Sunday, December 6, 2015

RRVWP Teachers Hase, Taylor, Lundberg, and Dyk present at NCTE

Angie Hase explains how she models the craft of writing for her students.
On Saturday, November 21st at the Annual Convention of the National Council for Teachers of English, Red River Valley Writing Project Teacher consultants, Angela Hase, Karen Taylor, Isaac Lundberg, and Erika Dyk presented a panel session titled, "Sustaining Teachers through Writing on the High Plains." The session was chaired by RRVWP Director Kelly Sassi. In this interactive session, Angela Hase, who teaches at Moorhead High School, clearly explained and modeled how she models elements of craft with her students to show them how writing is not a "one and done" activity, but a complex and challenging process that even capable writers like herself struggle with on a regular basis. Ms. Hase invited the audience to workshop a poem with her that was modeled on a mentor text.

After Ms. Hase presented, RRVWP co-director Karen Taylor invited the audience to choose a prompt from a brochure of the group's favorite writing prompts. The brochure was designed by the new RRVWP Assistant Maggie Wheeler. Audience members shared what they had written with each other. Next, Moorhead Middle School teachers Karen Taylor (English) and Isaac Lundberg (social studies) described a collaborative social justice project they designed for their 8th grade students. In addition to outlining the shared principles they developed for the project, they explained their process and pitfalls and showed a student-created video on community perceptions of homelessness. The NCTE audience actively engaged the presenters with many questions about this project.
Karen Taylor, left, and Issac Lundberg, right.
NDSU graduate student Erika Dyk

The next presenter in the panel was Erika Dyk, a former junior high teacher from Hazen, who currently is a master's degree student in the English department at North Dakota State University. Her portion, entitled "How Teachers' Writing Affects Students' Writing" was subtitled "Of Boats and Stars and Buttons." Erika talked about how fear can negatively affect the classroom writing environment and that when students see their teacher fearlessly writing with them, they start to flourish as writers. Erika shared examples from her junior high classroom and how she found some helpful metaphors within published works and a quotation that one of the co-facilitators of the Northern Plains Writing Project had given her at the end of the Summer Institute in 2010: "A star is not something that flashes through the sky. That's a comet. Or a meteor. A star is something you can steer ships by. It stays in one place and gives off a steady glow; it is a fixed permanent star. A star works at being a star." -Peter C. Bjarkman She ended with a challenge that she was given from her friend who shared the star quotation with her: "Keep shining; there are ships that need to sail."

Angie, Karen, Isaac, and Erika enjoyed sharing their work and were thankful for the opportunity to participate in the grand teaching conversation that was taking place at NCTE.