Christian McEwen’s essay, “Alastair Reid: Traveling Light,” was selected as the recipient of the 2016 Bechtel Prize. Teachers & Writers Collaborative awards the Bechtel Prize to the author of an exemplary essay that explores themes related to creative writing, arts education, and/or the imagination. This year’s Bechtel winner is a lovely portrait of poet and translator Alastair Reid.
Read the full essay here.
In this lesson plan, Jane LeCroy offers ideas for addressing a question from New York City’s K–8 framework for science:How do human body systems function to maintain homeostasis?
One in a series of creative writing teaching resources that are aligned with the requirements of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts in science and history/social studies
What happened at school today?
From the time we were very young, answering that question from a parent, grandparent, sibling, or neighbor was an invitation to tell a story. The power of storytelling is on our minds here at Teachers & Writers Collaborative as our writers head back to classrooms across New York City, where they will provide space for students to tell their own stories—not just about what happened at school today, but about anything they can imagine.
This issue of Teachers & Writers Magazine celebrates the power of stories in Matthew Burgess’ interview with award-winning playwright and performer James Lecesne, who discusses his belief in storytelling as a way to change lives and develop understanding. During the interview, Lecesne and Burgess discover a shared love of the E.E. Cummings’ poem “in Just-,”which is the starting point for Burgess’ lesson plan in this issue.
In her essay, T&W teaching artist Vanessa Mártir grapples with the challenge of getting high school students to tell their stories in personal essays. Olivia Birdsall provides a lesson plan she has used effectively when teaching personal essay at high schools. Barbara Feinberg tells tales from her Story Shop program, and shares work written by the eight middle school girls who participate in the “Tuesday group.” Lucas DuClos encourages us to use tagging—the process of adding descriptive keywords to social media posts and other online communication—as a way to encourage students to be more deliberate as they create and share their stories.
In two videos, Chicago poet and teaching artist Fatimah Asghar gives us an insight into spoken word as storytelling, as well as letting us hear some of her students’ work and one of her own poems. Alan Sitomer and Michael Cirelli show how spoken word and Hip-Hop can support learning in the English classroom in a lesson plan from their Hip-Hop Language Arts Curriculum. And, in our “Young Writers of the World” series, Ahrar and Savannah tell us why poetry has become part of the story of their lives.
All of us at T&W congratulate our friends and colleagues at two other literary arts education organizations that are celebrating important milestones. In this issue you’ll find “Secret Place,” Perie Longo’s lesson plan from Poetry Crossing: 50+ Lessons for 50 Years of California Poets in the Schools; and “How to Turn an Ordinary Floor into an Oceanside Beach with One Hand,” Matthew Olzmann’s essay from To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project. (Be sure to take advantage of the 30 percent discount offer to Teachers & Writers Magazine readers who want to purchase To Light a Fire.)
And finally, we want to hear your stories. T&W is accepting submissions for the 2016 Bechtel Prize, which will honor exemplary essays that explore creative writing, arts education, and/or the imagination. The deadline is Monday, November 30. Click here for full submission guidelines, and good luck!
The Teachers & Writers Magazine Editorial Board
David Andrew Stoler
Combine your science curriculum with poetry with this new lesson plan!
Have your students read poems about the heart that demonstrate scientific and figurative language and write poems that incorporate scientific knowledge of the heart as well as figurative and poetic language about the heart.
Poet and educator Jane LeCroy was part of T&W’s Common Core Leadership Team of writers who developed creative writing teaching resources that are aligned with the requirements of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts in science and history/social studies. In this lesson plan, LeCroy offers ideas for addressing a question from New York City’s K–8 framework for science:How do human body systems function to maintain homeostasis? T&W thanks the William T. Grant Foundation and The Cerimon Fund for their generous support of the Common Core resources initiative.
Are you getting ready? Register now for the upcoming season of Poetry Out Loud and check out our website for information and ideas about incorporating POL into your classroom!
Summer is in full swing here in New York City, and we are enjoying the gentle pace of July and August. The summer slowdown brings more time for reading, for writing, and for thinking creatively about the work we do to bring young people to the literary arts. We hope that the ideas in this issue of Teachers & Writers Magazine will stimulate your own creative thinking, and that you’ll share thoughts inspired by this issue and other new content that we post every week. You can connect with other readers by posting a comment in the box that appears at the bottom of every article, or write directly to the Editorial Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With this issue we introduce a new series, “Young Writers of the World,” providing bright snapshots of the writing life, as told from our students’ perspectives. We kick off the series with portraits of two student writers in Teachers & Writers Collaborative programs: Adelle and Ethan. Each column features a brief interview with the student, a photo, a sample of his or her wonderful work, and a description of the lesson plan that inspired the student’s writing. We think you’ll enjoy hearing from these fresh, new voices, and from others to come.
Matthew Burgess’ interview with Ron Padgett offers a look back at the early days of the writers-in-the-schools movement, as well as exploring Padgett’s most recent work as a poet. In “Where Voices Are Made, and Where They Find Us,” Emily Hughes shares her experience as an MFA candidate in poetry working in the schools; while Sarah Dohrmann gives us a snapshot of the challenges and joys of being a teaching artist in her essay, “Hunger.”
Last year, our friends and colleagues at California Poets in the Schools celebrated their 50th anniversary by publishingPoetry Crossing: 50+ Lessons for 50 Years. They’ve allowed us to share two of their lesson plans in Teachers & Writers Magazine, with more lesson plans to follow in the coming year. In his lesson plan, Jeffrey Pflaum shows us how the simple phrase “A Penny for Your Thoughts” can get students to think about thinking and to brainstorm writing ideas.
This issue presents two strategies for connecting students to poets via long distance. In her video lesson plan, “A World of Poetry,” Texas poet and teaching artist Amanda Johnston explains how she uses technology to enable her students to engage with poets as far away as London. Andy Fogle connected his students with poet Arthur Sze via an online interview. Both the interview, “Seeking the Silk Dragon,” and Fogle’s essay about teaching Sze’s work to high school seniors, “Playing with Difficulty,” are featured in this issue.
University of Evansville professor Margaret McMullan describes her experience working with a student for whom writing about being abused offered a path to healing. “Stepping into the Fire” is an unflinching portrait of a young woman’s courage and of a teacher navigating sensitive terrain when her student seeks guidance in writing about abuse.
Finally, New York City high school student Juan reads his poem inspired by Larry Bradley’s “Barber.” Enjoy watching and listening to Juan’s work, and have a great summer!
The Teachers & Writers Magazine Editorial Board
David Andrew Stoler
Photo (above) by Senior Airman Brett Clashman
T&W is accepting applications for summer 2015 internships. Learn more on our Jobs page.