2018 ISI – Week 2 Recap

June 11-15, 2018

Week 2 of the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project Summer Institute was full of writing, discussion, and even a little drawing. After a few earlier gatherings, the group bonded easily and immediately started talking about future collaboration and forming a book club. They got to know each other even better during the days that followed.

The week started with teachers sharing their journals, which they had personalized. For students, personalizing a journal helps build community in the classroom. Tommy Jolly demonstrated how instrumental music and can be a springboard to writing poetry in the vein of Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, or Tracy K. Smith. Amanda Montgomery introduced the group to power writing, a strategy that allows students to build stamina and make writing easier. After lunch, the group composed blackout poems and Michelle Goodsite helped everyone generate raw material for composing narratives, thinking of time, people, and places that would feed into writing memoir.










Tuesday started with some personal time for writing, but then everyone headed to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park for some place-based writing. The park was the site of a pivotal battle during the Civil War, and the fellows used prompts rooted in both the history and the natural landscape. After lunch, the group visited Kennesaw State’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education, where they viewed a presentation on Anne Frank and viewed exhibits on the Holocaust, the Tuskegee Airmen, and Georgia’s role in World War II. The museum provides a wealth of resources for schools that the teachers can use in their classrooms.










Continuing the NWP tradition of encouraging teachers to be writers, Wednesday’s session included the formation of writing groups, through which teachers can share their personal work and receive helpful feedback. Just as the larger group got along well, the smaller groups did as well. Amanda Montgomery presented on writing with a photographer’s eye, focusing description on very specific visual data. KMWP fellow Jennifer Bridges brought a collection of herbs and discussed how plant references in literature can lead to writing insightful analysis.










This year the group has pursued its individual writing time analog style, with composition books and pens. Part of the inspiration for this approach is Lynda Barry’s book Syllabus, a graphic text which models Barry’s approaches to writing and drawing. On Thursday, Michelle Goodsite demonstrated some of Barry’s ideas for brainstorming through simple drawings. Amanda Montgomery also examined how to use social justice scenarios to teach writing and how to use artifacts brought in by students to lead to writing creatively or argumentatively.

The week ended with an exploration of writing by increments, looking back in multi-year increments to find inspiration. KMWP fellow Dawn Whipple visited and presented on using the whole school campus to share poetry analyses. Tommy Jolly wrapped up the week with a journey into writing flash fiction with a science fiction twist. Writing groups continued to meet, too, and it is in these groups that the mission of KMWP is perhaps most clear. This year’s fellows are discovering that they are not just teachers, but writers as well, and that taking ownership of both roles is the best thing they can do for their professional development. We are excited to  see what lies ahead for this motivated group!


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