Currently teaching Grade 9; past experience includes grades 10, 11, and 12
Currently teaching Digital Literacy; past experience includes College Preparatory English, GATE English, Honors English, Advanced Placement Language and Composition, and Advanced Placement Literature and Composition
Bullard High School / Fresno Unified School District
Local Writing Project:
San Joaquin Valley Writing Project (SJVWP)
Awards & Recognition
- SJVWP Teacher Consultant
Baptism in the 2005 Invitational Leadership Institute in the Teaching of Writing opened my eyes to the possibilities of teaching writing in a creative, communicative, and collaborative environment. The teacher-as-student model has allowed me to see what works and what doesn’t before an assignment lands in my students’ hands. My participation in the SJVWP encourages me to experiment with lessons and activities in order to determine best practices that will support students’ growth as writers. With summative assessments, I strive to make writing an event -- whether asking students to create a metaphorical comparison for a literary character, challenging them to craft an original definition for an abstract noun, or guiding them through a multi-genre exploration of a concept. I promote choice in writing so that all students have opportunity for success.
Participating in a writing group during the Invitational Leadership Institute revived the enjoyment of writing and reminded me of the challenges that students face when presented with a writing task. I believe that everyone has the potential to be a powerful storyteller, but students do not always have the tools they need to share the narratives of their lives. Being a writer, as well as a teacher of writing, informs my practice. I model writing for students, allowing them to critique my work and assess my style. I play with words and encourage students to engage in word play; I break rules and push students to be rule-breakers.
My involvement with SJVWP has pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me become a more polished presenter. I have led sessions at CATE conferences, participated in project-led professional development at various schools in the San Joaquin Valley, and facilitated workshops for SJVWP programs. I have been closely aligned to our Invitational Leadership Institute, having served as a Mentoring Director or Co-Director the past 7 of 11 years. Most importantly, the SJVWP has shown me the power of teachers leading teachers and the excitement that is generated when strategic lessons and ideas are shared and vetted. I have volunteered or been selected for staff leadership roles at every school where I have taught -- a natural outgrowth of the training that I’ve received through the SJVWP.
Writing is one of the most important forms of self-expression; therefore, every student has a right to share opinions and ideas through written language. Every student is unique and a writing teacher has an obligation to help students identify and develop their writers’ voices. All students can improve their writing when participating in strategic lessons and activities -- and students are often the most important critics/advisers of each other’s writing. Student writing should be celebrated, whether posted in a physical space or a digital environment.
The Nine Rights of Every Writer by Vicki Spandel laid the foundation for my writing classroom. Spandel argues for practicing a range of student freedoms -- including off-topic writing and personalized writing process -- to engage writers of any age. The author notes that the “what” and “how” aspects of writing assignments often determine whether students plunge in eagerly or detach completely. The book led me to think outside of the box when developing writing assignments for my classes.