Thursday, July 28, 2011

Columbus Area Writing Project (CAWP) Part II

On my last post here at My World/Mi Mundo, I've shared my summer experience of participating in the Columbus Area Writing Project (CAWP). You can read the first part of this blog right here. 
In the first part I shared the big ideas and the philosophy behind such an amazing program like this one. Today I want to share with you what a day at CAWP looked like and some of the amazing titles recommended to all of us.
Every day a group of writers would gather in the classroom at Ramseyer Hall at The Ohio State University to start a day full of ideas, wonders, words, questions and books. Coffee brewing in the back, sleepy teachers walking one by one with excitement of a full day of writing ahead of us. Every morning, Robin Holland would filled our world with books, wonderful books, picture books, poetry books, large books, small books. This part of the day allowed our brain to wake up slowly in the preparation of the day ahead. Her knowledge and passion for books is admirable. Robin's passion for books opened our mind to genres, different genres of writing. She tuned my attention in different forms of writing and how to allow our minds to read a variety of texts, authors and genres. Every day our notebooks got filled with titles and titles to explore later.
Some of the titles I have gathered during those days include:

Teaching with Fire Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach by Sam M. Intrator
Professional Book: To Teach, The Journey in Comics by William Ayers
Listening-A Framework for Teaching Across Differences- Katherine Schultz
Terrible Thins-An Allegory of the Holocaust by Eve Bunting
Seeing the Blue Between- Compiled by Paul B. Janezco
Haiku This Other World by Richard Wright
A Postcard Memoir by Lawrence Sutin
Six Word Memoirs (there are several of this kind)
The World's Shortest Stories  Compiled by Steve Moss

This is really a partial list of the many many titles shared. I loved the fact that this was built in our daily schedule. I loved being read aloud. I loved being introduced to different "containers" where stories and words live. It helped me pay attention to other genres and formats.
Besides being immersed in the world of books, we also have daily writing time. A huge part of our day was allotted to just writing. This simple yet amazing daily moment allowed us to try new things, to create a routine and a schedule for us. We would get together with our writing group for feedback and suggestion. Other times, we would just write for our own purposes and by ourselves. We could write in any part of campus that allowed us to get into that writer's mood and let the pencil guide our way.

Almost every day we had a speaker, a guest that came to be talk to us about a specific topic. On these days, CAWP would treat all of us to an amazing lunch while we listen to another amazing person in the community share their knowledge and expertise with us. Some of our guest included Pat Enciso, Mollie Blackburn and our keynote speaker this year was William Kist whose topic included New Literacies. The set up for this guests allowed thinking and discussion time. Every voice was heard and respected. I attribute this type of atmosphere to the three instructors we had: Robin Holland, Melissa Wilson and Kevin Cordi who created this safe environment since day one. They made it possible for all of us to feel validated and appreciated regardless of our level and expertise in the writing or teaching world for that matter.

From our retreat at Kenyon College to our classroom at OSU, writing happened everyday and because of it, we all grew as writers ourselves. I highly recommend this amazing program because in order to be excellent teachers of writing, we must be writers ourselves or at least understand what it is like to be in those shoes. Teaching writing is not enough, igniting a passion for writing is a must.  I invite you to look at the National Writing Project in your area and get involved. After this experience, I feel that our job has just now started as we begin to advocate for a program that has changed and enriched the lives of many educators along the way. 
On our last day together at CAWP, I wrote this poem inspired by all the hard work my classmates and fellow teachers have put into their own lives. It is a magnificent group of educators, and it is an amazing program that opened our eyes to the importance of getting involved and advocating. 

by Stella Villalba

Stay connected 
expand yourself
stay connected
get involved
stay connected
there's so much to do.
Stay connected
we're all in this

Stay connected
because that's 
the beauty of
a community
It encourages
personal connections
sharing ideas
sharing stories.

Stay connected
get involved
so what when 
you reach 
a crossroad in your life
and it's time to reflect
and look back
you can say, 
"job well done"

Stay connected 
stretch yourself
what are you
afraid of anyways?
Of expanding your 
and not being able 
to look ahead?
Stay connected
stretch yourself
pick up the phone, 

There is no YOU or I 
in this community
There are only WE 
and present tense
Stay connected
get involved

Whatever you're passionate about, do your part, get involved, advocate. There is so much to do for one person to do alone. I want to thank our CAWP professors, and my fellow teachers for a wonderful experience of growing as a reader and as a writer!

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