For:Getting

For:Getting

By Margaret Dalton, Washington High School, Sioux Falls Public Schools

As I approached the USD Music Museum, my mind was filled with images of my grandfather and the music he use to create.  This was the first stop on my writing marathon, and I was inspired before the building came into sight.  Memories of sitting with Grandpa at his computer while he composed music would soon cover my page.  In my mind, Grandpa is music and the root of my musicality.  As I entered the building, I could hardly wait to find a place to compose my own kind of music. Continue reading

We Diigo

We Diigo

By Margaret Dalton, Washington High School, Sioux Falls Public Schools

Throughout the last century, development in technology has taken us from the typewriter to the computer to the Internet, one over-lapping the other in ways that replace, revamp, and revitalize.  Since the dawn of these technologies, society has clamored for those of us in education to “find meaningful ways to incorporate” the latest and greatest into the classroom (Haas 3).  For some, this translates into taking large risks by using tools that are unfamiliar and perhaps even daunting; for others, technology is already a natural extension of what we do.  Either way, both types of educators come face to face with the same challenging task of applying technology to education in a meaningful way.  As a member of Generation M, I fall into the latter category with technology being an innate addition to my teaching.  Because of that, I am quick to experiment with new programs and try them with my students.  This past year, I experimented with NoodleTools, an online note card and works cited tool, and while I did manage to find a meaningful way to incorporate this piece of technology, I also hit a few speed bumps along the way that caused some of its meaningfulness to chip away.  I walked away from the experience wondering if there were a way to make online research both more manageable and more meaningful for my students.  I may have found the answer to my question in the combination of the cultural anthropological research of Dr. Michael Wesch and a collaborative online program named Diigo.  Together, the two create both a platform for online research management and a framework of meaning for the online research process. Continue reading

Summer’s Promise

Summer’s Promise

(Vacation at Table Rock Lake, Ozark Mountains)

By Virginia Gaines, University of South Dakota

Summer’s promise. Five-thirty AM.

Inside, gentle slumbers – filtered light

Streams through drawn drapes;

Outside, cardinals chirping, bugs buzzing, gentle breezes, swaying pines,

Sunrise’s pink horizon, wispy clouds in young blue skies

Reflecting on Ozark’s Table Rock Lake, whispering

Silences; Continue reading

Cover Letter

Cover Letter

By Virginia Gaines, University of South Dakota

Dear Michelle and Karen,

In my portfolio, you will see various examples of my writing during the Dakota Writing Project 2010 Summer Institute. The month of June has flown by, and it is hard to believe only four short weeks ago I was cautiously looking around the room wondering what I had gotten myself into! I can honestly say this has been one of the most challenging, beneficial, and enjoyable experiences of my life as a writer.

I have learned much and grown as a writer, and yet, I realize how much more there is to learn. Before the Institute, I was fairly confident about my academic writing abilities. After all, I did get accepted to the English Department graduate program! Continue reading

Writing Into the Day – Day 1

Writing into the Day – Day 1

By Jan Harmon, Hurley Public Schools

I walk into the DWP Summer Institute with some apprehension.  I have not truly written in years.  My entrance essay was several hours of writing, editing, asking for help, and writing again.  Now I am among experienced writers with tons of talent, a silent ant among the chirping grasshoppers.

But, smiling friendly faces greet me as I walk into the room and find my seat at the end of a long table.  I feel a wave of relief.  I am among friends.  Our room is arranged in a rectangle with tables around the outside of the room.  We all find an empty chair, sit, chatter, and wait expectantly for what is to come. Continue reading

Dropping Into the Past

Dropping Into the Past

By Pam Holloway, Axtell Park Middle School, Sioux Falls Public Schools

I close my eyes and am transported back to Wagner, SD, the scene of my interview for my first year of teaching.  Fresh out of college, eager to have my own classroom, I looked forward to showing my “expertise” (chuckle, chuckle) with the interview team.  My parents and I drove out to Wagner together, and when I left the car, my dad said, “If you get the job, I’ll by Chinese for supper tonight.”  He figured he was safe because it was rare — and still is — that a contract was offered right after an interview.

Wagner had just built a new K-12 school that would be ready by the time school began that fall.  This was the time of “open classrooms,” and I had student taught at Harvey Dunn Elementary, in the gold cluster, which consisted of two fourth grade classrooms, one fifth grade classroom, and a commons area in the fourth corner.  The setup in Wagner was three-cornered for three sixth grade classrooms with short cupboards between them.  The position was for teaching sixth grade language arts, reading, and social studies. Continue reading

“Starry Night Over the Rhone”

“Starry Night Over the Rhone”

By Beth Kopfmann, Mitchell Middle School

A couple is quietly walking along the shore of the glittering water, looking at the tan, brown, and deep wood colors of the sadly abandoned, shipwrecked boat along the side of the gracefully flowing river. Their feet quickly shuffle across the hay-like textured grass that has gently fallen as a result of the river winds and cooling autumn temperatures. They glance across the tributary to see the soft glow coming from the small welcoming houses that illuminate and reflect off of the midnight blue surface of the river. They hear the waves rippling up onto the shore as it echoes across the peaceful night.  They take in deep breaths of the fresh water smell and the newly baked breads that waft over from the inviting neighborhood across the way. As they tip their heads back to look up at the starry sky, they see all the different hues of the stars- lemon yellow, light pink, green, and even different shades of blue against the anything but plain black sky. Explosions of color throughout the sky create the illusion that the shades of blue, green, and purple are coming together in the majestic dance among the stars. Tightly clutching their furs and heavy coats around themselves to avoid the cool breeze of the crisp fall night, they proceed on with their evening stroll.

Washington’s Defeat

Washington’s Defeat

By Dustin Lenhoff, Knollwood Heights Elementary

In the deep, dark trenches of George W. Bush Elementary, there lived a teacher.  He was a pleasant sort who enjoyed being around eager learners.  It would be on this day that utter, cataclysmic disaster would befall our confident guide.

He had planned and practiced a wonderful lesson about the Revolutionary War. There would be skits, costumes, pictures, writing, and a textbook!  All materials were in place, his timing down to the minute, and a warm cup o’ joe fueling his confidence. “This will be epic!” he gleamed.

Just then a murmur came from the hall, which grew into chatter, which swelled into a disturbing are-you-kidding-me roar.  The students took their seats and the roar dissipated. Continue reading

Storms

Storms

By Sherry Leasure, Eagle Pride Alternative High School, Andes Central Schools

After a long day, I finished up my lessons for the Dakota Writing project, showered, and put on my jammies.  I then made a couple of phone calls and listened to Shawn Cable’s weather report.  He stated that strong winds, heavy rains, and possible hail could hit the Vermillion area.  Great!  How can I go to sleep now?  Where do people go when they are in a motel and the weather is threatening to become rampant?

Padding to the desk, I decided to find out what the Comfort Inn’s plan was.  Oh no!  This was the clerk I asked the last time I stayed here, and she told me to go to the bathroom.  I stated I did not need the bathroom but was wondering where to go in case of severe weather.  She was not sure but emailed a co-worker.  Guess what?  She did not know either. Continue reading