Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class

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Tags: writing

Are you registered for the Writing Matters conference? There’s still time!

Hello everyone!

The Writing Matters conference is fast approaching! A conference sponsored by Seven Valleys Writing Project, this conference will have workshops, seminars and other presentations to assist CNY teachers learn about teaching writing in their classrooms.

We’ll have merchandise for sale as well as an assortment of teaching writing books for sale!

We are still looking for presentors and attendees. But hurry, because registration will close tomorrow!

So, hurry and sign up now for the Writing Matters conference, March 8th, at SUNY Cortland!

Creative Writing Prompts For Your Classroom

Hello everyone! 

I’m Allison Best, 7VWP’s intern for the semester! Dr. Franke asked me to post for this blog daily, so in my first post, I’m going to talk a little bit about what got me inspired and interested in writing and link to a site with some of my favorite writing exercises!

Here’s the website:

What I love about this collection of writing prompts is it’s a combination of all of my favorite ones from throughout my educational career. The one thing that I always dreaded, especially in High School, was when we’d begin class with a free-write. Sometimes it was for a grade; sometimes it was just to warm us up before class started.  It was overwhelming to write about anything I wanted. I’d psych myself out — is this worth writing about? Is this even interesting? Should I talk about my morning? What’s the point? Unless I was feeling particularly inspired that morning, I would slack off and either write nothing or nothing that I cared about. 

My teachers would say that to have a free-write was to remove the stress, the pressure, to just get the feel for writing down. The thing that got me inspired as a young writer, however, wasn’t the freedom to write; it was the interesting, quirky, and sometimes restrictive writing exercises. Like writing a story with only monosyllabic words; writing about a given person, an item, and an activity (my favorite story was about a man waiting in line with a single pearl earring in his pocket).  Using details to describe people – “what’s the name of an old lady who volunteers at an animal shelter, who wins a million dollars on a scratch off?”; “what’s the desk look like of a person six months sober?”.

These things inspired me. And talking about the writing exercises pushed me to look at the world, my environment, my books, my life for all the little subtleties and nuances that make writing so profound and exciting and fresh. My teachers let me write about how chores suck, about my boyfriend of one month (and soon after, my new ex-boyfriend), about my rollercoaster relationship with my sister, about friends using drugs and having sex. They let me write what was pertinent to me, but they made me do it differently. They pushed and prodded and didn’t accept average.

Not even with my writing exercises.


I hope you enjoy the list!


Oh, and something else that’s cool? A link that shows you how to make your own quill pen! This is pretty awesome too! 

Memoir Writing Workshop

Finding Our Way into Memoir

Presented by Sarah Marcham and Jacqueline Franke

“Anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life.” – Flannery O’Connor

Join us on Saturday, January 5th as two local teacher-writers, students of both the Seven Valleys Writing Project’s “Summer Institute” and Marge Piercy’s Memoir Lab, share a series of writing activities designed to tap into your life experience and start you on that memoir you’ve always been meaning to write.  We will explore the power of writing seductive openings that invite readers in and also create focus and direction for the writer.

There is no cost associated with this workshop.  Coffee and light breakfast starts at 8:30.  Held January 5 from 9-12 in the Beard Building (9 Main Street, Cortland, NY).  Pre-register at BT BOCES MyLearningPlan.  

"Because I have known the torment of thirst I would
dig a well where others may drink."

Empty the schools and meet online

So I just returned from Philadelphia where my eldest was investigating a college.  At a rest area that sold everything American, I found a lonely kiosk that held brochures (“See the Dry Underground Lake” and “Wine Country Catfish Boil and Quilting Bee”).  One quiet slot held a brochure for “A Tuition-Free K-12 Cyber School.”  That’s right, this is a charter school where you can do the whole school thing from home.  Normal schools have a number of disadvantages, I learned.  They include:

• Expense/Scores Disconnect
• Ideological Curricula (?)
• Safety/Bullying Concerns
• Highly Politicized/Polarized
• School Districts (?)
• Lack of Parental Control
• Lack of Parental Involvement (?)
• One-Size-Fits All Mindset 

Now, this raises some interesting questions.  Apparently the “Cyber School” is cheaper (avoiding the “Expense/Scores Disconnect”) and allows you to avoid things: ideology, bullies, politics, school districts, other students, parents, and standardization.  People of different races, with accents, and those ideas you find frightful — all gone.  ”Turns out / You can make the earth absolutely clean” writes James Wright in his poem “Redwings.”  I think he was being ironic about how cool that is.

I never thought of “school districts” as a problem.  And it seems strange to avoid “uninvolved parents” by eliminating parents altogether.  But we know which non-present parents we don’t have to non-suffer from any longer.

This is of course the natural progression of things.  This PA system has actual teachers on computers at the other end, each of which has an unspecified number of classes.  This is indeed cheaper.  Imagine 200 students per teacher, essays scored by machine, and multiple choice readings.  You could “learn” a lot this way.  In some cases, it would probably be more effective than actually attending classes with other kids and real-time teachers.  But by eliminating all the risks, you end up with a kid who has no idea engage with other people — and people are risky.  I suppose you could have a unit on “working with people,” but something tells me it wouldn’t be the same.  

Learn at your own pace: no mentors to inspire you, no models, no peers slowing you down (or rushing you to finish).  Think of the taxes we could cut!

And it’s not a joke.  It’s actually here.

Grant Wiggins’ blog
He is excellent, check him out!!

Grant Wiggins’ blog

He is excellent, check him out!!

Tags: 7VWP Writing

What the eel expert said to writers

"A lot of scientists ignore personal experience altogether, largely because it can’t be measured" one eel expert tells him. That’s not necessarily a mistake if you’re doing science. But if you’re trying to evaluate life on earth, it probably is.

(Source: The New York Times)

Tags: Writing 7VWP

Our Spring Dates for PD for 7VWP and Candor!!!

Our Spring Dates for PD for 7VWP and Candor!!!