Together We Make a Difference in Writing

Anyone who knows me or who has been through this way (my blog) knows how intensely passionate I feel about writing. To sharpen my heightened interest in it, I participated in the National Writing Project, which has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a recipient of one of its i3  “Validation” awards. According to Elyse Eidman-Aadahl of NWP, “The ‘validation grant’ recognizes the performance of a particular program…The focus is on high need rural districts and work at grades 7-10.” NWP is among 20 organizations the Department identified as having the highest-rated applications (HRA) for FY 2012.

Eidman-Aadahl explains further that the goal of the validation strand in i3 is to produce the data that would recognize (essentially qualify) an entity or an approach for further investment. If NPW does well, it will pass a huge hurdle for future federal investment, and that is a very significant achievement.

This validation is conditional, that NWP raises its own funds to match that awarded by the USDOE. As USDOE puts it, “Potential i3 grantees under the U.S. Department of Education’s i3 program are responsible for obtaining private-sector matching funds or in-kind donations.

Someone made a very crucial point. “It is absurd to imagine that any child will be able to earn a living, let alone contribute to resolving our world’s complex problems, without knowing how to read and write…” Isabel Allende

NWP needs your help to sustain the different programs it runs for our nation. Please support the national and the local (Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project) sites that continue to provide vital resources to schools and higher education institutions across the country.  Click on this link to give generously.

Your contribution supports:

  • Student achievement in writing
  • Teacher excellence through high-quality professional development for teachers in all disciplines, early childhood through university
  • Leveraging the power of digital technology and the internet for use by teachers and young people
  • Writing instruction for teachers and students in high-need schools and communities
  • A national network of teacher-leaders and Writing Project sites building knowledge about writing and learning in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Referencing the USDOE information on i3 validation, “These grants will (1) allow eligible entities to expand and develop innovative practices that can serve as models of best practices, (2) allow eligible entities to work in partnership with the private sector and the philanthropic community, and (3) identify and document best practices that can be shared and taken to scale based on demonstrated success.”–Investing in Innovation (i3)

I am a member of the National Writing Proram, a journey that I was very lucky to be chosen to be a part of this summer (2012), a journey that transformed my life, view, and appreciation of all teachers and students of writing.

Although teachers know the intrinsic connection between writing and higher level thinking, it comes as a welcome reminder when NPW awakens our awareness of that fact. “Across the popular press, reporters and commentators have sounded the centrality of writing in the Common Core; the significance of writing in coherent, thoughtful curricula; and the clear connection between success in writing and success in college and career.”

Thousands of teachers are members of NWP, and I am one of such lucky people. When you visit my National Writing Program page, you will see my Knowledge Cloud, words that I have used in my postings on the NWP site collected together much like a Wordle. That’s how amazing the National Writing Program is.

Writing is a very beneficial aspect of humanity, the most significant quality that truly pits the intelligence of humans above any other species. I am growing in my connection to writing and to writing friends. Together we can make a difference in writing and in helping NWP continue its unmatched efforts.

Frances Ohanenye’s Knowledge Cloud

KMWP Wraps It Up with Fanfare: I Am So Grown!

All Good Things Must End

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 28, 2012 at 10:57am

Is this phrase the coinage of a realist or the clamoring doomsday chant of a party pooper? Regardless, and sadly, our workshop ends. It ends without my desire. It ends according to schedule. It ends because there is a calendar that dictates the order of things, the end of things, and the finality to life and events.

It is unbelievable how much growth is possible in three short weeks. My mind expanded, my appreciation ballooned, my writing jumped up and touched the sky, and my empathy broke like a dam and spilled over.

I have made many new friends. This is really the coming together of the most profound think tanks, so gifted, so profound in insights, and so grateful to be handed the hand we were given, and what an endowing hand. I am transformed for ever and for good.

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Missing Something Before You Miss It

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 26, 2012 at 9:32am

The thought of missing something puts us in a very pensive, regretful, and avoidance mode and mood. We start dreading that reality and wishing we could stop it from coming to an end. Such is the feeling rampant among many KMWP fellows this week as we wind down. We voiced different aspects of our day we would miss.

Most of us agreed that we would miss our morning report. More than anything, it revealed to us the ingenuity in each fellow as we dug deep into our originality to produce a report worthy of keeping sleepy heads awake and alive enough to bring forth laughter.

We will miss (and that is the phrase that resonates frequently: “We will miss…”) our writing time that forces us to put down thoughts worthy of publication. According to Dr. Rob Montgomery, our gifted and fearless leader, a talented writer without the discipline to write every day will not be as successful as a disciplined writer with little or no talent. The latter will make a lot of money because time is money and showing up dutifully to work guarantees a paycheck.

If I take nothing away today, it will be that I need to adjust the lens through which I see this writing thing. I have loved showing up to work daily as a reader. I just have to make myself show up daily as a writer. My perception has been clouded by many misperceptions and misconceptions. I will write daily. I will write daily. I will write daily...

40 views           Add new comment                 1 comment: Posted by Patricia Valley

June 26, 2012 at 3:35pm

It’s validating to know I am not alone.  But missing something makes us appreciate it more too.  We have a funny expression in my family that is meant the be endearing.  How can I miss you if you won’t go away?  🙂

Exiting with a Mountain-High Bang!

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 25, 2012 at 10:04am

Today marks the last week of our KMWP summer fellowship journey. I fight the feeling of sadness that threatens to envelope me. I can’t help but want this session to last the entire summer. Alas, it won’t or can’t grant my wish.

Just like the lightning that struck my house over the weekend and created a very loud bang as it fried several electronics, we are going out with a definite and resounding thump as I hear the activities lined up for our last days.

I love to see my name in print. We are publishing an anthology, presenting a skit or some similar act, having lunch at a restaurant, having lunch at a former KMWP fellow’s house, having lunch catered on the last day, receiving our KMWP T-shirts, presenting our demos, meeting in our reading groups, meeting in our writing groups to finalize our skit, and so many other activities. If these all do not make a mountain-high of a bang, I don’t know what does.

Wednesday is my demo. As the last demo presenter, you can imagine my position. I am the last person to demo! Do you feel my stress? I want to go out with a bang as well, louder than the one the lightning made in my house. I have learned to make a grand exit (and entrance). I hope I won’t disappoint myself this time.

Third Week Is International!

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 22, 2012 at 9:40am

Born overseas, I gravitate to all things of a worldly nature. I have always been a child of the world first before identifying with my country, Nigeria. This week has been of immense interest. We have savored foods from France, Germany, Brazil, and Costa Rica. We have immersed ourselves deep in culture and have grown in leaps and bounds for our open-mindedness.

Our perspectives enlarge and reflect our acquisition and appreciation of the different.  I cannot convey with sufficient eloquence and conviction my gratitude for being allowed to take part in the National Writing Project. I have met colleagues who fill my intellect with food for thought and meditation.

This is the third week, and we show no signs of staleness or tiredness. We still perceive everything in new light and still anticipate our event-filled days with a child’s rightful impatience. I don’t want to look at the end of the tunnel. I am busy enjoying all the landscapes, unique explorations, and captivating events that pile my minutes and hours.

I am ecstatic to be here.

Half of My Fun Is Still Ahead (KMWP)

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 21, 2012 at 9:31am

We arrive at this juncture in the workshop, and I can either bemoan the past days or look forward to the remaining days, the equivalent of the glass being half full or half empty. I choose the glass being half full because I have so much to look forward to. Even if KMWP wraps up today, I still have so much for which to look forward, especially our reunion in October.

With the glass half full, I am looking forward to my own Demo (demonstration) of a lesson that I will teach when school resumes. The initial cloud of anxiety has cleared, and I am pumped up. I have observed several amazing demos from every teacher in here, past and present fellows, ideas I intend to use, ideas to propel my teaching forward exponentially. (I know, another “-ly” word just crept in.)

With the glass half full, I am looking forward to my writing group’s presentation, which we have not decided what we will showcase. I cannot wait to get there, to arrive at next week. Excitement fills me at the numerous events we have waiting.

I look forward to each day as it unfolds with uncertainty because no two have been identical and no two days will. I am growing, still.

Poetry, Poetry, Poetry, Wherefore Art Thou, Poetry?

Added by Frances Ohanenye on Jun 20, 2012 at 9:39am

I am re-learning poetry, rediscovering its makeup, its characteristics, its facial features, grooming, and wherewithal. I write poetry, but I don’t write the regular poetry for the regular person. I write poetry filled with elevated vocabulary. There are those who write with simple vocabulary. There are those who write with mid-range words. I write with “big” words that may cause one of two people a headache. I apologize in advance.

How can I be true to me if I change who I am? I use “big” words naturally. They just come to me. I don’t know what that means for the general poetry public: that my poems will never be read? That people will get turned off by my poems because they do not want to crack open a dictionary in order to grow?

What do we tell our students, our children, ourselves? We say, “If you are reading a book, and you know all the words, that book is below your reading level.”

That makes my point. I want people to grow intellectually when they read my poem. I want them to acquire new words. I want them to read, re-read, and re-read my poems until the poem make sense, until those “big” words get cracked through any skills the reader has: context clues, word association, and so on.

So I write and will keep writing poetry in that hope that I will not compromise me in order to be and sound like all other poets out there. In order to stay true to me, I cannot be the other poets out there. Does that mean that no one will buy my poetry books when I publish them eventually? I guess so, and I am comfortable with that.

Not to say that I am Missy Elliot, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, or any other artist out there who dared to be different. I feel in my bones that I must be true to me and let the world accept my poems as they are. I am hoping that there are those who will. Get a taste at Thank you for visiting.

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1 comment: Posted by Fatima Abdulkazem, June 21, 2012 at 10:09am

I loved your poetry… It’s fancy…it’s tasty!

I also loved it because it teased my brain…and knocked on closed doors of knowledge to open!

i am just discovering an emerging poet in me…Your poems are inspiring


A Snapshot of My Days in the Ongoing KMWP

A Multi-talented Room Is KMWP (June 19, 2012)

It is a room where thoughts spread and sprinkle like a kaleidoscope of bubbles: rich, composed of many faces seemingly alike, but what comes out blows the mind.

It is a room filled with pervasive positive interactions.

It is a room of compassionate educators who carry their empathy for students in the words they put out without being aware of the depth of their compassion.

It is a room to which I race every morning filled with genuine and from-head-to-toe anticipation.

It is a room that gives me a 10x magnifying lens into many positive and progressive aspects of the humanity I love so much.

It is a room from where I know I will emerge a transcendental writer, so multi-layered, so grown, so wise, so much more compassionate, so much more grateful to be in this business of education that has been the center of my life’s force.

It is a room that I will carry with me in my emotions, as a reference material and as a guide book, as a memory that will cause my heart to skip in gratitude that I finally was chosen to be a part of concepts, processes, and topics that propel me to examine old topics in new lights and new topics in future lights.

It is a room of my dreams, making my imagination real.



The Second Friday of KMWP Sizzles! (June 15, 2012)

Things that sizzle force me to response with many reactions, imagined or real: excitement, anticipation, nourishment, and the fulfillment of that noisy imagery that grabs my attention and refuses to allow me to take it for granted.

Today dawns with a higher level of awareness of promises of growth, a higher call to what must be achieved with joy.  I am pumped, ready, filled with all the  eagerness of a child watching chopped onions sizzle in a pan, forecasting the certainty of being fed.

Today shoots off like a meteor as fingers grip pens and dive nose down in a white-water-rafting plunge of adrenal activity, “The English Throw Down”. We threw down on demand with elaborate sentences, figures of speech interspersed like black pepper. We borrow words from any foreign language on demand and from someone’s quotation, famous or not. We throw down. Somehow our creative thoughts gel, thoughts that seemed written with randomness come together in a mind-blowing cohesion.  I am always ready, free and ready.

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 Writing from Without and on a Dare (KMWP) (6/14/2012)

I dabbled into a new area out of a self-inflicted dare: writing a young adult fiction. However, I wanted to write it as an out-of-body experience, not me writing as I would but writing as I imagined a young adult writer putting down thoughts and ideas. Let me tell you, the “process” challenged me.

Plot is evident in the story, and although it is necessary, it cannot move the story by itself. Dialogue is there. Unfortunately, I buried it/him/her several pages behind, which made it excruciating to read. Teenagers have no patience. We know that.

Yesterday’s adventure into memoir writing exposed me to the art of relocation: moving chunks around with these guidelines: nice but doesn’t fit, save it; not nice and doesn’t fit, cut it; eradicate chaff words such as “-ly”; compare and compress by removing the telling part of the story; and make ten specific changes.

Needless to say, I have work to do. I will not give up on the young.

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Posted by J. Stalnaker
June 14, 2012 at 11:43am


I love reading YA fiction! Most likely because that is the age group I teach and I am always sneaking peeks at their titles to see what is going on in “their” world. Don’t give up…and let me know when you have something meaty to chew on!



A Name That Failed to Float (KMWP) (6/13/2012)

We peeled the layers in our names yesterday. My parents baptized me with a beautiful name that floated with a life force; however, I blame it for turning me into an enigma: good-natured, a sympathetic friend, tough at times, blunt, and stealthily sarcastic. My name is music, a three-toned instrument, and I loved growing up in it. Family members dissected it, made pet names out of it, each to his or her idea of me. It responds quickly to kind words or any expression of appreciation.

As serendipitous as my name is, my high school English teacher brought me down to earth, causing unworthiness and fear to lurk around that name. He began each chastisement with, “Do you know what your name means?” if I punctuated incorrectly, mouthed a fragment, or failed to decipher the function of an adverb.

On the generous end, I insulted bullies in high school without them realizing I trounced them until months later when they heard the insulting word or words bandied about blatantly. Any follower of my name can attest that, if the wind blows, I become loquacious.

My birth name begins like the “Eu” in Europe, shifts in chord into “kay,” and finishes up with the last hard “ria;” and I am not Spanish nor fond of the rolled “r.” My name is Eucharia. All in all, I soaked in a very revealing part of me yesterday as I journey to the core of memoir writing. I am anxious to get started today.

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Posted by Megan Barker
June 13, 2012 at 10:53am

Pretty piece. I love your way with words.

The Journey of Self-discovery Begins with One-fourth of Me (6/12/2012)

Write a memoir? Who? Me? The thought scares me at first, but I am a free thinker who says yes to anything that involves writing. I dig in, searching through the walls of my well, as circular as it is, with a high-powered light, looking at my life in quarterly segments, trying to find the aspect of it deep enough for me to lower my literary pail and pull up enough water to write a memoir.

This is truly intoxicating! Looking at my life, I take my life story in snapshots. I realize now that I miss my life, that life, the one-quarter of it that I am examining now. Wow, and that is only 25%. I am looking forward so much to today’s events, and boy, am I ready!

The instructor, an associate dean here at my university, seems to know something that we (obvious ignorant lot) do not yet. She placed tissues in the middle of each group’s table. Are there going to be tears today? Who is going to cry? Hmmm.

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Comment Posted by Theresa Allen
June 12, 2012 at 1:32pm

it was very interesting to me to view my life in segments of time.

My Theme for the KMWP This Summer is Free (6/11/2012)

I am attempting to encapsulate that word, “free,” just for this summer’s (2012) KMWP outlook. Truth be known, “free” (not just the connotation in the suffix, “-dom,”) has always been the foundation of my perspective on education all my life. Why should I restrict myself or my students in my abilities or theirs? Even if we believe (and that is the crux because belief can be changed) that the person is incapable of achieving the feat, we cannot choke effort and energy out of their willingness because of our own short-sightedness. We must think freely, feel freely, and allow others to engage in intellectual development freely.

I spent Saturday here among my fellows soaking in all that glided my way, and every single event propelled me into more thirst for more knowledge. The exemplary demo we previewed was about art. The day only got better with us trying to see art in a different life: writing about it. We described different pieces of art, judged them, analyzed all the nuances, and interpreted them, allowing our minds to see familiar art in ways we never had the time or allowed ourselves profound introspection. The bar is raised.

We need to meet or exceed it, and those are the only two options. Pensive moments cause me to grow, not being pensive for looking thoughtful, but really digging deep into the crevices of every hidden corner of your intellect and pulling out what astounds you before it astonishes anyone else. Every inch of my fiber is free to re-view (see again), rethink, re-appreciate, re-visit, re-evaluate, and all the words that allow me to re-grow intellectually, spiritually, selflessly, and socially.

I look forward to each new day with a new bride’s potential familial growth and a lifetime of promised love and life.

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A Place for the Free-spirited (06/09/2012)

I am ecstatic to be involved in the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project after many years of hoping and wishing. An ebullient feeling fills every nook and corner of my free-spirited, inquisitive, and absorbent intellect. I thought I was the Queen of WAC, but I am simmering in self-discovery of the rarest kind. Gurus jar my brain with unique writing-across-curriculum activities of the socio-scientific nature, “writing with brush strokes,” what I call contributive poetry, and so on. The summer is just beginning. I am gripping my seat for this roller coaster ride unlike any!Comment viewing options

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Posted by Theresa Allen
June 9, 2012 at 11:53am

I can’t even think of an adjective to completely describe my feelings about being involved with the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project. Like you Frances, I am ecstatic. I know this is going to be a transformative experience and I look forward to applying my new insights and knowledge to my class in the fall.

Posted by Shirley Hanner
June 9, 2012 at 12:57pm

I think this will be a time of discovery for all of us! I am glad to share the exploration with you!


I am one of very few fellows selected this year for the renowned Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project! After many years of hoping and wishing, I am strapped into my seat waiting for (not take off but) lift off. Ebullient feelings fill every nook and corner of my free-spirited, inquisitive, and absorbent intellect. I thought I was the Queen of WAC, but I am simmering in self-discovery of the rarest kind. Gurus jar my brain with unique writing-across-curriculum activities in the socio-scientific realm, “writing with brush strokes,” contributive poetry, and so on. The summer is just beginning. I am gripping my seat for this space shuttle ride unlike any!