This is your EMWP Summer Institute Book Group blog. You are asked to post at least once a week before and during the Institute. Your group leader will post additional assignments and post topics. Check back often. If you have any questions or concerns contact your leader, Shari.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hi Book Group:

To begin the book blog conversation, please respond to the following questions in a comment on this post. Please read others' comments and include them in your response when you have something to add, agree with, or suggest.

I started reading the book a few days ago, and I was struck by the authors' reasons for writing the book, mainly because they are very similar to why I was drawn to the topic.
  • Why did you choose this book for your summer reading? What's your story?


  1. I chose to read this book, in part, because I have been focusing so much on argument writing and persuasive argument writing, due to the demands of the common core. The last three "teacher" books I've read have been about teaching argument writing.

    Despite my focus, my heart knows that what the authors say is true: our lives are composed of stories. It's how we relate to one another. Telling those stories, the way we tell them, when we tell them, to whom we tell them, that helps to make us who we are and our students who they are. Stories matter. So, how can I make sure I include enough narrative writing to stoke the fires in my students' hearts and make sure I have a well developed common core focused curriculum? We will see!

  2. Hello and good day to you.
    I chose this text because I want to write a short story this summer during the Institute. I am interested in what makes a good narrative and how I can capture an event that holds significance to me. So far, I'm finishing chapter three; and I am excited to solidify the aspects of an effective narrative in order to succeed at my personal writing goal.
    I also chose this text to help my students really understand that, not only do their stories matter, they can use them to change their worlds. I am a proponant of students feeling empowered to work as agents of change. I find the idea that they must wait until adulthood to enact true change abhorrent. Talk about being in the deep freeze until you're 18. I don't buy it; and I don't want to sell that mess to my classroom full of world-changers. They deserve to be empowered. They deserve to know that their stories matter.
    I came to this book with an open mind, heart, and perspective. I am not disappointed at this point.

    1. Erin,
      Your students are lucky to have you for an advocate! Like you, I think it's so ludicrous for our students to be discounted, to believe that their voices don't matter. I love what you said about a "classroom full of world-changers." It will be great to spend the next month talking with you about how to let them know that they can make a difference in their world, thereby making our lessons relevant to them (and us!).

  3. I chose to read this book because the primary focus of the first semester of my ELA 10 course is on narrative writing. Students' semester-long work culminates in their creed projects. In ELA 10, we made a sudden shift between semesters from narrative writing to argumentative writing, incorporating very little narrative in the second semester. Like Shari, I would like to incorporate more narrative writing to bridge the transition and also to create more effective arguments.

    I like the emphasis that the authors place on community throughout the book. If there's one thing that I have noticed and learned about my students, there is a strong attachment/resentment toward their community, and I would really like students to explore and reflect on their stories -- including the story of what they often refer to as "shacktown."

    1. Kevin,
      I hope that my students understand their place in their community too, and how it affects their stories and audience. I appreciate the books emphasis on the context around a story, what the teller brings to the table through perspective, and what the teller intends for their audience to take away. Something that I hadn't really thought of, as a teacher or as an adult storyteller, is what the book refers to as "slant." It's like what the storyteller thinks she or he is taking away from the story... and how this impacts the story's telling. It's not so much about the audience's perception, but the storytellers. The whole concept made my wheels start turning, thinking, "How can I get them (my students) to understand this? This is so cool!"

  4. One of the things that has really resonated with me is the authors' focus on the need for students to wait to interpret what their story means. Instead, they want their students to focus on developing "compelling characters" before they start worrying about what they want readers to take away. And this has me rethinking my own practice in the classroom, where I'm not sure I've made this step as clear as I should have for my students. Sometimes they -- and myself included -- are too focused on meeting a deadline rather than producing good, complete writing.

    As one of my goals is to take back a piece (or more!) to share with students. I'm hoping to be able to use this as a launchpad for conversations with them, as well as ask for students' advice about the future choices and moves I should make. I'm sure this could make for good modeling!