Monday, June 26, 2017

Assignment One: Introduction

Welcome to Essentials of Writing! We look forward to working and learning with you. In order for everyone to get the most out of the course, please be sure to read and respond to each others comments.Please try to keep your responses within one allotted "comment" space to ensure that the blog remains manageable for all participants.

Also, you may want to type your comments in a Word Document and either copy from Word and paste onto the blog or save it in a folder on your computer and then post it to the blog. I have written a couple of lengthy comments that I lost before I was able to post it to the blog. This extra step may save you some frustration later on this term.

Last of all, we will write our comments to your posts on the blog, so you will need to check back to the corresponding week for feedback (and to make additional comments if you wish.)

Let us know if you have any questions. You can email us, but please put the words "Question for Essentials of Writing" in the subject line so that we can respond in a timely fashion.

ASSIGNMENT ONE: Post your Introduction to the course Blog.

Introduction Post- Tell us about yourself. Where do you teach? What grade do you teach? How long have you been teaching? How many students are there in your class? Do you have instructional support? What does your current literacy program look like? (If you aren’t currently teaching let us know.) What is your knowledge/training in the area of literacy (be specific about your experiences teaching writing?) Does your district provide training in literacy –especially writing? If so, what exactly have they offered? Has your district been bogged down with getting students to perform well on state writing assessments – prompts? How do you feel about teaching? Are you happy at work? Also, let us know a little about you outside of the classroom: Interests/ Hobbies/Family Life? What do you hope to get out of this course? Post your reflection to the blog.


  1. Hello. My name is Caryn Duryee and I am a 5th grade teacher at Vern Patrick Elementary located in Redmond, Oregon. I started my teaching career in 1995 and taught 5th and 6th grade full-time for approximately 8 years. After 8 years, my husband and I chose to start our family. I then had many opportunities to substitute teach in grades K-8 and in ELL classrooms, as well as counseling positions as they opened up. In 2014, I went back to the classroom full-time. I currently have finished my 3rd year of teaching 5th grade in Redmond. Each year brings new experiences along with a variety of opportunities. My classes have ranged from student numbers of 34 to 26. During the writing time, which consists of 30 minutes, my students who are on IEPs are pulled out for their own writing instruction. Our school’s literacy program is based on the basal, Reading Wonders. My district has only provided training within the program when it was adopted 3 years ago. After the adoption, I was told by the district that we needed to teach the curriculum with fidelity. Fortunately, our school hired a new principal two years ago who saw that teachers and students were able to teach to the standards using other means. Our district has been bogged down with state assessments and district assessments. Three times a year students are assessed by the district. This means that individual teachers are provided a prompt, which mimics the SBAC performance task, and assess all students in their classroom and score all assessments. Scores are not used in any other manner, except for each teacher’s discretion. We have approximately 45% passing rate of the SBAC. I want to raise my own class scores, but also give life to writing in my classroom. My hopes in taking this class is to rejuvenate my writing instruction, so that my students see themselves as writers and want to share and celebrate their writing. During these summer months, I plan on finishing this class, while enjoying all that Central Oregon has to offer with my husband, and two kids. We enjoy camping, running, hiking, paddle- boarding, and fishing.

  2. Hello Caryn!

    Welcome to our class. That is fantastic that you have a new principal that allows teachers to be the professionals that we are! I think you will love this text and come away with many new ideas to utilize and implement into your writing program. I say it every term, you WILL want to re-read this text (likely a number of times) and sections of it over the next year or two. You will come away with even more ideas and areas to focus on each time you do. I know I do!

    Let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy the holiday weekend!

  3. Candace Palmesano – August 7, 2017
    Essentials of Writing – Assignment #1
    Hi, my name is Candace Palmesano and I teach third grade at Bellview Elementary in Ashland, Oregon. I have been teaching in the Ashland school district for 17 years. I am heading into my 12th year teaching third grade. I had 27 students last year and currently, there is 26 students enrolled to start school on August 28th. I have instructional support in Math and in Literacy.
    Our current Literacy program is integrated with our Reading program which is ReadyGen. Several years ago, our school district adopted Lucy Calkins yearlong writing curriculum for teachers to utilize, however, I have to admit, I never took the time to read the 7 books or enough of any of them to use in my class. I don’t know why, because I have been struggling with writing for many years and a couple of my co-workers have found the “workshop” method very beneficial in their classrooms. It seems like writing for third graders should be easy, but what I need is a way to organize my writing program so that there is order in the direct instructions, but also that students have freedom to write about what interests them. Essentially what I am saying is there is no rhyme or reason to my Literacy curriculum! We have spent more time in our district on how to score writing than how or what we are teaching. Yes, we are bogged down with getting students to perform well on state writing assessments.
    I love teaching. I have to say the last school year was stressful, with a very hard to manage class from the very beginning and then trying to take care of my parents and keep them in their own home. My mom then passed away in February and my dad in May. I missed more days in 2017, then I had in the past 17 years all together. There is no doubt the class suffered a bit, but I had an incredible student teacher who worked wonders with the. However, a brief description of the “personality” of this class is that many of them could not stay focused for more than 4 minutes, many of them stole things from classmates, classroom, book fair & other places in the building, they destroyed many classroom materials and over 50% of the class did not have parent support. This was not a typical class for our population. Of course, I am looking forward to a new year and a new class of third graders. I have spent time this summer taking 2 other on-line classes (Rethinking Homework and Total Participation Techniques) and I am excited to get connected with a classroom of new students.
    On a personal side, other that being the executor for my parent’s estate and losing both parents this year, I always enjoy spending time with my husband of 34 years, our 4 children, (3 of which are married) and our grandson, August (Gus). We just put our youngest daughter and her husband on a flight to Amsterdam, where he will run Nike Europe for the next 2 years. If I get moving on the reflection papers for this class, we will go camping this weekend with our 2 sons’ families. I love reading and I am enjoying the Regie Routman, Writing Essentials book. I am sorry I am starting so late and I hope I will be able to catch up by reading the blog archive. Thanks, Candace Palmesano

  4. My name is Dustin O'Donnell, and I am a high school English and Writing teacher in Tualatin, Oregon. I have been teaching high school for 8 years, and this will be the fourth year of the writing course. It is set up for senior high school students, and they can receive Writing 121/122 credit if they pass the course and pay a reduced fee for the credits. While there were suggestions about the course--and it does have to be mainly argumentative writing--I essentially have complete autonomy over the course curriculum.

    I have written for my own blogs, as well as few different online publications (mainly sports and entertainment reviews). There was a time when I thought I would leave teaching and be a writer, and that is when I wrote the most and had the most success with what I produced. In the end, I chose teaching, and I couldn't be happier; though that year did help me realize what it takes to be an accomplished writer, which is something I can give to my students as they, too, try and get better at the craft.

    Our school has a great English department, and I am lucky to have two instructional coaches in my building (one of whom is my English co-chair), so that whenever I have questions or thoughts about how to make my teaching more authentic, they are right there to help me with the research and application.

    I have a lot of routines in place for my writing students, but I'm taking this class to help bolster those and perhaps even bring in some more.

  5. Hello Candace!

    You are not alone. Lucy's program can be overwhelming. (And often districts just provide the resources without a sound method of how to roll it out or training and professional development for the teachers.)

    Again, you are in the same boat as many teachers; not feeling that there is rhyme or reason or a cohesiveness to their literacy program.


    "We have spent more time in our district on how to score writing than how or what we are teaching. Yes, we are bogged down with getting students to perform well on state writing assessments."

    is well said and really the crux of a lot of the problems with teachers not feeling strong in writing instruction. There has been a big focus on scoring and not enough energy or time devoted to teaching sound instructional writing practices.

    I think you will feel much more equipped to create a unified literacy program for your students after reading Regie's text. (In fact, you will see that I recommend (over and over) that teachers plan on re-reading this text and sections of it later this year, next summer and onward. Each time you do you will come away with new information and learnings to apply to your instruction!)

    Oh, I am so sorry for your loss and the difficult year you had last year. Hopefully you have taken time this summer to recharge and take care of yourself as well!

    How exciting your daughter and her husband. (Sounds like an important job!) I have always wanted to live in Europe. Some day...

    No problem on starting late. That's the beauty of online classes (well at least that's what I believe) that you can work on them when works for you. Talk to you soon. :D

  6. Hi Dustin,

    Welcome to the course. That is awesome that you have such flexibility in how you design and instruct your program. (this isn't always the case.) And your background as a writer is a definite positive for your students. Even though you are already a strong writer and instructor I believe you will come away with a few new ideas to implement. I'd love to hear your thoughts and perspective after you complete the course work. :D