Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One-credit summer classes

The Red River Valley Writing Project is pleased to offer the following one-credit classes this summer. These classes are available for either UND or NDSU credit and for letter grades or S/U grading. ALL educators are welcome to enroll in these classes.


Sentence Sense, T&L 900

Topics: Language Arts & Instructional Strategies
Audience: K-12
Dates: June 16-17 in Fargo and June 23-24 in Grand Forks
Instructors: Nancy Devine and Pam Fisher

Learn how to write more effectively through generating quality sentences. In this class, participants will explore various sentence writing strategies, analyze models for sentence generation, examine sentence-level syntax, learn to manipulate syntax to create varying effects for readers, and explore how sentences relate to each other. Participants will generate their own sentences, analyze them, revise them, and discuss the strategies used. They will also consider how sentence strategies can be used to scaffold students K-12.

Click here for the registration link.


Build Your Argument Toolkit: Rhetoric in the K12 Classroom, T&L 900

Topics: Language Arts & Instructional Strategies
Audience: K-12
Dates: August 4-5 in Grand Forks
Instructor: Dr. Kim Donehower

This mini-institute is designed to give K-12 teachers an introductory course in classical to contemporary rhetoric, so that we might select useful ideas, terms, and techniques for our students and our teaching. The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts place tremendous emphasis on the "evidence-based argument," but there's a more important word buried (and sometimes misdefined) in the standards: "rhetoric." "Rhetoric," in the classic sense, is the study of persuasion, and it's difficult to teach students to read or write arguments without it. It encompasses everything from coming up with sound claims to the selection of evidence to audience analysis to persuasive techniques to word choice.

Participants in this mini-institute will:
  • understand and apply the concepts of rhetorical situation, Aristotelian appeals, and Toulmin terminology for analyzing arguments;
  • identify current beliefs and practices which may be limiting students' learning of argumentation;
  • transform some current classroom practices into ones which provide richer, more informed learning situations for students.
Follow this link to register.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Writing Weekend Prompt

Write with the National Writing Project's Spring Meeting!

Here is Friday's writing prompt from the NWP Spring Meeting: What are the small and important victories of everyday teacher leadership? What and how can we improve the teaching profession by creating and leveraging a network of teacher leaders?

If you would be willing to share your writing with the NWP, please email your piece to RRVWP Director Kelly Sassi at <kelly[dot]sassi[at]ndsu[dot]edu>.

Friday, March 27, 2015

April with the RRVWP

April is just around the corner, and here's what we have going on for RRVWP activities. Please mark your calendars and join us for as many of these as you can.

The Grand Forks Writing Group will meet on Friday, April 10, at 5:30 pm at the home of Nancy Devine to workshop pieces of any genre. All RRVWP members are welcome to attend. You need not have attended meetings in the past nor commit to attending all meetings to be a part of the GF Writing Group. If planning to attend, RSVP to Pam Fisher at pam[dot]fisher[at]gfschools[dot]org.

In our next Saturday Seminar, "A Syntactic Look at Sentences," participants will examine sentence-level syntax, learn to manipulate sentence syntax to create varying effects for readers, and discuss how syntax strategies can be used to scaffold students K-16.
We will meet from 1:00-4:00 pm in Room 167 at Central High School in Grand Forks on Saturday, April 18. Enter through Door #6 (new music/theater addition). Parking is available in the lot kitty corner from Central. This session is open now for registration on My Learning Plan for PRISM credit. If you plan to attend but not sign up on My Learning Plan, please contact Pam Fisher at the email below so we plan for the appropriate number of copies. The Saturday Seminars are open to other educators in addition to RRVWP TCs, so if you would like to attend and bring your teaching colleagues, they may attend as well and earn PRISM credit or clock-hour certificates. And, even if YOU cannot attend, please pass the word on to any interested colleagues.

The Fargo Writing Group is meeting on Tuesday, April 21, from 7:00-8:30. Please RSVP to Kim Rensch at renschk[at]fargo[dot]k12[dot]nd[dot]us if planning to attend.

The Fargo-Moorhead Book Club plans to meet on Monday, April 27, at Usher's House in Moorhead from 4:30-6:00 pm to discuss Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. RSVP to Dan Dooher at DTDOOHER2006[at]alum[dot]csbsju[dot]edu if planning to attend. You need not have read the book to join the discussion and learn more about the book.

Grand Forks Book Club: Our next book is Brown Girl Dreaming, the Youth National Book Award Winner and a Newbery Honor book by Jacqueline Woodson. We'll be meeting on Tuesday, April 28th, at 5:30 on the Rhombus rooftop. Email Andrea Scherer <andrealscherer[at]gmail[dot]com> if planning to attend.

RRVWP in Washington




The Red River Valley Writing Project is represented at the annual National Writing Project Spring Meeting in Washington, DC. And the above picture is proof ---(from left to right) RRVWP Director Kelly Sassi, NWP Executive Director Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and RRVWP Teacher Consultant Karen
Taylor.  
The meeting began March 25, 2015 and concludes today, March 27. Here's a bit about the meeting:

Always an exciting event, the meeting gives Writing Project teachers and leaders an opportunity to share their classroom successes with members of Congress and with each other. (from NWP's website)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

AuThursday: A Report from Our Book Clubs

Fargo-Moorhead Book Club:
What's not to love about a squirrel who is accidentally sucked up by an indoor/outdoor vacuum cleaner and miraculously turns into a superhero squirrel who writes poetry? Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventure pulls you in with its humorous exposition and hangs onto your heart with its depth, pain and beauty in regards to life, family, and the pursuit of joy. It is a perfect middle grade read, and like all of Kate DiCamillo's books, it would make for a wonderful read-aloud, too.

I also highly recommend viewing Kate DiCamillo's wonderful 2014 Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech for Flora & Ulysses here.

-Dan Dooher, Fargo-Moorhead Book Club Coordinator

Grand Forks Book Club:
For the month of March, we read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay in anticipation of her UND Writer's Conference appearance. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays written by Gay for several websites and publications. The topics range from privilege and race to competitive Scrabble. Her writing is sharp, her wit is quick, and her voice is authentic.  She talks about serious subjects realistically - from a pragmatic point of view as much as a philosophical one. We enjoyed her take on feminism and privilege, as well as her treatise on Sweet Valley High. Roxane Gay will be speaking at the UND Writer's Conference on Friday, March 27, at 8:00 pm in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

-Andrea Scherer, Grand Forks Book Club Coordinator

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What about the teaching of grammar?

Patrick Hartwell's "Grammar, Grammar, and The Teaching of Grammar" is a must-read for teachers who teach writing.  Hartwell challenges the typical grammar discussion---mostly one in which one side claims that teaching traditional grammar helps students write, while the other claims that there is no research that demonstrates that teaching traditional grammar helps students write better. 

It is worth noting at the outset that both sides in this dispute-the grammarians and the anti-grammarians-articulate the issue in the same positivistic terms:what does experimental research tell us about the value of teaching formal grammar

Hartwell elucidates a model for thinking about grammar, one in which there are five types or grammar, which he defines in this important piece. In effect, Hartwell's model forces us to think about what we mean when we say, "grammar."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UND Writers Conference starts tomorrow

The UND Writers Conference begins Wednesday, March 25, at 10:00 am and runs through Friday, March 27. The conference features appearances by noted authors and local writers, community readings, writing workshops, and film viewings. The theme for this year's conference is "The Other Half. To view this year's schedule or for more information on the UND Writers Conference, click here.