New School Year, New Writing Opportunities

pencilsBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

As the 2017-2018 school year begins, here are five writers’ markets for your students:

  1. The New York Times.

Check out this article for their 2017-2018 competition calendar.

2. Yes! Magazine.

According to their website, “The YES! National Student Writing Competition is an opportunity for middle school through university students to write about something meaningful, and a chance to write for a real audience…Each quarter, students are invited to read and write an essay on a selected YES! Magazine

You can find out more here.

3. Fleet Reserve Association.

This year’s theme is “What Patriotism Means to Me.”

You can find out more here.

4. Teen Ink.

You can find out more here.

5. Canvas Literary Journal.

You can find out more here.

If you’re interested in sharing writers’ markets, please email me (, and I will feature them in an upcoming blog.


Let’s Talk Reading Logs

books-933333_960_720By Stephanie Nicoletti

The 2017-2018 school year has begun, and I have had fresh, smiling, first grade faces in my class. My students have been eager and ready to learn– and their excitement is contagious! One of my favorite things about the beginning of the school year is watching how excited the kids are to explore books. It is always one of my goals to ensure that their love of reading continues.

In first grade reading at home is the most important “homework” students can have. This year we are sending home reading logs to make sure students are reading at home. My only worry is that the logs will start to make students hate reading-or are they too young to see reading logs this way? I know when I was in high school (and even now) I would never fill out a log to track my reading or reflect on it, but I still love reading. I don’t want student’s love for reading to be diminished at a young age.

Maybe the discussion should not be around holding students accountable at home, but how do we create reading environments that allow our students to be passionate readers and learners, even at a young age.

Remembering 9/11

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese


Change is good, right?

-By Claudia Felske

Change is good, right?

That’s what they say.

Well, I’m changing…

I’m changing from a teacher-blogger to a teacher-novelist. I am here to announce that I will no longer be blogging directly about educational practices, policies, and trends not because there’s nothing more to say (not even close) and not because I’ve exhausted all the topics (even less close)!

Let me explain. If you will, indulge me in a momentary forray into my personal life: a trip into the biggest single piece of procrastination in my life. I’ve been intending to write a novel…for the last 25+ years.

Sure, I’ve had fits and starts, ideas and sketches, but nothing resembling a novel ever materialized until this July when I sent an email to a friend.

It all started at the beginning of summer. I was on a walk, listening to a podcast. Gretchen Rubin was describing what she calls the 4 tendencies, a framework she uses to describe personality types. I’ve always been a sucker for frameworks and surveys and opportunities to reflect, so I took the survey and discovered that I’m an “Obliger”: that is, I will go to great extremes to meet the expectations others have for me. Outer expectations (degrees, certifications, presentations, committees, and yes, blogs) are dutifully met. Inner expectations (writing that novel, losing that last ten pounds, daily dental flossing—you laugh, but I’m serious) are a different story. Things I want to accomplish just for my own sake take the back seat, every time.

So that day at the start of summer, while I was walking in the woods with my headset on, a caller (I should find this caller and thank her) self-identified as an Obliger and asked Gretchen Rubin for a solution which would allow her to achieve her personal goals. The answer, Rubin explained, is to create outside accountability. Find someone to hold you accountable, she suggests, a spouse, a friend, a coach—someone to answer to when trying to achieve your goal. Obligers will disappoint themselves 9 times out of 10, but rarely will they risk disappointing someone else.  

It sounded so simple, but it made so much sense. That was me. And so when I returned from our family vacation, it was time. I drafted an email to my friend. I explained my goal—to finally achieve the habit of daily writing, a habit that would allow me to finally write my novel. I asked if she could help.  

Since that email:

  • We’ve met once per week to strategize, and review, and check in.
  • I email her daily about my writing progress (outside accountability).   
  • I’ve turned my fits and starts into….THE FIRST THIRD OF MY NOVEL (excuse me for text-screaming, but this has been a long time in the coming).
  • I’ve simplified my life, bowing out of a number of obligations— worthwhile groups  and activities that I’m confident will continue their worthwhile work without me. 
  • I’ve established and kept the schedule that I’ve wanted for the past 25 years: I write every morning from 5:15-6:15 a.m.; I write every night (usually from 7:00-8:00). Writing now marks the bookends of my day, every day, whether it’s summer, a school day, or a weekend. It’s what I do.

I don’t know why it took me 25 years to reach this point. I don’t know why I heard that podcast on that day. I don’t know why it led me to email that friend (the right person at the right time). I don’t know why my stars have now aligned, and why they hadn’t earlier.   

Now, before you accuse me of delusions of grandeur, let me assure you that I am under no illusions of the difficulties that lie ahead. I do not have an agent, I do not have a book deal, I do not have a completed novel, but what I do have is a daily writing habit, what I do have is one third of a completed novel, and what I do know is that THE most essential prerequisite to writing a novel is ACTUALLY WRITING THE NOVEL!  And that, I am ecstatic to say, is finally happening.

So what does any of this have to do with this blog, with teaching, and with you, my dear readers?

Well, since I’m changing, so is my blog.

I’ve blogged monthly for the Marquette Educator for 6 years; I’ve blogged on my own a touch longer than that. It’s been a good run. I appreciate the opportunity it’s given me to reflect on my field and on my classroom. I love that it’s made some people reconsider the state of education. I love that it’s helped family and friends know more about what I do and why I do it. I’m still humbled that on February 9, 2015, my voice made it to the national stage and I learned what it’s like to have a blogpost “go viral.”

But, as the adage goes, “change is good,” so as I morph into novelist territory, my blogging will morph into a writer’s reflections on writing.

Of course I am still a teacher (I will always be a teacher) so I my posts will inevitably refer to teaching and learning, particularly teaching and learning about writing, but instead of being the thoughts of a teacher who blogs about education it will be the thoughts of a teacher who writes fiction.

My plan is to reflect on writing—-the discipline of doing it, the challenges of teaching it, the frustrations and joys of being immersed in it.  So who might want to read this morphed blog? Anyone who writes, anyone who wants to write, anyone who wants their students to write (not just English teachers), and anyone who is mildly curious about the goings on of this writer.

So now, onto part two of my novel and onto part two of my life.

Change is good.

State Capitol Commemorative Essay and Art Competition

Wisconsin_State_Capitol_Building_during_Tulip_FestivalBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

To commemorate and celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Commemorative Commission is hosting a writing and essay competition for Wisconsin students.

Students in grades K-12, are encouraged to “submit an essay or piece of art which details or symbolizes the importance of the Capitol building and what it means to Wisconsin. Essays should be no longer than one page in length and either typed or legibly written. Art pieces should be two-dimensional, made out of non-breakable material, and no larger than 24 inches by 30 inches.”

When I provided this writing opportunity to my summer school students, I encouraged them to do research and cite sources. I wanted to see my students take a risk and do something original, creative and unexpected.

Entries must be received by October 13th, 2017.

If students are unable to visit the Wisconsin State Capitol, information can be found online here:

You can find out more about this writing opportunity here.

If you’re looking for example essays, here are four from my summer school class.



Welcoming Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders to the COED Family

The Knobloch-Fedders Family

An undergraduate alumna of Marquette University, Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders is returning to her Wisconsin roots this fall and joining the faculty of the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department. We’d like to take a moment to introduce her so you can get to know her better!

COED: Tell us about yourself!

Lynne Knobloch-Fedders: My husband and I met at Marquette, and we are both proud undergraduate alumni. After receiving my Ph.D. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I served on the faculty at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, a clinical and academic institute which specializes in couple and family therapy, for 16 years. I am thrilled to be returning to Marquette, to join the academic community I came to cherish as an undergraduate.

My husband and I have three children, Kathryn (9), Carsten (6), and Sophia (4). They are very fun, but keep us very busy! In the free time I do have, I love gardening, playing tennis, swimming, and taking long walks.

Where did you grow up? Are you new to Milwaukee?

LKF: I’m a Wisconsin native (I grew up in Oshkosh, and my husband is from Sheboygan). We are delighted to return home to Wisconsin to be closer to friends and family. I love Milwaukee and can’t wait to explore the changes that have occurred in the city over the past few years. I’m also a huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers, and we are looking forward to attending Marquette basketball games as a family.

What is your favorite educational experience?

LKF: As an undergraduate at Marquette, I learned how to embrace the social justice mission of the Jesuit educational tradition. I am looking forward to contributing to that mission as a faculty member in the College of Education.

My faith is also very important to me. Marquette is where my Catholic identity was fully formed, and I am very pleased to be able to rejoin the campus faith community.

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

LKF: I am looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with the Marquette community, and meet students, faculty, and staff from around the university. I’d also like to build research collaborations across the university and within the greater Milwaukee community.

What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

LKF: I love Marquette. I am so proud to able to rejoin the Marquette community, and to be able to work alongside the many talented students, faculty, and staff of the College of Education.

Dr. Knobloch-Fedders will teach “Family Counseling,” “Research Methods,” “Intermediate Statistics,” along with “Evaluation and Measurement.” Want to know more about the College of Education? You can learn more about our new faculty and degree programs by visiting us today!

Summer Reading

Bokeh-Bible-6-900By Elizabeth Jorgensen

During break at my school’s College Essay Workshop, Hope, a former student, asked, “So, what are you reading this summer, Ms. J?” A stack of books sat on her desk, bookmarks sticking out of the pages, tattered and frayed.

“This summer, my book club read two books: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.” Then, I flipped the question back to her: “So, what are you reading this summer, Hope?” Hope wants to be a reading specialist and told me her summer goal was to read 30 books.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.” She held up the book and I saw three women walking hand-in-hand down dirt path. On the top of the book I saw “New York Times Bestseller.”
“I’ve never heard of it. What’s it about?”

Hope told me it’s about women in World War II. She raved about the varying points of view and the arc of the story. She said she loved that it was based on a true story. I told her it sounded like The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Hope said The Nightingale was also on her to read list. When the workshop ended, I texted Kathy, a member of my book club, who loves WWII historical fiction, to recommend Lilac Girls.

Summer reading lists are ubiquitous. From People Magazine to The Washington Post and Barnes & Noble’s recommendations, there are plenty of new (and classic) books to choose from. On my summer reading list was something by Lauren Groff. My sister, Olympian Gwen Jorgensen, competed with fellow American Sarah (Groff) True and I often heard about Sarah’s sister, the New York Times bestselling author Lauren.

I met Sarah’s (and Lauren’s) parents at competitions and heard about their childhood and the connection intrigued me. I chose to read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff when I read this in an article in The Guardian: “Fates and Furies, already a New York Times bestseller, was picked as’s book of the year, with the internet retailer describing it as ‘dazzling’ last month…Groff’s novel has been feted in the US: the Los Angeles Times called it ‘audacious and gorgeous,’ and the Washington Post said it was a ‘a clear-the-ground triumph.’”

The book didn’t disappoint. Groff’s book grabbed me with intense scenes and descriptive language. The woven story, flashing back and forward, first the husband’s perspective and then the wife’s, is about secrets spouses keep.

On the plane to visit my sister, I toted Wonder by R.J Palacio. I read it in the hot tub while my sister swam laps and before we went to bed. I found this book on an Amazon deal—scoring the hard copy for $3.99. According to Amazon, Wonder is “soon to be a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay! Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.” It’s a young adult novel I look forward to recommending to my students.

There are a few weeks left in summer and I’m hoping to add additional books to my summer reading list—and I’ve decided (on Hope’s recommendation) to start with Lilac Girls.

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