First, the community poem:
A Glimpse of North Dakota, a Random and Incomplete List
Compiled by NDCTE members, Aug. 1, 2023
1. Walking into the chilly ballroom in the heat of July: blinded by the overhead lights, I cannot look above the horizon in fear of white spots creeping in the periphery, perhaps speeding me to early sight loss. When the light settles, people take shape: speech and debate coaches from teacher-me long ago forgotten, a colleague from year-one-me, friends that sing with me and create with me and breathe with me. They all sit around black tables--talking, testifying, talltale-ing--beckoning me in.
2. The ballroom at the Baymont Inn where I witnessed the creation
of a strong friendship– laughter, vacations, banter, separation–
From then on, I knew the power of theater.
Gentle waves whisper a rhythmic reassurance
the universe is greater
than any weight we carried here.
3. Just outside the Baymont,
the air changes with a blast of warmth
cooling, calming wind while the birds chirp and the cars rush past.
Off in the distance, patches of quilt and rolling horizon
bring peace in the chaos.
4. I feel warm under the light of a wide open sky.
I am wide open.
My hair moving in the wind.
Cotton blowing in the wind.
The noise of cars zooming by.
4. The guys in the truck wave. They ride down the country road,
wind pouring into the rolled-down window of a 1974 Ford truck,
the back end open. When cars rush by, they whip away the humidity blanketing my body.
Sunshine sweeps the sidewalk everywhere you look.
5. The boat dock parking: a meeting place, a parking lot,
the God-made-world meets humans. Straight ahead,
teenagers listening to music too loud,
two cars down, a potential drug deal,
one couple on a romantic walk, starting their journey,
another ending theirs.
6. The lights as seen from North Hill:
streetlights cascading the river of main street,
flecks of foam cast from the river’s flow.
Sitting on the triplex roof, fireflies out in the calm, hot summer air.
7. The road into Cannonball as seen from the Furry Friends rescue van:
dogs in the road barking greetings as they band together.
8. Crisp, white farm houses standing like tall ships in full sail
gliding over the oceans of undulating wheat.
The forever sky stretching over fields of bowing sunflowers;
golden light on golden petals.
9. The table is set, the meal prepared–
the conversation settles on us–
expanding and filling the voids of loneliness and the unknown.
For a moment the only thing that exists is us and them,
the clicking of the little chihuahua feet on the floor.
At grandma and grandpa’s house, where there will be, always,
cards and desert.
10. At the edge of the petrified forest, my teenage daughter and her friend
sit in a patient protest against the heat and this hike,
while my youngest son runs ahead like an antelope.
No forest except sparse, fallen trees– once mighty
bark and beating sap, root, fiber, green-needled–
now distilled, hardened, in ruins.
11. Then and now, wind and wild
settling into the North Dakota soil
branching into the North Dakota sky.
Home and possibility.
12. Since music relies on wind
North Dakota is alive with notes
dancing in the air, inspiring us, moving
(Find this poem as a Google doc here.)
Second, the process to create the poem:
1. The English teachers of North Dakota created from this writing prompt document, containing the mentor text "Reasons Why I Do Not Wish to Leave Chicago: An Incomplete, Random List" Excerpted from The Book of My Lives (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25) by Aleksandar Hemon
2. The English teachers shared on their writing digitally or via paper on the North Dakota map wall.
3. Candace compiled them into the community poem and gave it a title:
"A Glimpse of North Dakota, a Random and Incomplete List." She recommends a shared Google document as a place for students to upload their stanzas, rather than the teacher typing it all up.
Third, an invitation:
Leave your glimpse of North Dakota stanza in a comment, adding to the community poem.
May 21, 2022
Hello Teacher Friends,
I hope these words find you well as this school year wraps up. This summer, the North Dakota Council of Teachers of English is hosting their annual summer conference July 19-20 in Mandan, North Dakota. One of the keynote speakers is Dave Stuart Jr., and you really should meet him.
Dave Stuart Jr. is the author of the book These 6 Things: How to Focus Your Teaching on What Matters Most (Corwin, 2019) and co-author--with Matthew Johnson and Matthew R. Kay--of a quite new book Answers to Your Biggest Questions About Teaching Middle and High School ELA (Corwin, 2022).
Go to his website and his bio reads:
DAVE STUART JR. is a husband, father, and high school teacher who writes about education. He reads extensively across the disciplines so that he can create uniquely satisfying professional development experiences for his colleagues around the world. His mission is to encourage and equip educators on the journey to long-term flourishing and professional excellence.
Did you catch that term "long-term flourishing"? It is truly the heartbeat behind who Dave Stuart Jr. is and his work.
Terri Egan, a North Dakota English teacher and fine arts coach, shares how Dave Stuart Jr. has assisted her on her teacher journey:
I have been following Dave’s postings and blogs and YouTube videos (all available at www.davestuartjr.com/archives) and integrating his ideas into my classroom for over eight years. I have used his book These Six Things as a foundation for best-practice teaching, and I had the privilege of attending a summer on-line seminar in 2020 that helped me successfully navigate that year. Dave Stuart provides meaningful, applicable methods of student engagement and motivation with lessons and ideas that you can easily adapt for any classroom. Dave’s methods are rooted in solid pedagogy and science; his on-going classroom experience lends additional credibility to his suggestions. He is an instructional coach who will help you wherever you are at as a teacher right now because he is teaching as a colleague. I hope every pre-service and current educator in ND can join this session - you will leave with something to use!
Terri's invitation is a meaningful one, and I join her in inviting you.
Dave Stuart Jr. will be keynoting the second day (July 20) of the conference and also speaking at two breakout sessions. His titles alone help to guide the way to long-term flourishing:
Hope to see you soon,
Good news! You still have time to submit your breakout session proposal for the NDCTE 2022 Summer Conference.
The conference theme is "Growing Together" and we need you to do just that!
The breakout sessions are for one-hour each. We are seeking proposals for best practices in writing, reading, speaking and listening, and language.
Submit your idea here: https://forms.gle/D2W9ZvRPCwxBipvf7
P.S. If you need a little extra courage to submit a proposal, here you go! You got this!
July 29-30 at the Baymont Inn & Suites in Mandan, ND
May 29, 2021
Dear fellow North Dakota English teachers,
Congratulations! We have made it through a year to be remembered for so many reasons.
It was difficult. It was challenging. It was tech-filled.
We normally have to wear many hats, but this year we acquired some new ones, like Google Meet or Zoom hosts!
It is time for some relaxation.
But before you fully relax, take some time to sign-up for our 2021 in-person NDCTE conference.
Why this conference?
After this unique school year, this conference will be a chance to connect in-person with your colleagues across the state, gather new information and resources, and have a structured work space and framework to turn your ideas into action.
The theme of our conference is Imagine. Make. Believe. On the first day, our imaginations and minds will be fed from Hugh Hunter, Poetry Out Loud, and C3WP (College, Career, and Community Writers Program). The second day will be about making a plan for our classrooms in the fall. Darcy Bakkegard will be leading "The Educator's 'Innovation' Lab Turning IDEAS into ACTION."
Imagine coming. Make that happen by registering here. Believe next year will be filled with much growth.
Hope to see you there,
Erika, wearing her NDCTE President-Elect hat (literally)
My favorite writing utensils, especially with teaching and grading, are the Paper Mate flair pens. As you can see, I love the variety of colors. They have such ease when writing and always leave a good mark. I like the flair pens because I always like to add flair to what I write, and I love the color variety and feel of the pen on paper.
The contents of my snack drawer fall into three categories: breakfast, beverage, and emergency chocolate. First, I keep some sort of granola bar-type-thing because I sometimes get busy or distracted in the morning and forget to eat. I promise, I do check for allergies before I have anything with nuts! Next, since I think coffee is gross, I keep hot chocolate and tea in the desk. That Sweet and Spicy variety is awesome--kind of cinnamony, and it smells amazing. Finally, and arguably most importantly, is the Darth Vader tin of Emergency Chocolate. I usually keep Andes mints in there. Not to promote emotional eating or anything, but it really helps a bad day! Also, the Emergency Chocolate tin prevents me from having to continually raid the candy bowl in my superintendent's office. 🤣
Greetings NDCTE Members,
As Kelsey so eloquently stated, I am here to help you navigate the terrain of this online PD opportunity.
This opportunity is available right away. All assignments must be completed by August 14th.
We want to reiterate that our intent is to provide an experience that allows for exploring new resources and perspectives and also invites you to discuss and connect with fellow educators of various grade levels across the state, all while being safe and snug at your own workspace. Let's learn!
1. How To Get The Credit
We will be using Google Classroom to get the credit. Almost everything you will need to do to obtain the credit is on Google Classroom, including videos, discussions, tech tools, labs, reflections and surveys. You will not need to complete everything on the Google Classroom. It is piecemeal completion until you accrue 15 hours for each credit you seek.
2. Where To Sign-Up
Before you can access the Google Classroom, you will need to complete a couple preliminary sign-up steps. The class title is "Weekly Webchats, pt. 4 NDCTE."
a. Go to this link to pick an institution listed (NDSU, VCSU, UND, or DSU)
b. Email Tim Willenzien to be added to the Google Classroom.
3. What You Need To Do Via Google Classroom
Once you have access to the Google Classroom, there are a couple required parts to the PD and other optional parts that you can complete to get the credit hours you need. Tim has composed an excellent welcome post on the Google Classroom. I encourage you to read it thoroughly.
Basically, you will be required to introduce yourself, complete two surveys (one pre- and one post-survey), write a 2-page reflection, and complete 15 hours for each credit you seek.
The 15 hours can be earned by watching the pre-recorded videos and reflecting on them via the comments section, replying to other comments, experiment with tech tools, or completing a "LAB" assignment.
I hope you try out this resource. The NDCTE webchat videos are a part of this course, and so are other video series'. Our board members really explored a diverse range of English topics and opportunities to reach students in meaningful ways. Please let us know if you have any further questions, comments, concerns, thoughts, or ideas concerning signing up to the PD or anything related to it.
Be safe; be well.
Your NDCTE Board
The National Writing Project is a hosting a virtual writing marathon this summer. #WriteAcrossAmerica has already stopped in Wisconsin, Arizona, Mississippi, and Kentucky. This coming week, they stop in North Dakota!
Come and write Tuesday, July 14th from 3:00-4:15 MST/4:00-3:15 CST. For more information about the virtual marathon and to register for the stop (you must register to get the Zoom link), check out: https://lead.nwp.org/writeacrossamerica-a-virtual-writing-marathon/
Bring a friend and come write with us!
By Donna Davidson, Northwest Director for NDCTE Connected Newsletter, April 2020
Will anyone notice if I just don’t do laundry for the rest of the month?
Will I ever need to fill my car with gas again?
Should I bother showering today?
These are the questions I’m asking myself in the Age of Corona.
I would love to spend this time telling you about the amazing things I’m doing in class and the great resources I have to share, but I don’t have any. I frequently think about all the things I should have time for now. The books! The research! The projects! And then I spend the next 1200 hours scrolling through Facebook and realize that everybody else’s quarantine projects are way cooler than mine.
This is the tale of vacillating wildly between emotions. Sometimes I stare zombie-like at the computer screen trying desperately to be productive or lie in bed wondering if it’s worth even getting up. Other times, I work obsessively on a project for hours. I cry. I laugh. I cry again. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. It’s a roller coaster, and I’ve never liked amusement parks.
In our efforts to cope, it’s really tempting to always try to look on the bright side, isn’t it? We feel like we need to capture every negative thought and beat it into submission until it whimpers out something about a silver lining. Look on the bright side: my students and I have all learned more about digital connective technology in the past month than we had in the previous five years. Look on the bright side: at least it’s spring so we can be outside. Look on the bright side: we’re going to have so much more appreciation for all the things we take for granted right now, like time with friends and dinner parties and high fives. All of those things are true, but it’s also true that this stinks and I am not happy a lot of the time, a fact which no amount of positive thinking, video chats, or funny cat memes can fix.
The abrupt change to our careers and personal lives hits everyone differently, but we’re all in mourning for something—the loss of our students’ daily presence, the loss of our favorite activities, the loss of personal connection in our lives. We’re mourning the loss of freedom, of hugs, of toilet paper. So we, being the emotionally intelligent creatures that we are, acknowledge that loss, grieve, put it aside, and push on, congratulating ourselves for our resilience. Then the next day, we’re struck by that loss all over again, and have to grieve again and find a way to keep pushing on. And so the roller coaster rolls on.
I know other people have already said this elsewhere and better, but I’m going to join the chorus and advocate for not finding the positive in this situation for just a moment. Instead, be honest with each other about whatever it is that’s got us down. We will get through this with faith, hope, and love, but we won’t get through it without tears or frustration. We won’t get through it without feeling sad or inadequate sometimes, and we may have to revisit those losses that we thought we’d already put behind us. We may not be our best and most innovative teacher selves. We may not be as cool as the people with the fancy blogs on Facebook. We may have enough personal griefs to work through—and then work through again—that sometimes it’s hard to even think about teaching. It would be nice to put some great advice here, but I have none to give. I’m too busy mourning my own losses. Instead, I’ll just tell you that I love you and I’m proud of whatever you’re doing to make things work.