Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aloha from Orlando

Jeannine and I are here at the NWP national convention at Disneyworld to gather ideas, meet and greet and bring back all kinds of exciting ideas for Lehua Writing Project. Stay tuned as we blog more and share pics.

Toodles for now,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lehua's Sponsor Professional Development at Pahala Plantation and Kailiawa Coffee Farm

Place-Based Literacy: A Journey Through Hawaii's Ranching and Agricultural Past

November 6, 2010, the Lehua Writing Project sponsored a professional development for teachers at the Pahala Plantation. We toured the home, cottages, former store, and bank. In addition we visited with an award winning K'au coffee farmer at his family run farm. Teachers are blogging about their experiences and posting podcasts! See our on FB and at

A Poem Inspired by Pepe the Lamplighter by Jeanne Hart

Jeanne Hart was inspired by the reading at our October Continuity of Peppe the Lamplighter. She shares her poem with the Lehuas.

Peppe the Lamplighter author Elisa Bartone illustrator Ted Lewin ISBN 0-590-22310-0

Prompt: How do I “light the lamp”?

A warm welcome, a smile, a “have a great day!”
Invitations to learning, to listen today.
Crayons and scissors, markers and paint,
Glue-paper-treasures … what need I say?
Blocks, cars, and fire trucks, big space on the floor –
Come build a city, we’ll travel today!
Puzzles for solving, pegs fit in boards,
Laces for beads and so many more!
A warm invitation, unspoken but there …
Come into my classroom and learn as you play!

The preschool classroom is a joyous space filled with toys, books, activities galore. A room filled with “things” has little true value if the children who visit don’t see and feel the love and excitement the teacher pours in. Indeed a classroom without toys, but a teacher who cares can open the mind to a leaf, a twig, or the sun’s warm embrace.
jeanne hart 23 October 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Glimpse into the Classoom

One 4th grade homeroom teacher in Japan has his students write and read aloud their "notebook letters" to their classmates. Watch this moving video to reenergize yourself and see the magic of writing in students' lives.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Risa Carles Presents at Oct 2010 Fall Continuity

Nine "fellows" from the Lehua Writing Project met at NHERC in Honokaa, October 23, 2010 from 9-12. After morning greeting and renewing friendships, Jeannine read Pepe the Lamplighter and invited participants to reflect on how they brought light and hope to their students. After writing and sharing in a conference group, Risa Carles shared a teaching demonstration on mood, tone, and imagery. Upcoming continuities are January 29th, 2011 and March 5th 2011. The first annual Spring Conference will be April 2nd.

Please note that you will soon be receiving a survey requesting your input for what programs and services you would like to see the LWP offer Summer 2011-Spring 2012.

Mahalo to all who attended!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Write! Publish! Dance for Joy!

To celebrate the second National Day on Writing this October 20th, why not publish your piece of writing in our own local gallery Na Leo o Hawaii (the voices of Hawaii). We are especially looking for place-based pieces that celebrate life on the Big Island or your own one hānau (sands of birth).

How? Go to our gallery (linked for you here) and on the bottom of the page is a button to contribute your own writing. If you've already submitted a piece, aʻole pilikia (no worries), the gallery can now take two pieces per person.

What are you waiting for? It's time to "let's dance. . .let's shout. . . SHOUT. . .,"and shake those fingers over the keyboard and get writing!  (OK, that's not how the song goes, but you know what I mean).
The Second National Day on Writing Will Be Celebrated in Two Weeks on October 20!

Three NCTE members talk about writing and the National Day on Writing on NWP Radio with NCTE member Elyse Eidman-Aadahl of the National Writing Project:

"A Conversation with Barbara Cambridge": Barbara Cambridge, director of NCTE’s Washington, DC, Office, talks about how and why the first Day and the National Gallery of Writing were established. NWP Radio, October 11, 2010
"A Conversation with Bob Yagelski": NCTE member Bob Yagelski talks about 1,000 writers writing on the National Day on Writing. NWP Radio, October 12, 2010
"Writing at the Center: The National Day on Writing": NWP Radio, October 14, 2010
Sadlier-Oxford Publishers

. . . Connect with Writing and the National Day on Writing
NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing, from NCTE
Reading and Writing and Teens: A Parent's Guide to Adolescent Literacy, new from NCTE, October 2010
Writing to Read: A Collection of NWP Articles, from the National Writing Project
What Works in Writing Instruction, new from NCTE, October 2010
NWP 2009 Annual Report: Focus on Content Area Literacy, from the National Writing Project
Taking Initiative on Writing: A Guide for Instructional Leaders, from NCTE

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Place-Based Learning Experience at Anna's Ranch

Teachers Shawna Fischer and Jeanne Hart (Kealakehe Elementary) at Anna's Ranch
Saturday, September 25 was a beautiful day in Waimea to kick off the Place-Based Learning course sponsored by the Lehua Writing Project. Participants met at Anna's Ranch and immersed themselves in the history of this place.

According to director Jeannine Hirtle, "Anna Lindsey ran that ranch with the help of only one ranch hand from 1945-1995! She brought amazing innovation to cattle ranching here on the Big Island through her intelligence, tenacity, and work ethic! Her legacy is inspiring!"

If you  were a participant yesterday, let us know how it went, and if you feel like you missed out on a great learning opportunity, contact Jeannine at to get more information on upcoming events. 
One more pic, for the cowboys

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Storyline Online

One of our 2010 Fellows, Esther Kotke posted this site on our ning, but I finally was able to check it out and had a wonderful experience. The site is and students can have some favorite books read to them by professional actors. I listened to To Be a Drum read by James Earl Jones, but I noticed some other LWP favorites like Thank You, Mr. Falker, Knots on a Counting Rope, and Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge.

While the actors do the reading, the video shows the illustrated pages and subtitles appear on the bottom so that students can follow along in their own books or read together from the screen.

In addition, there are activities and questions for each book. The site is out of funding, so they probably won't add any more books, but they have a nice little collection.

To Be a Drum can still be used in my high school class because it's a nice companion piece to Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Sympathy," and it works as a hook to give them some background knowledge to start their research on slavery in America.

Thanks Esther for sharing this resource. If you find resources that would benefit other teachers, let us know. We'd love to hear from you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Join the English Companion Ning

If you're a secondary English teacher, this is a cheap way to get professional development advice (FREE) from other professionals (your colleagues).

Go to this ning now and join
There are 19,476 members - mostly English teachers, some student teachers, some professors, some newbies.
There are 177 special interest groups to join: from new teachers, to teaching with technology, teaching 7th grade ELA, poetry, etc.

This discussion that I took a screen shot of is about how you will spend your first day, first week of the school year 2010. There are 336 replies to this question, and one of them is about creating an animoto of the things the students will do in class for the year and playing that as they come in and before the syllabi are handed out.

So did you join yet?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Giving Our Students 21st Century Skills

Now that it's practically summer, and we all have a little breathing room before we start planning again for next year, it's a great time to surf (the web) for technology projects that will enhance your students' writing skills, hone their technology skills and give them real-world writing experiences.

Here's an example that my colleague and I kind of whipped up with two weeks left of the school year. The kids were challenged to try different genres for their independent reading, but my colleague wanted to know if they really were understanding, so we set up a blog site for them, invited all 106 of them to be authors, negotiated format and "rubric" elements by looking at other blog sites, then each student published three book reviews. It took two of us to edit the 300 posts in one week's time, but next year, we'll spread it out more. Ahhh, there's always next year.

Please share your own literacy success stories with us. We'd like a glimpse into your classroom.
Until then, you can check out our blog at

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Listening to the Sounds of Silence in the Classroom - National Writing Project

Spring Meeting Day 3 was a day for professional development.

The keynote speaker was Katherine Schultz, author of the book Rethinking Classroom Participation: Listening to Silent Voices. She suggests that teachers take a nuanced view toward classroom silence, understanding its complex functions and regarding it as a form of participation.

I think as teachers of multicultural students, we are aware of the silence of our students not as a sign of ignorance or stupidity, but as a sign of cultural norms. For me, if students are overly vocal or if they have prolonged eye contact with me, it's actually a sign of aggression on their part. I found it helpful to hear someone else talk about a behavior that is normal for us, and she helped teachers to broaden the view of participation in the classroom.

Schultz is the director the Philadelphia Writing Project and is an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.

Check the link below for more information on her and more of her mana'o:
Listening to the Sounds of Silence in the Classroom - National Writing Project

Sunday, March 28, 2010

NWP Spring Meeting in DC: Day 2

Day 2 in DC was our main lobbying day, but as we were walking to the Dirksen Senate offices for our morning rally, we caught the tourist bug and had to take pictures of the beautiful cherry blossoms that were already in bloom. These were at the Japanese American memorial.

Congresswoman Maizie Hirono was nice enough to stop by at the rally to offer up support to all the NWP teachers to encourage us for the work that was ahead today. What was really nice was that she talked about leading with aloha. Many people stopped us to thank us for coming, because if we didn't come, they wouldn't have heard Congresswoman Hirono speak. She did a great job of representing our state and as someone who signed our Dear Colleague letter to support NWP, we say mahalo a nui loa to Ms. Hirono.

The main thing that I learned about the new budget is that the federal government would like to give a lump sum of federal money back to the state for educational programs, and each state would be in charge of doling out money to programs that would have to compete for the federal money. We are not against competition, however, as a national program, we are not able to compete. We are a national network, not a state network. For example, if California's multiple writing projects got funding from California, but Hawaii and Alaska didn't get funding, what would happen to the national writing project? As the Lehua Writing Project, without the infrastructure and support of the NWP, we wouldn't exist.

The Dear Colleague letter supports our need for direct funding. Our job on this day was to meet with Senator Akaka's aide to talk about our program, to talk about the need for our kind of professional development in Hawaii, and to encourage him to sign the Dear Colleague letter. We met with Arun Revera who was coming off of a very long night (Senate was getting ready to vote on the health bill). He was very warm and receptive, and in karmic coincidence, Arun and Jeannine lived very near each other in Texas, and he went to HPA. His mother still lives in Waimea and they both frequent Waimea Coffee. It was destined to be a great meeting. We talked about our program, we shared mana'o from Cathy Riehle, Merle Yoshida and Joanne Yoshida, answered his questions, and he assured us that he would ask Senator Akaka to sign the letter. We will follow up with him this week after their own spring break.

Senator Akaka and his office continued to show us hospitality by arranging a private capitol tour (we were joined by 4 kids and their advisor from 4H Hawaii) and when we got back, Senator Akaka gave us some of his precious time before he went back to the floor for another vote. We also found out that when we see senators giving testimony on C-Span, they're usually talking just to the stenographer and whichever young senator is doing time as the speaker. Everyone else is in committee meetings or doing other work. The staff keeps track on C-Span to what's going on, and when a vote is near, there are buzzers that go on in the senate offices.

It was such a full day with so many cool things going on, but the best thing was our meeting with Hirono and Akaka. We weren't able to meet with Senator Inouye, but Paul LeMahieu met with his education aide on our behalf before we got to DC, and although Senator Inouye is very supportive, because he is the chairman of the appropriations committee, he is not able to sign the Dear Colleague letter. It would be like signing it to himself, and would not be appropriate.

Friday, March 26, 2010

NWP Spring Meeting in DC: Day 1

There's a reason why Hawaii has not been represented at the NWP spring meeting in about 8 years. If you thought driving to NHERC everyday was far, try getting on a plane on Tuesday night, 1 hour to Honolulu, 1 hour layover in Honolulu, 6 hours on the plane to arrive in Phoenix on Wednesday morning, 1 hour layover, then 4 hours on the plane to Washington DC = 13 hours of travel. We had one hour to shower, and get to our first meeting in the evening.

We were going to bow out of the meeting after traveling for so long, but Pat Fox, one of our mentors, told us to "power through" so we did. Thank goodness. At Wednesday night's meeting, they helped us to strategize our meetings with our representatives, they explained the pitfalls of the proposed federal budget for FY 2011 and what it would mean to NWP, and they went over our talking points and addressed ways to answer the hard questions in case our representatives were a little less supportive.

Most importantly, it gave us time to practice scenarios before we trudged off to bed.

Agenda for day 2:
Get ourselves to the Dirksen Senate office building by 8:00
Introduce Congresswoman Maizie Hirono to the NWP contingent as soon as she arrived
Let her speak
Get more questions answered
Head to our first appointment with Akaka's education aide
Private capitol tour
Spring meeting reception in the evening at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why School? Join the conversation

Title: Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us

Author: Mike Rose

Publisher: The New Press (2009)

Hardcover: 192 pages

I don't tout a book that I've never read, just as I don't give students a writing assignment that I haven't already written myself, but the National Writing Project book group ning is having an online discussion of this book and the coversations have been quite intriguing. Imagine, adult conversation centered around big questions. It made me feel like a professional again. If you too are yearning for those adult conversations, this is a great group to join.

From the New Press website:

A powerful and timely exploration of this country’s public education goals, and how they are put into practice, by the award-winning author and educator
I ask how to educate a vast population, what to teach and how, who will do it, what the work will mean. We still ask these questions because we haven’t satisfactorily answered them. And the way we answer them says a lot about who we are—and what we want to become.

In the tradition of Jonathan Kozol, this little book is driven by big questions. What does it mean to be educated? What is intelligence? How should we think about intelligence, education, and opportunity in an open society? Why is a commitment to the public sphere central to the way we answer these questions?

Drawing on forty years of teaching and research, from primary school to adult education and workplace training, award-winning author Mike Rose reflects on these and other questions related to public schooling in America. He answers them in beautifully written chapters that are both rich in detail—a first-grader conducting a science experiment, a carpenter solving a problem on the fly, a college student’s encounter with a story by James Joyce—and informed by a deep and powerful understanding of history, the psychology of learning, and the politics of education.

Rose decries the narrow focus of educational policy in our time: the drumbeat of test scores and economic competition. Why School? will be embraced by parents and teachers alike, and readers everywhere will be captivated by Rose’s eloquent call for a bountiful democratic vision of the purpose of schooling.

About the author: Mike Rose, a professor in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, is the author of Lives on the Boundary, The Mind at Work, and Possible Lives. Among his many awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Grawemeyer Award in Education, and the Commonwealth Club of California Award for Literary Excellence in Nonfiction. He lives in Santa Monica.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lehua Writing Project Now Recruiting for Invitational Summer Institute

The Lehua Writing Project, the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s local site of the National Writing Project, is now recruiting for the Summer Invitational Institute (ISI). The National Writing Project focuses the knowledge, expertise, and leadership of our nation's educators on sustained efforts to improve writing and learning for all learners. This summer institute provides professional development in writing and the teaching of writing using a teachers-teaching-teachers model.

This ISI is a four-week intensive program held midway between the East and West sides of the Big Island at North Hawaii Education Research Center (NHERC) in Honoka’a. It meets from June 14 to July 8 from 8:30-4:00 PM and awards three Graduate Credits in Education upon successful completion of the program. Full tuition scholarships are available for teachers who interview and are accepted for the ISI. In addition, participants receive stipends for books and travel. Each participant pays a small administrative fee to the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
The National Writing Project (NWP) is the only federally funded program that focuses on the teaching of writing. Support for the NWP is provided by the U.S. Department of Education, foundations, corporations, universities, and K-12 schools.

Two awareness sessions are available for interested participants. The first is February 13, 2010 from 9-12 AM (Saturday) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo in UCB 312, and the second is March 5, 2010 (Friday) from 9-12 AM at the Kealakehe Elementary School Library in Kailua-Kona. This will be rescheduled to March 6, 2010 (Saturday) if this Friday becomes a school day. If you are interested in attending an awareness session please RSVP to the directors at the e-mails below. We encourage you to come and find out more about the Lehua Writing Project.
Please contact Director, Dr. Jeannine Hirtle, or Co-Director Cathy Ikeda, for more information.
To apply directly please fill out this online application. The direct link (if you wish to copy/paste) is:
Applications need to be in by March 15, 2010. Interviews will be scheduled and notifications will be sent out by April 1, 2010. At this time, participants need to enroll at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Transcripts will be required for complete enrollment.
Web Sites of Interest:
UH Hilo Summer Application:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Updates from NCTE: Check Out Read/Write/Think for many valuable resources

NCTE Inbox

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January 12, 2010
Please Note: Next week's INBOX will be emailed on Wednesday, January 20.

Have You or Your Students Written for the National Gallery of Writing Lately?
News links are provided for informational purposes, do not imply endorsement by the National Council of Teachers of English, and were live when this issue was published; free registration or a paid subscription may be required for some news articles.

It's Like Magic: That's What Writing Is
Gallery of Writing Showcases Writing's Power
The National Gallery of Writing has sparked a wide variety of galleries and writings. NCTE members Helene Zablocki, Vince Puzick, James Brewbaker, Patrice Hollrah, Joan Kaywell, David Whitin, Phyllis Whitin, Linda Adler-Kassner, Crag Hill, and NCTE Executive Director Kent Williamson are mentioned. The Council Chronicle, November 2009

Better Than Ever: The New
Since 2002 has provided literacy educators access to an ever-growing collection of free education materials. Voted "Best Site from Which You Can Download Free Lessons and Materials" on the 2008 Edutopia poll, RWT now has a completely redesigned and updated website filled with hundreds of lesson plans, calendar resources, printouts, and interactive tools.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Big Island Reading Festival 2010

Secondary teachers and students are invited to the Big Island Reading Festival on April 16, 2010 at KMC in the Volcanoes National Park. If you would like a flyer, please email Cathy at

Also, if you would like to be in the online book club, go to