Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CRWP Success Story: Lisa Gusewelle

Lisa Gusewelle, left, with NHS student volunteer at the Scholastic Awards ceremony
About Lisa Gusewelle
Lisa Gusewelle is a proud middle school educator at Hazen Middle School in Hazen, North Dakota. While embarking on her quest to become a teacher with a master’s degree, her profound graduate advisor wisely recommended that Gusewelle choose to add the College Ready Writer’s Program to her class choice list.

Since becoming an enterprising teacher consultant of the National Writing Project, she has been warmly greeted by other teachers similar to herself. That in and of itself is reward enough, but her teaching practice has also been amped up in quality and intensity as well.

Her students are most likely the most thankful participants of the program as they are churning out great writing and speech examples like pioneers churned butter; however, their parents may be the least thankful of indirect participants since they now have to combat smaller versions of Steven Colbert and John Stewart. Parenting, am I right?

Though Gusewelle may seem like her only interests are teaching, she also has began learning to play chess. Her most notable match was against a tenacious fourth grader. During the heated match, the fourth grader barely managed to win within the first 15 moves.  This has strengthened Gusewelle’s resolve to win and to eventually play against this fourth grader again in the future. Meanwhile, she enjoys taking her dog Richard to the Bark Park in Bismarck, coaching theater students in the art of lying, feuding with her cat over the cat’s new diet, and swatting off her husband’s multiple pleas for more new guns. Isn’t 8 enough?

Success! My Experience with CRWP
           In the past years, I have had a difficult time having all of my students turn in their writing pieces. Typically, my less enthusiastic students don’t participate in the writing process at all and turn in a shabby rough draft a week after the writing project is due.
           However! This school year I had 100% participation with 90 students who were actively involved during the entire writing process when we worked on Letters 2 the Next President. Were all of their writing pieces perfect or at grade level? Of course not! More importantly, though, is the fact that each of the students tried and participated and gained more confidence and more skill than they
previously had with their writing.
           Other teachers in the middle school have noticed improvement in the students' work as well. They are noticing more expressive, focused, and clear writing and have been delighted to share the students’ success with others and me.
           There could be many reasons for the success that I have witnessed in my classroom. I could have a strange, perfect group of kids, the templates from their mentor texts increased their confidence, the breakdown of the writing tasks, and/or that they are now considered “published authors."
           The College Ready Writer’s Program makes me feel more confident as a teacher. I feel good about teaching them something that I know will help them in college and is supported by a community, such as RRVWP. I also enjoy the challenge of teaching new subject material that was first taught to me during our sessions. This makes me more ready to recognize snags that other students will have during their writing.
           If you haven’t accepted CRWP into your curriculum yet, please consider it. Your students’ writing and arguments will be stronger; they will be more committed writers; at the end of the day, you’ll feel like you have truly prepared the kids for the “what’s next” in their lives.