The monthly newsletter of the National Writing Project
at Kent State University
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September 2016

Invitational Summer Institutes Feature
Innovative Strategies

    This summer, we were thrilled to hold not one, not two, but three Invitational Summer Institutes (ISI). Groups of teachers met in Wooster, Kent, and Elyria to participate in the heart of the National Writing Project at Kent State University.  
    To accommodate the busy schedules of Northeast Ohio teachers, we innovated our ISI offerings.  The Wooster and Kent sites were offered as hybrids - teachers met face-to-face seven times to engage in traditional ISI activities like lesson demonstrations, Grounds for Thought and Mining for Gold and then used an online learning platform to participate in writing groups and research text study. The third site, hosted by Elyria City Schools, held a more traditional, face-to-face section in early August, where teachers from the west side of Cleveland were able to participate in the ISI in their own backyards.
     Mike West, Maker Space Lead Teacher in Elyria City Schools, said, "I was surprised by how the ISI applied to more than just a traditional language arts or writing class. I have learned so many things that will cross a variety of content areas." Lisa Plas, Implementation Specialist in Elyria City Schools, agreed and added, "I loved how there was no pressure. We wrote, we talked, we read. It made taking a summer course enjoyable."
     We are already beginning to look ahead to Summer 2017 with these new, innovative ISI offerings. Tentative sites are planned for Sebring, Elyria, Wooster and Kent. Look for information about these sites in the coming months.
NWP-KSU Launches New Website
       In August, NWP-KSU introduced a fresh look for its website at The site provides an overview of NWP-KSU, information about our latest programs, and resources for educators. If, when you visit the site, you receive a security certificate error or a series of WordPress links explaining that you can fill in content, your browser is still trying to reach the old site. Please clear your browser history, including cookies and caches. The new NWP-KSU website should then load without error messages.
       We would especially like to expand the Resources section to enhance its usefulness. Please help other teachers become more efficient by sharing your favorite websites! Email suggestions to
Mahoning Valley Book Club
Time: 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Place: Stonebridge Grill & Tavern (next to Handel's) on Rt. 224,
1497 Boardman-Canfield Rd.

Monday, September 19: For a Little While
by Rick Bass

     "These pages reveal men and women living with passion and tenderness at the outer limits of the senses, each attempting to triumph against fate. Bass provides searing insights into the complexity of family and romantic entanglements, and his lush and striking language draws us ineluctably into the lives of these engaging people and their vivid surroundings. The intricate stories collected in For A Little While -- brimming with magic and wonder, filled with hard-won empathy, marbled throughout with astonishing imagery -- have the power both to devastate and to uplift. Together they showcase an iconic American master at his peak."  ~

We will also finish our discussions of two professional books: The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros and The Best-Kept Teaching Secret by Harvey and Elaine Daniels.

Monday, October 10: TBD - Suggested YA pick is Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan. Bring your picks to discuss for our next meetings!
Monday, November 7
Monday, December 5

Riverside Book Club
Wednesday, September 14
Time: 6:15 p.m.
Location: The Wine Mill
4964 Akron Cleveland Rd., Peninsula
Book Pick: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
by Alison Bechdel
    "In this groundbreaking, bestselling graphic memoir, Alison Bechdel charts her fraught relationship with her late father. In her hands, personal history becomes a work of amazing subtlety and power, written with controlled force and enlivened with humor, rich literary allusion, and heartbreaking detail." ~


Wednesday, November 9
Time: 6:15 p.m.
Location: TBD
Book Pick: America's First Daughter
by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
    "In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson's eldest daughter, Martha "Patsy" Jefferson Randolph--a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy." ~

Send an email to if you would like help getting a book club started in your area.
Accelerate Student Learning
    If you are seeking maximally effective instructional strategies and a data-driven classroom, then Visible Learning for Literacy: Implementing the Practices That Work Best to Accelerate Student Learning by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie is the resource for you.
    Visible learning happens when students know what they are learning, why they are learning it, what it means to be “good” at the learning, and what it means to have learned it. To make learning visible, teachers need to go a step further and create the conditions necessary for students to become their own teachers. Unlike Write Like This, which can be read by skimming or separating chapters, Visible is a book that needs to be read (carefully) in its entirety.
    A key point of the book is effect size, the magnitude that an approach or teaching strategy has.  A 0.40 is the “hinge point” - teachers should strive on the whole to implement strategies at this size or above. For example, teacher credibility carries a weight of 0.90. Some commonly held beliefs are debunked; matching learning styles is only a 0.17.  The compiled list (in the appendix) goes on!
    While the book proposes some strategies that can be implemented immediately, it is best to read this book to prepare for significant times like the start of the school year or a new semester. The authors outline more systemic changes for the classroom, important yet warranting time and reflection in order to implement. 
~ by Elizabeth Berlan

Write Here! Write Now!
Handouts Available on Website
    The June Write Here! Write Now! conference featured lively sessions with practical strategies for teachers to use in their classrooms. Whether you attended WHWN or were not able to make it this year, the handouts provide exciting lesson ideas ranging from using the show Chopped! for the teaching of writing to studying images to enhance student ideas.
    Handouts are available on the Resources page of the NWP-KSU website.
Participants in the 2016 Write Here! Write Now! not only learned engaging strategies that they can use in their classrooms, but they also met colleagues who will serve as sounding boards for ideas throughout the school year. Plans are under way for next year's WHWN! Watch for details!
Copyright © 2016 NWP-KSU, All rights reserved.

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Room 404 White Hall
Department of Teaching, Leadership, and Curriculum Studies

Kent State University
Kent, Ohio  44242

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Kent State University National Writing Project · Room 404 White Hall · Kent State University · Kent, OH 44242 · USA

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