Sunday, January 31, 2016

Amidst the Wackiness of the Weekend Before The Yearly Dossier is Due, A Talisman Presents Itself

I can't write forever today because I wrote yesterday from since 6 a.m. until midnight and I have to do the same today until I turn in this year's dossier to my department on Monday. Of course, I still have to teach, live life, do groceries, take care of a house, etc., but the weekend the dossier is due, that can be thrown right out the window. Chitunga said, "What? You have to go through that again?" My fellow untenured colleagues who were in their offices today, too, said, "Yup, my family doesn't even ask. They just know."

When I went to settle around midnight, I looked up on a hook and saw my Kentucky hat I got this Fall during my sabbatical and a charm given to my by a student my last year teaching in Louisville in 2007. She had a dog charm engraved, "546 S. First Street. UR Home Forever."

I grabbed the charm in my hand, squeezed it tight, and thought, "Ah, she is right." I am no longer doing the work I do in one school alone, but have taken the Brown School vision to schools and kids in many grades and within many districts.

As I wrote so much today, I realized that I'm a lively fish swimming upstream when so many in the world of education (and this includes higher education) are simply dead fish floating with the stream. With such apathy (and lack of imagination) I wonder how any of us are going to make the changes that will be best for kids and teachers.

Ah, but this is a pointless post because it isn't in a peer-reviewed journal.

I will be a better person in a few weeks. I swear. There are only parts of the year that are this frantic and this happens to be one of them.

For now, I am thankful for my charm.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

And With That, The Week Is Over and I Can Catch Up on Emails and Work on my Dossier

I'm used to keeping a fast-paced life, and I do best when I'm always on the go. Yet, there are weeks when I simply close my eyes and hope I make it to the end. 2016 has already been loaded with an overabundance of emotions and I haven't had time to process any of them yet. It's been the motif to "keep it all together" because right around the corner, there's even more to do.

I'm still in that mode, but the busiest part of that challenge was completed yesterday as CWP-Fairfield hosted the Youth Leadership Academy for 85 middle school youth and followed that with a celebration of Poetry for Peace for 135+ K-8 poets. This followed a week with two difficult services for the loss of important lives, the continued car-lessness after Chitunga's accident (we're almost there with a replacement), graduate and undergraduate courses, and the MLK Vision Award.

Oh, and Glamis now knows it is a game to hop over the fence using snowbanks as an advantage. She stays by the fence on the other side, but she won't get on her leash because she knows she was wrong. This becomes a game of chase...but it's not chase. She cowers and stays just out of reach of the leash. She doesn't respond to biscuits either.

And it's Saturday. I will be walking the dog and then heading to the office to work on my yearly dossier due to the department on Monday (this is the kind of work I hate more than anything in the world. I like doing...not writing about what I'm doing to be evaluated by others). On the radar, two more grants, Run For Refugees, and Literacy4Life Day with the Fairfield Stags basketball teams at Webster Arena.

I'm very happy that this week went as wonderfully as it did, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it as much as I could have --- I was too busy holding my breath.

And they're off. It's been the Running of the Roses since this semester began, but it has been nowhere near a two-minute race.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Youth Leadership Academy @fairfieldu - Diva, The Frog, & The Magic Box.In Celebration of MLK and the Power of Words

It's not every day the Diva and the Frog get to work together, but there's nothing we love more than jumping out of the box for innovation, creativity, and empowering youth. Today, from 10 am - 1 pm, we will work with middle school students attending the Youth Leadership Academy in celebration of Martin Luther King. In honor of Keynote Claudia Rankine, we were asked to return to do a poetry workshop and, as usual, I crafted an original "Magic Box" poem to share my processes with the kids (ah, they will be writing their own and we will coach them every step of the way). Ten items and a series of poetic games to launch a rearrangement of words like they've never experienced them before.

This one needs work, but it's time to meet the kids and I've learned many times...there's never a finished product...there's just a deadline and the deadline is here. It would be great to see you in the Oak Room if you're on campus.

An Urgency For Change: We Must Stand Together
(Youth Leadership Academy, Fairfield University, 01/28/16)
I am the metamorphosis,
the madman with muscle
hatching from the chrysalis 
of an MLK dream,
the miracle of a caterpillar 
spreading its celestial wings 
in mind-blowing movement
….the magical monkey chomping on a leaf getting older, 
more aware every step of the way.

We must stand together with words,
butterscotch birds & licorice leopards … 
hot sauce nerds & peppermint wizards 
that f l y backwards and c l i m b  upwards 
     with an urgency for change…
Here, we must rearrange ourselves
with arms flexed at Fairfield, 
where the faint engines of I-95
remind us that we’re we’re alive, 
& are ready to declare war on everything that’s wrong, 
to stand on pedestals with might,
helping the weak to grow more strong,
(basketballs bouncing in the faintness of soft prayers,
reading more books to be more literate players, 
clenching fists united as the lacrosse sticks leap and smack
 —who’s running this country? It’s Us! We’re the Mack.)
the powerful youth with an urgency for change, 
with King’s vision and his wisdom always in our range,
healing the soul with poetry, spitting civic legacy, 
gifting linguistic heirlooms and offering talismans, majestically.
With words we rap harmoniously
cuz language is our urgency.
& We, the writers, must leave our gifts selectively.

Just ask the Queen, the Diva, with passionate honeysuckle on her mind.
feasting on the joys of middle school in whatever voice she can find,
Making honey into royalty by believing in human kind, 
looking towards growing pains for the joy she can unwind,
the chaos of puppy love, the homework, those video games & braces 
The pimples, the screaming, where she optimistically unlaces
& labors to build her world and innovate new creative spaces….

We are the metamorphosis,  
who hatch from the chrysalis within MLK’s dream,
the miracles, the caterpillars, 
who are meant to spread wings with words
……with the urgency for change
…It’s up to us, you see, to rearrange 
     while standing together for what’s right.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Fairfield University Martin Luther King, Jr. Vision Award.Honored @fairfieldu

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Vision Award,
January, 2016
"in recognition of your tireless effort to instill
and inspire the teachings and ideals of
Dr. Marting Luther King, Jr."
Words are not enough. I tried (and they made me promise to keep my acceptance speech to two, I stole two more). The following is the acceptance speech I read last night at the Fairfield University MLK Convocation at the Quick Center. More than receiving the honor, was knowing the work of CWP-Fairfield was being recognized alongside the stellar leadership and vision of Joe Harding, a Junior at Fairfield, and my friend and advocate, Sydney Johnson, Fairfield University Men's Basketball Coach, who also receive the staff Vision Award. It was a night to remember (and I did a selfie with Claudia Rankine!). Much applause for the MLK Committee, especially the dedication of Kris Sealy and Wylie Blake.

Words of Acceptance, Bryan Ripley Crandall

The afternoon I received notification I was selected for the Martin Luther King Faculty Vision Award I thought of Nadia Craft, a student from my first year of teaching. I have a wandering eye, and sometimes it strays more than it should – a reality she loved to tease me about. 20 years later, she sends me eyeball toys and writes notes like, “I found your eye wandering in Los Angeles again. It was southeast of Compton.” When I learned my vision was being recognized by Fairfield University, I heard her saying, “What? Crandall? They gave you a vision award?”
Martin Luther King said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Love, for me, has been a foundation for teaching, youth advocacy, and research. I thank my nominators, Drs. Debbie Chappell and Emily Smith for taking time to write in my support. Yet, the vision belongs more to the communities who have made me who I am. This is Ubuntu, my philosophy, and I can be me, because of who we are together. My cousin, Mark Crandall, taught me this and I am a better human because if it.
My work with the National Writing Project allows me to invest in the voices, integrity, excellence and creativity of K-12 teachers and students in southern Connecticut. It includes work in communities often marginalized by America’s educational traditions and, more recently, exploited by corporate and political reforms. Last year, CWP-Fairfield teachers provided 35,000 hours of exceptional instruction to approximately 6,000 young writers across 16 school districts in Connecticut. Over the last four years through grants totaling over $400,000 and with support from NWP, Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Service Learning, Jesuit University Humanitarian Action Network, Fairfield University Athletics (especially Coach Sydney Johnson), Senator Bob Duff, Office of the Dean of Students, Bank of America, LEAP, and Hoops4Hope, I’ve been able to bring a vision of inclusion, diversity, and Ubuntu to Fairfield’s campus. It is my way to address Connecticut’s zip-code apartheid and to counter the culture shock I first experienced when I first arrived to this campus. I find comfort when walls that barricade communities from one another are broken down.
I can be me, because of who we are together. My vision for Ubuntu arrives at the confluence of phenomenal human beings such as Dr. Carol Boyce Davies, a Caribbean scholar, who opened my eyes to the impact of colonialism, and Ruth Stone, a poet, who offered me license for being original, quirky, and passionate. My foundation for teaching arrived from the J. Graham Brown School in Louisville, Kentucky, where the mission to promote diversity, individuality, and academic excellence for all students became my rhythm in life. There, Sue McV taught me the importance of building relationships and Alice Stevenson helped to unshackle the allegorical chains that kept our students as prisoners within their caves. I couldn’t do what I do, either, without the influence of Jean Wolph, Director of the Louisville Writing Project at the University of Louisville, who invested in my work as teacher leader and encouraged me to write about my students, my classroom, and my profession.
            Last summer, 152 young writers attended young adult literacy labs at Fairfield University and 58 of them were provided full scholarship, including refugee and immigrant youth. Last spring, a cohort of 350 students from rural, urban, and suburban high schools, too, joined forces for We Too Are Connecticut, a project funded by NWP, the MacArthur Foundation, and the John Legend Show Me Campaign. Youth innovatively added diverse perspectives to the state’s cultural pastiche through the creation of TedTalks, radio plays, blogs, and ethnographies, all of which were presented at the Writing Our Lives – Digital Ubuntu conference hosted on Fairfield’s campus.
In two days, spoken word-Diva Attallah Sheppard and I will host 80 middle school students during the MLK Youth Leadership Academy and I’m thrilled to know that Joe Harding, a true visionary on Fairfield’s campus, agreed to lend his undergraduate wisdom to the event. Later, Carol Ann Davis and Elizabeth Boquet will welcome hundreds of K-8 writers to the annual Poetry For Peace Celebration. This vision for empowering young people is not mine alone.
            Dr. Alfred Tatum, an esteemed scholar at the University of Illinois-Chicago, advised me. “In literacy work, you cannot ignore history.” I learned through my work with relocated refugee youth that racial politics are both local and global. Drs. Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Marcelle Haddix, and Zaline Roy-Campbell guided me towards scholarship in action while at Syracuse University, and their patience with harnessing my poetic, creative brain into the world of academic research was a tremendous feat --- but they did it! I am so honored to
Claudia Rankine, 2014 National Book Circle Award, Forward
Prize for Poetry, National Book Critics Award for Poetry, &
the Los Angeles Time Book Award. Nice!
receive this award tonight in honor of them and to follow the enormous footsteps of my colleagues, especially Dr. Yohuru Williams, for keeping me focused on what matters most.
So, Nadia, I may have a wandering eye but I do have the ability to focus and carry forth a vision every now and again.
Chitunga, Abdi, Werdi, Ibrahim, AJ, Akech, Bior, Najm, Abu, & Lossine, you've blessed my life in the most amazing ways. Clowndall, man, Clowndall. Omar, Arcadius, Remy, & Peter, thank you for coming tonight and representing Ubuntu Academy. Your support means everything. Mom, dad, my sisters, my friends and colleagues, all of you…“Elephant Shoe.” It is you who have given me the base from which everything else has been made possible. Thank You.

Finally, Gisela and Cody, this one’s for you.

(strange to win an award for doing what is right)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sh'Zaam! Bam! Kapooie! Zowie! Pow!!! Power of Words, The Anthology @cwpfairfield Is Here!

The following is the writing from the forward and the epilogue of POW! Power of Words, a publication at CWP-Fairfield. This is our 3rd edition and it's bigger and better than ever. A special shout-out to Caryn Sullivan for her steadfastness in getting this to press. Now, time to mail copies to the teachers and young adults who participated in this hard work.

In your hands is the 3rd publication of POW! The Power of Words and the culminating work of CWP-Fairfields 2015 summer programs. Each July and August, literacy opportunities abound and these pages represent Connecticut youth and local educators writing their lives in Young Adult Literacy Labs and an Invitational Summer Institute for teaching hosted at Fairfield University.
For the last several years CWP-Fairfield has listened to students about what (if at all) they write in school. Similarly, teachers and administrators are lamenting that test-only writing instruction is the new norm of Connecticut schools. That is why, in 2014, CWP-Fairfield did a formative experiment and asked three questions:
·       What if we redesigned writing institutes into Young Adult Literacy Labs based on Writing Activity Genre Research?
·       What if we mandated four criteria for each lab: (1) youth will write, (2) youth will read, (3) youth will talk with each other and (4) youth will have fun?
·       What if we invited teachers into our youth labs to learn with the young writers?
Our emphasis has been on fun. We wanted to break down a few of the traditional walls and to restore playfulness in in the learning process. Weve found success. The youth are reporting favorably about our summer programs and teachers feel inspired by their interactions with young writers. We are getting smarter together.
CWP-Fairfield believes in POW! The Power of Words and that young people have much to teach us. Last year, for instance, youth participants wanted a program to write politically and to learn digital tools. We heard what they had to say and added a TedTalk lab and Project Citizen to this years program. From listening to our youngest writers (those with the biggest imaginations), too, we gained knowledge that they wanted to be published. For this reason, weve included them in this years collection. The writing is passionate, playful, intriguing and, at times, doesnt shy away from difficult subjects. BAM! Bryans Appreciative Message goes to the 152 young people who contributed creativity, opinions, and research during the summer. It goes to Abu Bility, Lossine Bility, Steve Vissichelli, Shaun Mitchell, Ali Laturnau, Dr. Ryan Colwell, Tom Grund, Shannon Burr, Gina Forberg, Attallah Sheppard, Brynn Mandel, William King, Amanda Morgan, Jennifer von Wahlde, Cecily Anderson-Cowburn, Julie Roneson, and Caryn Sullivan who, as masked-educators, crusaded with extreme superpowers to launch:
       Little Lab for Big Imaginations: a Young(er) Writers Workshop.
       It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Writing Your Novel
       Speak Yourself: A Poetry and Playwriting Lab
       The Art of Storytelling: A Graphic Novel Lab,
       Stop the Presses! A Journalism Lab,
       Project Citizen: Write a Wrong!
       Ideas Worth Writing: A TED Lab.
       Who Do You Think You Are? College Essay & Narratives, and
       Ubuntu Academy: The Lab for Immigrant and Refugee Youth
Under their leadership, writers wrote their lives to express, critique, entertain, shock, educate, wonder, explore, and propose.
My appreciative message also goes to CWP-Fairfield partners helping to make the summer possible: a strong teacher network, our affiliation with the National Writing Project, State Senator Bob Duff, Fairfield University, Fairfield University Athletics, Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, JUHAN, the Office of Service Learning, Bridgeport Public Schools, and LEAP Leaders Educated and Prepared. CWP-Fairfield can be what we are because of who we are together. There are few locations in southern Connecticut where young people and teachers representing multiple zip-codes are provided a space to learn together. We are proud of our democratic pastiche and feel,
U gotta write
for what’s right
& fight with all u’r might
to insight incite,
and to ignite
a spotlight
to put yourself
in the limelight,
outright & forthright…
Collaboration. Thinking. Reflection. Inquiry. This is writing, yall! This is who we are.

KaPOW! (and Ubuntu),

Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall
CWP-Fairfield, Director

Congratulations! Youve reached the finish line of POW! The Power of Words and made it to Crandalls THWACK-page! ShZam! The summer redesign required ingenuity and results from Crandalls twenty-plus years of classroom-teaching experience and writing research. THWACK! - This is How We Advance Creative Knowledge in literacy research. We share resources with one another.
CWP-Fairfield values the importance of teachers and students, as subjects, within writing communities. Redesigning Young Adult Literacy Labs in 2014 first began as a formative experiment (Fisher & Frey, 2009; Reinking & Bradley, 2008) built from writing activity genre research (Russell, 2010) and an intent to create a summer literacy model to effectively engage youth and teachers together (Chandler-Olcott, Nieroda, & Crandall, 2014). Following the National Writing Projects reputation for transforming teachers (Whitney, 2008) we embrace effective practices in writing instruction (Applebee & Langer, 2013; Graham & MacArthur, 2013). More recently, weve focused on the ways that community matters within writing activity systems and, as a consequence, have embraced a philosophy of Ubuntu (Caracciolo & Mungai, 2009) - a Bantu word that translates I can be me because of who we are together. A good writer (or teacher of writing) is equipped with tools, clever rules, and a respect for individuality and personal motivations to reach written outcomes. They must belong.
THWACK!  One way to improve writing instruction in our schools is to put every writer at the epicenter of his or her world (Crandall, 2012). We need to allow them to write their lives!

Applebee, A. N., & Langer, J. (2013). Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms. New York: Teachers Chandler-Olcott, Nieroda, & Crandall (2014).  Co-planning and co-teaching in a summer writing institute: A formative experiment. Teaching/Writing. The Journal of
            Writing Teacher Education. 4, 1.
Caracciolo, D., & Mungai, A. M. (2009). In the Spirit of Ubuntu: Stories of Teaching and Research. Boston: Sense Publishers.
Crandall, B. R. (2012). "A Responsibility to Speak Out: Perspectives on Writing From Black African-Born Males With Limited and Disrupted Formal Education. (Dissertation), Syracuse University.  
Fisher, D. & Frey, N (2009). Meeting AYP in a high-need school: A formative experiment. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 52.5, pp 386-396.
Hillocks, George. The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning. New York: Teachers College Press, 2002. 
Graham, S., MacArthur, C. A., & Fitzgerald, J. (2013). Best Practices In Writing Instruction (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.
Reinking, D. & Bradley, B. (2008). On Formative and Design Experiments. New York: Teachers College Press.
Russell, D. R. (2010). Writing multiple contexts; Vygotskian CHAT meets the phenomenology of genre. In C. Baserman, R. Krut, K. Lunsford, S.
Whitney, A. (2008). Teacher transformation in the National Writing Project. Research in the Teaching of English, 43(2), 144-187.