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Empowering Acts 2014

Empowering Acts, 2014 (LRA Presentation)

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Writing Our Lives – Syracuse

In the fall of 2009, Dr. Marcelle Haddix came to me with an idea for having a writing conference for adolescents in the Syracuse area. We immediately began networking with individuals in public schools, private schools, community agencies, and at Syracuse University. Under her vision, we held the first annual WRITING OUR LIVES Conference at the historic Dunbar Center. Although we anticipated 70 participants, we had well over 100! Students found their way to the conference on a Saturday morning – a non-school day – because they wanted to write and they wanted to compose.

That fall, Marcelle and I began writing a grant to continue the Writing Our Lives project with a writing group at one local high school. We were funded the Joan N. Burstyn Endowed Fund for Collaborative Research award for our efforts and were able to establish one writing group for adolescents in one school, but also planted seeds for multiple other projects. The money helped pay, for example, to purchase sets of books and journals for students. We were also able to buy flip cameras and to promote digital story telling with the young people we worked with. Marcelle was able to promote a Summer Reading Program for middle school boys while I became part of an Early College High School project with rising 9th graders. In addition, I began working with a Somali Bantu Summer Writing Group that was partly established through the International Young Scholars program at Hendricks Chapel of Syracuse University.

This year, WRITING OUR LIVES 2010 will be bigger and better. The conference will bring in adolescents, 6th – 12th grade, for several sessions to promote writing in their lives. In addition, it will collaborate with Syracuse City School District’s Building Men initiatives and continue supporting Syracuse City School District initiatives of building stronger writers.

For more information, please visit the WRITING OUR LIVES website hosted at Syracuse University’s School of Education/Reading and Language Arts Center.


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Teaching Adolescent Literature

In the Fall of 2009, I designed a course, Teaching Adolescent Literature, in hopes of offering it to undergraduate and graduate students in the near future. Although this course has not been implemented at this time, I have received valuable support and advice from my academic mentors, Drs. Kelly Chandler-Olcott and Marcelle Haddix, on its creation and design. Dr. Haddix has also invited me on two occasions to do workshops with her graduate students enrolled in an Adolescent Literature class at Syracuse University.

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Composing Processes with Dr. Marcelle Haddix

In the fall of 2009, I had the honor of teaching with Dr. Marcelle Haddix, EDU 614 – The Composing Process. The course featured many objectives, including participation in the first Writing Our Lives Conference for adolescents and contributing to NCTE’s National Gallery for Writing. Dr. Haddix was a great role model for teaching this class and provided me with tremendous ideas for my future.

Staying with the tradition for writing to all my high school graduates, , I composed a good-bye acrostic to the first cohort at Syracuse University I was able to work with – “Composed”.

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The Writing Our Lives project is open to Nottingham students interested in exploring their lives through inquiry projects, self-exploration, ethnography, technology, and writing. The goals of this project are to encourage high school students to explore their community, their lived experiences, and their growing voices as students, writers, ethnographers, and critical thinkers.

Monday, March 15, 2010

An Invitation

An Introduction: Marcelle and Bryan

Defining Ethnography

About “Writing our Lives”

The Writer’s Notebook

Planting The Seeds of Personal Interests

Modeling Digital Writing

Sample One

Sample Two

Sample Three

Sample Four

Spoken Work/Performance Pieces

What We Need From You

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Moving to Syracuse

As part of my new learning at Syracuse University, I began playing around with the possibilities of using digital storytelling to make sense of my post-Kentucky learning.  Specifically, I tried to teach myself how to podcast and write a digital story through assignments given to me in my coursework.

Thinking about this, I realize there were three steps: ┬áMy poetic doodles, my attempt at a podcast for what visual thinking sounds like, and then with a project I dedicated to James A’Kech Mangui.

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