Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Teaching Means in Las Vegas

We traveled to Las Vegas in November to attend the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Conference and the National Writing Project Annual meeting.

Marni and I were ecstatic and grateful to be joined by several authors from What Teaching Means at a NWP session focused on the power of teacher narratives. Our session was attended by about 50 people from all over the country. It was a great opportunity to share the stories from the book but even more important to encourage other teachers to tell their stories.

We'd like to thank authors  Heather Adkins, Alicia Macauly, Susan Martens, and Mary Powell for joining us for the session. And another shout out to authors Danielle Helzer and Lauren Gatti for joining us in Vegas to simply hang out and talk about teaching and all kinds of other things.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Durham Museum Teachers' Night

I joined around 1000 educators at Durham Western Heritage Museum's annual teachers' night on Friday. Along with the great folks from the Nebraska Writing Project, I talked to many people about the Writing Project and What Teaching Means

This week, Marni and I talked to the Gretna (NE) Middle School teachers who are reading What Teaching Means as part of their Embedded Writing Project Institute. 

And, Thursday, we will be joined by WTM authors Todd Pernicek, Susan Martens, and Danille Helzer at a reading hosted by the Metropolitan Community College Writing Center. 

This event is at 7:00 on Thursday, October 11 at the Metro South Omaha campus. It would be great to see you all there. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Plum Creek Literacy Festival

Dan appeared with What Teaching Means author Danielle Helzer at the Plum Creek Literacy Festival (http://www.cune.edu/about/conferences-and-camps/plumcreek/)  at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska on Saturday, September 22. Both were there representing the Nebraska Writing Project but also had a chance to talk about the book with several folks attending the festival.

Stay tuned for upcoming events and appearances.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Images from Reading in Twin Cities

On Friday, June 8, Marni and I were joined by What Teaching Means authors, Amanda Marek and Laurie Zum Hofe, and about 35 others for another inspiring conversation about teaching and education. We had a great time and, like always, learned a great deal. It is amazing to us all the great things that happen when people tell stories and have a discussion.

Click the image below for a few more photos. Thanks to our daughter, Libby, for being the photographer.

WTM at The Buzz

Friday, June 8, 2012

Images from Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin

On June 6, Marni and I were joined by What Teaching Means authors, Lauren Gatti, Erin Parker, Spencer Pforsich, and Jonathan Putnam, for a reading and conversation.

We were joined by about 35 folks who engaged in a powerful conversation about teaching and education during some tough times in Wisconsin. However, it was a night full of hope. Clearly, teachers will not stop telling their stories.

Click on image below to see more photos.

What Teaching Means Reading at Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative in Madision, Wisconsin

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Teaching Means Featured in the Capitol Times

Authors with essays in What Teaching Means are featured in this story in Madison, Wisconsin newspaper.

Click here to read the story.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

National Writing Project Features WTM

The National Writing Project has issued a press release about What Teaching Means. And, coming in June, editors and some writing will be appearing on NWP Blog Talk radio.

See the press release here.

And, more about Blog Talk Radio here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WTM in the Local Paper!

Check out this story on What Teaching Means on the website of the Omaha World-Herald. Reporter Adam Klinker provides some great insights into the project and some of the writers involved.

Read the story here: What Teaching Means in the News

Alicia McCauley's Blog

Check out the blog of What Teaching Means author, Alicia McCauley. She explains, in clear and beautiful writing, what this book means to all of us who have worked on it.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Reading at The Bookworm

Amanda Marek reads from,"Teaching Spanish and Learning Latino
Last night (April 27), six of the authors from What Teaching Means: Stories from America's Classrooms joined us and an audience about over 50 to read from the book and have an inspiring conversation about teaching and education. Susan Martens, Todd Percinek, and Laurie Zum Hofe came over from Lincoln. Arica Carlson and Tracey Kovar, from right here in Omaha, joined us as well. And, Amanda Marek (picture at left) drove all the way down from Minnesota. 

We were humbled and overjoyed by the response the book got from the people who gathered to share the night with us. We are looking forward to having more conversations with readers and the other writers in the coming months. Marni and I are planning events in Wisconsin and Minnesota for early June. We are scheduled to appear at National Council of Teachers of English/National Writing Project conference in Las Vegas in November. Hopefully, more events will come together. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Release and Reading

Come to the Bookworm at 87th and Pacific in Omaha on Friday, April 27 to hear seven teachers from Nebraska and Minnesota read from What Teaching Means: Stories from America's Classrooms. Reading starts at 6:00 PM.

And, while you're here, check out excerpts and reviews.

Be great to have as many as possible join in on what is sure to be a great public conversation about teaching and education.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Excerpt from "I Am Helen. You Are Annie" by Katie Schrodt

Our little classroom family began to notice, to wonder, to observe, to realize, and to hide all of our treasures in our writer’s notebooks.  We began sharing stories, talking about family vacations and soccer practice.  We began laughing at the time we saw the smashed diaper in the parking lot when we were walking to the playground.  We stopped and observed the Stick Bug that Solomon found hanging on a tree limb.  We listened to the fears and hopes of our friends and shared our own dreams as well.  We were being hemmed together as a class, and the thread was writing.  These fragile five year olds were writing about everything from funerals of family members to their latest injuries to cooking with their moms to playing “Ninja” at recess. 
Katie Schrodt received a B.S. from the University of North Texas and is currently working on her M.Ed. in literacy at Middle Tennessee State University.  She currently works in Franklin, Tennessee, at New Hope Academy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Excerpt of "Getting Someplace" by Kate Kennedy

About half my students had come to the U.S. as refugees or immigrants from Somalia, Sudan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Eritrea, El Salvador, Bosnia, Russia, and Afghanistan. The rest were Mainers, born and bred. Our common ground? Everyone struggled to write with coherence, confidence, and fluidity. Some had practiced writing in English only a little. The children of war or poverty or repression, some lacked formal schooling in any language. The Maine-born kids had failed to hop aboard the writing train for varied (and often overlapping) reasons themselves: a learning disability or illness or truancy or behavior troubles or trauma. Two academically focused Bosnians simply needed to burnish their verbs.

In class, a number of girls wore head-scarves; others wore tight, low-cut tee-shirts. A boy from Vietnam used one hand to type because of a stroke; a Somali boy suffered from what I think might now be diagnosed as P.T.S.D. Two sixteen year-old girls, one Afghani, one Cambodian, were already married.

Since 2006, Kate Kennedy has been the director of the Southern Maine Writing Project at the University of Southern Maine. She taught writing at Portland High School in Portland, Maine, for twenty years and has also taught basic literacy, sudden fiction, and E.S.L. to adults.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Excerpt from "Dreams of Prison" by Jonathan Putnam

“Sometimes I wish I could go to jail,” he said.

He’d been pacing around the room since he started talking about himself. Not making much eye contact, pausing only briefly to poke at a paper on a desk or erase a letter on the board with his finger.

“You wanna know the truth about me?” he asked shortly after entering the classroom. It was only the two of us, and I hadn’t asked him any questions.

“Only if you want to tell me,” I said.

I hadn’t known him very long. He was one of those students that show up on the roster sometime in March. One day, he was just there. Claimed he had done all of the work at his old school, read all the novels, knew all the skills. Of course, he couldn’t tell me anything about the books he had read, had poor writing, refused to read aloud, didn’t say much at all. Blended in.


Jonathan Putnam received a M.A.T. from National Louis University. He currently teaches English and drama on the west side of Chicago.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Excerpt from "We Know" by Erin Parker

We know we don’t know everything. We know feeling like we don’t know anything. But we know so much. We know our students and their families. We know the ones who don’t have enough, and we know the ones who have too much. We know who woke up late, who broke up with whom, who broke into someone’s apartment. We know late nights. We know janitors because we stay at school so late, so often. We know secretaries, because they know everything. We know cheating. We know studying. We know how many hours it takes to put together a lesson, and we know we don’t want to grade anymore. We know taking work home nights and weekends, those summers “off” when we take second jobs and continuing education credits. We know we can’t sleep because we can’t let go. We know we should stop teaching when we’re able to let go. We know we save all the things our students give us—artwork, rap lyrics, flowers. We know lost assignments and missed deadlines, and we know disorganization. We know messy backpacks, lockers, lifestyles. We know frustration. We know “Fuck you!” and “Thank you!” And we know we’re probably doing something right if we hear them in a two-to-one ratio.


Erin Parker received her B.S. in ecology from Michigan Technological University and multiple teaching certifications from Edgewood College. She currently teaches high school Earth sciences at Madison East High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where she works hard to emphasize reading, writing, and communicating along with the science content.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Excerpt from “When the Roots are Still Alive” by Jennifer Ernsthausen

I am ashamed to admit that I used to view my students, who were rough around the edges or low achieving, as potential failures. But I now know that it was my failure, not my students’. I have started seeing such challenging children as opportunities for growth. A few years ago, one of my students, Jasmine, would last about half a period or so before overturning her chair and walking out. I would dread the moment she would leave and the distraction it always caused, but a piece of me felt that now I could focus on the other students with her gone. Half way through the year, I realized that I was not taking responsibility for educating her, and I was allowing her behavior to justify not being accountable to her. I decided to change. Instead of hoping Jasmine would leave sooner than later, I began to challenge myself to see how long I could engage her to stay.


Jennifer Ernsthausen teaches third grade in the Pittsburgh Public School District.