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Writing Workshop for Educators - Conformity vs Risk-Taking: Where Does Excellent Writing Come From?

October 15, 2011
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Hawkins Carlson Room, Rush Rhees Library

Sponsored by the Genesee Valley Writing Project and the Warner School of Education

“Miss Watson would say, ‘Don’t put your feet up there, Huckleberry;’ and ‘don’t scrunch up like that, Huckleberry – set up straight…why don’t you try and behave?’  Then she told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there.”

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain

Many of our student writers, not unlike Huck Finn, feeling daunted by a sea of rules that they do not understand, are turned off to writing.  Like Huck, they might even view Miss Watson’s “bad place” – the place where mischievous rule-breakers end up – as a more fun place to be than “the good place.” 

How do we help students find pleasure and rewards in writing?  How do we help them become engaged and confident writers?  Where does one find balance between adherence to traditions and bold risk-taking? Using our own writing as a starting point, we will help educators explore the many issues connected to writing instruction.

The directors and teacher-consultants of the Genesee Valley Writing Project will teach this half-day workshop for teachers.  Breakout sessions will address specific concerns. 

Our workshop is designed to help educators help students:
  • unlock their own good ideas;
  • take risks;
  • know the rules and know how and when to bend these rules with finesse;
  • see drafting and revising as natural and essential steps on the path toward good writing;
  • know how to help create a supportive community;
  • take bold steps along the path toward becoming excellent and engaged writers.

About the Workshop Leaders

Joanne Larson joined the Warner School faculty in 1995 and currently serves as chair of teaching and curriculum and teaches master’s level literacy courses, as well as doctoral level courses on curriculum, teaching and change, and introductory and advanced qualitative research methods. Larson’s ethnographic research examines how language and literacy practices mediate social and power relations in literacy events in schools and communities.

Maryrita (MR) Maier is currently pursuing a PhD at the Warner School.  She has taught the methods courses in literacy at the U of R, supervised student teachers, and facilitated literacy workshops in local school districts.  A veteran teacher with more than 30 years of public teaching experience, MR has taught in both rural and suburban settings. Her research focus is the evolving nature of technology and literacy with first graders.

Jen Smith Lapointe has taught writing for twelve years: two years at the middle school and ten years at the collegiate level. She currently teaches Composing Process, Creative Writing, and Writing and Research at Roberts Wesleyan College. Finishing her PhD at the Warner School, Lapointe is conducting research focused on the practices and identity development of middle school writers identified with learning disabilities.

Deb Murray is in her tenth year of teaching.  She currently is a reading teacher and literacy coach at Geneseo Elementary School.  Previously, she taught 5th grade and was a Title 1 Writing teacher at a middle school in Chelsea, MA.  She has taught children’s writing classes at Writers & Books in Rochester for many years and this summer taught a writing class at the Freedom School in Rochester.  She loves teaching readers and writers of all ages and looks forward to continuing a career doing what she loves the most.

Mary Heveron-Smith, in her fourteenth year of teaching in the Webster Central School District, is currently at Webster Thomas High, teaching Advanced Placement Language and Composition to juniors and Journalism to students in grades 9 through 12.  A former newspaper reporter, copy editor, and college publications director, she has a column forthcoming in English Journal on why all students should master punctuation’s finer points.

Workshop Details

NYS Thruway (I-90) to Exit 46; I-390 North to Exit 16 (W. Henrietta Rd.); cross W. Henrietta to E. River Rd.; right onto Kendrick Rd.; right onto Elmwood Ave. Continue past Crittenden, bear left onto Elmwood Ave., next right onto Wilson Blvd. Turn onto Intercampus Drive and continue to the library lot located just behind Rush Rhees library. Parking is free on weekends.

8:30-8:45 — Coffee
8:45-9:15 — Introduction and overview
9:30-10:45 — Workshop
11-12:15 — Workshop
12:15 to 12:30 — Closure, sharing, evaluation 

Cost of the program is $35. You will receive 3 professional development hours upon completion.

For more information and to register:
Contact Mary Beyer at (585) 275-2616 or mbeyer@warner.rochester.edu.
Download the registration form
Download the brochure

Sponsored by and housed within the Warner School, the Genesee Valley Writing Project is directed by Joanne Larson, a leading scholar in new literacies. The project serves teachers and students from urban, suburban, and rural schools in Monroe and surrounding counties.

Using a teachers-teaching-teachers model, the GVWP allows participating teachers to tap into what is known about writing and the teaching of writing from all sources—key research findings, important books and articles, and most importantly, the classroom practices of effective and successful teachers.

In its mission to improving the quality of student writing and learning in area schools, the GVWP sponsors an array of programs including an annual invitational Summer Institute, school-based in-service programs, professional development continuity programs, professional development workshops, and a summer writing camp for children and youth.

Tags: Genesee Valley Writing Project, Joanne Larson, writing instruction