National Writing Project Annual Meeting- San Antonio, TX

West Tenneessee Writing Project at NWP Annual MeetingThe National Writing Project annual meeting was overwhelming and inspiring.  I went to workshops regarding advocacy and technology during the two days in San Antonio.  It made me see that what we’re doing at the West Tennessee Writing Project is right on track but that we can do so much more to enhance and promote our project.  On my new to do list:  give some serious depth to our currently shallow website, have a PR101 session for new Teacher Consultants at Summer Institute, provide some tech programs for my school to prepare for some Tech Tuesday presenations at SI, consider getting a tech grant for digital storytelling, apply for Tech Retreat in Denver or create my own retreat, prepare a presentation on digital storytelling, check out all of the fantastic websites created by other Writing Project Sites.  That should keep me busy at least through Christmas break.


Power Teaching as Classroom Inquiry

As part of the West Tennessee Writing Project, my Classroom Inquiry will involve Power Teaching, the classroom management and learning program promoted by Dr. Chris Biffle at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. His homepage is

Power Teaching provides techniques for focusing student attention, building classroom community, focused skill and task instructions and differentiated instruction through gestures, student sharing, listening, laughter and fun.

I discovered power teaching at the end of the ’07-’08 school year and just had to try it out. We only had three weeks of school left, but those three weeks are typically difficult each year for a two reasons: The school year is finishing and testing requires changes in routines and the school year is finishing and the kids are ready for summer. Generally speaking, these two things work against each other. Discipline begins to be more of a problem, just when students need to focus for the finish.

Power Teaching proved to be the perfect tool to keep my class together to avoid the end of the year disintegration. Students enjoyed the techniques, caught on quickly and benefited academically from the thirty second micro lessons. I was surprised and delighted at how well they retained the information from the micro lessons. The only challenge for me was coming up with the gestures to go with those lessons.

I took the opportunity as a Focal Team member at the WTWP Summer Institute, to introduce the teachers participating to Power Teaching. Their classrooms ranged from kindergarten through college and they were all quite intrigued. As the month went on, we all adopted the class/yes technique to bring the class back to attention during different activities. Everyone was quite inspired when they viewed the Teacher Tube video with Chris Biffle teaching pre-service teachers about Power Teaching.

I hope that as I progress in my classroom inquiry, I will be able to convey how the process has unfolded during the new school year. My end of the year experience was somewhat different since there was plenty of groundwork that had already been established between my students and I. I anticipate that my new students will be somewhat shy about participating at first, just as the adults at WTWP were initially. I look forward to seeing how this all turns out.