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Volume 29 No.

1 Fall 2009
A Publication of the South Coast Writing Project
Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California at Santa Barbara

POSTSCWRIP
In our time is a great
thing not yet done: It is
the marriage of Woody
Guthrie’s gusto and the
Internet. It is the
composing, and wide
sharing, of stories,
songs, blessings,
manifestos and other
morsels of language by
many voices for many
hungers.
Kim Stafford
Author, Poet, Teacher Extraordinaire: Coming to SCWriP October 23
Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis and Clark
College and the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including Early Morning, Having
Everything Right, and The Muses Among Us. The son of the beloved poet William Stafford, Kim
has found his own voice, steady and true. His guiding principle: “We can only be saved when
many people -- and finally all people -- recognize and live by our true interdependence on
earth. This means that education, interactive culture, and the expressive arts are the greatest
priority of our time. They may not be funded as such, but they are in fact. Writers have a place
in this essential work -- to question, listen, and tell the connecting stories of human experience,
the quiet voices of local life everywhere.” Kim will be our facilitator and honored guest at the
not-to-be-missed October 23rd Renewal. You’ll find more details in this edition of PostSCWriP,
along with a few of his poems to inspire you.
From the Editor
The theme of the South Coast Writing Project has lately been one of transition. We gathered at
the Cliff House in July to reminisce and bid adieu to Sheridan, and we moved into a brand new
building at the end of August, and here we are at the cusp of autumn, recharging, regrouping,
and ready for whatever comes next.

But the theme of the South Coast Writing Project is also one of constancy. As William Stafford
wrote, “You don’t ever let go of the thread.” And we won’t. This edition of PostSCWriP is
sparked with the creativity and conviction of dedicated teachers, offering passionate discourse,
inspiring poetry, and many ways to participate.

Enjoy, and stick with us, and let’s do some renewing together on October 23rd.

Cynthia Carbone Ward (’01)


cyn@hughes.net

In this Edition:
Young Writers Camp: Aline Shapiro PAGE 3
Poem for the Middle of March, Hooded Oriole: Hugh Ranson 4
Technology Update: Linda Sparkuhl, Terie Cota 6
A Handful of Hopes & One Expectation: Kelly Everett 6
Bulletin Board 7
Fall Renewal Announcement 8
How to Sleep Cold at Billy Meadows: Kim Stafford 9
Teachers: Vickie Gill 10
Pre-Service Institute for Teacher Education: Randi Browning 11
Tell Your Stories: Jack Phreaner 12
Now: Dan Gerber 12
Stop 2nd Grade Standardized Testing: Lori Anaya 13
Carol Dixon, Steppin’ Up to the Plate 14
To No Easy Answers: Ron Hertz 15
After They’ve Gone to Bed, Wednesday Morning: Lisa Torina 16
Where I’m From: Lorna Gonzalez 16
Before the Stroll Through, Saxophonist, Watering: Dorothy Jardin 17

“My father told me about a place you could hide where the eave overhung a ledge above the garage. That place,
and books, he said, was the summer of his childhood. A little infinity of pleasure.” Kim Stafford
Young Writers Camp 2009: Creative Adventures Close to Home
by Aline Shapiro (’91)

Young Writers Camp was a smashing success in 2009, its 18th summer, with 207 student participants from
throughout Santa Barbara County enjoying a range of activities on four different campuses. At Allan Hancock
College, Jan Brown and Sharon Luft worked with the younger students using the theme “Under the Deep”.
Students integrated sea stories and fairy tales and wrote of mysterious golden pearls, mermaids in the deep blue
sea, and pirate searches and treasures. 7th to 9th grade campers, led by Vickie Gill and Mark Jasso, explored
heritage, family traditions, and places that are important to them, as well as learning some cool Michael Jackson
dance moves. The picture above shows a few students from the 7th to 9th grade group on the swings…thoroughly
engaged in writing.

Participants at Oxnard College were, in the words of site coordinator Sally King, “…an enthusiastic group of
mellow campers with happy teachers”. The highlight of camp was a trip to the television station where students
directed, produced and acted in a presentation of a fairy tale, which was aired on TV. Campers were even
designated as camera crew and worked in the technical booth. Kitty Merrill, the manager of the station, helped
them put everything together in just an hour’s time. Sally King, Matt Urwick, Kim Ernest, and Darryl Lewis-Abriol
were the teachers.

At California Lutheran College, campers enjoyed a mixed media art and writing project, making altered books
with writing, collages, and found art. Teachers Jerri Lejuene, Pat Bachamp, Cathy Crook, and Mary Gutierrez
varied the way they did the graduation by having parents and students make individual comments as they walked
around the room with the books displayed as an exhibition. They also had a great time doing nature explorations
down in the creek.

UCSB teachers were Barbara Conway, Karen Taylor, Matt McCaffrey, Alison Bright, Bojana Hill, Amy Christensen,
Peggy Nicholson, and Janet Longpre, who led campers into journalism, acting, and other adventures. The 2nd and
3rd grade group went to the office of The Nexus, the campus newspaper, where a student manager provided a tour.
James Badham from Santa Barbara Magazine came to the morning classes and did some wonderful exercises on
building descriptive details in a story. Afternoon groups tackled the climbing wall with the help of UCSB student
climbers, and Matt Tavianini, an actor and producer with the Boxtales Theater Production Company, took
campers through a series of acrobatic yoga and acting exercises, which somehow evolved into animal poetry.
Graduation was celebrated down at the lagoon.

With the generous support of Academic Preparation and Equal Opportunity (APEO) and the Early Academic
Outreach Program (EAOP) we were able to give 70 YWC scholarships this year. Ocean View School District
continues to pay for students through their Migrant Education funds. This was the first summer we partnered with
EAOP to launch a Summer Writing Camp Academy for 8th graders at Goleta Valley Junior High led by Lois Klein
and Joy Hoffar. All these programs were successful due to the expert skills, insights, and caring work of our
SCWriP Fellows, both old and new.

Email: alinecarp@verizon.net if you are interested for next summer.

Poem for the Middle of March


by Hugh Ranson (’02)

Silhouette of oaks billows below


A left-handed moon
And Max trots beside me
Jauntily, toe nails clicking
Tail curved over his back
To the right
A mocking bird tunes up
Hu-rry hu-rry hu-rry
Freshly! Freshly! Freshly!
Orion’s belt has silver studs
His sword freshly forged
Hooded Oriole
And out of the Big Dipper by Hugh Ranson (’02)
Jasmine spills, thickens the air
Dissolves the ground beneath us He comes in March in black and gold
We float up the winding street Shouts from the top of the flowering oak--
The pavement a river “Out with the drab, the grey, and the old”
Of Spring --Then hides himself in nature’s cloak.
Flowing uphill
And we’re swept As spring moves on he gives us peeks:
Without choice or care A quiver before his leaf-green mate;
To where all paths A dip in the bath; and in a few weeks,
Begin and end He feeds the young he helped create.

We wonder was he ever here


When one dark night he slips away.
The riddle of how he disappears
We all must face at close of day.
Technology Update:
Gettin’ Better All the Time
by Terie Cota (’04) and Linda Sparkuhl (’02)

Where else can a self-proclaimed “dinosaur” find her butterfly wings? Where else would presenters
agree to provide their expertise for the cost of a lunch? And, perhaps most astoundingly, where else
would Mac and PC users sit side-by-side? Why, at the SCWriP Advanced Technology Institute, that's
where! In our 2009 summer session, about forty intrepid participants came to learn, teach one another,
and think about where technology and writing intersect in classrooms. It was fun, busy, and delightfully
varied in its scope and focus. Attendees were a diverse group whose technological skills ranged from
those less experienced to the very adept.

Interested in helping to plan our next


technology effort? The Technology Committee
will be hosting its first meeting of the school
year at the end of October in our brand new
SCWriP offices. Watch for further word,
and remember, even if you can’t be there
physically, we welcome your digital presence.
(Members “attend” from as far away as
Michigan.) Contact Linda
at lsparkuhl@mac.com for detailed information.
We'd love to have you join us!

Photo at left: Linda Sparkuhl makes a point at the


Technology Insitute as Terie Cota stands by.

Do you ning?
Join us at http://scwrip.ning.com

A Handful of Hopes (and One Expectation) from Summer Institute by Kelly Everett (’09)

I hope that sacred writing remains a part of my life and that I don’t allow it to be replaced by ritualistic running at the gym.

I hope that the lady at Coffee Bean who finally learned my name doesn’t feel deserted because my carpool meeting expired today.

I hope that the words research and science evoke happy memories of Olivia Walling, Diet Coke at 9 in the morning, and 1172
Phelps Hall on foggy Santa Barbara days.

I hope that Max continues to find stinkbugs and inspires Lisa to write more about her fascinated five-year old.

I hope that the money from my writing fellowship runs out before I run out of passion for writing and exploring the innermost parts of
my mind – the memories are spilling out in volumes and I want to capture them all.

I expect that the experiences I’ve shared with what once were twenty-three strangers will become a permanent part of who I am, and
that happy clapping and yays will always remind me of this summer.
The Bulletin Board
Announcing a great addition for ALL SCWriP FELLOWS: We now have a ning site, http://scwrip.ning.com. We
hope you will use this valuable resource for your teaching, writing, and technology needs. You may join and post
comments, read blogs, or seek information. Visit often to get connected and stay connected!

Christine Kravetz (’07), a poet/teacher with California Poets in the Schools, recently had two of her poems
published by Domestic Violence Solutions of Santa Barbara. If Love Hurts: Writings By and About Survivors of
Abuse, contains the personal stories of many local women. It is part of DVS’s mission to break the cycle of abuse
while also providing shelter services to women and children in need. The book is available online at the DVS
website: www.dvsolutions.org

Phil Levien (’01) was awarded Santa Barbara County's Distinguished Educator Award this past summer. You can
watch him talk about it with SB County’s Superintendent of Schools, Bill Cirone, on local cable television in
December. Phil’s sheltered theatre production this year is an adaptation of Moliere's Les Fourberies de Scapin. It's
called "Scapino" and runs Thursday, 12/10, through Saturday, 12/12, @ 7pm; and Sunday, 12/13, @ 2pm. It will
play in Room I-10 at San Marcos High School. For tickets, call the business office, at 967-4581.

Mehnaz Sahibzada Turner (’03) was awarded a PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellowship in poetry for 2009. This
fellowship, for emerging writers from underrepresented backgrounds, included a monetary stipend and an eight-
month residency in Los Angeles. You can follow Mehnaz’s blog about leading the writing life at
www.mehnazturner.blogspot.com/

Helen Murdoch (’99) is now the Teacher Librarian at San Marcos High School after teaching history there for 14
years. She loves her new position and the challenges of bringing reading, books, and technology to the entire
student body. She enjoys collaborating with other teachers, many of whom are SCWriP Fellows. Visit her blog at
http://www.sanmarcoshighschoollibrary.blogspot.com/

Joy Hoffar (’07) got a new job at Dos Pueblos just a week before school started. She had been laid off after five
years of teaching at Bishop Diego and spent the summer job hunting. All is well.

Patrick M. Ewing (‘08) recently moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County, where he is studying the town’s
history, writing a novel, surfing, and hiking.

Cynthia Carbone Ward (’01) has written the text for a photography book by Kam Jacoby entitled Layers:
Composite Photographs from the Lompoc Valley. The book will be available in mid-October. For more
information, visit www.kamjacoby.com/

UCSB’s Education Department will sponsor an Open House for our new building on November 5, 4 – 5:30 p.m.

Coming Soon: ELL Courageous Conversations Meeting. More information to follow!


The South Coast Writing Project Announces
The FALL RENEWAL
Fall has arrived! We all know what that means. The SCWriP community will gather at the Cliff House to
the sounds of the surf, the antics of the dolphins, the luxury of personal reflections, the nourishment of
motivating colleagues, and the pleasure of all those forces coming together at one time in a relaxed and
familiar location.

We have the very good fortune of having Kim Stafford, director of the Northwest Writing Project at
Lewis and Clark College, as our guest presenter for the day. Like everything about our renewals, Kim is
familiar and relaxed, a motivating colleague who provides us with nourishment from our personal
reflection based on his thoughtful prompts, and whereas he may not sound like the surf, he is known to
have some antics up his sleeve.

So designate Friday, October 23rd as the day to do something good for yourself. Join us at the Cliff
House from 8:30 to 2:30. Bring something spectacular for the pot luck (or stop by Von’s and pick up a
bag of something. Not by bread alone…etc.)

WHEN: Friday, October 23, 2009, 8:30 AM to


2:30 PM

WHERE: Cliff House

SPECIAL GUEST: Kim Stafford of the Northwest


Writing Project

LUNCH: Pot Luck style

QUESTIONS & RSVPS: Call SCWriP at (805) 893-


4422 or email us at 4scwrip@education.ucsb.edu
or dionne@education.ucsb.edu and let us know if
you will need a parking pass. We will have
someone there to meet you in the parking lot to
give out parking passes on that Friday morning.

“We live in a world where a few people could destroy us


all, but a few people cannot save us. The math doesn't
work that way. We can only be saved when many people --
and finally all people -- recognize and live by our true
interdependence on earth. This means that education,
interactive culture, and the expressive arts are the greatest priority of our time. They may not be funded as such,
but they are in fact. Writers have a place in this essential work -- to question, listen, and tell the connecting stories
of human experience, the quiet voices of local life everywhere.”
How to Sleep Cold at Billy Meadows
We are pleased to present a few poems written by Kim Stafford in July 2009 at a four-day writing retreat
at Billy Meadows, a former CCC guard station in the forest in northern Wallowa County, Oregon. “It
was my privilege to facilitate the writing sessions,” reports Kim, “and my good luck to savor the
wonderful writing and kinship that resulted from our time together.”

My Iron Catastrophe

Everything was going to hell. In the period of a few years


my marriage ended, my brother took his life, my father
fell down dead in the kitchen, and by some elastic
anomaly

nights grew longer, darker, and days grew gray, food


tasted of sawdust, music withered, the sun was blunted
The Trick of Beginning by some bitter pall. Words failed. Feet grew heavy.

In the workshop, someone wrote, “Is this growing old?”


“I will carry the small songs of flowers.”
Someone wrote, “I am a communion Then a friend demanded—on a trail into the wilderness—
of many solitudes.” Someone wrote, “What do you want, Kim Stafford?” “I want to be
“There is a reservoir I pull from in my leaving.” a good father.” “No,” said the friend, “not about
And I looked around.
your daughter—you.” “I want to be a good writer, then.”
We in the meadow had become the meadow: “Not about words. You.” I thought and thought. Sun
each face a speaking silence, spun a filament of web from one hemlock to another,
each voice a particular dialect of air,
each glance a glint of sun in shadow. and as the strand bellied and swayed, an iridescence
swam from one end to the other. “I want to be honest,”
What can a writer say but “Light I said. “In parenting, writing, friendship, witness on earth,
will come…rain will come…storm
will beat me down to essence…night I want to be honest.” “Yes,” said the friend. “You have
will soften me…dawn make me strong”? not chosen an easy thing, but you have chosen.”
In that moment, the catastrophe began to end,
In the musical repertoire of the writer, from thunder
to this butterfly’s tiny hum—to begin, and the hard centering to begin.
only choose what pleases you.
Do You Need Anything from the Mountain?

Could you bring me a smudge of camas blue,


and the whisper whistle of that one pine
at the edge of the meadow at dusk, when day

gives a lost, last breath? Bring me the road


that becomes deep duff as it trails away
into the forest, young firs ten feet tall

along the hump between the old ruts.


Bring me a story you hear in dark silence
after the last light, the gone that gathers dew

in the fingers not to hold, carry away, but


only to feel. Bring me that skein of fire
that hangs in intimate eternity, after How to Sleep Cold in North County

the dark but before the thunder, when You didn’t bring the bedding that you need.
the bounty of yearning in one cloud Last night’s thunder cleared the sky.
reaches toward another, in each being’s Tonight, the stars could cut your tent’s
thin skin to tatters, and the moon
endless, impossible desire to complete itself bullies up through the pines. Out beyond
before falling away. the meadow, elk whistle and stamp.
You settle in, wearing all you’ve got.
It’s not a sleeping bag tonight,
but a thin cocoon for metamorphosis.
Make a snout, a breathing hole,
and burrow in, writhing to survive.
In darkness, cold is the blunt force
“One way to be a writer: slip
stretching time to a taut misery
your poems secretly into your that gathers all you ever did wrong.
favorite books in the library, so This duration tunnels through
your kind of person will find the geologic story, and you are
them, understand you, never a yeasty bit in the great extinction.
meet, but know…”
Kim Stafford Then morning comes. A sleepy robin
ladles out forgiveness. Light seeps in.

Rise, poor pilgrim, and bless the sun.


Teachers by Vickie Gill (’01)

I had the oddest experience the other day. I was walking from my office to my next class and passed the open
door of a fourth grade classroom. I saw a room full of children busily engaged in a task and their teacher leaning
over a student's desk offering words of encouragement. As I hurried to meet my students, I was filled with a sense
of love for this woman who was a stranger to me--my heart actually "swelled" like it used to when I would check
on my sleeping children.

I have spent most of my life in schools--for me it was like one of those bad romantic comedies where two people
start out hating each other, then the relationship turns into the love of their lives. As a kid, I hated school; as a
teacher, it morphed into a 30-year love affair. Throughout my career, I have known teachers I admire and tried to
emulate, but other than a few close friends, it hasn't felt like love--until the other day.

This has been the toughest opening of a school year I


can remember. The budget crisis has forced everyone
working in schools and universities across the country
to do more for less. The tension over who would be
A couple of teachers: Vickie Gill with Mark Jasso
retained and who would be let go has divided
colleagues, and caused resentment and guilt to seep
into faculty meetings and lunchtime conversations.
Yesterday I read in a newspaper that the federal
government was awarding a local law enforcement
agency a million dollar grant to work with men and
women on probation. Of course it's important to
help these people transition into a productive
lifestyle, but why don't we realize that shortchanging
the schools will always result in an increase in the
needs of those who cannot find their way?
Just a couple of teachers: Vickie Gill and Mark Jasso

I can imagine many educators have been ready to throw it in and find a less
stressful way to make a living that allows for little things like regular bathroom Why don't we realize
breaks and more than 20-minutes to eat lunch. We are held responsible for the that shortchanging the
test scores of children we didn't raise, and in most cases, instruct for only a year. schools will always
School districts are forced to grab as much ADA money as possible just to pay the result in an increase in
bills, so kindergarten classes have increased from 20 to 30 5-year-olds, and high the needs of those who
school classes jam 40 teenagers in a room, forcing teachers to spend more time cannot find their way?
on crowd control than academic instruction.

But there's that teacher who has managed to engage her students as she takes the time to patiently help a child
who doesn't understand. I am filled with love for the experienced teachers who stay, and for the brand new
teachers who have taken on this wonderful, difficult work. I walked to my classroom inspired and ready to give
my best--one more time.
The Pre-Service Institute for Teacher Education:

Mary Walzer and Linda Sparkuhl. Row 2: Kristin Storey, Harvey Green, Mary Arias, Phil Levien, Deborah Frank, Randi Browning

Getting Started, SCWriP Style


by
Randi Browning (’06)

This August, eight SCWriP Fellows (above) once again conducted a Pre-service Institute for new UCSB Teacher
Education grad students. This year the program coincided with the move from Phelps to the new Social Science
building, so we didn’t have the luxury of the usual TEP classrooms. Nevertheless, the 22 students and two teachers
in each of our four sections—meeting in small HSSB classrooms--still managed to write, share, learn, and laugh in
SCWriP style. In two weeks, we introduced these future teachers to some of the SCWriP favorites (morning writing,
random autobiographies, neighborhood maps, tea parties, etc.) and tried to help them see how teaching with
writing enhances their own and their students’ learning experiences. Each section also produced an anthology of
their writing, so the tradition of publishing our writing goes on.

We hope that if any of you have these student teachers assigned to your classes We all have a role
or even to your schools, you will reinforce these beginnings and help them
learn to apply Writing Project ideas and ideals in their own classroom teaching. to play in helping
Two weeks at the beginning of their program isn’t enough by itself. We all have
a role to play in helping these enthusiastic new teachers understand the value of
these enthusiastic
writing in every class. Also, if any of you have science or math colleagues who new teachers
might be interested in the SCWriP summer institute, we hope you will
encourage them to get involved with the Writing Project. The future math and understand the
science teachers need more role models from their own ranks who are writing value of writing in
and incorporating writing into their classes.
every class.
A Word from Jack Phreaner:
Tell Your Stories
“I’ve now been a part of thirty-one Summer
Institutes,” says our beloved Jack Phreaner, “and
every summer has been just as wonderful as the
previous ones.” You’ve got be in awe of a guy like
that. Now Jack is on a mission to urge his fellow
SCWriP Fellows to write down their stories, even if
it’s just a handful of memories and images, as he has
done here, and share them with others, via email or
snail mail. Sow those stories like seeds, and don’t let
them vanish! Here, Jack reaches back to his early days in Pictured: Jack Phreaner with Cynthia Carbone Ward
Mexico and Los Angeles:

I, Jack Phreaner, was born in Mexico, 82 years ago, and spoke Spanish before English. Two Spanish
words that I remember were “andele” (hurry up) and “callate” (be quiet) -- so you know what kind of a
kid I was.

My parents first met playing tennis. They got married and moved to Mexico where my father worked
with Mexico’s President Obregon on an irrigation plan. My father created a grass tennis court at
Obregon’s farm, much to the amazement of the workers. When Obregon was assassinated, United States
citizens were forced to leave Mexico; my family moved to West Hollywood.

Memories of Los Angeles: in contrast with Obregon’s mansion, we lived in a small rental house. Next
door there lived a strange couple: the husband played the “saw” as a weird musical instrument, late at
night. Some evenings my family walked over to the Trocadero Night Club to see the movie stars drive
up. Dad wanted to see Marlene Dietrich. One evening she arrived, but Dad had gone home to finish
reading a book. We never told him. My father was the community’s air raid warden during World War II.
One night he had to tell everyone in the neighborhood to turn their lights off. I stood on the back porch
that night and watched Los Angeles disappear.

We all have stories; don’t let them disappear.

Now by Dan Gerber


AS I GROW older, more sodden, and wedded by time
to the earth,
I spend so much more of it dreaming
of spreading out these arms
and letting all the nothing I’ve lived through lift away
the nothing I’ve spent my breath becoming.

Dan Gerber’s poem is reprinted with the poet’s permission and first appeared in Narrative magazine.
Stop Second Grade Standardized Testing
by Lori Anaya (’09)

I have been teaching for twenty-six years and feel compelled to speak on behalf of the children in our schools.
The California Standards Test for grade two is not a federally mandated test. It is, however, required by the state of
California. The test for second grade has six sections. This year, after the first day of testing, I had a student crawl
under her desk and stay there. I wonder if the public is aware of the effect that testing pressure has on our seven-
and eight-year-old children.

The test takes six days to give, a schedule mandated by my


district. We start at 8:30 A.M. and the class stays quiet and
seated, working until 10:00 A.M. Aside from the stomach
aches, headaches and nervousness children experience, there
are an increased number fights, recess problems, rule
breaking, conflicts, and crying during the testing week.
Students are unable to concentrate on academic tasks after the
testing period each day.

For the math portion, students must listen to the teacher read
individual questions aloud and then WAIT until everyone in
the room is finished with that one question. The teacher
cannot go on. The children cannot go on. They sit and wait.
The strain on them is not just in thinking and calculating. Waiting so long before continuing to work causes
fatigue and frustration. Asking a child to wait five minutes is like asking an adult to wait an hour before drinking
his or her first cup of coffee. It is no wonder children lose focus.

On day six, when we finished the California Standards Test, I asked


my students to make comments in their journals. Following are Filling in little circles
some unedited excerpts: “The test is finally over and my hand
doesn’t hurt any more.” “We finally finished the test. It was so correctly…takes
hard and long that I wish we never had to take one again. I was so
tired my head was starting to hurt. Couldn’t we take a shorter test
precedence over
that is over in two days or three?” “I was so nervous.” “I am engaging projects that
exhausted. It’s the biggest pile of test ever. The worst thing is that
it took very long. Even my throat was very dry. It was like a promote sophisticated
desert.” thinking.
As a teacher, how do I feel about testing seven and eight year olds?
I feel it is unfair and unkind. In Alfie Kohn’s (September 27, 2000) Education Week article, “Standardized testing
and Its Victims” he laments that our children are tested to an extent that is unprecedented in history: “Few
countries use standardized test for children below high school age.” Kohn goes on the state that he has “yet to
find a single reputable scholar in the field of early-childhood education who endorses such testing for children
younger than eight or nine years old.”

Kohn lists racism, poverty, fear of crime, and language barriers as other factors influencing the testing pressures felt
by young children. Yet many politicians claim that these are just excuses. “This is at once naïve and callous,”
writes Kohn, “and, like any other example of minimizing the relevance of structural constraints, ultimately serves
the interests of those fortunate enough not to face them.”

How much does testing affect my classroom? It affects us every minute of the entire year because everything I
teach is guided by one single goal: the test. Our school follows a pacing calendar which indicates we must
complete four math pages per day, (two different math lessons), in order to be finished with an entire math book
before testing. We must also finish five reading themes by the end of April. Social studies, science, music, art and
PE are cancelled unless we keep the pace. Why? The test!

Filling in little circles correctly has become one of the priorities in second grade
because the children must ‘bubble’ the circle next to the answer on the California
The words, Standards Test. This takes precedence over engaging projects that promote
“Hurry” and “I sophisticated thinking. The more children bubble-in worksheets … “the further they
fall behind affluent kids who are more likely to get lessons that help them understand
can’t wait for ideas,” according to Kohn.
you” fill the My district went so far as to provide teacher training to minimize wasted time.
classroom. The Teachers have to make every minute count: no time to sharpen pencils, no time to
wait for the child still looking for a book, a page or an eraser. The words, “Hurry” and
test looms over “I can’t wait for you” fill the classroom. The test looms over everyone. The phone
everyone. rings and I have no time to answer; interruptions cause delay. An assembly? My
students will fall behind.

I agree with Alfie Kohn when he states that standardized testing is bad news across the board, and “especially
hurtful to students who need our help the most.” Who can help solve this problem? Anyone willing to
communicate to politicians, to representatives, and to school districts can help enact a change by being a voice
for the children.

Steppin’ Up to the Plate:


Carol Dixon to Serve As SCWriP’s Interim Director

Now that Sheridan has really, truly moved on (as hard as it is to


believe) Carol Dixon has agreed to serve as interim director of
SCWriP until the position can be filled more permanently.
She’s not exactly new to this. Carol has been a faculty member
of the Gevirtz School of Education since 1973 and a SCWriP
leader since its inception. As part of her work with SCWriP she
was co-director of a three-year Literature Institute for Teachers
funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and
she’s been co-director of the Advanced Professional Leadership
Institute for Teachers of Linguistically Diverse Students, as well
as the Advanced Institute on Literacy. The author of numerous
research articles and texts, her primary interest is in literacy
instruction, and she is co-founder of the Santa Barbara
Classroom Discourse Group, an ongoing research collaborative
that looks at classroom practice within and across classroom
communities. None of this, however, conveys the extraordinary
respect and affection Carol has earned among her students and
colleagues throughout the years. We’re in good hands.

“This is an extremely important year for the South Coast Writing Project, probably the most important since the
founding of the project in 1979. One of reasons that the project has been able to grow and flourish over its 30-
year history has been the stability of leadership. Now, with Sheridan's retirement and move, we are entering a
new phase for the project, one of both great challenges and opportunities. During this academic year we must
develop a feasible plan for replacing that leadership while keeping the project moving forward both as an
important, dynamic resource for the local educational community and as a leader nationally. More than ever
SCWriP will need the support and involvement of all of you in order to accomplish these goals.” Carol Dixon
To No Easy Answers
(for Sheridan Blau)

by Ron Hertz (’86)

months after mass student arrests – with the war still smoldering
his simple task was to teach us (thirty would-be English teachers)
what-how-and why we might teach – to make any real difference
in Vietnam-bombed, ghetto-burned amerika..
he began opening day with nazi germany
most interesting to would-be educators he thought
because they were thought to be so “educated”
now what should we suppose that word to mean?
and to what end might we presume to educate?
how to write a grammatically perfect essay?
how to properly devour a poem?
how to synthesize, sanctify and memorize
key facts about our literary heritage?
why? why? why? this nervously twitching wispy man
with his new york squawk just wouldn’t let up –
he poked, probed, and prodded (indifferent to politeness)
we second-guessed and reassessed our wisdom and its whiteness…

finally one undone with questions (a well-dressed girl


with probably impeccable penmanship) burst into passionate sobs
as her make-up ran she stammered: “I’ve been in school
my whole life and I’ve done well – always gotten good grades –
but I’ve never had a teacher like you – never had to do
what you’re making me do – and I don’t know what to do –
you’re making me think!”
Sheridan offered no tissue (just a deep satisfied grin)
like a crafty old fisherman who’s just landed a nice one
Where I’m From
by Lorna Gonzalez (’09)

I am from the same sponge


for the table as for dishes.
I am from a swing set and dirt
After They’ve Gone to Bed
by Lisa Torina (’09) where dark earth is the chocolate,
moist sand the peanut butter,
and top sand the sugar—
a shiny, silver hard hat
all of it mud pie in my summer dress.
the size of my finger tip
in the corner of the kitchen
I am from “tell your father it’s time for dinner”
“Na-uh” and “Ya-huh”.
two white ruffled socks
I am from icons made from rocks
with tiny pink rosettes
and Christos Anesti on my name day.
tossed near a bedroom door
I am from Louis and Stephanie
a rock in my pocket
who are from Yia Yia and Papou
an upside down book
who were from Athens and Kalamata
scattered
before they were from here.
like crumbs on a dinner plate
I am from please, and yes,
and thank you very much
and in the stillness
and put the dishes in the dishwasher
I pause
when you’re finished with supper.
as if already remembering
In my hope chest, there are journals,
Wednesday Morning
and pictures, and memories, and promises
by Lisa Torina (’09)
to put flowers on their graves
when I visit sometime soon.
behind a trailer
on my way to work, staring
at a horse’s ass
Before the Stroll Through by Dorothy Jardin (’90)
For the Teachers

Before the stroll through what is not known, the galloping confusion
throwing protests into the numbers and words on the board,
before the walk through the Museums of Natural History, Modern Art, Technology;
before Hamlet, existentialism, the Rise of the Republic, the fall of the stock market,
osmosis, the anatomy of fetal pigs, the past perfect, logarithms’

before fear turns them into lizards or drowsing snakes,


we are supposed to spread the map on the table,
watch for where their eyes fall and the fingers point.
Do they know the continent? Can they name the oceans, a river or two,
the town with the saint’s name and who that was? When someone knows
where the sun rises, you can ask about temperatures, angles, why eggplants
are purple, what “to be or not to be” predicts,
letting everyone sit quietly in his or her garden with its branches and shadows,
its month of the year, sprouting or bare, celebrating Now,
which could be breathing the Mississippi, kissing, a sprained right ankle, hamburgers
for lunch or maybe grilled cheese.

Ask where they are lost or found, gathering them eye by eye, ears by hearts to an
Enduring Meaning: the cosmos, theories of time and light, perception and motivation.
But today’s lesson a particular road.
Let’s see where it leads, whose feet we might be following, some seeker
of a golden fleece, some curious fool, ticked, nearly drowned but
spat out on the sand; answering the third question, crowned king or queen,
the map lines folding into towers and ballrooms before the bell rings, before the final.
Saxophonist by Dorothy Jardin (’90)
(for Kenneth Radnofsky)

A teacher told the saxophonist that only perfect counted.


Nothing less than perfect mattered.
It took years to silence that voice,
to let what is best of any moment be.

Not so long ago a friend told him to relax.


The audience wants to hear the timbre of the life
you bring to Bach and Benny Goodman.

The saxophonist who had played Carnegie Hall at thirty


told fourth graders and Dunn Middle School—practice, practice, practice.
You don’t know yet what you will love later. It might be
math or music. It might be walking on your toes, handwriting.

He’d dreamed of the trumpet but had buck teeth which turned the bell
downward, not the proper public position, so he chose the sax because
it was the same color.

Why did he stick to it even after his teeth were flat?


Why do some things hook us until we’re holding their hands
like lovers, until we’re studying them like maps directing us home,
until one page of black marks says everything there is to say
and our fingers dance on the holes effortlessly, our breaths sing and
sing what neither our hearts or mind alone could know, could never
know without the instrument, patient with our imperfection,
its darkness open to the moment we meet ourselves as sounds.
Watering by Dorothy Jardin (’90)
1.
Listening to the sprinkler spit water
onto the lily leaves, bubble the pond water:

high arches aimed into the rosemary bushes,


iris, and sage circling the cement lip.

A real pond would be receiving rain,


not water pumped up from a high water table

in a semi-arid valley where succulents cup


mist and pull it underground

I’m hypnotized by the repetition: tsk tsk tsk tsk tsk


and want to nap in this hammock

tied between two cottonwood trees losing their leaves,


the golden hearts whose smell I have known since childhood

where their roots reached the Red River


from a backyard where their stickiness and flying cotton were resented.

These irrigated cottonwoods don’t flower.


They do whisper. They do shimmer and shake.

2.
Once I asked my middle school students to relax on the floor
to see if they could sound like the sprinklers outside and they could.

They listened that well and their tongues obeyed their ears.
Not all classes can become rotating water drops.

They could green a dry field.


What’s important in the world?

I’m supposed to decide, being a teacher with precious few hours.


How to pay attention? To what? Why?

If we can be water we can be the ocean and sky, the apple for lunch.
We can feed each other.

We can transform, travel, cleanse. We can live in the world


as hosts, be needed, be prayed for.

We can be visited by blue wings, the tongues of deer and coyotes.


We can reflect silver, catch gold and give it back.
South Coast Writing Project
Gevirtz Graduate School of Education
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106

THE SCWRIP DIRECTORIAL STAFF:


Director: Carol Dixon, Ph.D.
Co-Director: Randi Browing
Co-Director: Rosemary Cabe
Co-Director: Joni Chancer
Co-Director: Jack Phreaner
Co-Director: Aline Shapiro
http://education.ucsb.edu/scwrip/

South Coast Writing Project


Gevirtz Graduate School of Education NONPROFIT ORG.
University of California U.S. POSTAGE
PAID
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
SANTA BARBARA, CA
PERMIT NO. 104