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July 10, 2013 Dear Janet and Dawn, To begin, I want to thank you both for the opportunity

to learn and grow that you provided for me through the Red Cedar Writing Project. At our spring meeting, Janet said that her one desire was that this would be the best professional development wed ever have. Well, you got your wish, Janet. If I were to combine the graduate classes, workshops, conferences, and meetings I have taken part in over the 16 years of my professional life, I dont think that they would measure up to the last four weeks in the RCWP. I dont think they even come close. I was immersed in the craft of writing and composition and surrounded by an amazing group of teachers, every one of whom inspired me at some point during the institute. For the first time in years, I look forward to September with a sense of anticipation rather than a sense of dread. I am eager to experiment and play with what I have learned. I am eager to see what my students and I are capable of. The form of this letter is meant to explore how I have grown in each of the eight Habits of Mind in the Framework for Success in Post-Secondary Writing, as well as the ways teachers can foster these habits of mind in their teaching practice. One of our first tasks was to read the Executive Summary of the Framework and examine these habits of mind. I hope that I continue to keep this valuable document in mind as I design lessons for my students in the future. It seems to me that if we keep these in the forefront of our teacher minds, in all content areas, it will result in a more effective educational approach overall. It is interesting to look back now, before these pieces Ive created become too distant, and reflect on how I demonstrated all of these habits of mind throughout my portfolio pieces and through my contribution to our discussions. On the homepage of my portfolio website, I state that I am an information junkie. I am constantly curious about news, politics, history, literature, culture, and issues connected to education. There are several parts of my portfolio that show that I am a curious learner. First, the fact that I chose to use Weebly to create a website for my portfolio shows a desire to know more. I knew that I needed more practice with creating websites, and was eager for the opportunity to play with this format and to learn more about using the tools available on Weebly to build an effective website. My response to Crafting Digital Writing also demonstrates curiosity. I wanted to see if it was possible to create a usable template that would synthesize Troy Hickss ideas into one document. I knew that this would make it more likely that I would keep audience, purpose, assessment, and authenticity in mind as I develop digital writing assignments. Similarly, my response to Mechanically Inclined showed curiosity. I wanted to see how I could incorporate Andersons Writers Notebook, mini-lessons, and use of anchor texts into my first semester curriculum for Accelerated English 10. Finally, I also demonstrated the habit of curiosity in my response to Designing Writing Assignments by Traci Gardner. I wanted to see what I could come up with if I followed the train of thought that she illustrated in her

vignettes in Chapter 3 of her book. I discovered that it lead me to an excellent idea for a writing assignment that I am eager to flesh out before September. In addition to showing curiosity in my writing and responses to the readings, I also demonstrated curiosity by listening and learning from my colleagues. The most valuable part of the RCWP was this unique opportunity to learn from and learn with my amazing colleagues. I was consistently excited to discover what new insight I would learn that day. I am a naturally curious person, which is what probably led me to RCWP to begin with. The second habit of mind, Openness, goes hand in hand with curiosity. A curious person has to be open to considering new ways of thinking. Every day I woke up tired, but eager to be on the road and on my way to Linton Hall. When I tell my friends and family, I consistently use the expression my mind is blown. As educators, we must be open to new ways of looking at our profession because the old system no longer works, if it ever did. There is always something to be learned from examining new ways of thinking, or, perhaps, from looking back at previous thinking about our craft. In my portfolio, you can see evidence of Openness in my almost all of my writing pieces. In my three writing pieces that are not connected to the readings, I tried on new styles, new genres, and new topics. I was open to experiment with the lessons and ideas that my colleagues were presenting to me. In my response to the readings, I also showed that I was willing to consider new ways of being and thinking. My letter to my family in response to Bird by Bird shows that I am open to thinking of myself in a different light in order to improve my writing and my teaching. Each of my responses to the other three readings shows my willingness to consider the new ways of thinking that I explored by reading those texts. I was open to trying to use Hickss approach to develop better digital writing assignments. I show that I am willing to incorporate Andersons ideas for embedding mechanics in a writing workshop. I also show my willingness to look at the development of writing assignments through a rhetorical lens in order to make them more effective for my students. The bottom line is that I am eager to pick the brains of my colleagues, either through reading their work, engaging in conversation, or listening to presentations because I am wide open to the idea that there is always something to be learned. Perhaps the most obvious sign of the third habit of mind, engagement, is evident in my response to Bird by Bird. I wrote a letter to my family and friends attempting to explain to them why I was willing to spend four weeks of my summer vacation driving an hour to East Lansing every day to spend six hours immersed in a summer institute. For me, learning is not about getting more degrees, more credits, or more money. I want to learn because I want to be better, and I know there is room to grow. I have spent 16 years in this profession; I have at least 14 to go (and, realistically, many more beyond that). I refuse to believe that simply because I am more distant from my students in years that my best, most effective teaching years are behind me. Indeed, I must think that my best years lie ahead of me. I hope that my letter in response to Bird by Bird shows this dedication and investment into

learning about myself as a teacher and a writer. I also believe that this engagement in the Red Cedar Writing Project as a learning opportunity is evident in all of my writings and responses to readings. I am invested because I teach writing. I must be a writer myself to experience the joys and frustrations that my students will experience. I must learn from other professional educators, like Jeff Anderson, Troy Hicks, and Traci Gardner, to become better at my craft. Beyond my portfolio, I believe that I demonstrated the behaviors of someone who was engaged in all of our discussions and workshops during the Red Cedar Writing Project. I listened and learned from my colleagues. I was an eager participant in our conversations. I wanted to be engaged in this opportunity to learn collaboratively. I was certainly invested, and I still am. I cannot wait to continue be involved in as many aspects of Red Cedar and the National Writing Project as I can. I am so eager to continue to meet fascinating and innovative teachers. I am so eager to experience all that it is to be a fellow of the National Writing Project. The next habit of mind, creativity, is a tricky one for me. In many aspects of my life, I dont see myself as being very creative. But creativity doesnt simply mean being able to make a really cool necklace out of a pile of beads (one of the many artistic hobbies I have tried and abandoned). Being creative means trying hard to think beyond what people just do and focus on what people do that works. I believe that my response to Crafting Digital Writing was quite creative. Rather than simply trying on one of the digital projects Hicks suggested, I chose to go a completely different route and create something that would be useful in generating ideas for digital writing assignments while keeping in mind all the rhetorical considerations Hicks encouraged us to consider. Additionally, I am particularly proud of the writing assignment I developed for my students to do with their Native American Literature unit using the vignettes from Chapter 3 of Designing Writing Assignments. I was so proud that I came up with the idea for students to represent their understanding of our conversations and studies of Native American literature and history through lessons designed for elementary school students. I have a lot of work to do to continue to create the handouts and materials that will help students achieve what I hope for them to achieve, but I am sure that it will come together. Not only do I feel I showed creativity in creating the assignment, I feel it will foster creativity among my students. One of the lines from Bird by Bird that resonated for me was spoken by Anne Lamotts father. Among other valuable lessons, he told his daughter to make a commitment to finishing things. This held great meaning for me, because my tendency, in all areas of my life, is to leave things unfinished. This is especially true of my writing. This connects to another of the eight Habits of Mind: persistence. During the Summer Institute and in my portfolio, I did show persistence with my writing projects. I have attached many documents to each of my writing projects to show that I took each of them through multiple drafts. Within these drafts there was also a great deal of revision. In my writing, I often struggle with finding a way out. I want to end a poem or a piece of writing in a way that will resonate for readers. I am proud of the strong conclusions of each of my pieces. It took some

distance, sometimes. In some cases I had to take a break from the piece and come back to it with fresh eyes. This was true with the piece I wrote called Windows. I got two-thirds of the way through it and let it set for a week before coming back to it, studying what I had already done, and finding a conclusion that worked. With my snapshot poem about my daughter Lilly, I spent several hours and some time in my writing group trying to craft an ending that worked. Although there are only two drafts of this poem, it was a tedious process to write it. My first draft represents hours of revision and experimentation. I had never written a poem of this kind, one that has a form and some rhyming words. It took more persistence to write this poem, which is actually a very short piece, than many other poems that I have written. To be honest, I dont know if Ive ever been this persistent. Something about the summer institute has just pulled me right in. I read every book, I did every assignment, and I created a portfolio that I believe may even go beyond my expectations of what I was capable of. I feel proud of my persistence, but I almost feel like it was nothing noteworthy. There is such authentic value in the work we have done here that my commitment to complete the tasks involved came easily. The next habit of mind is responsibility. There are obvious ways that I took responsibility during the summer institute. I completed all the books, I finished all the writing tasks, and I put them together in a pretty cool online portfolio. I took the responsibility of meeting my obligations for this course. I also had my teaching demo and sacred writing time prepared in time to share with the group. I also demonstrated responsibility in ways that may be less obvious. During the summer institute, I nursed and had to say goodbye to a sick pet, I cared for my children, I chose to continue to exercise and eat well, and I have even managed to plan my high school reunion. I balanced all of these responsibilities. There is one other way that I showed responsibility. I triedalthough I wasnt always successfulto be a good listener. I tend to speak out of turn, interrupt, and dominate conversation. I did make an effort to take a back seat at times. I didnt want to appear like the old veteran teacher who thinks she knows everything. I felt a sense of responsibility toward the women in my summer institute. I wanted them to see me as someone who valued their ideas and respected their practices. Not only because this is the right thing to do, but also because it is true. These women are brilliant. I am so thrilled that they have experienced Red Cedar Writing Project so early in their careers. Can you imagine what these women will create? What lives they will change? I wanted them to feel that I valued their work and their knowledge. I understood that I had a responsibility to not only respect them, but to be sure that my actions and words demonstrated my respect. The seventh habit of mind is incredibly important in all aspects of teaching. A good teacher is flexible, able to adapt. If a lesson does not go as planned, he or she will adjust. If an obstacle arises, a good teacher will find ways around it. I demonstrated flexibility in my teaching demo. I knew what I wanted to accomplish, but I also knew that we wouldnt be able to cover everything in the lesson. I decided as I went

along, to make changes and highlight or skim past certain things. I tried to read the reactions of the teachers in the room to see what I should emphasize next. I am used to doing a similar lesson with students in a two or three day lesson, but I adapted to the 90 minutes we had for the demo. I also demonstrated flexibility in my personal life as I adapted to the expectations and demands of being a strong member of our summer institute. I like to see myself as a person who is pretty good at rolling with it. If were not flexible and willing to adapt, we will miss some amazing experiences. Finally, the eighth habit of mind is metacognition. All three of the teaching-focused books we read, Mechanically Inclined, Crafting Digital Writing, and Designing Writing Assignments, encouraged the reader to think about the thought processes behind the writing task. Of the three, perhaps Designing Writing Assignments was the one that caused me to reflect the most on my own thinking, and this is evident in my response. My response is a narrative of my thought process in creating a writing assignment. I knew what I wanted students to learn about the topic, but I wasnt sure how to get them there. Thinking about how my audience will interpret or understand my writing assignment forced me to clarify my thinking and justify my rhetorical choices. Another piece of writing, my literacy letter, is a good example of metacognition. I reflect on how being a reader has better prepared me to be a good teacher and a pretty good person. I reflect on the thinking processes that a teacher experiences as they read. I consider the many aspects of society that we teachers must be aware of to be good at what we do. In this piece, I am considering reading in a different light. I usually just think of reading as something that I do for pleasure, but writing this piece allowed me to truly consider everything that reading means to my continued education. Now, these eight habits of mind are important, and the Framework For Success in Post-Secondary Writing explains that, I can foster these habits of mind in my through writing, reading, and critical analysis. My work on writing, reading, and critical analysis during the summer institute has developed my rhetorical knowledge, my critical thinking, my writing process, my knowledge of conventions, and my ability to compose in multiple environments. First, my rhetorical knowledge has grown immensely. From day one, we have focused on considering audience, purpose, and context by using the MAPS heuristic. This idea was developed further in Troy Hickss book. I incorporated this rhetorical awareness in my response to his book. I included MAPS (Mode, Media, Audience, Purpose, Situation) in my template that I developed to aid myself in creating digital writing assignments. I also processed this rhetorical knowledge in a different way in my response to Gardners book. She doesnt use the MAPS heuristic, but she still encourages the teacher to think of audience, purpose, and context, not only when we are considering what we want our student to do, but also when we are deciding how to explain to students what we want to do. She encourages us to think of creating a writing assignment as a genre, one for which we have an audience, a purpose, and a context. I had never thought of all the assignments that I create as genres in and of

themselves. Thinking through the creation of a writing assignment following Gardners thought process allowed me to come up with an assignment that is not only unique, but also authentic and appealing to my students. I have demonstrated good critical thinking in our discussions and in my writings. In our discussions, we compared, contrasted, and troubled our thinking about the different books. Sometimes, just because it is something that is written in a book doesnt mean that we have to just nod our heads and agree with everything that is said. I also had to use critical thinking when trying to decide how best to respond to the texts. Sometimes I recognized that the approach that seemed most obvious to me would not yield a response that would be as meaningful. I challenged myself to think through the different ways that I could respond to these texts in order to create something that would have the strongest impact on my teaching. When it comes to the writing process, if anything, my experience in the summer institute has strengthened my conviction that revision the key. Lamott helps us understand the value of a shitty first draft. At first, you just need to put the pen to the paper or the fingers to the keyboard and WRITE. Then, you can go back and find the gems and polish them. As much as I love revising, I do not like that first draft. I struggle to have that courage that Lamott talks about, the courage to just put some crap down on paper in the secure knowledge that eventually, this mess will become something amazing. Using the writers notebook has encouraged me to just give some things a try. I didnt think Id like the letter to students that I wrote. I didnt think Id get much out of the visualizing exercise, but both of these became pieces that I am incredibly proud of. I gave fiction a shot during the writing marathon, and it actually went well. The summer institute has encouraged me to see the writing process as a place to play with all the words and tools and ideas that I get from books and the world. Another thing that has developed is my knowledge of conventions. Now, I am pretty darn good at grammar and mechanics, but that doesnt mean that AAAWWWUUBBIS wasnt pretty much one of the coolest ideas Id ever heard. I learned so much more about those areas that we never quite get to with students, the phrases that make writing interesting. More valuable than the increase in my knowledge of conventions was the incredibly leap in my understanding of how to teach these conventions. Reading Mechanically Inclined has taught me the value of the mentor text. This is something I certainly will not forget. It is so powerful to show students good writing conventions at work and encourage them to imitate them in their own writing. I am eager to share this with students and to experience how it changes their writing as well as my own. The Red Cedar Writing Project also increased my ability to compose in multiple environments. From digital formats like stop-motion movies, iMovie, Audacity, Prezi, Glogster, and Weebly, to sitting cross-legged by a river with a pen and a paper, I was exposed to a variety of writing environments. There is no reason I cant bring these environments into my classroom as well.

I cannot say enough that the Red Cedar Writing Project has changed my thinking in so many ways. I cant believe how I have grown. There was not a single moment wasted or spent engaged in an activity or discussion that was not valuable to me as a writer and as a teacher. Writing this reflection, although challenging, has helped me see even more clearly how much Ive grown. I have never been so proud of anything I have done before. The Red Cedar Writing Project has been an amazing experience for me, and I look forward to continuing to stay involved with Red Cedar and with the National Writing Project, as well as becoming a teacher leader in my own community. These last four weeks have invigorated my passion for my profession. I am sure I will always look back on these weeks as a turning point in my life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. With gratitude, Amanda Sauvie