Announcing New Western PA Writing Project Director

Dr. Laura J. Roop has accepted the position of Director of the Western PA Writing Project. Laura will begin as Director on June 1st , 2014. For 18 years, in two separate stints, Laura directed the Oakland Writing Project, sponsored by Oakland Schools and the University of Michigan. Her experiences as a teacher, author, poet, researcher, and advocate for students are rich.

More information will follow about Laura in a few days in an official announcement from the School of Education. Thank you to the Fellows who were able to attend the candidates’ presentations and offered their feedback. We had a strong field of candidates and are grateful to those who applied.

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Click here for the full article.

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Symposium on January 4, 2014

The Western PA Writing Project is pleased to host a symposium:
Pedagogy in the Poetry Classroom


Mirror Poems: A Mirror for Teaching Poetry

Comic Simile and Metaphor Portraits:
Harnessing Middle School Energy for the Greater Poetic Good

Discussion on Teaching Poetry

Click here to access the full flyer.

The Poetic Classroom

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Fall Retreat Tradition Continues

Last month, a group of WPWP fellows left their troubles behind and traveled to Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia for the 2013 Fall Writing Retreat. Twenty-six fellows attended the retreat, and enjoyed the weekend of writing, sharing, socializing and relaxing.

Saturday’s workshops were led by two inspiring writers; Tony Norman and Sharon McDermott. Tony’s workshop stimulated fellows to write truths about their lives and experiences. Sharon’s workshop moved participants to compose captivating poetry. Other weekend highlights included the notorious potluck dinner on Saturday night, as well as fellow-led writing activities on Friday night and Sunday morning.

We were saddened to learn of Bobbi Bates’ recent passing. It was an honor that we were able to spend time with her at the retreat. As always, Bobbi’s writing inspired and challenged us.

If you have never attended a WPWP fall retreat, (or it has been a really long time), look forward to next year’s retreat, which will be the third weekend of October 2014.20131019_211644 20131019_205809 20131019_194803 20131019_194701 20131019_194627 20131019_194414 20131019_191951 20131019_191854 20131019_191602 20131019_191518 20131019_191453

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Launching New WPWP Book: The Poetic Classroom

On a beautiful fall November morning, about 60 WPWP friends, family members, and teacher and student authors gathered in Posvar Hall to celebrate the publication of The Poetic Classroom. WPWP Fellows Cj Coleman, Christine Wolfe, and Ella Macklin shared the story of the poetry workshops, research process, and teachers’ and students’ creativity that produced this valuable book of poetry lessons, reflective narratives, and student samples. Christine Stroud, Autumn House Press, described the design decisions in creating the just right cover and book formats.

Christine Wolfe, co-editor, and coordinator of this successful book launch, shared how teachers of art, science, and English language arts from Kindergarten to higher education developed teachable and engaging lessons that inspired students to write in revealing and original ways. Matt Luskey, co-editor and WPWP Director during the Poetic Classroom project, sent greetings and remarks from his new home in California. In a moving tribute, Matt wrote,

If one had to distill the experience of hundreds of writing teachers to a few lines, they might read the last stanza of our dear friend Bobbie Bates’ poem, “To Forget,” which she produced at one of these workshops:

Remember summers when bougainvillea laces your trellis
and larkspur thrusts among the rowdy phlox,
Times when you crop the hollyhocks for seed, spreading pips
across the soil.

Along with our dear friend’s poetry, I am inspired by the teaching innovation evident in these pages. The lynchpin connecting the wheel of firsthand writing experience with the axle of teaching is adaptation.  You can’t simply reproduce a Jan Beatty poetry workshop. Who could? The Poetic Classroom is a book of student and teacher poetry housed in narratives of adaptation.

More than 20 WPWP teachers wrote lessons and poems for the book and 50 students contributed poems. Email if you’re interested in contributing to WPWP in order to receive the new WPWP book, The Poetic Classroom.

Cj ColemanElla MacklinChristine Stroud Autumn House Pressmale readingFairmont Catholic School  Teacher Cynthia GarciaReading Femalefemale readingInvited GuestsAG and AudienceSigningAudPittsburgh Creative & Performing Arts Teacher Roxane Pearsall & Christine WolfePPS Students and Teachers

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Matt Luskey Accepts New Challenge

Matt Luskey, WPWP Director from 2009-13, recently accepted a position at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as a Writing Instruction Specialist in Cal Poly’s Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology. Matt’s appointment offers him yet another exciting intellectual challenge and he and his immediate family will be closer to extended family in California. It’s hard to imagine WPWP without Matt’s voice at the table of partnerships and collaborative endeavors he fostered and co-led with distinguished WPWP fellows. With over five community partnerships, a cohort of exceptional WPWP Teaching Fellow leaders, Young Writers’ Institutes serving over 200 K-12 students, ongoing school-based professional development, and in-touch continuity events for new WPWP Fellows, Matt has been an outstanding director of the WPWP.

Stephanie McConachie, Visiting Assistant Professor, Language Literacy and Culture in the School of Education and a former National Fellow at the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, is serving as Acting Director of WPWP over this academic year. The School of Education will conduct a national search for a new WPWP Director.

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Scholastic Writing Awards – National Recognition Recipients

Congratulations to the following Pittsburgh Region recipients who also received national recognition from The Scholastic Writing Awards:

  • Brenna Gallagher (Grade 10), taught by Mara Cregan and Sara Shotland at Pittsburgh CAPA
  • Lana Meyer (Grade 12), taught by Tonilyn Longo at Carlynton Junior/Senior High School
  • Alexis Payne (Grade 10), taught by Mara Cregan and Sara Shotland at Pittsburgh CAPA
  • Eliza Savage (Grade 8), taught by Greg Wittig at Falk School
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Writing Renaissance 2013

By Erin Manifold, 2009 WPWP Fellow

KrygowskiNancyThe 2013 Writing Renaissance was a huge success! Over 20 fellows gathered in the Dean’s Colloquium Room on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus on Saturday, April 27th to reconnect, rejuvenate, and write. Coffee, tea, and words flowed all morning as fellows had the opportunity to write a few creative poems led by Nancy Krygowski.

Nancy Krygowski works as an adult literacy instructor at the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. She also teaches in Carlow University’s Madwomen in the Attic writing program. Her first book of poems, Velocity, received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press.  She is also a recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship and a Pittsburgh Foundation Grant.

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The Students Speak

2013 101 Screening flyerFor the past two years, the Western Pa Writing Project has been a proud partner in Hear Me 101: A Social Advocacy Media Production Program, sponsored by The Heinz Endowments and supported by the Grable Foundation. This year in collaboration with Hear Me, CREATE Lab, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and the Consortium for Public Education, the WPWP has worked with students in Clairton, McKeesport, F.U.S.E. (Wilkinsburg), and Steel Valley on the writing and production of short documentary films, canvassing a range of issues from school attendance and dress code policies to reputation and safety. IMG_8086

Please join the Hear Me 101 community on May 21st for a special screening and panel discussion.

Hear Me 101 presents…

The Students Speak: A Presentation of Short Films from Students who Want to Inspire Change.   

May 21st, 6PM, Melwood Screening Room — 477 Melwood Avenue, Pgh, PA 15213.

IMG_8064Following the screening of student films, panelists who work in the fields of youth, media, and advocacy will discuss the theme of youth as stakeholders in their education and the role that art and media plays in empowerment. WPWP fellows, Michelle King and Matthew Luskey, will moderate the panel discussion.IMG_8054

All are welcome. The event is free. Hors D’oeuvres and light refreshments will be served.

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Pittsburgh Young Writers “Rock” in National Competition

Matt, Karen, and Gold Key WinnerBy Karen Howard, 1983 WPWP Fellow

Every September the quest for gold begins for young writers in Allegheny County.  Students, grades 7-12, submit written works in eleven categories to the 90-year-old Scholastic Writing Awards Competition.  Since 2011, the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project has hosted the Pittsburgh Regional competition for the national contest. This year the Pittsburgh region received over 300 entries, spanning nine different genres of writing and nearly 1,000 pages.

In 2012, three Pittsburgh gold key winners won silver keys at the National level in New York.  One young lady won a scholarship to Kenyon College. This year Pittsburgh young writers won six national gold keys in New York, including an American Voices Medal in poetry and a thousand dollar New York Life scholarship. See the list of National Scholastic Art and Writing Award Medalists. The national celebration for the Scholastic Writing Awards will be on May 31, 2013 at Carnegie Music Hall in New York City.

We are proud of all the young writers who participated locally and nationally. With your support, the WPWP will continue to grow the Scholastic Writing Awards and other community-based writing programs. Thank you for helping to make Pittsburgh such a writing-rich city!

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