Daily Archives: May 3, 2009

Sample Recommendations




calvin-on-scientific-law1As a teacher of seniors in high school, writing recommendations became a nightly norm.  One student, in fact, requested over 86 recommendations in her senior and it paid off:  she didn’t pay a sent for college.  I joked with Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott after I finished my last recommendation for my last senior class that I was done completely.  She laughed and said, “Your job will be a continuation of such an artform.”  I had one semester break and now I’m writing recommendations again.  

Attached are (Sample One) and (Sample Two).  They demonstrate how I support students as they push themselves towards their careers as teachers.

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Contact Information

Bryan Ripley Crandall

Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield

Fairfield University – Canisius Hall

1073 North Benson Road

Fairfield, Connecticut  06824

203-254-4000 ext. 3123

Email Bryan Here 

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  • indian3Crandall, B.R. (2009). Adding a disability perspective when reading adolescent literature: Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. In The ALAN Review, January
  • Crandall, B.R. (2007). Thoughts from a high school English teacher; A reflection on writing portfolios, on-demand writing and changes made with CATS assessment — good writing is good writing. Kentucky English Bulletin, Vol. 56. Nos. 2 &  3. Kentucky: Western Kentucky University.
  • Crandall, B.R. (2006). Under the Zia Sun – Santa Fe, Bread Loaf Campus, poem, in La Miga
  • Crandall, B.R. (2003). Song for the Sudanese Lost Boys. The Journey (article) &  Monday Morning (ten-minute script) in Ring of Fire.  Louisville Writing Project, University of Louisville
  • Crandall, B.R. (1998). Environmental english; sustaining the environment through the marriage of earth and words. In Omnibus. Greater Louisville English Council

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University Service

writingIn the school where I taught, it was a strong part of our mission that everyone gave back to the community as much as possible. This shared value is with me in my University work and I cherish this work.

Professional Development for Local Schools:

When I first arrived to Syracuse, schools often wrote to the University seeking professional development on best practices for teaching writing. Some are specific to particular methods, such as the Collins writing method or 6+1 Traits. With fellow graduate students or as solo projects, bringing professional development on writing into local schools has brought many leadership roles: Collins Writing. I’ve often been fortunate to work with school districts, both public and private, on establishing CFGs (Critical Friends Groups) for building writing instruction, as well. Whether a one-day session or a year-long effort, the PD I’ve been able to provide has been very well received: Sample PD.

African American Read-In:

Dr. Marcelle Haddix placed an all-call to Faculty and Graduate Students in my department to participate in the 2009 African American Read In at Levy K-8 School in Syracuse on Tuesday, February 24. This event was sponsored by the National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) and the Black Caucus of NCTE and endorsed by the International Reading Association. The goal of this event was to make the celebration of African American literacy a traditional part of Black History Month activities. Each year, schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the African American Read In, and I was excited to volunteer.

Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers. Our department adopted Levy K-8 School as the site for our Read In. For more information about the African American Read In: http://ncte.org/action/aari .

I put together a medley of African American poets and went to the school ready to play my part. I wasn’t prepared for over sixty students and my nerves went haywire (as one girls said, “You sure did sweat!”. I worked with the students for a half hour and then asked them to give me the words they have for their dreams. I took their words and wrote a quick “found” poem. I sent it to their class and the students sent me many thank you notes. It was a great day! (Gettin’ Heavy, Levy; A Poem to Celebrate Us All!)

Writing Group – CFG:

A big part of my Kentucky life was as a coach with a Critical Friends Group (About CFGs).  For ten years, I had numerous opportunities to professionally work with other professionals to discuss our teaching practice, our concerns, and our hopes with one another.  Our team of supporting teachers operated on a mission that together we could grow much stronger than if alone.

In the Spring of ’09, a school district contacted me and wondered if I could run a series of sessions on teaching writing.  Because they were a k – 12 school, I asked if it might be better to put together a leadership team of 12 individuals to form a CFG on Writing Instruction.  That is exactly what we did.

Sessions began with the use of a “dilemma protocol” where teachers from all grade levels and content areas wrote about the trouble they have with writing instruction.  The collection was compiled into a larger dilemma of how their district can begin tackling the writing tasks necessary for the 21st Century.  From the compiled list, the team stated goals, including the design of a k – 12 writing policy, for our meetings.

My job as a coach is to lead discussions and work with them on THEIR concerns.  Our three hour sessions have been very educational and given me more direction of where I think I need to go with my own academic work (Writing CFG Session II)


On February 16, 2009, I presented to Graduate Students who are a part of the Student Organization of Literacy Educators and Researchers (SOLER) on the possibilities of using Web Logs (Blogs) as a place for us to professionally share our work.  The conversation was parallel to the work I did for Dr. Rachel Brown’s class on blogging, but it was also a time for my peer group to think about how they might wish to use their own Blog to highlight their interests.


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Feedback to Students




As an educator in a public school, I was often known for writing pages of feedback to my student writers and assigning odd grades like “Q” and “Z” to students with an explanation that grading, at times, transcends the scale we’re given in school.  My assessments for SED 413/613 and EDU 508 demonstrate how I adhered to the Portfolio Rubric at Syracuse University and the Observation Document Forms.  With in class assessments, I often took a more creative approach and would draw back responses or poetically offer my insight.  Because I am an outside of the box thinker, I tend to model assessment that is also outside of the box.  In one, in class assignment, I asked students to respond to our activities poetically.  They hated me for it, but I also responded back to them artistically (Creative Assessments).  

I am also capable of formal assessments as some of my models show.


During EDU 508, I carefully took field notes to capture the lessons being taught by student teachers.  I would attach these field notes to the end of the Observation form (sample student-observation) so students had an opportunity to read a play-by-play of what occurred while they were teaching.  Often, while teaching, a leader has a difficult time keeping up with all that is going on and the running narrative is a window into the room they can’t consider while being in charge.  It is an excellent way for student teachers and me to discuss the lesson that was observed.  In addition, it gives me material to use when writing the formal observation assessment as the sample above shows.

Portfolio Assessments:

Another of my responsibilities as a teaching assistant for Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott is to score student teacher portfolios and to be a table leader for the presentations they give on each.  This year, while scoring portfolios and hearing presentations, it became very obvious how much influence the work Kelly and I did in EDU 413/613 had on the fledgling teachers.  In several portfolios, students included items where my conversation with them became an example of how they met particular proficiencies (From Student Portfolios).  At the completion of their portfolios, too, I was responsible for scoring and giving feedback to the students.  These hand written documents will be used as these students begin a longer student-teaching placement in the Fall(Portfolio Assessment Sample 1) (Portfolio Assessment Sample 2).

Poetic Good-byes:

A long tradition of saying so-long to students is through writing an acrostic poem for each of my students.  As a public school teacher, I had over 600 students and I did my best to write poetically for them.  When students in SED 415/615 completed their twelve-week placement, I chose to write them a final farewell, poetically, too (finalexpression).

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SED 413/613, SED 415/615 w/Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott

chandler-olcottIn the Spring of ’09 and in collaboration with SED 508, Supervision, I co-taught SED 413/613  “Methods and Materials for Teaching English” and SED 415/615 ” Teacher Development in English” with Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott.  As part of my teaching assistantship with the Future Professoriate Program, I co-taught lessons and added my leadership as we assisted student teachers before and after their field placements.  The syllabi for SED 413/613 (SED 413/613) and (SED 415/615) were designed by Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott and under her guidance, we collaborated on daily lessons, met about instructional activities, and brainstormed about providing the best instruction for our students. 

The following is an example of how we worked together in SED 413/613.  Kelly would often ask if I’d like to take a “stab” at a lesson plan and I’d consider what we’ve read, where we still needed to go, and where Kelly was, sequentially, the year before.  I would do a sample plan and I’d email her a copy.  She’d offer me feedback (Sample Collaboration) and together we’d finalize a plan of action.  In this particular lesson plan, Kelly and I wanted students to think about how they’d create their own unit of instruction and, here, I suggested I share a unit (9th Grade Sample Poetry Unit) I created with 9th graders.  The model was used to assist students in thinking how they might think about providing a framework to their students, too.  The level of support I received from Kelly is remarkable. Together, we tried our best to build off one another’s knowledge and, for the first time, assisted student teachers with the creation of a digital story reflection at the end of the semester.

Early in the semester, Kelly began tapping into the power of YouTube and we discussed multi-mediated presentations with students.  We thought it would be interesting to look at pop-cultural representations of teachers, especially English teachers, in the media to begin a discussion about what teaching English is supposed to be.  The clips we used, which I compiled in a document (Teaching Films) was very useful in opening activities with our instruction.

Kelly also offered me irreplaceable feedback and kept running notes when I taught (offering me a lot to think about).

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