Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekend Writing: An Opposite Love Story

Go to the 16 Personalities website and pick two opposite personality types. Read their section on romantic relationships and write a funny story about when the two of them knew they were in love.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Rejuvenation: A Valentine's Day Box

"A Courageous Box"

A set aside Tide box,
A shoebox,
An oatmeal canister

Ordinary to the untrained eye
But through the eyes of a school Valentine's Day expert,
Anything but ordinary.

Freezer paper
Construction paper
Paper bags
Glue sticks
Construction paper cut-outs
More glitter

And the ordinary is transformed into extraordinary
A box, a Valentine's Day box, ready to receive the paper manifestations of love.

And so that box,
That box that thought its job was done when the detergent was gone or the perhaps the shoes,
Was really just preparing for what it was supposed to be.
And even though things were modified, trimmed, removed, added,
Hurting in the process,
This stretching and growing and becoming something new
Was all for the purpose of sharing love

All it took was for somebody to recognize
That there was more to this emptied and set aside box than first meets the eye
And follow through with the right time, resources, and skills

To prepare it for what it was meant to do: love.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

AuTHor Thursday: A Valentine for Penny Kittle

The Red River Valley Writing Project sends a Valentine to one of our beloved authors: Penny Kittle.

Her recent publication Book Love: Developing Depth, Stamina, and Passion in Adolescent Readers is the perfect read (or Valentine gift?) for a teacher who loves words and hopes to spark that love of reading in her students.

And here begins our Valentine to you, Penny Kittle.

A Warning.

When you read books written by Penny Kittle, you might just want to write beside your students. When you write beside your students, you might just want to keep a writing notebook. And when you keep a writing notebook, you might just want to share your writing struggles and thinkings and failures and successes with your students. And when you share your writing struggles and thinkings and failures and successes with your students, you might just want to try writing workshop in your classroom. And once you try writing workshop in your classroom, you will see how your students start to craft words because they have watched your writing struggles and thinkings and failures and successes. And once you see how the students start to craft words, you might just be inspired to try something else.

Like read right beside them.

And when you read right beside them, you might just find yourself talking about books. And once you find yourself talking about books, you might just find your students reading those books. And when you find your students reading those books, you might just find yourself conferencing about them with those books. And when you are conferencing with your students about those books, you might just find more books to love. And when you find more books to love, you might find your library shelves need expanding. And when your library shelves expand, you might just find that your students' love for books has expanded as well. When your students' love for books has expanded, you might just find that they have found friends in those books, have discovered the meaning of life in those books, have found the answers to questions they didn't even know they were asking in those books. And when that happens, those students might feel so connected with those books that they might want to take a picture with those books. And when they want to take a picture with those books, you might just find your classroom walls decorated with book love. And when you find your classroom walls decorated with book love, your teacher heart sings a happy song.

So. Consider yourself warned.

And here ends our Valentine to you, Penny Kittle. 

Penny Kittle feeling the love from a couple of North Dakotans--Callie Bowen and Jaime Jarmin.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Happy Valentine's Day to my Teaching Mentor

I did my student teaching at North Pole High School in North Pole, Alaska in 1996-1997 with Pat Sheehan. I remember the long drive from my 12x16 foot cabin (no running water) in Fairbanks to North Pole, during months of subzero temperatures and darkness. Each day when I arrived at school, I was met by the smiling face of my mentor. Mrs. Sheehan was about to retire (though that was not the only reason for her smile), and she put a tremendous effort into passing on her knowledge of the teaching profession to me.

In addition to many in-depth conversations about teaching, we also kept a dialogue journal that we wrote in each day to each other. When one book filled up, we started another one. I have kept these journals over the years and use them in my current job of teaching future teachers. Reading my entries helps put me back in touch with the hopes, dreams and anxieties of being a new teacher. Reading Mrs. Sheehan's entries inspires me to do more, be more, for future teachers. Her writing has really stood the test of time, as this passage shows:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Teacher Feature - Jenna Trosvik

First, can you tell us a little about yourself and your involvement with the RRVWP?

I currently teach 4th grade at Robert Asp Elementary in Moorhead. I recently spoke at the National Writing Project in honor of the Red River Valley Writing Project and a grant I was able to be a part of at my last school. It was great to be able to speak at a National Conference, and it gave me such great access to the NWP and NCTE. I became involved in the RRVWP in the summer of 2013. All the experiences and education that the RRVWP has given me have made me a stronger teacher overall. It's one of the best organizations to be a part of.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading a variety of books. I am in a children's literature graduate class, and I am doing a 40-book challenge. I just finished The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate---amazing. I am also reading The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander to my class, and they are loving it. For my graduate class I am also reading Storytime: Young Children's Literacy Understanding in the Classroom by Lawrence Sipe and Picture This: How Pictures Work by McClure, Garthwait, and Kristo. I am looking forward to my 40-book

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Announcements

The Fargo Writing Group meets this Saturday at 9am at Dunn Brothers Coffee on the corner of 13th Ave South and 25th Street South.

The big news this week is that we are ready to advertise the 2016 RRVWP Summer Institute. We need all TCs "on deck" to help recruit the strong candidates. We hope to continue to expand our reach to Northwestern Minnesota, rural areas of North Dakota, teachers in High-Needs Schools, and content area teachers from K-college. Remember, the most effective thing you can do to help our efforts is to talk face-to-face with a colleague about your experience with the writing project and to encourage them to apply. Following up by sharing the flyer (attached to Monday's list serve announcement) is a great next step. Thank you all in advance for your efforts!

We anticipate offering an Advanced Institute for TCs on the NWP's new College Ready Writers Program as well. More information on that to follow.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Weekend Writing Prompts: A Book About You

If someone wrote a book about you, what would it be called? What genre would it be? Explain.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

AuTHor Thursday: Elizabeth Raum

Greetings RRVWP Blog Readers, 

Meet Elizabeth Raum. She has graciously shared part of her writing world with us. 

Elizabeth Raum has written over 100 books for young readers including picture books, nonfiction, and middle-grade novels. She spent several years as a teacher and librarian in New Jersey and North Dakota. She taught at Mapleton High School in Mapleton, North Dakota, in the 1970s, and worked as a librarian at Concordia College from 1992-2003, in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has been writing fulltime since 2003. She has lived in six states, but claims North Dakota as home. She is a teaching artist with the North Dakota Council on the Arts and the Regional Advisor of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her website is

Why do you write?

Every life is a story, and the lives of others (both true and imaginary) nourish us. I write to tell these stories.

Who currently inspires you?

My Fargo writing group is a source of inspiration. They work at their craft, constantly revising to make their work sing. And like all of us writers, they don’t let rejection defeat them. They continue to produce amazing work, even though they seldom get the recognition they deserve.

Who encouraged you to be a writer?

Two of my teachers played a special role in my life. Mrs. Brown, my third grade teacher, assigned the class to write a poem. Mine was about snowflakes, and when Mrs. Brown read it, she told me that I would be a writer someday. Of course, I didn’t believe her. Later, in 9th grade, my history teacher, Mr. O’Brien, encouraged me through his supportive comments on my papers. My Mom always read to my brothers and me, and my Dad was a great storyteller. He saw every incident as fuel for stories. No wonder I do, too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Blog as a Classroom Resource

Greetings Reader on the Other Side of the Screen,

Perhaps you are a first time reader of this blog. Perhaps you are an occasional reader. Perhaps you are a daily reader. Whatever your readership status is, today I invite you to explore the RRVWP blog as a resource for your classroom. 

AuTHor Thursday: Many Thursdays, a local author is featured. These authors share insights into their writing process and world.  Here are a few authors who have been featured:

Denise Lajimodiere
Jill Kandel
Heidi Czerwiec
Ryan Christiansen

Consider sharing these posts with your student writers to help not only inspire them to write and to gain insights into the writing world, but also to show them the local writing community that they could be a part of some day.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Announcements

Scholastic Art Exhibit from 2015
 Here is a list of upcoming events this month:

Wed. 2/3--There is a Scholastic meeting at Plains Art Museum to plan out the statewide ceremony, to be held March 12th. We are looking for volunteers to help with this event!
Sat. 2/13--Writing Group Meeting
Sun. 2/14--Grand Forks Professional Book Club
Fri. 2/19--YAL Book Club in Moorhead
Fri. to Sun. Feb 26-28--Winter Writing Retreat at Maplelag
Mon. Feb. 29--Grand Forks Book Club

Wanted: Photographer and Videographer for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Statewide Ceremony on March 12th
Call to action: Subscribe to our Google Calendar if you would like RRVWP events to pop up on your calendar automatically!