audience and as usual  I was wired in my silence.  Tom broke the silence…comments started to fly and I stopped the flow to share the feedback I wanted (first time for that!)  Consider the time and effort will you.  Then we can move from there.  Silence… and then the conversation slowed down and softened and I was open to next steps…

Really, all good, but there is a lack often, of how we need to look and value the work in question.  You know what I mean?

Up in Tom’s office, with the Gunks just outside his office window, the sun would be setting as we talked and planned and reconnected.


You know, it was worth the ride…

And it wasn’t over… I had to get back to a dinner out with two of my favorite people: MaryClaire- wonderful former student…and mom Mary …school/friend/mom… What a wonderful walk back on memory lane and then into the present 🙂

How wonderful it was to see them and everyone else.

I’m so rich in friends and stimulating work, don’t you think?



Categories: Highland Falls School Dist 2012-13, Hudson Valley Writing Project | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

New SUNY in April: Conversations with Eileen Day 18

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Evening Friend,

The last Hudson Vally Writing Project Saturday Seminar at SUNY New Paltz and I was on the road by 7:30. It was crisp and clear and spring and while I knew that riding back home would be much more challenging I had my camera and my iPad and I was ready to learn something new and reconnect with great teacher consultants in our program that continues.

As I looked more carefully for images I wanted to grab a few that still keep the Old Main familiarity, the gorgeous windows remain but the building has been transformed.

I remember when you first came to a Visitor’s Day, maybe the first one, when I believed life couldn’t get better, and I still hadn’t met Tuvia. Professionally then I was part of the founding leadership of the HVWP with two “college” profs. Little me, high school teacher. I would bet that the small ac unit in the window did nothing to cool the room, but you were there…

So today, I was back and thinking about the shoulders I stand on and the work the continues even though this is about the worst school environment I’ve ever seen. I don’t say this too loudly, but I am so happy I am retired. We now have business and politicians mucking around in education. Ugh… what a mess! But it’s too soon to start turning things around we need to spend a lot more money on artificial assessments and tests to grade teachers.

I feel so sorry for those young, idealist pre service teachers. There’s no room now for idealism.

So today it was great to watch Rebecca in action, share Christine’s great news about her Fulbright to Finland next year, Tom’s enthusiasm about your Scholarship Fund, thinking deeply with Denise, one of my favorite 8th grade teachers… So many great teachers… so little support for their out-of the box work.

By now I would be pausing in a real time conversation and waiting for you to get me to change it up.

Okay, it’s to end the day… more tomorrow…

Categories: Conversations with Eileen, Hudson Valley Writing Project | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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