Posts Tagged With: HVWP

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

Reflections on Day One: Summer Institute

I was relaxed on our first day of our SI, really relaxed.  I even got more than 15 minutes of sleep last night- a lot more!

As Tuvia and I headed out this morning at 6:45 from my place,  I was covered in bags, balanced, ready to reach for my overnight bag but Tuvia was faster,  grabbing for it.  I argued. He ignored. I won 🙂 and we were off with plans to meet up for dinner in Paramus after we both worked a full day.

Both of us began on the Thruway but he was off  in ten, back to Paramus.  I was prepared to hunker down and love the ride to New Paltz.  I was riding with the wind at my back, struggling to stay closer to 70 than 80.  I was trying harder than most of the cars around me, but when I was close to the college, riding the back roads, with the mountains to the right, everything felt good, except the police car that suddenly blocked my view as I struggled to bring down my speed.  I was sure I was speeding and yes, with a bit of hesitation at first, I was right.  Red and Blue lights started flashing, whirling, and I moved over and stopped. I had lots of time, so early now, and I had to remember, be nice, the cop has the upper hand.  Don’t act pissed off.

So when the nice female cop came to my window smiling, shaking her head and reminding me that I had passed by two signs warning me to slow down, I agreed.

“Hey I know you’re in a hurry.”

” Yes, I agreed, first day of our Summer Institute at the college.” Never hurts to remind her that I’m in the “club”.

I handed over my license and registration before she asked.  I was really trying to wangle my way out of a ticket.

She kept me waiting just a few minutes as she checked me out in her car.

“Bonnie, Bonnie, come on.  You have to SLOW DOWN….slow down when you get close to campus. You know that, right?”

“Yes, of course.” Just give me back my stuff and ‘yes, I promise.”  No ticket.  NO TICKET!  I promised, really!

How could I not feel that everything was right with the world: a good night’s sleep, a clear day, a kind cop and I was on my way to kick off a fresh SI with my buddy Christine, our great group of returning fellows and new cohort of interesting, passionate women.

I arrived, got a spot in the circle right outside our building and grabbed up every last bag and my tripod and I was sailing up to the second floor in the speedy elevator.  I wasn’t the first but I was the most relaxed.  Really relaxed and ready to enjoy sharing the experience, participating in a writing into the day with a TED talk I knew well.   I wrote about my greatest fear- the fear of aging alone.  Sad, yes but I was writing free and open. Some people shared their writing even on our first morning and Christine was set with a very powerful workshop to introduce herself to the group who had met her only virtually via Google Hangout.

Whoops, Tuvia is here.  Time to power down, sleep and return for more of a great day. Later!

More fun on the first day- Christine put together a perfect first day workshop: sharing student work with a protocol!  Modeling what teacher collaboration could be and should be in the best of all possible worlds.  Are we moving yet, to the best of all possible worlds???

I loved the rich sharing in groups.  I felt free to read student work and get to know my group as teachers making sense of student writers.  PERFECT!  I loved the fact that modeling the TIW journey was clear.  I watched Sarah shake her head at me with confidence.  Sure, we get this! It was great to have Christine actually sit down for the reflection section and script the group’s reflections.

Break time: Calendar sharing, Reading Groups spelled out.  Books disappeared from the table and I was easy about a sudden change in my book selection.  I wanted to read another Lisa Delpit but, okay, Peter Johnson and his two-book set were known to me as well.

I chose to stay in our SI space and feast on my very healthy, calorie lite lunch of: Danon raspberry yogurt, a packet of baby carrots and a lunch-size tub on Sabra humus and water.  It was good but I wondered just how many lunches would be this controlled given my love for lunch spots in New Paltz.

I love the breaks of our SI schedule with time for a walk to take care of parking permits and someone to step up and lead.  I love reading with a small group.  I love returning for one last touch-base with the larger community.  Yes, the days will feel full before they end and I will dread the long ride home when I am fried but I wouldn’t trade a minute of this rich, unique experience- not a minute. And tomorrow I’ll be joined by Tara, Slicer extra-ordinarie.

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Categories: SI 2013 | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

In DC: Slice # 21 and Conversations with Eileen

I’m off to the Capitol!  BUt I still need to shower and get dressed.  Sorry I didn’t get to comment much yesterday but the race has begun.  A great day yesterday with my wonderful writing project educators at the U of Maryland Writing Project.  I could write so much about that experience and I will, but not at this moment.  I want to, I really do…but I have just two more minutes before I need to get moving…

See you back here if you have time later…

Many hours later:

It’s close to midnight and I am way overtired.  I’m not sure what I have left but here goes…

It was a rich day even though is was cold outside, but no rain.  I was dressed perfectly for everything but rain and I didn’t lug around my big camera so I wasn’t aching by noontime.

So the day began as usual.  The full group together for the Annual kickoff.  Smaller than past years, in a small room.  This time at the Capitol’s Visitor’s Center. A small breakfast spread but at least the NWP survives to in these crazy times.  Familiar faces were everywhere and conversations were wonderful.  Congressmen and Thad Cockrin came to support us as usual even though they had to admit that the atmosphere was hard for them to understand and where education was a rail that everyone used to be able to agree on, now even education was open season.  But the fight continued as we made our way to begin our race around the hill.  Our New York State network reps were thinner than usual and Darshna and I found ourselves heading to meet with Senator Gillibrand … that’s it for now..


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, HVWP, Slice of Life 2013 | Tags: , , , , | 6 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

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

My Head’s in a Good Place: Conversations with Eileen

So friend, I’m back here where it’s good.  It’s not a good place for sleeping enough, because I am now in full creative mode and this time around, I am moving among three projects and two are due early next week, so of course that last one is on a back burner but all three are living with me.

I didn’t have to be in this place.  I had time to work leisurely, and I did at first but last week, when I had lots of time on my hands I squandered it and hated myself for it.  Sounds familiar right?  That’s my process: dive in, pull back and then race to the end.

The sprint to the finish, that’s where I am.  I put video up on a Final Cut timeline project, edit for few hours, hate it, trash it and begin again, or trash a bit and add…

For my Highland Falls piece, I am ready to trash but I’m holding on to my work from yesterday for now, but it feels like that first attempt will soon be in the trash.  Now is the time for driving.  I work , I take a break and drive and think.  Of course I missed my exit last night with all my deep thoughts and had to come back to reality to figure out how I could get where I was supposed to be.  I was still early for guitar class.

And now it’s 4:48 and I already downloaded that wacky tune, “Call me Maybe” to use with a set of in-the-moment classroom photos, just for fun before the meat.  A bit of dessert first. My goal is to motivate our teacher team to take a look back on our work since October as a place to reflect as we prepare to move on.

I will be ready for Tuesday. I will be ready for Tuesday.

Good thing I am working from plenty.

And then there’s Wednesday.  Now that Hudson Valley Writing Project is  a trailer I have been working on longer and now it’s a matter of making sense of what I have with the use of the handy dandy razor blade for cutting to the core and then arranging.  I have an idea for the intro and Christine is helping out, sharing her student voices.  And back at the Apple store I have a new mentor for support.  He’s good, really good.  I might even learn Motion software this time.

First viewing for critique coming on Tuesday afternoon and I have to be open to suggestions from Tom and Diane. I am sure, maybe confident,that my trailer will not fit their expectations.  It will not look like any of the models they’ve shared with me.  I will have lots to think about on my hour a riding up to SUNY on Tuesday morning. I might be ready to scrap it all and begin again.

And then the  last pieces: a photo album for the newly married couple and a digital story about my adventures with Josh, my nephew. That will be my dessert.

This post feels like mind splatters, bursts of where I am at this moment.

Feels good… I’m in a good place.  Everywhere I go now, my digital world comes with me… I like that!

More to share soon,


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Categories: Highland Falls School Dist 2012-13, HVWP | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Great Day at the HVWP: Conversations with Eileen & SOLCT

Morning Slicers and Friends,

Saturday morning was glorious in the Hudson Valley and I was up and out and in it early, on the road to New Paltz.  Somehow, even though I didn’t sleep much the sunshine and the upcoming Saturday Seminar at SUNY fueled me.

Speeding up the Thruway, in my new Mazda 3 I arrived early, found and great parking spot in the Old Main traffic circle and entered the building, recently renovated.  I had an assigned job to greet participants and everything was already set for me to begin.  Over time, we have become a well oiled machine on our Saturdays.

Today, Tom Romano would be keynoting, yes, Tom Romano, who focuses his talks on his multi-genre work.  I try not to get too excited about superstars, because they often start believing their hype, but I was sure this wouldn’t be the case and you know, it wasn’t.

I did my job and then moved into the 1907 room where we would begin.  We had a good group: lots of our HVWP teacher consultants and teachers from the area.  After Tom’s keynote we also had an interesting set of workshops that would run concurrently.  I was set to attend a new TC from our latest Summer Institute.  She has been reading Tom Romano for years and was so excited to actually meet him.  She wasn’t disappointed.

It was nice to see that I would not be the only one documenting the event.  We have a young student with a camera this semester working with us.  Love that!

I took on the video documenting and I have to get to the job of editing soon.

Tom was wonderful.  He didn’t shy away from the Common Core and offered a positive way into working with them, defining them in a way that felt authentic to his own work.  Tom has been with the National Writing Project for years, actually since he met Jim Graves, the founder of the NWP, years ago.

He spoke, we wrote together, shared…I had a new book to add to my library.  None of his texts are on ebooks yet.  We moved out to be inspired by our teacher consultants and then back to reconvene.

It was a wonderful way to spend Saturday morning, Wonderful…

Here’s a taste:

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And if that wasn’t enough… back home, Tuvia proudly shared the tickets he picked up for the new Argo.  I had news that we would be sharing the evening with Slicer Tara and her husband Scott.  What a perfect way to spend a Saturday in October right?


Categories: Conversations with Eileen, SOLT 2012 | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

What I Need for Spring: SOLSC #20

It’s been a very unusual winter in New York and many other places, but I would have been very disappointed if my sign of spring bloomed too soon.  It’s a bit early but the timing is spring’s arrival.

Here it is:

And I rode up to SUNY New Paltz for the official start of our Summer Institute planning for  #12 and joined the leadership team  to interview teachers who will join us. Well most of them will join us.  But it was wonderful to sit around the table and hear about what they are doing with their students even in these tough times.  They spoke with passion and commitment and vulnerability.

I won’t be on the SI leadership team this summer but I will be hovering around when I can.

It’s an honor to be with this organization, an honor I appreciate every day of my life.



Categories: Hudson Valley Writing Project, SOLSC 2012 | Tags: , | 10 Comments

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