Testimonial from author James Van Pelt

Author and Colorado teacher, James Van Pelt

Author and Colorado

I’m a long-time veteran of the CWP (I did all the offerings, including the summer seminar in Greeley in 1991 or ’92), and I still tell teachers they should enroll.

This will be my thirty-fifth year of teaching in western Colorado, and I was looking back at all the classes, seminars, and workshops I attended. None of them did as much for me as the CWP. When I took the summer course, I’d just finished my masters at U.C. Davis in Creative Writing. I didn’t need to be sold on the idea of teachers as writers, but it was nice to see an entire movement devoted to the idea that all teachers should write, not just so they can teach it, but because writing is a way for individuals to explore themselves.

That’s a powerful learning tool for the teachers to examine their inner lives, and it’s a powerful teaching tool to bring to the classroom.

Thank you for the work that you and all the instructional coaches bring to Colorado teachers in this powerful program.


Read Van Pelt’s latest novel, Pandora’s Gun, or find out more at jamesvanpelt.com

Here’s what your colleagues are saying about CWP:

Erica Rewey

Erica Rewey, Palmer High School, Colorado Springs

The Colorado Writing Project forever changed the way I taught (and learned) writing in my classroom. Our young people have so much to say, and the writers workshop not only gives them a voice, but shapes them into articulate, well-crafted writers and thinkers who can use a variety of text types and audiences to articulate their ideas most effectively. I highly recommend going through the CWP experience!

My Alphabetized Existence by Shanie Armbruster

(based on The Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)

Armbruster

It means crossbow in German. I like having a weapon for a last name. So many people pronounce it as Arm-buster which sounds like I’m an enforcer for the mafia. It makes me laugh.

Baking

Chocolate chip cookies were my favorite thing to make as a kid. I loved the taste of the cookie dough scraped off the beaters with my pointer finger. We had a cookie jar that my mom made when she was a potter, and I can still remember coming home from school, reaching in the jar and the heavenly first bite.

Cats

My mother is a cat person. We had a lot of cats growing up. Merlin, named after the magician, was my favorite, the long-hair,16 pound Maine Coon who disappeared for days at a time only to arrive at the door right at dinner time, meowing loudly to get in and be fed. Thus his name. I played too roughly with him, once, and he swatted me over both eyes, hard, with his claws retracted so I would get the message. I heard it loud and clear.

David

My brother’s best friend and my first French kiss on a winter night under a street lamp. I felt like a heroine from a foreign film – mature, beautiful, mysterious, weak in the knees. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my tongue, but he didn’t mind. Continue reading

Different Students, Different Needs: How Teachers Differentiate by Abby Mallett

A fourth grade teacher sits at her desk, the first rays of morning sunshine cutting through the blinds and striping the stained carpet. Her eyes move swiftly across the screen of her computer, open to a student’s writing from yesterday.  The only sounds are the click of keys and scribble of a pen as she types comments into the document and makes notes on a chart next to her.

The bell rings, jolting her out of concentration.  She quickly switches the document to a morning message to display on the screen for her students.  The teacher proceeds to the door, opening it with a smile.  She greets her students with a “Good morning” in a cheery voice.  The quiet room becomes a hubbub of children’s voices and movements as they unpack backpacks, sharpen pencils, and recount stories of yesterday’s adventures to their friends.

The teacher joins the hubbub, moving quickly, but unhurried around the room.  She stops at a student’s desk and discreetly gives him a graphic organizer to help with his morning spelling assignment.  “I hope your sentences make me laugh again today,” she tells another student with a wink.  A student struggling to hang up a backpack gets a hand from the teacher and a gentle point to remind him to read the morning message.  An energetic girl runs up to her, eyes lit with excitement.

“Guess what!” she exclaims. Continue reading

Higher Level Mentor Texts, 5th Grade from Molly Kirk

Molly Kirk teaches 5th grade at Foothill Elementary in Boulder. For her CWP 2 research project, she created a database of mentor texts to use with her students. In her research paper, Molly explained the resource she wanted:

I have been using mentor texts for writing for the past two years and love how quickly my students connect to them and how they return to them over and over again.  My teaching partner and I thought it might be most useful to use those mentor texts for two reasons – for guiding writing and for guiding souls.  What if every text we used was not just laced with amazing writing craft but also with great life advice?  What if we focused on CCSS AND helping our students find connection, compassion and character while they are learning?  I set out to create a resource that was tailored to meet both of those criteria.

You can find the database she built here.

 

Molly completed CWP 1 in June of 2013 and CWP 2 in June of 2015.