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Friday, July 19, 2013

My Friday In The "Institution"

I am taking part in the Greater Madison Writing Project summer institute from July 8 to August 1.  Each participant must log the work done during one day of the institute.  This is my photo essay log for Friday, July 19.
The sunrise of Friday, July 19, 2013 finds me traveling to Madison, WI for
a short day in the Greater Madison Writing Project (GMWP) 2013 summer
institute.  Most of the days are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Today we meet from
9:00 am to noon.  This is the tenth day of the 18 day institute and I already
feel overwhelmed with all of the new ideas for my classroom learned from
my new GMWP friends. 
While walking to the Teacher Education building a freak rain shower starts.
Later I am reminded that it is times like these, when you can see both the rain
and the sun, that rainbows are possible.  I'll have to remember that for a poem.  
Normally we meet at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  Our two Friday sessions
are, however, held here at the Teacher Education building at 225 North Mills
Street on the UW-Madison campus.  This is a relatively quiet part of campus,
which seems fitting for a place where teachers gather to learn. 
In front of the teacher education building is a hole.  Sadly it is not a sinkhole.
We have had an ongoing joke about banishing our problems to a sinkhole.
I also learned that you must be very careful walking on the rubber, temporary
"sidewalk" when it is raining since it becomes a slip-n-slide.
I am early.  I have never mastered the art of showing up "on time."  I like it
this way.  I've found a quiet corner near the stairwell to sit and write a little.
When Christine enters the room she asks if I saw the double rainbow on
my way in; I didn't but I'm glad she asks me about rainbows.  It has made me
think of the picture I took earlier in the rain.  The other members of the summer
institute arrive eager to take part in Christine's teachers workshop.  Since we
will need our computers, David helps Beth get her laptop connected to the
wi-fi and logged in to the UW network. 
Erica starts the day by giving us our write in prompt.  Her prompt is based
on the fact that today is her cousin's birthday.  Her cousin was the first baby
she ever held.  We are to write about firsts.  I suspect that Carol's first is far
more interesting than mine which is about my first attempt to get a driver's
license (I failed but passed the driving test the second time).
Andy (and everyone else) listens as Jen delivers her log from Thursday.  She
frames it as a trial transcript that proves quite well that teachers are neither
being lazy or loafing in our summer's "off."
We relocate to the PC Classroom 348 in the MERIT Library (still in the Teacher
Education building).  We get logged on and settled in as Christine prepares
to start her workshop.
The teacher workshop is a big piece of the summer institute experience.  Each
member of the group prepares an inquiry based, 90 minute session that focuses
on answering some question he or she has about the classroom.  Often this 
inquiry leads to some new technique, practice, or understanding that will become
part of his or her classroom.  Christine's teachers workshop is about incorporating
wikis and blogs into the work she does at the Wisconsin Center for Academically
Talented Youth.  She summarizes her current teaching practices, explains
how she envisions using wikis and blogs as part of her work, and lets
us explore these two tools in order to contemplate how we might use them
in our own classrooms.
These are three of the resources that Christine has us experiment with.
Mindmup.com is an online mind mapping/webbing tool that lets you easily
create webs without buying expensive software.  Kidblog.org is a blogging
platform designed for classrooms.  Wikispaces.com is one of many wiki hosts
that specialize in serving the education community.
After Christine's workshop, my table group (Cindy, Angela, and Mary Ann)
types up a review of the session.  Each of the four table groups is doing the same
at this time.  The feedback from peers is extremely valuable when trying
to decide what worked and what didn't, what ways this might be used in a
class, and what pitfalls might have gone unconsidered.
At the same time, Christine meets with Mark D., Beth, and Mark N. to discuss
the workshop.  This discussion with the organizers of the summer institute
also provides valuable information when thinking about how to proceed
after the workshop is over.
Since this is a short day, the next thing on the agenda is our write out.  Mark
tells us that today's prompt is to add to the shared Google doc called "GMWP
Questions About the World."  For example, Stephanie adds this question:
"If the earth was a head and trees were its hair, would it feel like people are
lice running all over its skin?"
Each day ends with the wauthors (writers/authors) chair.  Mark shares the
story of a friend proposing to his girlfriend in Rome on the previous day.  It
was a happy story to end the week on.  The normal days of the institute
include reading group time, writing response groups, and choice time for us to
read and write whatever we need to get done at that time.  It is hard to
believe that there are only eight more days left.

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