Volume 29 No.


Spring 2010

A Publication of the South Coast Writing Project

“I knew that the knowledge
successful teachers had gained through their experience and practice in the classroom was not tapped, sought after, shared, or for the most part, even known about. I knew also that if there was ever going to be reform in American education, it was going to take place in the nation’s classrooms. And because teachers —and no one else— were in those classrooms, I knew that for reform to succeed, teachers had to be at the center.”
James Gray
The passing of the torch: SCWriP’s long-time director Sheridan Blau is pictured above with our soon-to-be director, Tim Dewar.

Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California at Santa Barbara

Spring Renewal, May 21: It’s About the Writing Project, and You Are at the Center
Join us on Friday, May 21, from 9 to 3, for a very special Renewal, to be held, (one last time!) at the Cliff House. Our facilitator will be SCWriP’s incoming director, Tim Dewar. (Look inside for Tim’s candid reflections as he steps into this role, and welcoming thoughts from Sheridan.) The Renewal will be an opportunity to get to know Tim, revisit the fundamental principles of the writing project, ponder where we are headed, and consider what the project has meant to each of us. Be ready to write, to share, to realize anew what a beautiful community this is, and to go home feeling…well, renewed. You know what? This could be exactly what you need. Coffee and treats will be served, but please bring along a potluck contribution. Carpooling is recommended. RSVP (805) 893-4422.

From The Editor

Cynthia Carbone Ward

Tim Dewar’s article in this edition of PostSCWriP got me thinking about what the South Coast Writing Project has meant to me, both personally and professionally. I had twice deferred but finally decided to attend the Summer Institute in 2001, carpooling with a teacher named Vickie Gill. Although Vickie and I both worked at the Dunn School in Los Olivos, we had only a nodding acquaintance; she was at the upper campus and I at the middle school and we seldom interacted. But put two hyperverbal women-of-a-certain-age in a car together for an hour or so a day, and it doesn’t take long before they know each very well. Vickie quickly became -- and still is -- one of my dearest friends. And that was just the first of the gifts SCWriP gave me. I remember well the sense of having found “my people” in that Summer Institute classroom – teachers to whom excellence mattered, and who really understood the importance of writing and the teaching of it. I loved our group; the room buzzed with creativity and enthusiasm and I felt myself to be a part of a professional network in a way I had never known. There was also the phenomenon of Sheridan, of course, in all his exuberance and brilliance, bringing out the best in each of us, and Jack, so graciously sharing the wisdom of his long career, and the insightful and talented Rosemary, who sometimes gave me poems. (Oh, how I love a friend who brings you poems!) It was a summer of camaraderie, new ideas and reflections, and laughter in abundance…gifts of SCWriP.

It was a summer of camaraderie, new ideas and reflections, and abundant laughter -- gifts of SCWriP.

I returned to school that year feeling energized, more confident, and brimming with activities I couldn’t wait to share with my students. It all seems so innocent now and long ago -- a terrible September morning was days away, and the world was about to change in a cataclysmic way. But even when it did, I knew without a doubt that writing and teaching have a lot to do with hope and getting through. I now possessed what Erin Powers (one of my 2001 summer cohorts) refers to as “the compass”; I knew who I was as a teacher. Our Writing Project continues. Through changes in leadership, office space, funding, and educational climate, the fundamental truth of it persists, and maybe this is a good time to revisit and consider it a bit if you’ve forgotten. I hope to see you all at the May 21 Renewal, and in the meantime, please enjoy this edition of PostSCWriP, plush as it is with poetry, prose, and promise. Here’s to SCWriP, and long may it live, welcoming new generations of teachers whose students will benefit, manifold.

In this Edition:
An Open Letter from Sheridan Blau Notes from Tim Dewar Washington Update by Susan Fitzgerald Technology by Teri Cota and Linda Sparkuhl Young Writers Camp by Aline Shapiro The Bulletin Board: Notes and News Kids’ Thoughts on Racism Adjusting My Balance by Cynthia Carbone Ward Ruminations of Retirement by Sally Sibley King O Lucky Man by Kelly Peinado On Teaching Now by Beth Kanne-Casselman Random Acts of Haiku by Bob Isaacson Poems from the Cliff House and Elsewhere

3 5 7 9 10 11 13 14 15 16 17 17 18

A Legacy for Tim and An Open Letter to All of You
I am profoundly sorry I can’t be there for the spring renewal
meeting, where Rosemary had planned to have some ceremonial enactment of my passing the torch of the directorship of SCWriP to my successor, Tim Dewar, who will be assuming the role of SCWriP Director at the start of the 2010 Summer Institute. So I’ll try here in this little note to all of you to satisfy our sense that some ceremonial gesture is in order, and that it can be accomplished in a written message, though I don’t imagine that anything I write now will capture the depth of feeling I would experience and have already experienced in giving up my own identity as Director of SCWriP and turning over that title to Tim, though he is the most qualified and most thoroughly prepared successor I could ever imagine or wish for.


Sheridan Blau

But turning over that title and responsibility to anyone feels to me something like turning over my title and responsibility as father to a family. It’s something like a death, and maybe can’t quite be done in one’s own lifetime without feeling – at least sometimes -- like a death. But families grow up and one generation succeeds the next, and the family that Jack, and Carol and I began together in 1979 has grown up and retired and some of its members have passed away. In the meantime, a new generation has matured to take our place, just as a new generation has arrived on the scene as SCWriP Fellows, not so much replacing the previous generation, but in stages taking on their roles and responsibilities. In that sense, all of us from the early days of our Project are doing or have already done what I am now called upon to do. And we have been conscious for many years of our need to do it well, to bring along the next generation of teacher-leaders for our Project, and to pass on to them the spirit and values that have sustained us and that we too inherited from our mentors and most of all from the founder of the Bay Area Writing Project, James Gray. In fact, Tim’s succession to the role of SCWriP Director has been in our Project’s plans and dreams for at least a decade. He was my own choice as my ideal successor about a decade ago, when I first contemplated my eventual retirement, but I couldn’t imagine an academic scenario in which we could arrange an appointment for him at UCSB that would enable him to serve as Director of SCWriP. In the meantime, Tim completed his PhD and took a professorial job at the State University of New York in New Paltz, where to our advantage he became a co-director of the Hudson Valley Writing Project and made himself even better qualified to serve eventually as the Director of SCWriP. Then fate (plus vigorous lobbying on the part of several of us) conspired to make it possible for him to return to UCSB in a faculty position where a significant portion of his appointment can be held in the Writing Project as its director. So, though I am sad to relinquish my former role as Director, I am thrilled to be replaced by the best heir I could ever imagine, and I recognize that my “death” as director is the avenue to another life for me and renewed vitality for our Writing Project.

So, though I am sad to relinquish my former role as Director, I am thrilled to be replaced by the best heir I could ever imagine…

And this brings me to the legacy of advice I want to leave with Tim, since there isn’t anything else that I can hand over symbolically and literally that might be as useful or as reducible to a few well-constructed sentences. So what advice do I want to leave with Tim to comfort him and guide him in the political storms and turbulent financial seas that always trouble and threaten any writing project or any independently funded project situated in a university?

My first recommendation is to never miss a day or even an hour in the Summer institute. Your presence is a way of affirming the importance of what you have scheduled for SCWriP teachers to do. If you can miss it, you shouldn’t have scheduled it. My second recommendation is to listen to Rosemary, and trust her judgment. Rosemary knows how teachers think and feel and has a good built-in sense of what is and isn’t in the spirit of the Writing Project. Her instincts were responsible for a number of programs that seemed to run against the grain of conventional practice at our site and throughout the NWP. For example, Rosemary defied many conventions for inservice programs in proposing and developing our IIMPaC project, one of the most important innovations in the history of our Project’s inservice efforts and an innovation that has influenced other NWP sites across the country. And her instincts were responsible for our ELL special interest group and the surprising decision to spend three very productive years in that group talking and writing about racism. Third, trust yourself and your intellectual experience, even if that means that you have to argue with Rosemary. Sometimes when you disagree with her (but not often) you’ll be right and she’ll come to agree with you. You need the dialogue with each other to learn from each other and make the best decisions, which often represent a perspective that neither of you could have arrived at alone. Fourth, don’t trust anybody to watch the finances of our Project or to protect its budget as well as you can as the Project Director. The budget is your responsibility and, while you need to count on staff in the School of Education to keep track of income and expenditures and report balances to you, you need to keep in your head a sense of what the income has totaled and what kind of expenses are to be expected, and to insist on careful accounting reports when your sense of what ought to be available isn’t matched by a budget report. Inconsistencies are almost always the result of a failure to credit SCWriP accounts properly or the result of charges made against SCWriP accounts to cover expenses that the university ought to be covering on behalf of SCWriP. Whenever you aren’t attentive, SCWriP will be charged for expenditures that some other account ought to be paying.

That legacy that all of us share and are responsible for continually renewing resides less in our repetition of words expressing principles than in our daily actions as teachers and leaders of professional development programs for other teachers…

Notice that my legacy of advice is largely practical and even financial rather than spiritual or theoretical. That is because the spirit of the Writing Project and the theory that informs all that we do and value is already wellknown and deeply felt by Tim as an integral part of his thinking and sense of responsibility as an educator and writing project leader. Moreover, that legacy that all of us share and are responsible for continually renewing resides less in our repetition of words expressing principles than in our daily actions as teachers and leaders of professional development programs for other teachers. It is the legacy we have all received directly or indirectly from the spiritual parent we share in James Gray, founder of the Bay Area Writing Project and the California and National Writing Projects. That is the most important legacy Tim has inherited, and it is not mine to give to him, since I too received it from Jim as a gift to be cherished and shared with all writing project directors and teachers who will continue to share it with their colleagues for as long as the Project continues to be worthy of its founder and its founding principles.

Many of the things which can never be, often are.

Norton Jester, The Phantom Tollbooth

Notes from Three Thousand Miles and Three Years Away
by Tim Dewar (’94)
“The writing project is a not a writing curriculum or even a collection of best strategies; it is a structure that makes it possible for exemplary teachers to share with other teachers ideas that work.” Jim Gray, Teachers at the Center, P.84 In preparation for returning to SCWriP as director, I’ve been rereading Jim Gray’s memoir of the creation of the writing project, Teachers at the Center. When I read it previously I found it a delight; it filled in the history of an organization I dearly love. It was like sitting around after a holiday meal with a distant relative and hearing stories of one’s ancestors. Warm. Comforting. Leisurely. Now I read it desperately trying to grasp every tip and insight Gray offers about how to successfully run a writing project. I am a highly motivated reader, underlining, flagging, and annotating. What if I miss the secret of success? Now it is like preparing the multi-course, tradition-filled holiday meal, and I want to be sure to follow the recipes exactly. High-pressure. Nerve-wracking. Scary.

I think of SCWriP as my intellectual home. It is where I grew-up as a teacher.

But I learned from that earlier reading, from the stories told and retold, that the details are not as important as the big picture. I think Gray captures the big idea in the quote at the head of this article. The writing project is a structure that allows teachers to learn together. It is right there in his title, too. Teachers are at the center, of learning, of the change, of the project. This calms my nerves, and lowers the pressure of returning to direct SCWriP. I will be surrounded by you, teachers who care about writing, literacy, students (not necessarily in that order!). We all care about the continued success of SCWriP. I am not in this alone. None of us are. For thirty years, SCWriP has managed to bring teachers together to learn together. My life with SCWriP doesn’t go quite that far back, but at every juncture in my career, SCWriP has been significant. In the middle of my credential year, I spent three weeks in the forerunner to mini-SCWriP. I wrangled invitations to renewals at Cliff House long before I attended the Summer Institute in 1994. The first time I attended NCTE’s Annual Convention, I rode to San Diego with a carload of SCWriP fellows. When I needed to know more about teaching reading, I found that other SCWriP teacher-consultants were asking the same questions. We came together to study. When my desire to learn brought me back to graduate school, I depended upon my writing project experiences and colleagues to guide me. When I needed a dissertation, well, I wouldn’t have one without SCWriP and NWP.

Most importantly, my best teaching moments were inspired by (or learned directly from) other writing project fellows. At every turn of my career, SCWriP and NWP teacher-consultants have been there (None more than Sheridan, but that is a topic for another time). I think of SCWriP as my intellectual home. It is where I grew-up as a teacher.

This seems the essence of the writing project, whether it is located on the coast of California or in the Hudson River Valley. I learn from you as you learn from me. Or to put this in the plural, we learn from each of you as you learn from us. The writing project is a network meant to support teachers as they pursue what they think will make their teaching, and their students’ learning, better. All that the network asks in return is that teachers share what they learn. When a site is really humming, it feeds teachers and is fed by them. I am excited to help this continue at SCWriP. As always, we face many challenges as teachers, from the trials of individual students in our classes to the finances of the state to evolving federal policies. Just as SCWriP has supported me in my career to meet the inevitable challenges, I know SCWriP can support all of us today and in the future. After all, we are at the center.

The writing project is a network meant to support teachers as they pursue what they think will make their teaching, and their students’ learning, better. All that the network asks in return is that teachers share what they learn.

Three years ago I left “home,” taking a position at SUNY New Paltz to teach in the Department of Secondary Education. It was a writing project connection that led me here. The Hudson Valley Writing Project is located at this campus, with the two directors in my department. The buzz and excitement of teachers teaching each other felt familiar. The writing project spirit was pervasive. HVWP is a young site, not yet ten years old, taking on everything it can. I’ve been thrilled to join with the teachers here to think about leadership, partnering (as opposed to partnership), and, of course, writing. I’m more thrilled to be bringing back what I’ve learned.

Those wonderful years in SCWriP I remember the first day of every SCWriP summer Institute, when everyone was a little uncomfortable: ‘Well. she’s a college professor and I’m just a ….” but by the second day on, we were all one. It was the power of shared writing that brought us all together. Ah, those days! by Jack Phreaner

Stride Purposefully:
The NWP Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C.
by Susan Fitzgerald (’02)
But words are things, and a drop of ink, falling, like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think. Lord Byron

In the last few weeks, I have attended four public events in which my students proclaimed their winning words, their thoughts and ideas, to the world. Parents clicked, and clicked, and clicked, not only capturing the occasion but also sending it out into the universe via cell phone. Listeners laughed and applauded. Students felt proud, creative, and accomplished. Smiling faces, appreciative audiences, emergent voices raised in self-expression… As writing teachers, we all no doubt resonate with the energy and creativity of these simple events when our students let their words loose into the world. It’s the reason we come together at renewals, our fingers itching to get to work, our ears on high alert for the magical word or phrase or the wisdom of another, our voices strong, but in awe as we proclaim our own creativity in community. As I ponder on my response to the Spring Meeting of the National Writing Project in Washington, D.C., I feel compelled to start right here, with the words, the kids, and ourselves – the basic cells of the entire project. From the fifty states of the nation, each person there represented hundreds of these cells, duplicated, added to, and expressed differently, but coming together in community, to raise our collective voice in support of our National Writing Project. It was in this spirit that Rosemary Cabe, Mary Arias, and I headed out on a Thursday afternoon to visit Congresswoman Lois Capps. Traditionally NWP has held its Spring Meeting in the nation’s capital so that members can lobby as a galvanized unit for the federal funding which has helped to fuel the project since 1991. In 2010, Congress provided $25.65 million for the NWP, administered by the Department of Education. This year, the NWP was asking for an additional 2%.

I must admit it was exciting to stride purposefully out onto Capitol Hill. The Healthcare Bill was finally being passed into The dire fact of the law, bureaucrats in suits and ties dashed to and fro, and the matter, though, was cherry blossoms were burgeoning with the promise of pink. As a first time visitor to D.C. and a reluctant American, my that funding for 2011 patriotism was stirred by the grandeur and overwhelming was not as inevitable as sense of space – a space in which anything is possible. The dire fact of the matter, though, was that funding for 2011 was the cherry blossom. not as inevitable as the cherry blossom. As we know, the proposed federal budget for 2011 would eliminate the NWP allocation and consolidate its funding into a competitive grant program at the state level called Effective Teaching and Learning: Literacy. If you have not already done so, please visit the NWP site and its Ning, which explain the implications and consequences of this proposal and asks for your help in recruiting others to contact our legislators. Armed with this knowledge, we arrived for our appointment with Congresswoman Capps. I know I felt weighed down by the gravity of the situation, but my predominant feeling was one of incredulity. I could not believe that the current administration could be the one to end NWP, and all that it symbolizes, its achievements and its future potential. Lois Capps has supported the Writing Project in the past, and had already signed this year’s “Dear Colleague” letter. She and her aide received us graciously, listening attentively to our success stories and seeing our passion for the project. It soon became apparent that they were unaware of the implications of the proposed funding scenario, assuring us that NWP was still a named line item. They had not understood that the very infrastructure that delivers so effectively at the national level would be destroyed were it to function purely on a state-tostate basis. Clarifying this key point was crucial to our visit. It was sobering to realize that even our supporters had not grasped the essence of proposals that would jeopardize Congress’ longtime investment in NWP and effectively eradicate it. Later that evening and the following morning, the mood was sober yet hopeful, the call to action clear. In spite of the harsh realities of our financial situation, we did what we do best: we looked at students’ writing, we wrote, and we shared our stories.

The National Writing Project is no less a treasure, affecting thousands of teachers and millions of students annually.

Exploring the National Mall was pure joy for me. I ran from place to place feasting my eyes on the history and creativity of our country, feeling connected and part of the emerging story. Visiting the national monuments by moonlight (and in arctic conditions) was truly inspiring, although cold. I felt a sense of ownership and belonging. The National Writing Project is no less a treasure, affecting thousands of teachers and millions of students annually. Like our students who overcome their fears when they read their first poem aloud, let us continue to advocate for our NWP, for writing, and for an education system that will inspire the critical and creative thinkers we need for the future.

Technologically Speaking

by Teri Cota (’04) and Linda Sparkuhl (’02)

Front row: (L to R) Jenna Garcia, Linda Sparkuhl, Sandy Robertson, Sue Whisenand, Rosemary Cabe; back row: Mary Lourdes Silva, Jack Phreaner, Bojana Hill, Lorna Gonzalez, Mark Urwick, Nicole Schon; on computer screen: Jon Margerum Leys, Teri Cota in inset taking photo.

When Lorna Gonzalez created our beautiful SCWriP Ning (online community) last year, many of us greeted it with enthusiasm. The idea of a cyber meeting place that would allow our collegial conversations to continue beyond Institutes and Renewals--unrestricted by the geographical distances between us--was attractive and compelling. Until now, Ning has provided a free option, which is what we have used (especially welcome during this time when SCWriP, like everyone else, has to watch its pennies). Unfortunately, it appears that the free option may be eliminated, and that-- along with the fact that not as many folks are visiting as we’d initially hoped—was one of the topics of conversation at the April 28th Technology Committee meeting. Whether we decide to expand and revise the use of our official University website (http://education.ucsb.edu/scwrip/), or can continue to explore ways to use the Ning (http://scwrip.ning.com/), one idea that the Tech Committee eagerly embraced is that of featuring a SCWriP Fellow in a special way approximately once a month. Our kick-off Featured Teacher will be none other than our beloved Jack Phreaner, who will be sharing his Neighborhood Map activity online. Stay tuned! Other discussion items were how we would support Young Writers Camps this summer, and the creation of an Interactive Whiteboard Study Group in Ventura under the leadership of Mark Urwick. If you are fortunate enough to have an interactive whiteboard (such as a SmartBoard or Promethean) in your classroom and would like to share your best practices or “aha moments” with us, please consider using the Ning site as a way to do that. One of our most successful endeavors was the 2009 Summer Technology Institute. It received enthusiastic reviews from participants, and we had high hopes for continuing the work and conversations that began during that time into the summer of 2010. Our collective creativity was taxed at the meeting as we sought to think of ways to do this within the tighter budgetary constraints that color every decision in education these days. Happily, it looks as if we will able to collaborate with Santa Barbara School District (thank you, Sandy Robertson!) to share resources in order to make another Summer Institute available. Keep the week of August 9-13 open if you would like to present, or participate. Have ideas for offerings? Please contact Linda Sparkuhl, our Technology Liason at lsparkuhl@mac.com.

Summer Means Young Writers Camp … And We’re Ready
by Aline Shapiro (’91)

YWC teachers gather in April for a planning session.

SCWriP Fellows who will be teaching this summer at Young Writers Camp met for a day of planning on Saturday, April 24th. There was excitement in the air as teachers renewed friendships, met new participants, and began sharing ideas. Students at Young Writers Camp write, of course, but the program is also about local field trips and hands-on projects. Using the resources that are available at each of the four college campuses, teachers prepare writing lessons that complement field trips and visits by guest presenters. This year, for example, the folks at UCSB’s radio station have asked campers to visit and write public service announcements. In addition, the TV station staff at Oxnard College will work with campers to produce a television show. In the past we have visited campus bookstores, college dorms, theater and dance departments, art museums and campus snack bars. We have an exceptionally dynamic group teaching this summer. They are: Jan Brown, Mark Jasso, Lisa Torina and Julianne Tullis-Thompson at Allan Hancock; Jade Torres, Matt McCaffrey, Linda Sparkuhl, Peggy Nicholson, Lisa O’Connell, Barbara Conway, Amy Christensen and Amy McMillan at UCSB; Sally King, Darryl Lewis-Abriol, Carolyn Gleisberg, Amada Perez and Kimbrough Ernest at Oxnard College; Susan Fitzgerald and Paul Fitzgerald (mother and son team) and Mark Urwick and Matt Urwick (a brother team) at Cal Lutheran. The camp presents a great opportunity for Fellows to teach in pairs to complement teaching styles and prepare innovative lessons. If you are interested next summer, be sure to contact the SCWriP office by January because recruiting begins very early and often there is a waiting list. And please continue to help us recruit campers! Camp dates are July 12th-23rd, except at Oxnard College, which is July 12th-29th. Call the office (805-893-4422) and we’ll gladly send you more brochures, or you can download applications and flyers from the Young Writers Camp website: www.education.ucsb.edu/ywc.

The Bulletin Board: News and Notes from SCWriP Fellows
Maybe It’s Time for a Writing Group…
Lois Klein (’04) is starting a second writing group (the first one has been going strong for a year and a half). The
group is directed toward those with a commitment to their writing, whatever their level of experience. The 8-week session will meet for two hours weekly in Lois’ home, with enrollment limited to seven people. The day and time will be based on the needs of participants. In Lois’ words: “I will provide a number of writing exercises and prompts designed to sneak around our insistent left brains and ease our internal critics. Whether your style is memoir, poetry, essay or narrative, the expression of what has real meaning for you is what moves you into powerful and authentic writing. There will be a chance to share aloud what you have written – giving voice to your work allows it to live.” For more information, contact Lois at 805-969-2249 or lois.klein@verizon.net.

A New Book from Val…
Valerie Hobbs (’81) has done it again. Her newest book is called the
Last Best Days of Summer, and it’s geared for middle-grades. To find out more, visit Val’s blog at http://www.valeriehobbswritingforlife.blogspot.com/ or her website at http://www.valeriehobbs.com.

Courageous Conversations Continue…
Leah Panthier and Kristin Jensen Storey (’04) report that they
have begun their co-facilitation of the ELL Courageous Conversations group. Their last meeting was on April 19 at the UCSB Ventura Center, where they appreciated the opportunity to share readings and discussions that enhance a deeper understanding of issues of race and equity in classrooms and in the writing project.

Valerie Hobbs

Kristin also represented SCWriP at the Urban Sites Conference in Portland, Oregon April 23-24 and brought back ideas and insights to share at the next meeting. In June, Leah and Kristin will attend the National Writing Project's "Recruiting for Diversity" retreat in Minnesota. This will be an excellent opportunity for learning and reflecting on ways to open up our project to more diversity in fellows, speakers, and content. Elsewhere in this edition of PostSCWriP, you can find excerpts from essays about racism written by students in Kristin’s class.

Well-Deserved Recognition…
Phil Levien (’01) was named Santa Barbara County’s Distinguished Educator for 2009-10. An English and
drama teacher at San Marcos High, Phil is particularly well known for his sheltered Shakespeare theater production classes in which he works with English language learners, special education students, and students at risk.

A Personal Learning Network…
Jason Whitney ('05) has a new blog called Whitneymeister's English Education Blog: Part of an Ever- Expanding Personal Learning Network, in which he explores an experiment in overhauling his
courses to incorporate numerous Web 2.0 technologies to create a Personal Learning Network. Written from a practitioner's standpoint, the blog details how Jason, without any real skill in using technology, implemented fairly radical changes in his approach beginning in January 2010, the first day of his spring semester "Adolescent Literacy and Literature" course at Penn State. He found that in a matter of weeks it recharged his approach to teaching, created a powerful learning experience and contributed to the professionalism, knowledge, and abilities of the pre-service teachers in his class. As the semester unfolded, Jason discovered that through the use of blogs, wikis, social networking, The English Companion Ning, video conferencing, course readings, and face-to-face interactions, his students were challenged to expand their learning by finding resources and networks of people, and by blogging about their emerging understandings. Jason now believes that any course he would teach in the future would benefit from the connections and resources afforded by a Personal Learning Network, and he would like to bring other SCWRiP fellows into the conversation, both with his blog and that of his students. Go to whitneymeister.wordpress.com if you would like to see an example of how Jason set up his course and the various understandings that he and his students have developed on the subjects of English, English Education, Reading, Writing, Educational Technology, and other related topics.

What About This Summer?
Summer can be a special time to grow and thrive. Whether your goals include professional development, awakening of creativity, or both, there are great opportunities on the horizon. Consider SCWriP’s dynamic Summer Technology Institute, to be held the week of August 9 – 13 in collaboration with the Santa Barbara School District. Or maybe one of Joni Chancer’s amazing seminars would provide the inspiration you crave. Perhaps the “Teacher as Writer and The Teaching of Writing” with Cynthia Carbone Ward and Vickie Gill? Details about these and other possibilities will be available from SCWriP soon. Watch for further word. Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you. Winnie the Pooh

Kids Speak Out On Racism:
Thoughts from 8th Graders in Mrs. Storey’s AVID Class at R.J. Frank Intermediate
I was very young when I began to realize that there were other races. Fortunately, I was brought up in a home where your race or skin color didn’t matter. My mom taught me that what matters is in the heart. When you’re a racist, you’re only seeing skin deep. The person inside could be so wonderful, but they are being judged by how they look. When I came into my junior high I saw so many different people that I had to learn to look inside of them. I have no right to judge anyone; to me only God can judge. Kenja Perez I hope America will someday embrace all races and not use race to divide people. We should not care about the differences of people, but think of the similarities. Without racism the world would be at peace, people hand in hand of every race working together to build a better America. Everyone wants a better world. That’s a similarity we all share… David Lai In ten years from now I hope that race doesn’t matter and that everybody can greet each other with a smile. I’m a Mexican-American and I have an attitude to treat everybody with respect. If you want to be my friend it doesn’t matter to me where you come from or how you look. If you are a good friend with respect, I will be your friend. Everybody should have this attitude and be willing to accept somebody and realize they’re just like you no matter what race they are. Esteban Vasquez My name is Meleena and I am proud to say that I am Mexican-American. I see myself as a dedicated MexicanAmerican. I do participate in festivities like La Virgen de Guadalupe’s cumpleaños. To me it’s important to bring out your culture because it’s a part of who you are and you should be proud to be Mexican, Asian, AfricanAmerican. It doesn’t matter if people are prejudiced. It’s their opinion and that can’t affect you no matter what… Meleena Castañeda I would hope that in ten years from now America would be known as a country that doesn’t judge people by the color of their skin. After electing our first black president I would hope they keep that tradition until we have a Mexican-American, Asian-American, or any other race president. If we are able to trust and stick with each other we can some day set a reputation as a country who judges its citizens by character, not race. If we truly believe in this cause we can make the decision not to pre-judge anyone. Mirka Cresencio

Adjusting My Balance

by Cynthia Carbone Ward (’01)

Two years into my amorphous retirement, I decided to go back to campus and attend the Dunn Middle School 8th grade graduation ceremony. Life without the usual structure and demands of teaching had been surprisingly disorienting for me; I was becoming somewhat feral and thought it might be time to step out. I would merely be a visitor at this event, with no role other than to smile and seem normal if glimpsed. Feeling precarious and wary, I found myself a seat among the folding chairs lined up on the grass.

I felt a special connection to the kids who were graduating. As 6th graders, they had been my very last class, and it was breathtaking now to see how much they had matured in two short years. One by one they stood at the podium to speak on the theme of ‘This I Believe’, offering their 8th grade wisdom and philosophies of life: Embrace accidents. Take risks. Laugh often. Don't give up. Never forget how lucky we are. A couple of them spoke about hardships they had known – the divorces of parents; not fitting in; even, in one case, battling cancer – and how things had somehow worked out for the best and these experiences had made them stronger. They talked about their passions, from music to baseball to spending time with friends, and they talked about their dreams, and some of them cried afterwards, acutely aware that an era had just ended. I was struck by their joy and well-being, these kids upon whom fortune appeared to have smiled, and I was filled with hope that they would henceforth shine brightly and go on to do good things. My favorite part of the ceremony, though, was Marc Kummel’s traditional ‘science experiment’ speech. Marc was the legendary science teacher of Dunn Middle School, an unassuming genius with wire-frame glasses and a white beard, who also went by the fitting name of Treebeard. He always used the graduation as an opportunity to demonstrate a law of science, then proceeded to reveal it as a metaphor for living life. The kids liked it best when he blew something up, but today was a less explosive presentation, an experiment in balance involving a broom and a walking stick. First he showed how to balance each of these objects horizontally by sliding his fingers along, correcting and overcorrecting until the center of gravity was reached. He also balanced the broom on one end, and balanced it again with the addition of a weight, first high and then low, subtly correcting and counter-correcting whenever the broom began to fall. Finding the balance was a dynamic thing, and it was easier to balance when the weight was placed high.

Life without the usual structure and demands of teaching had been surprisingly disorienting for me; I was becoming somewhat feral and thought it might be time to step out.

It’s like life and growing up, said Marc. If you keep your problems and worry too close all the time, and your goals and expectations too low, you can’t maneuver. You need some space. Expect a lot, aim high, but adjust your balance when you have to -- that’s how it works. Meanwhile the kids sat by the stage beneath a white awning, all dressed up, looking beautiful and heartbreakingly new, and the opening line of an old song by Neil Young found its way into my head: There you stood on the edge of your feather expecting to fly. Maybe you will, I thought. As for me, I now understood in scientific terms why I’d been feeling so wobbly: I was adjusting my balance. I needed a little space to maneuver -- still do -- and I needed a little time, and I may feel like I am falling now and then, but I’ll get there.


Ruminations of Retirement by Sally Sibley King (’99)
I’m still cruising the aisles of the 99¢ Store and Costco looking for school supply bargains: stickers, file folders, marking pens, Jolly Ranchers, Kleenex… I’m still reading reviews of the latest Young Adult novel and how best to use my “bonus points” for the Arrow Book Club.. I’m still suffering End-of-the-Weekend Blues, that gut-wrenching panic on Sunday night: “What am I going to wear? …pack for lunch? …teach tomorrow?” I’m still cutting articles from the newspaper, thinking of lessons on recycling, the Winter Olympics, the heroes who have died… I’m still reading about the latest education reform as I rail at those “experts” who don’t know #?&#@ about REAL teachers and REAL kids and REAL schools…and whose message has been “reformed” every year since I was a Teacher Corps intern in 1971… I’m still…a teacher.

O Lucky Man

by Kelly Peinado (’04)
One October night at the Arlington, I was a part of something amazing: I heard Garrison Keillor speak. Speak, of course, is an inadequate word to describe what Mr. Keillor does. He creates magic. He opened a portal into the past, a past part real, part literary, and we, the audience, wonderingly stepped through. At first, we naturally assumed it was his past and his literature that we would tour, but soon it was obvious that it was also our own. Mr. Keillor spoke with great dignity and deliberation. He spoke with the weight of sadness, but also with tenderness, and even a hint of disbelief at the astounding, the wonderful, the ordinary events he had lived to narrate. He began by remarking that everything in life comes down to luck. He spoke of his recent stroke, which occurred as he examined a tomato—the kind known as an heirloom—at his local food co-op and chatted with the produce manager. He was remarking that these heirloom tomatoes did not taste the same as the ones that his Aunt Edna had grown 50 years before, when the stroke—what else can we say— struck. He told of his understated, attention-deflecting Midwestern-style reaction, driving himself to the hospital emergency room and politely waiting his turn in line as the blood clot poised precariously in his brain.

He then led us further back in time to his childhood visits to Aunt Edna’s farm, speaking with deep gratitude of the love and praise she offered him. He reminded us that children have hardly any epidermis, you see—he meant an emotional epidermis, of course—and that a word of love or encouragement will pass through immediately to its target. With a few, well-chosen details—how they sat cheek to cheek, sharing one set of headphones to listen to an old crystal set, her arm around his shoulders—he let us know the depth of their affection for one another and the salvation it offered a sensitive boy who received few outward signs of affection from his good, but undemonstrative, parents. I paused here to ponder the very close call that he, and we, had with a great disaster and a terrible loss, which is what would have occurred had the blood clot in his brain lodged somewhere close to that organ’s language center. It could have blocked those precious heirlooms of memory, or perhaps blocked access to the words to tell them. For us, it would have been like losing the only recordings of a great composer, or thousands of acres of a National Park, or a whole gallery of Van Goghs, but worse, because we would have known that they existed but we had never yet had the chance to experience them. Well. He, and we, escaped. The doctors told him many times what a lucky man he was. Mr. Keillor then turned his attention to his move in 1968 to New York, where he went to Become a Writer, living in a basement room of what was probably a shabby boarding house, but one that he made sound like the most magical, nurturing, incubator for a novel that a writer could ever hope to find, with meals served on long tables under leafy trees, the chants of nuns at a nearby convent filling the air, all for the astounding price of fifty dollars a week, breakfast and supper included. He met a girl at that house, with the tantalizing name of Jessica James, and we understood that in his eyes, and through forty long years of memory, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. He spoke of one perfect, outlaw night on the 23 floor of the New Yorker Hotel, the lights of Manhattan spread below them like jewels.

He spoke also with love of his young daughter, child of his third—and, he reckons, final—marriage, and of the great joy she emanates and in turn brings to his life. Although he tries to forearm himself for the possibility that one day she may turn surly and wear so much metal in her face that she looks as if she’s “fallen face first into a tackle box,” he luxuriates in the purer happiness of her present age eleven, the autumn of childhood. He described how she sails in their backyard swing from the branches of a great elm tree (like all elms, fated to change, but alive for now) to the opposite branches of an apple tree. From Elm to Apple, from Apple to Elm, she soars in the lovely fall afternoon. As we listened, we sensed that we can be the artists, the shapers, the interpreters, of our own lives. We can narrate and comprehend the events in such a way that we feel happy and blessed to be living them. Some skilled and judicious editing will be required, but still… what luck, what very great luck. And then, quite suddenly, after 75 seamless minutes of raconteur virtuosity without a single stumble, Mr.Keillor bowed, thanked us, and was gone. It was a shock, almost a bereavement. The portal closed, he sent us back to our own lives, and we rose from our seats to resume them.

On Teaching Now
by Beth Kanne-Casselman, (’00)
We have set sail towards Safe Harbor, they say. That is what they tell us. It means three students. We choose three who might change the ship’s course; land us at Safe Harbor. Three in the room to guide our classroom tugboat, tugging along the district’s ship against the windy wind and just beyond an arbitrary buoy. This buoy denies what is natural: Waves exist! A natural motion and curve to all things in nature is ever-present. Scientists, artists, writers, engineers, farmers all know this and salute it. We may think otherwise, but we are not immune to this motion, to the waves. The energy we must pour into getting to the destination, to Safe Harbor, consumes us completely. The teachable moment is forever lost in the foam of the waves. A fog rolls in… Day after gloomy day, there is foggy fog. The gift of an ocean breeze lifts in the wee hours, before the sun, before the noisy noise. I hear little feet pattering and “Read this me.” The fog of sleep lifts from beyond my tired eye sockets. Still, I slowly rise to take hold of the moment and try to make amends for the ones lost in the foam, long gone, day after day in the other little tugboat. We board our small boat on the sofa and bob around following the waves, the pages, the sunrise, wherever they take us. Enjoying each teachable moment. There are natural waves in these times before I have to begin again to navigate against the current I believe in, toward Safe Harbor. Maybe just for a few moments today, I will let the tugboat bob around, trusting we will still arrive at the right destination.

Random Acts of Haiku by Bob Isaacson (’85)
On Leave of Absence, Monday Morning, 8:00 a.m.: I open my front door— A deck covered with ice. Stay home. Light a fire. On Giving Editorial Advice to Someone about a Poem: I have crawled through the fence to a meadow not my own. Call the sheriff. Now That I'm 61.5: Lost cell phone. What was that password? Wallet missing. Give it up. Enjoy. On a “Cardio” Hike with My Daughter on a Breezy March Day: We plan a tough hike, but only pick mushrooms. There’s a metaphor here.

Poems from the Cliff House… and Elsewhere

To The Cliff House
by Amada Irma Pérez (’98)

This place, this magic place with its constant rhythm and song waves breaking, ebbing, flowing, whooshing, folding, crashing a chorus of welcome sound high tide, low tide penetrating ocean smell fragrant, aromatic sage aromas absorbed with joy This house welcomes us thirty years of fellows writers, all a project with its parents and grandparents like Sheridan, Rosemary & Jack a gift through seasons a space, a time, a place This Home, a humble home a house upon a cliff with a touch of wildness all around weeds and grasses, brushes and trees allowed to grow as wild as our thoughts cactus paddles in heart shapes by the door Our Cliff House loves us And we love this, Our Writing Home.

The Cliff House
by Lori Anaya (’09)
Let my tears Infuse into wild blossoms Ready to sow songs Past times in crashing stories Waves of words sparkle on salt water Time unzipping Unblocking The soul of its intentions Notes of hope in the dark Caught on our plate of dreams shared, In a mirrored pool of brilliance.

Renewal by Rebecca Turner (’08)
I always wear socks here and never enough of them. Cold creeps in with long fingers turning my stocking clad feet into blocks of ice. The pounding of the surf, the breeze in the tall trees, the companionship of like kind always makes the cold feet worthwhile. Escapes like this are never easy - however especially with a road jutted and pockmarked from torrential rain. I maneuver my truck around the massive puddles and holes. Jack waits for his hug in the parking lot in return he gives me a green slip of paper to park in this miserable lot. (Can you imagine a tow truck managing out here?) But - an escape it is, nonetheless.

Fresh Weave by Sandy Robertson (’80)
They emerge slowly from the fog of endless lists, agendas, flyers, rosters, and plans: forgotten threads of a life left long lying in the corner of a room where now there’s time to sit and sort and savor threads to be taken up and woven a fine nib fountain pen a paint brush full of red sharp clippers for roses a crisp apron for cooking a fresh weave of words to write a dimly remembered life from the threads discarded in the rush of must do’s.

So - for a short time, I am not the teacher, counselor, warden, peacemaker, listener, janitor, advisor, organizer, or whatever – If only for awhile - I am just the creative spirit inside me Sitting in a humble (yet cold) house by the sea Feet tucked under me hot soup waiting.

Home Was by Matt Brown (’06)
Home was the small house, the one nestled into a hill on one of the 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, with towering pines and molting birch; dirt roads that wove through the scattered light, breaking through tightly packed branches that arched over the edges of the roads, isolated from most everyone by forests and lakes and miles of roads. Home was racing along those roads with my sister, my only companion, on our banana-seat bikes, daring her to ride into the darkness beyond the curve of the road—neither of us brave enough to do so. It was summer and swimming and leeches stuck to the skin and Mom with the saltshaker. It was catching toads and turtles and even a mouse which was quickly disposed of by my mother who tolerated most creatures I wanted to adopt but not this disease ridden rodent even though I thought he was cute and had planned to allow him to live out his days in the dried out minnow tank by the fish house. Home was the warbled laugh of the loons calling out to each other across the lake and the splash of the northern pike. It was swarms of mosquitoes and the biting smell of the repellant that never seemed to help. It is the home that no longer exists—torn down and replaced with forest—a home within my memories.

Places by Rebecca Turner (’08)
The places that stir a memory sweeten the lips into a smile, a warm tug on the heart. Wisconsin, summer rain in '62 two girls running thru the streets in bathing suits feeling the cool water cover hot sticky bodies giggling, laughing the thunder of my mother's scolding voice, Paris, 1970 The windowed courtyard in a Paris hotel students chatting out the windows me - with my miniscule French them - with their broken English the pipe tobacco from the old man down the hall who banged on our door at night - a vain attempt at flirtation. New Orleans, 1994 The clicking of taps on the metal sheet dragged by the children who danced in the street -one Black, one White to the 3-piece band playing a Dixieland tune the smell of gumbo drifting out an open door the air heavy and warm New York City, 2005 The Village the clicking of heels people bustling, rushing to the subway the buildings tall and old pungent smells from the alley mixed with the aroma of herbs and flowers. A striped yellow cat sits in the shop window watching me as I wander and buy a fragrant treasure. Cliff house, 2010 The waves pound on the rocks. My head empties on the paper. Time stands still for a short time I can catch my breath once again Slow down and just be - if only for awhile to treasure the memories inside me.

A Tribute
by Ina Ettenberg (’01)
How tiny it is this round, gray stone. Really, so insignificant – Just one of many, sunbathing in the glistening sand, sometimes splashed by the cool, fresh waters of the lake. This tiny pebble sits quietly, peacefully, seemingly, without purpose. Overlooked, as other stones are gathered – those with broken edges, colorful sparkles, and curious shapes. Later, when the air is still, and day begins to disappear, and night quietly slips in to take its place... This tiny pebble is lifted from its resting place, and is tossed into the peaceful waters of the lake. It suddenly skips along the smooth mirror that reflects the changing sky. and with gentle kisses, creates a composition of concentric circles, each reaching out to touch a neighboring ribbon of rings. Suddenly, the stillness of that water comes alive – With a rhythm of life, A spirit, An energy, An orchestral crescendoIt is energized by the gentle touch of a tiny stone. This is the pebble’s purpose – to awaken the sleeping potential. This is who I am – a teacher!

by Kimbrough Ernest (’07) for Gudrun
Once we had two chairs and lots of parties in the top of an old house. The deck off the kitchen was almost as big as the apartment and faced the Oakland hills. You used to rise before me and tiptoe out to make the coffee naked. One night the hills were burning. Ash rained down on our wide deck, pieces of someone’s Bible caught in your hair. We packed up the chairs and photo albums and went to dinner at Zza’s. In this house, I wake up first. We have plenty of chairs, but fewer parties. And the coffee machine is on a timer.

The Soldier in my Class
by Pat Ewing (’08)
It's because I have the pen, I would say, that the lectures, prompts, and handouts pay all the bills that come all days to me, with a pride that maybe hides a sinful guilty side in me. But I have to say that he, when he sits in that small, shitty seat, that I have to stare at his tattoos which are not a generational ruse but scars from an Iraq intrusion. And I think, why me? Because I have the pen, The degree? I stand here, you there, my students' mortal dreams or nightmares that might die, as I fancy seeing a linguistic ending. I am leaning back. I read his words, clumsilyFormed they are by fingers that attack, which bore my freedom, tickling a trigger, and I call him lazy, for missing a margin, when the fact is, I am the one off target. He never was. My student. Off-target.

Copy-Change of Imagining It by Kate Barnes
by Kristin Jensen Storey (’04) At forty-five, on the weather-worn wood plank patio just outside the Cliff House doors, just after an opening session of shared reading, I sat with legs outstretched, sun warming my head, ocean breeze against my skin, the music of the Pacific filling my ears, pen poised above paper, I filled the first few lines and, stopped, self-doubt crept in my mind; my heart hadn’t allowed a successful siege, but it settled itself in my fingers quietly, stealthily, hoping for my heart to surrender. Then something wriggled or wrestled with a determined energy, the exhalation of a breath. It was a sturdy spirit tested and tried, ignored and betrayed, nourished and reborn, while its vessel wrote one more word, then one more line. I may be ready to be grateful.

At the Thai Restaurant
by Bob Isaacson (’85)
At the Thai Restaurant I order take out: Satay Chicken for an appetizer, With peanut sauce and peppers in oil, Beef curry, white rice, and, of course, Tom Ka Gai soup-chicken, mushrooms, bamboo, all sunken in rich coconut milk, all medium spicy. “It will be 20 minutes,” they say, so I leave my MasterCard with the two smiling girls at the front desk and head back to the restroom before a cup of tea. I open the door to a small hallway where it is quiet, buffered from the Friday night chatter of customers and stacking of plates. The light is dimmer here. And there it is, as always, the dollhouse shrine on the floor, lit by small colored lights, ornate, glowing, the burning incense sticks scenting the white plaster hallway. On the way back, I lean down at the small shrine, as I always do, to greet the shiny Buddha in his flowered temple. Buddha is gone. A small Hopi kachina doll, straight arms outstretched, stares back, its blank, masked face, frozen in rigid dance. I sit and have my tea, thinking all the while-The stiff kachina doll, far from its stark, black mesa, low adobe walls, empty desert. The small Buddha, vanished. When I gather up my bag of food and sign the credit card slip, I feel I must know. “Where is the little Buddha, and why… the Hopi doll?” I ask, awkwardly, oddly embarrassed, feeling a fool in a foreign land. The girl ‘s eyes for the first time grow firm, and then look straight as arrows into mine. But then, just as suddenly, her mouth breaks into a beautiful, wide smile: “Allthesame,” she says, so quickly, so softly, I hardly hear her. “Allthesame.” Later, I drive home, pitted against ten miles of grinding, angry commuter traffic. Headlights turn on as the evening’s shadows stretch west to east across the bean stubble, the bone-dry hills. High above, in the autumn sky, blue darkens to indigo. And, somewhere up there, a tiny Buddha and a kachina doll inexplicably dance, arm in arm, across the great vault of vacant, utterly empty space— a new constellation of bright points in an ancient sky.

South Coast Writing Project Gevirtz Graduate School of Education University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106

Co-Director: Randi Browing Co-Director: Rosemary Cabe Co-Director: Joni Chancer Co-Director: Jack Phreaner Co-Director: Aline Shapiro


South Coast Writing Project Gevirtz Graduate School of Education University of California Santa Barbara, CA 93106