Archive for the 'Elizabeth Jorgensen' Category

Writing Opportunities for Your Students

iStock_000005182627XSmall-Chapter-One

By Elizabeth Jorgensen

 Story Monsters Ink

  • About the publication: “Story Monsters Ink is a free, subscription-based magazine that gives parents and educators the latest news about award-winning and debut books, profiles on both renowned and newly published authors, upcoming book events, author presentations and more.”
  • About the contest: If you have a special teacher you’d like them to know about, email a letter to “Cristy@FiveStarPublications.com explaining why your teacher is the best, and we may choose him/her as our Teacher of the Month! It could be a principal, librarian, paraprofessional, etc. If your teacher is chosen, we will send him or her a Story Monster t-shirt and they will also get to choose a free book from our Little Five Star Bookstore. We will also print your letter along with a photo of you and your teacher in Story Monsters Ink!”
  • To find out more, go here.

Autism Society of Wisconsin

  • About the society: The Autism Society Affiliates in Wisconsin are hosting the 12th Annual Autism Essay Contest, a program designed to assist all students in gaining a deeper understanding of autism and how their peers with autism experience the world.
  • About this contest: “This essay contest is a wonderful opportunity to create an open dialogue about autism, how it affects students in your school and why celebrating differences is important. We hope that you will welcome this opportunity to promote understanding and acceptance of differences in your school.”
    • Divisions: Division 1: K-2nd grade; Division 2: 3rd-5th grade; Division 3: 6th-8th grade; Division 4: 9th-12th grade
    • Prizes: 1st Place Winners in each division will receive a $100 Amazon gift card; 2nd Place Winners in each division will receive a $75 Amazon gift card; 3rd Place Winners in each division will receive a $50 Amazon gift card.
      • All 1st place winners will be honored at and invited to the Family Reception at the Autism Society of Wisconsin’s 28th Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells on Friday, April 28, 2017.
  • To find out more, go here.

Girls Right the World

  • About the writers’ market: “Girls Right the World is an international literary journal advocating for you, female-identified writers. We believe in the power of young women, sisterhood, and creativity through writing. The editors of this journal are students at Miss Hall’s School in Massachusetts.”
  • About this contest: “Girls Right the World is a literary journal inviting young female-identified writers and artists, ages 14 and up, to submit their work for consideration for the first issue. We believe that girls’ voices can and do transform the world for the better. We want to help expand girls’ creative platforms so that female-identified people from all races, religions, and sexual orientations can express themselves freely. We currently seek poetry, prose, short-stories, and lyric essays of any style and theme. We like powerful, female driven writing and work inspired by beautiful things in life. Writers keep the rights to their pieces, but we ask to have the right to first publish your works in North America. After publication, the rights would return to you. We publish annually. Send your best writing, in English or English translation, to girlsrighttheworld@gmail.com by April 1, 2017.”

To find out more, go here.

Using an Exemplar to Develop Student Creativity and Voice

6342247835_688a9c2fcd_bBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

I frequently use professional exemplars in Creative Writing. One of my favorite authors is Sandra Cisneros. Her novel, House on Mango Street, is particularly effective in inspiring my students to write specifically, creatively and with a variety of stylistic devices.

In one assignment, students read the chapter “Hairs.” Then, I ask students to identify when Cisneros uses the following stylistic devices: metaphors, similes, personification, alliteration, repetition and sensory details. In the 158 word chapter, students identify 32 stylistic devices.

After, students discuss the effect of each stylistic device and the chapter’s content. Students explain how Cisneros reveals information about the narrator’s family through a discussion of one physical trait: hair. Students note in her first paragraph, she describes the hair of the narrator’s father and the hair of her siblings, using descriptions to give the reader insight into each of their personalities. Students also recognize that Cisneros reveals the narrator’s feelings towards her mother in the passage, using a variety of stylistic devices to achieve this effect.

Then, I ask my students to think about the people in their lives—their family, friends, co-workers, teammates. I ask them to think about the characteristics they share with the people in their lives and those that make them distinctive. Although Cisneros chose to write about hair, I tell my students they could write about any physical or personality trait. I prompt students with suggestions: eye color, height, personality, sense of humor, cooking ability, athleticism, hands. I ask my students: Is the trait you want to write about one you share with your family/friends/teammates or yours alone? How might you present your piece like Cisneros did with metaphors, similes, personification, alliteration, repetition and sensory details?

Using “Hairs” as a model, students then write a vignette about their own life, discussing an important trait and how it reveals something about the person who possesses it and their relationship to him/her. Although Cisneros used six stylistic devices for a total of 32 times, I require 12 in each student’s vignette. Students share the vignettes and then we submit them to Teen Ink, a national teen publication. Here are two students who had their vignettes published: 1 and 2.

What students tell me they enjoy about the exercise is that they practice skills in a creative way. Students also say they enjoy writing about their own lives. What I most appreciate is how specific, poetic and interesting the pieces turn out—and how students are able to effectively implement stylistic devices and creativity in a vignette about their own lives.

A Chance to Say Thank You and a Shot at Publication

060417-N-8157C-162By Elizabeth Jorgensen

As a teacher, my goal is to offer students authentic writing opportunities and the chance at publication. Last year, I found a project called “Defining Freedom” through the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and Milwaukee Brewer Jonathan Lucroy. For 20 weeks, the MJS published a different student essay in the Sunday newspaper. Each 200-word essay defined freedom. According to the MJS, the goal of the program was “to connect our greatest generation, and their stories to the youngest generation, and what freedom means to them.” My students participated, and 10 were published. This year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is again publishing essays.

In this year’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel project, Adam Weidman, a Marketing Project Manager at the MJS, who helps coordinate both programs, said, “The program is called Mail Call, and once again, it’s another writing based initiative to honor veterans. We’ve renewed our partnership with the Honor Flight, and on return trip of every Honor Flight there is the ‘mail call’ portion of the flight where veterans receive letters from loved ones. Through this program we are extending the opportunity to anyone to write to a veteran (non-specific) and send them a personal letter, thanking them for their service.”

The week before Thanksgiving break, my students drafted letters. The servicemen and women will benefit from their writing, but so did my students: 1) Each letter had an authentic purpose, as each went to a veteran on the Honor Flight; 2) For each letter received, the MJS made a $10 donation to the Honor Flight; and 3) Students had the chance at publication in the MJS.

My students took the letter writing seriously. Students wrote about how thankful they are for service members; they wrote about sacrifice and patriotism; they wrote about freedom and liberty. Because this year’s program is not limited to students, I also wrote a letter. When I wrote alongside my students, not only did they see an example, but they also watched me work through the writing process. After students drafted letters electronically, I provided feedback and suggestions. Then, students finalized letters and decorated and hand-wrote final copies.

Additional details can be found at http://jsonline.com/mailcall.

My students’ examples:

Writing Opportunities for Your Students

Power of WordsBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

  1. Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest
  • To learn more, go here.
  • Topic: “Tell us the story of a local leader who exemplifies Leopold’s land ethic. You may interpret local as someone who lives as nearby as your own neighborhood, or who resides and works elsewhere in Midwest region of the United States. To be successful, you will need to read and understand the ‘The Land Ethic’ essay in A Sand County Almanac and convey that understanding in your writing. Participants are also encouraged to explore other writings by Aldo Leopold.”
  • Deadline: 11:59 pm on March 17, 2017.
  • Who’s eligible: Wisconsin students in grades 9-12.
  1. John Stossel’s Tech Revolution Essay Contest
  • Who’s eligible: students age 12-18.
  • Deadline: February 17, 2017.
  • Topic: “Technological innovation has changed our lives, mostly for the better. But some innovation raises safety questions. Some threatens existing businesses. What should America do about that? John Stossel raises a few such issues in his TV special, Tech Revolution, but there are probably many others. After watching these five segments from John’s special, write a 500-1000-word essay on this topic, making a case for how you think government policy should deal with innovation in order to bring the greatest gains to society. Include your own examples of innovation at work, innovation that is being stifled by government rules, and/or negative results of too much or too little government oversight to bolster your argument, and make at least one reference to the TV special.”
  • To learn more, go here.
  1. LSSU High School Short Story Prize
  • Who’s eligible: high school students residing in the Midwestern United States and Ontario, Canada.
  • Deadline: April 30, 2017.
  • Topic: “The theme of the contest this year will simply be realistic fiction. Any form of realistic fiction will be accepted as long as stories are set in the real world…This year, our judges are looking for a realistic short stories written in a compelling voice with a well-developed story, character depth, a detailed setting, attention to language, and a deeper meaning.”
  • To learn more, go here.
  1. Wonders of Plastics Essay Contest
  • Who’s eligible: Wisconsin high school and elementary grade students living in all counties served by the SPE.
  • Deadline: February 28, 2017.
  • Topic: Students should write a 500-1000 word essay on the wonders of plastics. Topics to consider: “Advantages of plastics in food packaging; Creative use of recycled plastics; How plastics benefit humankind; How plastics improve our lifestyle; Plastics in the environment; Plastics usefulness in society; What plastics has done for me; Why the bad reputation of plastics is wrong.”
  • To learn more, go here.
  1. Write A Story Contest (through Scholastic’s SCOPE Magazine)
  • Who’s eligible: students in grades 4-12.
  • Deadline: March 10, 2017.
  • Topic: “Pick your favorite line (Despite its location, Dot’s Donut Shop was about to get famous; I thought it was a costume party; The new coach seemed peculiar, and it wasn’t just because of that third eye). Write a short story starting with your chosen line. Stories must be between 800 and 3,000 words.”
  • To learn more, go here.

 

A Golden Opportunity

jorgensen-family-gold-medal

By Elizabeth Jorgensen

I lecture my students to scour life for dramatic moments, emotional scenes or frightening experiences and write their own stories. I say their lives are filled with gripping tales, just waiting to be told. So when my sister qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, suffered a flat tire in the triathlon and proclaimed her goal to win gold in 2016, I decided to take my own advice and write the story. But the tale was so big I needed a book. I partnered with my mom, Nancy Jorgensen, who has published two of her own books (From the Trenches: Real Insights from Real Choral Educators and Things they Never Taught you in Choral Methods). In alternating voices, my mom, Nancy (Gwen’s mother) and I (her sister), narrate our family’s journey to Olympic gold.

Along the way, Gwen earned the World Champion title. Twice. And she came into the Rio Olympic games the favorite. In a Sports Illustrated piece, Austin Murphy said, “…Jorgensen has emerged as the International Triathlon Union’s equivalent of Usain Bolt.”

My mom and I are now finishing the last chapters of our memoir. As the book follows Gwen’s Olympic journey, we intersperse flashbacks and anecdotes, revealing a family story that fostered an dream. The process has mirrored what I teach in my classroom: the editing process is never done, collaboration and revising are keys to success, and the publishing industry hands out rejections far more frequently than book deals.

The process also brought my mom and me together—we collaborate daily, writing, editing, polishing. Sharing this process with my students allows them a firsthand account of writing and publishing. I have also shared rejection letters and excerpts with my class. Each time, students express appreciation and intrigue: their teacher is a writer too; writing is a process we all struggle with.

My students enjoy how this is a book about the magic of possibility—that a 24-year-old accountant could remake her life into a dramatic athletic career. The book explores themes of risk, the courage to invent a new life focus, and the unconditional family support that makes extraordinary accomplishments possible. Our memoir introduces readers to a young woman of modest athletic achievements who uses extraordinary desire and discipline to achieve the ultimate in sport. It is an uplifting story of a family who quells doubts to believe in one daughter’s dream. Readers enter the secret world of Olympic training, professional coaching, international travel, sponsor funding, anti-doping requirements, athlete nutrition, and sports physiotherapy. They are privy to the personal life of a professional athlete, complete with family medical crises, weddings and divorces and holiday celebrations. In this story, Gwen Jorgensen, Mom and I travel together, from average to Olympian.

We have had some interest from publishers—and this too is something I’m able to share with my classes. We are work-shopping the book with the AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop in Waukesha and we continue to send our proposal and manuscript out via Gwen’s agent. But we have yet to procure a deal…

A Co-Teaching Model

296-1246152442owjrBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Because creative writing accommodates students with a variety of special needs, administrators assigned a special education teacher to one of my sections. But what did this mean?

At a summer, morning-long meeting, my co-teacher Heidi and I learned about co-teaching models. School administrators said, “Co-teaching is when one classroom has two teachers: one general education teacher and one special education teacher. Both are in a single classroom and both provide inclusive instruction to students of all needs.”

At the meeting, Heidi and I defined our roles and discussed our classroom goals. We read articles and gained tips for effective co-teaching. We discussed our experiences and our students. Then, we reviewed what we learned and created lesson plans and a strategy for the year.

Throughout the next three years, Heidi and I collaborated and instructed (and laughed and met for breakfast and attended athletic events together). Administrators have told us we are a model for successful co-teaching. But why? What do we do?

  • We developed a relationship with each other. Heidi and I talked about our significant others, about our weekend plans, about our goals for our students and about our successes and failures. Heidi and I developed trust and rapport—and this made collaborating easy.
  • We communicated and collaborated. Once every two weeks, we spent an afternoon creating lesson plans. (Our administrators provided substitutes for this planning time.) We collaborated on activities, worksheets, assignments and assessments. We analyzed previous assignments and activities and made modifications for future semesters. We discussed our roles and our classroom timeline. And we created and shared a Google spreadsheet. This kept us organized and on-task and allowed for constant communication.
  • We provided support for all students. We discussed particular students, their needs and potential solutions. We made plans for interventions and assistance. We contacted parents and provided accommodations and commendations. In the classroom, Heidi and I supported all students regardless of their special needs.
  • We were equals. Heidi and I shared duties equally, instructing, assessing and grading assignments. We didn’t want the students to identify the “English teacher” or the “special education teacher.” And we learned from each other (Heidi taught me more about differentiation and how to insert movement in my classroom; she also provided innovation and encouragement).

Heidi and I are not perfect, but we are open to discussing our mistakes and making improvements. We have fun and we aim to engage all students and to make our classroom better every day.

This semester, I didn’t have enough students with special needs to warrant a co-teacher, but I’m already looking forward to next semester when Heidi re-joins creative writing.

Looking for more resources?

Brown, N.B., Howerter, C.S., & Morgan, J. J. (2013). Tools and strategies for making co-teaching work.

Intervention in School and Clinic, 49(2), 84-91.

Graziano, K.J., & Navarrete, L. A. (2012). Coteaching in a teacher education classroom: Collaboration,

compromise, and creativity. Issues in Teacher Education, 21(1), 109-126.

Mastropieri, M.A., & Scruggs, T.E., (2006). The inclusive classroom: Strategies for effective instruction (3rd

ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Murawski, W. W., & Dieker, L. (2008). 50 ways to keep your co-teacher: Strategies for before, during, and after

co-teaching. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(4), 40-48.

Do you want to see Heidi and me co-teaching? Here are two videos from one lesson: 1 and 2.

 

Connecting With Parents of My Students

2959912279_8446aa1abdBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Looking for a way to connect to the parents of my students, I relied on email. My junior and senior students just finished writing poems for the Milwaukee Public Museum’s poetry competition. At the end of the unit, I asked for student volunteers to read poems aloud. Then, I emailed those students’ parents. Here is what I wrote:

“I just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that Kami volunteered to present her poem in class today. Currently, students are working on a food-themed poem for the Milwaukee Public Museum’s annual poetry competition. After we read Kami’s poem, classmates provided valuable feedback and encouragement. If you are interested, I would suggest you ask her to share what she is working on. I think you’ll be impressed! Volunteering to read her poem to the class was a brave, vulnerable and commendable thing to do. Please encourage Kami to keep up up the great work in Creative Writing. I’m looking forward to a wonderful semester of writing, creativity, and growth.”

Here are some of the responses I received:

“Thank you for the kind message. She showed us her poem Tuesday night and we really enjoyed hearing it from her. She really enjoys your class. Have a great weekend!”

“Thank you SO very much for reaching out to us about Anna! What a wonderful wonderful email to receive. Anna is a great kid. She has had some emotional struggles over the past few years and it has been a big hurdle for her. I’ve noticed this year in particular she has really been making an effort with her school work. I very much appreciate hearing you validate how much her hard work is paying off. I will be sure to share this with Anna and tell her how very proud we are of her! Have a great day! :)”

“Thanks for the good news, Liz. It’s nice to hear about something positive; I appreciate it. I will ask them to share their work with me and will encourage them. Thanks again and have a great weekend.”

“She has been sharing her writings with us and I have been so impressed with her work! I am so glad to hear from you about this! Of course I think it’s good, but to hear it from you is awesome. She shared with me your comments this am about her recent poem, she was so excited! I have never seen her so pumped about a subject in school before so keep up the awesome work motivating her and we will do the same. Thanks again!”

Each parent gave me a boost and reminded me of the positive impact I’m having on his or her child. The students, too, appreciated my efforts: “Thanks for emailing my dad.”— “My mom was so excited to see your email.”—“My mom took me to Culver’s for custard because of what you wrote.”

I’ve now made it my goal to email a different group of parents for each assignment.


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