Submitted by Dr. Jane Maher
The 2018 Summer Mini-Institute met on June 25, 26, and 27th with eight participants, teachers from K to college, from Queens and Long Island. Our diversity in terms of grade level and student population (ranging from students with special needs to college-level creative writers) enabled us to learn from each other and to recognize the common practices and goals we all share as writing instructors.
Of most importance, however, and this is always the case with LIWP, was the opportunity to talk and write about our teaching and to take the time to concentrate on our own writing. On Tuesday, June 26th, Kathy Sokolowski introduced us to the ways she uses Twitter and social media with her third-grade students and their parents to enhance learning, writing, and communication. The participants were so enthusiastic over the possibilities of using Twitter that we are hoping to devote a Saturday morning workshop to the topic so that Kathy can share and expand on her ideas for other members of LIWP.
As one of the culminating activities of the mini institute, each of us took a few minutes to jot down something we learned for the first time or something that was reinforced during our time together. We agreed that we would not write our names at the end of these quick writes; instead we would simply present them as a collection of reflections from teachers who learned together and from each other in a setting that was safe, comfortable, and provided an opportunity to reflect honestly and thoughtfully about the important work that we do.
*Always remember to recognize students’ strengths when commenting on their writing;
*Use models to inform and inspire your students;
*Twitter can be used with students at the elementary level;
*Give students time to edit in the classroom where you and their peers will be available to help and collaborate;
*Keep each student’s personality in mind as you comment on their drafts and especially when you make corrections;
*Never forget that what you are teaching your students will alter the course of their lives;
*Meet your students where they are, not where you thought they were or where you think they should be;
*Learn from your students; give them a chance to be the experts in the room;
*If even one of your students is feeling frustration or feeling inadequate over his or her writing, you must react and respond immediately and with sensitivity;
*Remember, it’s not the writing, it’s the writer whom you are trying to influence and encourage;
*Offer choices in writing topics and prompts whenever possible; even better, let your students create the prompts;
*Be thoughtful about why students show resistance: it could be that you are asking for too much too quickly, or it could be that you are not asking for enough.
Thanks to all of our participants for making our time together so valuable and enjoyable—leave it to the Long Island Writing Project to find a way for teachers to enjoy working together less than a week after the end of the school year!
Vanessa Applewhaite-Senior, Hempstead School District
Francesca Ciolino-Volano, Nassau Community College/Queens College
Andrea Floresta, Lindenhurst High School
Ivonne Garcia, Hempstead School District
Jane Maher, Nassau Community College
Jane Rossi, Levittown School District
Beth Smith, Nassau Community College
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski, Saltzman East Memorial, Farmingdale
Jennier Volta, Freeport School District
LIWP Guest Bloggers
Each month, a LIWP teacher will share some thoughts on teaching, writing, and life! If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please contact Kathy Sokolowski at firstname.lastname@example.org
Long Island Writing Project