Starting something new is perpetually a complex endeavor: exciting and challenging; confusing and frustrating; fun and eye-opening; and important and mysterious --- think first day as a freshman, think mid-week of the first week of the Summer Institute (as part of the National Writing Project), think first day on the job. Being a member of this team of teachers (see links, below) working on creating curriculum for Youth Voices was just as amazing.
I've been a writer for years. It was only in the last six or seven years, however, that I started sharing my writing with my students. Since going through the Summer Institute at RCWP, I have focused more on finding ways to connect students to that spark inside them --- and the route has almost always involved writing.
I have found my home in the middle school after teaching at the high school in both Language Arts and Special Education. Teachers in my building seem to think that I know something about using technology to enhance students' learning, but I think it's only because I like to experiment with it more than they do; one good thing about technology is that it keeps you humble and it uses a bat on me at times.
Besides writing, I need these things to feel healthy and happy: music (singing, dancing, listening, creating), humor, exercise (soccer, biking, walking), reading a few books at a time, and family.
Writing Project Site
For many years, our school district handled writing portfolios this way: the Kindergarten teacher put a student's best writing into a manila folder with the student's name on it; that folder followed the student from building to building throughout the elementary and middle school years, as each subsequent teacher added one or two of the student's best writing samples to it; the student's eighth grade teacher added one more writing sample (though by this time the student had some say in which writing sample was added) and then gave the entire folder to the student at the end of the year. Students were often curious and nostalgic as they received that folder. Wide-eyed, they would see a glimpse of their former selves and re-construct the story around each assignment.