Bringing it Back: BLTN Teachers Reflect on Summer Learning

Nov 24th, 2016 | By | Category: BLTN Teachers, Bringing It Back, Fall 2016, Featured, Impacts

Editor’s Note: In each issue of the BLTN Journal, we feature teacher reflections on how their summer learning at Bread Loaf is likely to influence their professional work at home. The following experts from longer reports and articles are divided into sections on pedagogy in general, followed by plans for collaboration.

Bringing it Back: Pedagogy

BentonFaceLaura Benton
Woodford County High School
Versailles, KY
BLSE 2017 (anticipated)
In Austen/Brontë, we focused on close reading activities and class discussion. Professor Johnson demonstrated how to run a successful discussion circle that is both structured and free flowing. In particular, we examined Austen’s use of free indirect discourse and how to analyze its importance within a given text. This technique will be very useful for me in the classroom, and has increased my ability to engage in detailed close readings.

7357   Jane Austen and the Brontës
I. Armstrong and C. Johnson/M-Th 8:10-9:25

We will read novels by the most innovative and influential women writers of the 19th century—Jane Austen and the Brontës. We will look in detail at three novels by Austen—Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma—and three by the Brontë sisters—Villette (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne). The cultural context and critical reception, biographies and letters of these writers will be an element of the course, but mainly we will be engaged with the narrative art, form, and language of the texts. Please read these long fictions in advance of the course. Assignments will include an essay on Austen and an essay on the Brontës.

Texts:  Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma (all Norton Critical); Charlotte Brontë, Villette (Penguin); Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (Norton Critical); Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall(Wordsworth).

ChantalMattLauraMatthew Haughton
West Jessamine High School
Nicholasville, KY
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)
Professor Donadio focused on context and structure, and in doing so, revealed the creative process of the author’s output. We looked at the various layers of influence and expression. This approach will be invaluable to me in my AP classrooms and general classes. The rigorous writing activities also will inspire my future coursework. But most importantly, I intend to model Professor Donadio’s good will and high intellectual standards.

7591   Faulkner
S. Donadio/M, W 2-4:45

An intensive reading of the major works, for those interested in securing a comprehensive grasp of this author’s artistic achievements during the most important phase of his career.

Texts: William Faulkner, The Sound and the FurySanctuary; As I Lay DyingLight in AugustAbsalom, Absalom!The Wild PalmsCollected Stories. Except for the Collected Stories (Vintage paperback), these works are all included in the Library of America volumes devoted to William Faulkner: Novels 1926-1929Novels 1930-1935Novels 1936-1940. Throughout the session, all of our detailed discussions will refer to the first three Library of America volumes, which students are expected to purchase—new or used—in advance. These durable hardbound volumes are available at discount from numerous sources, and, in addition to containing extremely useful chronologies and notes, they represent a significantly more economical investment than any paperback editions.

Creative Nonfiction was an equally compelling class. Professor Lewis focuses on the ambiguous differences between traditional fiction and nonfiction texts. We looked at how the structure of the writing dictates the “believability” or credibility of the text. Professor Lewis demands a highly engaged approach to writing. The production of our portfolios was an amazing challenge that presented the opportunity to craft meaningful work. Like Professor Donadio, Professor Lewis has a sharp personality in the classroom. I intend to model many aspects of how she runs a workshop. Nonfiction is a tricky genre, but she demonstrated how one can engage the students with interesting perspectives.

7006b   Creative Nonfiction
R. Sullivan/M-Th 9:35-10:50

Do we write the world or does the world write us? This class will examine experimental creative nonfiction through a consideration of place. Students will be asked to consider their place in various landscapes—in the Green Mountains, in New England, in the East Coast, as well as in wherever they call home. We will study different modes of creative nonfiction but focus especially on the calendar, the almanac, and the diary, each as a method of examining the landscape as it relates to time. Readings will include the GeorgicsWalden, selections from J. B. Jackson’s A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time, and My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe. We will consider connections between the visual arts and nonfiction, looking, for example, at the work of Nancy Holt and her husband, Robert Smithson, and we will explore the work of John Cage. Students will be required to keep a weather log, to write numerous short pieces, and to compose weathergrams, among other things.

Texts:  Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings (Modern Library); Virgil, Virgil’s Georgics, trans. Janet Lembke (Yale); J.B. Jackson, A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time (Yale); Susan Howe, My Emily Dickinson (New Directions).

kendraKendra Bauer
Lowell High School
Lowell, MA
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)
Theater in the English Classroom has been one of the most inspirational and practical classes I have taken in all of my time teaching and all of my time completing graduate level course work. We have spent a great deal of time working on methods in which to build community. Building community has always been a strong suit of mine, so to have new ideas and fresh perspective has been exciting. This course has galvanized my conviction to take my work with the Bread Loaf Teacher Network into my classroom and integrate it with my existing curriculum. I want to build community and enter text in my course Race and Ethnicity in a way which gives students the freedom to design their learning experience, bring in the arts, and move beyond the walls of our classroom with our social message.

7807   Using Theater in the English Classroom
A. Brazil/M, W 2-4:45

Theater can offer students the opportunity to viscerally enter and deeply understand—and own—a text. In the tradition of the Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble, this course will explore ways to use performance to excavate a text, its end goal being for students to have the tools to do this work with their own students in their year-round classrooms. Working collaboratively as actors, we’ll employ choral readings, find and theatricalize events, find where a piece hits us emotionally, and create its physical life from there. We’ll be working with a variety of texts to explore the question of what it means to be an American; all will be available as a course packet. Our work will culminate in a piece we’ll create for the Acting Ensemble’s performance of U.S.A. Though performance is central to the course, the emphasis is not on acting; no previous acting experience is required. Students must be available to rehearse a great deal outside of class.

Texts:  Eileen Landay and Kurt Wootton, A Reason to Read: Linking Literacy and the Arts (Harvard); course packet containing all other texts will be available for purchase online through the Middlebury College Bookstore and from the onsite Bread Loaf bookstore.

American Artists and the African American Book has been a delightful complement to my theater class. I am again challenged to question how visual art is integrated in literature and in our classroom. In my final project, I am being allowed to create a large scale creative project which incorporates our readings, the art we have covered, my own writing, and much of the text from the summer. This project, while challenging, is a demonstration of the power of allowing students to direct their own learning. Because I have been given the freedom to create, I am working in a way which allows me to dig with much more investment in my studies. This is a model for curriculum development and design. I am investing because I am creating from my own interest in the subjects we are studying together in class.

7586   American Artists and the African American Book
R. Stepto/M-Th 9:35-10:50

This seminar studies the visual art, decoration, and illustration of African American books (prose and poetry) since 1900. Topics will include book art of the Harlem Renaissance (with special attention to Aaron Douglas and Charles Cullen), art imported to book production (e.g., images by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Archibald Motley), children’s books (e.g., by Langston Hughes, Tom Feelings, and Marilyn Nelson), photography, and literature (e.g., Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Cabin and Field, with Hampton Institute photographs; Richard Wright’s Twelve Million Black Voices). The seminar may include sessions at Middlebury College Museum of Art and Davis Family Library.

Texts: Caroline Goeser, Picturing the New Negro: Harlem Renaissance Print Culture and Modern Black Identity (Kansas); Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Norton Critical); The New Negro, ed. Alain Locke (Touchstone); James Weldon Johnson, God’s Trombones (Penguin); Richard Wright, Twelve Million Black Voices (Basic Books); Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper (Knopf); Romare Bearden, Li’l Dan, The Drummer Boy (Simon & Schuster); Tom Feelings, Middle Passage (Dial); Jacob Lawrence, The Great Migration (HarperCollins); Nella Larsen, Quicksand (Penguin); Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day(Penguin/Puffin); Marilyn Nelson, A Wreath for Emmett Till (Houghton Mifflin); Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece, Incognegro (Vertigo).


booth2Gregory Booth
Sheridan High
Thornville, OH
BLSE 2019 (anticipated)

Patterns emerged through the summer that gave my scholarship focus. These patterns are, consequently, ideas I hope to explore with my own classes this school year.

The first theme that appeared was the apparent tyranny of language over our thoughts. Nearly every single writer we studied in Professor Wood’s class was concerned with the relative faithfulness of perception to truth. With my class I want to explore this theme. I want my students to consider how language shapes their perception. I want them to see how they craft their experiences into a myth of continuity, so they may think about how they can control the narrative themselves. To that end, I would like to incorporate selections of texts from Professor Wood’s class into my class. I am also planning to incorporate a brief bi-weekly introduction to a different philosopher’s basic tenets.….[M]y biggest Bread Loaf related project is my own mindset and pedagogy. I will continue trying harder to emulate what is good in the instruction I’ve received here while also learning how to be more authentically myself in my instruction. Both courses this year have reminded me how important hope and optimism are in any education. Last year, I returned from Bread Loaf very optimistic, but I became disillusioned pretty quickly, admittedly, surrounded by what I saw as apathy and bigotry. I’m reminded this summer that that’s exactly where the work begins. So I hope this year to enter the school year more realistically ready to meet apathy with hope and bigotry with love.

7737   Philosophers as Writers
M. Wood/T, Th 9-11:45

Traditional philosophy and common sense both assume that meaning and its expression are two different items. There must be some truth in this assumption since we certainly can say what we mean in different ways. But there is a counter-truth: the form of expression alters or even creates the meaning. This course seeks to explore how these propositions (and no doubt a few more) interact with each other. Our examples will come from literature and ordinary life as well as formal philosophy, but our texts for close particular study will be works by philosophers who saw themselves as writers or whose writing benefits from being seen in this light. We shall also look at one or two provocative theoretical discussions of our questions.

Texts:  Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays (Harper Perennial); Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Penguin); Friedrich Nietzsche, On The Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo (Vintage); Hugo von Hofmannsthal, The Lord Chandos Letter (NYRB); Simone Weil, On the Abolition of All Political Parties (NYRB); Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty (Harper and Row); Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton); Judith Butler, Precarious Life (Verso).


Matthew Kramer
Tates Creek High School
Lexington, KY
BLSE 2017 (anticipated)
Dr. Brueggemann’s class on disability has truly been one of the most powerful and transformative courses I have taken during my four years at Bread Loaf. I initially signed up for the class after looking at the reading list. Seeing heavy hitters like Shakespeare and Charlotte Brontë side by side with newcomers such as Mark Haddon made for what I figured would be an engaging and interesting series of class discussions. What I actually got out of the class was so much more than that. Brueggemann helped me to look at texts I have read and taught over and over again in a completely new light. Seemingly innocuous things that I had not noticed in the past were brought to the forefront and often times completely changed my outlook on the texts.

Now that I’ve completed this course, I am excited to dive back into the texts that I teach during the school year to see what new perspectives I can identify and share with my students. As a high school teacher I have always been very deliberate in acknowledging the role of both gender and race in the texts that I teach but not until now had I considered the role of disability. I look forward to sharing this new point of view with my students.

7462   Disability in Anglophone Literature
B. Brueggemann/M, W 2-4:45

Disability—and the alteration and othering—of the human condition occupies literature in all eras, languages, and cultures. From Bacon’s (1612) essay “Of Deformity” to a cult-classic modern (Young Adult and mainstream) novel, Mark Haddon’s Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, we will explore some of the key elements, issues, and concepts of the new field of Disability Studies from a journey through Anglophone literature. Critical terms from the literary and cultural study of disability over the last 15 years will be explored and applied to the literature we read. (This course may be used to satisfy either a Group 3 or a Group 4 requirement.)

Texts:  Keywords in Disability Studies, ed. Rachel Adams (NYU); Francis Bacon, “Of Deformity” (1612) (available online); William Hay, “Deformity: An Essay” (1754) (available online); William Shakespeare, Richard III, ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine (Simon & Schuster/Folger);Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Penguin); Bernard Pomerance, The Elephant Man: A Play (Grove); Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun (Bantam); Stephen Kuusisto, Planet of the Blind (Delta); Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly(Vintage); Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage).

McCurrySmChris McCurry
Lafayette High School
Lexington, KY
BLSE 2016

How could it come to end? This, my last summer as an MA student at Bread Loaf, is coming to a close. How lucky am I that Brenda Brueggemann came to Vermont this year? Her course on disability studies is essential to Bread Loaf and the Bread Loaf Teacher Network. From reading list to the pedagogy, the course has shaped me as an educator, much like Doug Jones’ Black Performance Theory did 2 years ago. After Doug’s class, I designed and pitched an African American Studies elective at my school that continues to be packed with students each year. This year I’ve designed a disabilities studies class that focuses on the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, income and will be piloted with two students taking it as an independent study. I’ve pulled out all the stops. This is the most imaginative, ambitious, important class I’ve designed. 

Read Chris McCurry’s full report here.

peters-photoBrent Peters
Fern Creek Traditional High School
Louisville, Kentucky
BLSE ’16
This summer I had the opportunity to be in Writing and Acting for Change with Dixie Goswami, Andrea Lunsford, and John Elder. Every day in that class has had a great influence in the way I think of myself as a writer and the way that I am asking my students to think about themselves as writers.

One of the things I will take away that I know will project into Food Studies and Cooking 101 at Fern Creek is the focus on narrative writing—and in the power of narrative to empower and lead to action, and to engage others in way that other writing cannot. I want to return to Fern Creek as a more honest, less fearful, teacher, and I know I will be doing that.  I want to cultivate the kind of  “self-view” that will help students to see that our growth not only matters now, but our growth as readers and writing is what we own with every part of our being. Our growth as readers and writers can teach us who we are, how we are, and why we are, and our ability to get to the heart of who we are will help us to own our place in the world and see how our care for the self and for the world can lead to healing, helping, and to speaking up and speaking out after we get into finding out about what and who we care about. Dixie, Andrea, and John all have modeled how we can aspire to reach our students by having them reach into the texts inside themselves and be brave enough to share them with the world. I am so thankful for being able to take this class.

7100   Writing and Acting for Change
D. Goswami, A. Lunsford, J. Elder/M-Th 11-12:15

This course will explore ways in which learning about both writing and acting can enable students to work for equity and sustainability in their own communities as well as in the larger world. The class will begin gathering writing (by themselves and their students) that “makes something good happen in the world,” writing that will eventually comprise a group portfolio of such writing/acting that can be taken back into classrooms or other organizations. Our goal will be to learn how the power of language and rhetoric can shape learning and affect public policies through effective advocacy. We will start with the study of Rhetoric, as reflected in the writing of Ida B. Wells. We will then focus on environmental writing and action that emphasize health and equity, looking closely at questions of food justice and security, as well as climate change. A third unit will focus on the rhetoric and power of theater, another session on the public space of poetry. Among the writers and activists whose work we’ll look at will be Ladonna Redmond, Winona LaDuke, Gary Nabhan, Vandana Shiva, and Bill McKibben. We will also read Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical ‘Laudato Sí.’  The course will involve a team of Bread Loaf faculty, plus guests, including Jacqueline Jones Royster, Bill McKibben, Oskar Eustis, Brian McEleney, and Laurie Patton. In the final week, students will present their portfolio work to the Bread Loaf community. This course will require participation in a class meeting from 9 a.m. to noon on the first Friday of the session, as well as optional workshops, facilitated by Bread Loaf’s technology director, Shel Sax.

Texts:  Jacqueline Jones Royster, Traces of a Stream: Literacy and Social Change Among African American Women (Pittsburgh). Copies of the following texts will be provided at no cost to all students: Everything’s an Argument, 7th ed., ed. Andrea Lunsford and John Ruszkiewicz; Everyone’s an Author, 2nd ed., ed. Andrea Lunsford, Beverly Moss, et al. Other texts will be available online at the opening of the session.

I also had the opportunity to take John Fyler’s Chaucer class. I admit that I was timid to take the class at first because I lacked exposure to a lot of classic texts. But John Fyler has a magical way of not only engaging his classes, but of helping his classes to embrace what is difficult and to see the rewards of getting way under the surface by throwing yourself in.

Fyler has challenged us this summer, and he has impressed us all with his great knowledge and love of medieval and classic texts that he has linked to throughout the course, and in particularly he has taken us on a journey (pilgrimage maybe) through the world of Chaucer, and we have all come back as confident Chaucer scholars and as more caring and careful readers. I know that I will bring this new confidence to my students. I see a much larger landscape of literary texts thanks to Professor Fyler, and I owe him many thanks as a result. John Fyler has given us all the gift of his care and his passion for classical texts that will start us on new journeys that will never end. This is big.

7210   Chaucer
J. Fyler/M-Th 8:10-9:25

This course offers a study of the major poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. We will spend roughly two-thirds of our time on the Canterbury Tales and the other third on Chaucer’s most extraordinary poem, Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer is primarily a narrative rather than a lyric poet: though the analogy is an imperfect one, the Canterbury Tales is like a collection of short stories, and Troilus like a novel in verse. We will talk about Chaucer’s literary sources and contexts, the interpretation of his poetry, and his treatment of a number of issues, especially gender, that are of perennial interest.

Texts:  The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson (Oxford or Houghton Mifflin); Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, trans. Richard Green (Martino); Woman Defamed and Woman Defended, ed. AlcuinBlamires (Oxford); Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Stephen Barney (Norton).

Mary Teske
Warrensville Heights High School
Warrensville Heights, OH
BLSE 2020 (anticipated)

This summer was my first at Bread Loaf, and I have to say it has been a great experience thus far. I took two courses, Multilingual Writing and American Modernism. Both courses have in some way impacted how or what I will teach in the coming year.

Multilingual Writing has really made me think about the impact of requiring standard English as a way to communicate in the classroom, specifically how it impacts those students that do not use standard English on a daily basis. Often times in my own teaching, I have to teach students to code switch between BVE and EAE, which can be difficult for students to do. I am planning, now, on discussing with my district the potential positive impact that communicating in various forms of English could have on my students. I would like to both prepare my students for college, while allowing them to maintain their own identity. As we live in a society that standardizes nearly everything, I do think that there should be room for students to be uniquely themselves.

7146   Multilingual Writing: Pedagogies and Practices
D. Baca/T, Th 2-4:45

How are the forces of globalization and emergent forms of multilingualism changing the relationship between knowledge production and English language instruction? What are the geopolitics of multilingual writing? How should questions of “critical” or “resistant” language pedagogies be decided, and by whom? What is the role of classroom teachers in these debates? We will consider responses to these questions by analyzing recent pedagogical work on the concepts of hegemony, functional literacy, linguistic plurality, and social transformation. Pragmatically our course readings represent urgent responses to the current needs of an increasingly linguistically diverse student body at institutions across the country, as global Englishes circulate both within and beyond the United States. Through investigating the ways multilingual writers merge their own languages and worldviews into standardized English, we will collectively explore new possibilities for writing and the teaching of written languages.

Texts: Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary ed. (Bloomsbury); Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (Aunt Lute); Suresh Canagarajah, Translingual Practice: Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations (Routledge); Gregorio Hernandez-Zamora, Decolonizing Literacy: Mexican Lives in the Era of Global Capitalism (Multilingual Matters); Literacies, Learning, and the Body: Putting Theory and Research into Pedagogical Practice, ed.Grace Enriquez et al. (Routledge); bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (Routledge).

In American Modernism, we have covered multiple writers that I feel would be appropriate for the high school classroom. I think the biggest revelation came when reading William Carlos Williams’ Spring And All. I was very familiar with various poems by WCW, but had never read the entire text. I know would like to incorporate the entire text into my own classroom, as I feel that it presents a more complete view of what he was trying to do with his poetry, as well as his prose. I do think, after having read Spring And All in its entirety, that the excerpts that are typically found in English textbooks really do a disservice to the works.

7654   American Fiction Since 1945
A. Hungerford/M-Th 8:10-9:25

How does the practice of literary storytelling—in novels and in short fiction—transform along with American culture in the second half of the 20th century? This seminar surveys major writers who advanced our sense of what fiction could do and how. We will begin by locating fiction’s place in the postwar landscape, examining the power of book clubs, the rise of the paperback, the fate of High Modernism, the place of genre fiction, the demographic transformation of higher education, and the development of the university-based creative writing program. The seminar will then follow fiction’s path from the Civil Rights movement through the Cold War, the women’s movement and the so-called culture wars, asking how various forms of narrative (epic, realist fiction, late-modernist novels, and historical fiction) shape and are shaped by these cultural forces. We will track how and why fiction borrows from other genres and media including music, drama, film, poetry, and painting. Students prepare two papers and a presentation, choosing between analytic and more pedagogically oriented options. The pace will be brisk, so it will be helpful if you read at least two of the longer novels before you arrive in Vermont (The Sympathizer will be especially important to read ahead of time). The reading packet will contain additional selections by O’Connor and some criticism.

Texts:  Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find (Harvest); James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room (Vintage); J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey (Little, Brown); Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (Harper Perennial); Toni Morrison, Beloved (Vintage); Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping (Picador); Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Vintage); Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (Grove).


jessi-profile_smJessica Vowels
Bullitt Central High School
Shepherdsville, KY
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)

Brenda’s class was–to put it simply–amazing. The applications for my classroom were evident in every session. The material covered rhetoric and the teaching of writing from a broad perspective, with topics ranging for honoring marginalized voices to paragraph and sentence theory. The style of the course was collaborative and activity oriented, with most sessions being lead by the class itself. Every day involved lively discussion that brought out a real diversity of viewpoints and experiences, and we were able to build a genuine rapport and respect for one another that allowed for our intellectual growth. One might be surprised at how rowdy a room full of English teachers could get over the value of correcting for usage and mechanics.

In terms of the specifics of how this learning applies to my classroom, the experience was, first and foremost, a model for how to organize and conduct a successful collaborative environment. I left committed to evaluating my current unit plans by asking myself, “How can I trust my students more?” They cannot direct their own learning without opportunities to do so. I’ve already begun to retool my Introduction to Rhetoric unit to include more opportunities for talking to learn, low stakes writing, and open ended discussion.

The second primary effect involves the curriculum of that same unit. I began the class with the knowledge that rhetoric was almost certainly more than a mere set of concepts and terms to learn and regurgitate when analyzing Joan Didion and the like, but I did not have the tools to understand and articulate that fully. I now conceive of rhetoric as a set of circumstances and decisions surrounding every textual moment. Teaching terms and concepts helps only inasmuch as one layers these concepts to create so-called “thick air” and inasmuch as one asks hard questions of the type that do not elicit concrete answers. I’ve tried to add bigger questions and more resources to my writing assignments, and to structure them in a way that allows flexibility for student interest to take root.

7108   Writing, Rhetoric, Teaching
B. Brueggemann/M-Th 9:35-10:50

We will explore the triangle between writing (our own, our students’), rhetoric (classical and contemporary), and teaching the thing we know as “English.” Our path through this course will travel through five units:  (1) background historical settings for this triangle; (2) the grounding of the “new” field of Composition in the 60s and 70s; (3) the development of cognitive research in the 80s; (4) the turn to “social” in the 90s; (5) the pivot on diversity and digital in the 2000s; (6) the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ (WPA) Outcomes Statement for First-Year (College) Composition (; and (7) the WPA Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing.

Texts:  Victor Villanueva, Cross-Talk in Comp Theory (NCTE); Joseph Harris, A Teaching Subject (Utah).

ashlynnwAshlynn Witchow
Hand Middle School
Columbia, SC
BLSE 2019 (anticipated)

The first course that I took this summer was Solo Performance: Theories and Practices with Doug Jones. Acting and directing short solo productions was a transformative experience. I look forward to incorporating the experience into my teaching practices. I have always enjoyed using traditional theatrical strategies in the classroom to facilitate into student engagement. When we review novels, students might create tableaux representing major events or symbolic ideas in each chapter. In our fantastic Lord of the Flies mock trial each spring, witnesses must embody the voices of characters from the novel while student lawyers harness their public speaking skills. Of course, we spend a lot of time studying the theatrical when we tackle Romeo and Juliet after Christmas. Students usually enjoy performing Act I scene i after translating it into a modern dialect. However, while I’ve done a lot with the theatrical, solo performance feels representative of an entirely different genre. Solo performance encapsulates elements of the dramatic, but it is altogether much more intimate. I am hoping to spend more time weaving solo performance into our eighth grade curriculum when I return to the classroom this year, and I already have a one strong plan for incorporating aspects of solo theory and performance into my classroom for the fall semester.

7812   Solo Performance: Theories and Practices
D. Jones/T, Th 2-4:45

This course has two interrelated objectives: (1) to trace a history of U.S. solo performance from the 19th century to the present: from abolitionism and expressionism to second-wave feminism and queer theory, we will explore how performers and writers working within these movements and traditions use the individual (body; voice; psyche) to theorize representation, subjectivity and selfhood, and the political; (2) to write and perform original solo pieces for the Bread Loaf community. Students will work in pairs (one as the performer, the other as a director) to produce these 8-10 minute performances. (This course may be used to satisfy a Group 4 requirement.)

Texts:  William Wells Brown, The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom (Cosimo); Eugene O’Neill, The Emperor Jones (Dover); Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror (Dramatists Play Services); Spalding Gray, Swimming to Cambodia (Theater Communications Group).

One project that I hope to enhance through components of solo theory and performance this year falls within my unit on Holocaust literature. As part of a unit on Holocaust and World War II literature, my students read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne’s fictional “fable” of the Holocaust. After finishing the novel, we step back and critique the final lines of the novel. The narrator optimistically declares, “Of course all this happened a long time ago and nothing like that could ever happen again. Not in this day and age.” Yet, is it true that nothing like this could never happen again? I pose this question to my students before we turn to informational texts and dig deeper. Even a cursory glance at 20th-century history shows us that genocide has happened again, several times over. Yet, these voices are largely ignored in Western literature. Why is that? Building on this question, my students conduct a problem- based learning project examining the United Nations definition of genocide according to a 1951 United Nations treaty. Working within a small group as an in-class model UN, students discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the definition, create a new definition which could be more comprehensive, and propose a mechanism for international enforcement. From there, they must present their proposal to a “delegation” of students. As they critique the United Nations definition of genocide, they must also conduct mini-inquiry projects into a number of genocides that have occurred the last one-hundred years, including Darfur, Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia, and Russia.

Following this activity, we step back and consider the importance of memorials in our culture. Why do human beings create memorials? What makes an effective memorial? In an earlier version of the project, students identified a group of people who have been targeted, gathered artifacts to represent their voices and experiences, and created a memorial along with a reflective essay. Photos of past memorial walls are attached with the assignment and rubric. While I still plan to still use these components of the project, I would like to expand out our physical memorial with a living memorial using student-written personages. Elie Wiesel once said, “When you listen to a witness, you become a witness.” Witnessing comes in many forms, both literary and performative. With this in mind, students will use the genre of a personage to give a voice to a victim of genocide who may have otherwise been silenced by oppressive forces in the 20th-century. After gathering testimonials, memoirs, letters, and diary entries, students will memorize and perform a two to three minute monologue using gathered text to capture of the voice of their research subject. After workshopping these pieces in class, we will perform a “living” memorial during a Family Literacy Night when our school is open to the local community.

I’m excited about the potential for this project. Victims of genocide have been systematically dehumanized throughout history. I  truly believe that a mini-solo performance will help my students tap into their own humanity as well as the humanity of others as they bring the voices of others to life.


cyrusdudgeon4Cyrus Dudgeon
Espanola Valley High School
Espanola, NM
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)
I feel extremely fortunate to have found Bread Loaf, because it has turned out to be everything I had hoped: the two classes I took (Modern British and American Poetry with Michael Wood, and Multimodal Writing with Cruz Medina) both revolved around real and authentic interaction with the people inside the classroom space.  Both classes were absolutely transformative, because they opened me up to a realization that there are many more ways to exist and connect beyond words.  On the last day of class, Professor Wood mentioned his belief that reading really is supposed to be a shared activity, and I feel this to be true: if it hadn’t been for the other people taking the same classes as me, I do not think I would have taken away as many understandings as I have.

I feel energized and excited about returning to my own school and classroom this fall, because I feel I’ve grown in my own ability to reach people.  I’m looking forward to leading my class in dialogue and multimodal creations that push us all to be thinking people who actively imagine new worlds, rather than passively accept “reality.”

7453   Modern British and American Poetry
M. Wood/M, W 2-4:45

Later modern poetry in English has all kinds of interesting features, among them an intriguing worry about experience—as if experience were always just out of reach or couldn’t be described. There is an enduring concern with silence, too—as if words were always too much or too many. There is a recurring anxiety about poetry itself and its place in the world. But these are only general impressions of what is happening, places where we might start thinking. The aim of this course is not to confirm what we imagine we already know, but to look closely at the work of some remarkable poets and see what we can find. (This course may be used to satisfy either a Group 3 or a Group 4 requirement.)

Texts:  Elizabeth Bishop, Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Geoffrey Hill, Selected Poems (Yale); Jorie Graham, Place (Ecco); Anne Carson, Red Doc>(Vintage); Paul Muldoon, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); John Ashbery, Breezeway (Ecco).

7090   Multimodal Writing: Literacy in a Digital Age
C. Medina/M, W 9-11:45

This class asks how has new media literacy affected what makes ‘good’ writing in digital and online composing environments? And, once we understand new media literacy, how can we begin to take practical steps to implement multimodal practices in writing pedagogy? In Writing Studies, composing written communication no longer singularly refers to alphabetic texts and the ‘technology’ of the essay. Reflecting metacognitively on the writing process will bring to light what happens in the translation of alphabetic texts into the genres available in online writing environments such as blogs, instructional YouTube videos, and podcasts.We will examine research on relationships with technology to recognize how these writers negotiate the greater emphasis on digital writing. Then we will enter into research related to our own relationships with technology, focusing on issues with particular resonance to our thoughts and feelings about online and digital media, using multimodal writing to evidence this relationship.

Texts:  Gunther Kress, Literacy in the New Media Age (Routledge); Jason Palmeri, Remixing Composition: A History of Multimodal Writing Pedagogy (Southern Illinois); Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, Cheryl E. Ball, Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects (Bedford/St. Martin’s).


lynch headshotEloise Lynch
George Rogers Clark High School
Winchester, KY
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)

My teaching solo performance will surely be improved by the solo performance theory and practice work we engaged in this summer. Certainly, I’ve expanded my experience in the strategic use of space, physical presence, and voice—body-level knowledge gained via performance practice and via watching my peers perform. We’ve experimented with the inherently confrontational and intimate nature of solo performance, demanding the audience’s unflinching focus and stimulation by invading their space and denying them the foliage of plot and other focal points; in teaching, I’m thinking about how to use space to establish that main-line connection between teacher and student, performer and audience. We’ve investigated the use of gestus (repeated gestures) to develop meaning over time; as a teacher, I’m thinking of potential gestures that might, for example, signal to my students my interest in the content and their lives. We’ve played with ways to use voice to maximize desired emotional impacts or to impart meaning; as a teacher, I’m thinking about how I should “let thoughts land” (quoting Doug here) before racing on, about how I might use volume and pacing to indicate importance or my own involvement, about how silence is an excellent tool for creating useful uncomfortable pauses—ones that snap audience members to attention, for instance.

Our forays into theory will improve my performance, too. Harry Elam got me thinking about the many layers of performer roles and audience perceptions at work in a single performance with his discussion of The Escape, “The Black Performer and the Performance of Blackness.” I will begin the school year far more conscious of how I’m being read in different ways by different students and how to manipulate such readings to best serve class goals. For example, how might I use the growing image of me as a quirky, artsy, overenthusiastic poetry fiend? I’m probably going to try lean into that perception/role as a way of validating and hopefully inspiring enthusiasm for content. How might I use the perception of me as a snobby intellectual who uses hundred dollar words and such? I’m probably going to try to maintain yet explode that one—perhaps use elevated diction along with slang?—as a means of validating multiple styles and uses of language and reducing student anxiety.

Read Eloise Lynch’s full report.

Bringing it Back: Collaboration

Laura Benton
Woodford County High School
Versailles, KY
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)
For the 2016-17 school year, I plan to continue my collaboration with Matthew Haughton. For the last two years we have successfully sponsored a student run online literary magazine called WestWood (a collaboration between Woodford County and West Jessamine). We would like to maintain the same type of work from previous years (poetry, prose, art, media, music) but add a few new features. This year we hope to open the magazine up to any high school student in Kentucky to submit and be published. This will give our students the opportunity to work as writers and artists as well as editors and artistic curators. Additionally, we plan to do another “Spotlight Issue” with a school outside of the United States, thereby engaging in cultural immersion and a high level of digital citizenship. We are absolutely thrilled to be presenting this work at NCTE this fall!

The WestWood project would not exist without Bread Loaf and BLTN. This network has served as inspiration and support every step of the way. We are grateful to be able to engage in these types of projects with our students. When students complete a BLTN project, they are full of confidence and pride. They know that they have been celebrated as individuals, and can go out into the world with a positive sense of advocacy.

Gregory Booth
Sheridan High School

Thornville, OH
BLSE 2019 (anticipated)

My plans for the fall stem from Rachel Lee’s course and a relationship forged there with a classmate named Henry Chuang. We both have a class of sophomores. I teach at a rural high school in southeastern Ohio, and Henry teaches at Taipei American School in Taiwan.

We have not finalized plans for our collaboration, but we do know we are interested first in having students share and respond to personal narratives and writing assignments focused on framing “Home.” This will include photo essays as well as written essays. The exchange of these materials will be digital, through emails, shared Google Docs, and done on a message board. Ideally, students will research the other geography before the exchange, as well.

7682 Asians in the Global/Planetary Imagination
R. Lee/M, W 9-11:45

This course will focus on how Asians (and to a limited extent, people of other races) are used metaphorically or materially to express anxiety about contemporary issues: the threat of the other, what is considered human and therefore sympathetic, the impacts of increasing commodification on sympathy and human relations, the globalized economy, and different ways to perceive time and narrative. Readings will consist largely of speculative fiction, drawn from Asian and Asian American authors, but also written by authors of various races about Asians. In addition to novels, short stories, poems, and secondary source criticism on the various topics will be provided. Students will also be expected to research, find their own secondary sources on a topic related to the class, and present in class. Central texts include On Such a Full Sea (Chang Rae Lee), Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro), A Tale for the Time Being (Ruth Ozeki), and Super Sad True Love Story (Gary Shteyngart). (This course may be used to satisfy either a Group 4 or a Group 5 requirement.)

Texts:  Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (Penguin); Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Vintage); Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (Mariner); Yiyun Li, The Vagrants (Random); Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea(Riverhead); Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (Random).

My goal is both to build an understanding of different cultures and to help students establish their own culture not as somehow “natural” but as something constructed. After sharing writings about home, we may attempt to work through a unit using Ted Chiang’s short stories together, as inspired by Rachel Lee’s course.


Matthew Kramer
Tates Creek High School
Lexington, KY
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)

I work at Tates Creek High School with Bread Loaf alum and former BLTN member Tara Davidson. For the last couple of years, Ms. Davidson and I have talked about starting a writing center at our school. Tates Creek is an International Baccalaureate school and I am the Extended Essay Coordinator and Ms. Davidson teaches Dual Credit English so we are both constantly looking for resources to help our students in the writing process. I attended Stacia Bowley’s Writing Center workshop this summer and received a lot of great resources to get us started.

Brent Peters
Fern Creek Traditional High School
Louisville, Kentucky
BLSE  2016
My goal for this year is not so much a collaborative project but the culmination of all the work I have done thus far through BL and BLTN: 1) the creation of a Food Lit. class at FCHS; 2) the exchange with the Navajo Nation, the Garden of the Home God workshop, and the formation of Navajo Kentuckians; 3) the documentation of all these experiences in the form of a book written by students and teachers. I hope that Tigers Feeding Chickens can be a way acknowledge and say thank you to The C. E. and S. Foundation, to the Middlebury Bread Loaf Community, and to Dixie and the Bread Loaf Teacher Network Family for believing so much in the potential for food lit. as an expanding, expressive, and empowering literacy which allows students be at home at school and want to challenge how investment in themselves and their education can look. The book idea would not even be conceivable without my Bread Loaf experience, and I am so deeply grateful.

James Scangas
Guilmette Middle School
Lawrence, MA
BLSE 2019 (anticipated)

Since the beginning of the year, our ELA staff has received Bread Loaf professional development on numerous occasions. Our ELA staff have been equipped not only with Bread Loaf writing prompts, but also with a new motivation and energy to instill in our students the same passion we all have for writing, and to show them that writing is not simply something you do to get a good score on MCAS; rather, writing is a way to connect with yourself and those around you in a creative, enlightening way. Since the beginning of the year, our students from grades 5-8 have produced remarkable poems and stories that have been created during this learning lab, and as a result, we are beginning to see a love of writing return to many of our students. I have been collecting samples of writing from grades 5-8 students, and I am in the process of making portfolio to show the writing in which our students take great pride! I am also collaborating with various teacher to design new writing prompts that will continue to push the imaginations and creativity of our students.

This coming year, we will continue to receive Bread Loaf professional development for our entire ELA staff, and Thursdays have also officially been designated as Bread Loaf creative writing days. Our plans for next year are to expand this learning lab into other aspects of the curriculum as well. Next year, it is our desire to plan and organize three family literacy nights throughout the school year, one being in the Fall, the second in the Spring, and the final at the end of the school year in June. Our vision for these family literacy nights is to provide the families of our students an opportunity to engage in some of the writing prompts that our students have been participating in throughout the school year, and to share this experience with them. We will stress the importance of writing in any language/style, and we will ensure that everybody has the opportunity to share their work at the end of the night. Our desire for community literacy night stems from an urgent need to connect parents/families to the school, and to establish a sense of community.

Looking even further into the future, our desire is to create an online journal where student work will be published. Ideally, this online journal will be student organized and run. It is crucial for our students to feel that their hard work is being noticed and appreciated by others.

Nathan Spalding
Henry Clay High School
Lexington, KY
BLSE 2019 (anticipated)

For collaborations this school year, I would like to get my students to a play. I need to check the schedule, venues, transportation, and cost, but I see now that it is vital to not only read and watch film, but to actually see a live production as well.

Because we talked so much about background shaping us, I think it would be cool to set up an exchange with students from a different state. I’d like to start with prejudices and biases that we have for people from that area, and then move into an exploration of home—specifically explaining our home to an outsider. Emily Zdyrko lives in New York and has expressed interest. She teaches 10th graders, and I have 9th graders, so I think this would be a good group to do the exchange. She will be teaching Othello, and I will be teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, both of which focus on the issue of race and prejudice. I think we can tie this project to the texts, but really just use them as a means of starting the discussions about racism and prejudice.

Mary Teske
Warrensville Heights High School
Warrensville Heights, OH
BLSE 2020 (anticipated)

My classes are 11th and 12th grade Honors English and College Prep English. I will have students at varying ability levels—anywhere from a third or fourth grade reading level, all the way up to college level. With such a diverse group, it is important that whatever project I work with others on can be accessible to all students, and manageable for the class. In keeping with that idea, I asked three different Bread Loaf teachers to work with me on this project, each teaching in vastly different areas: one in Taiwan, one in Massachusetts, and one in New Mexico. Each of these teachers face their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses in their students, so it was important that we come up with something that could also translate amongst the group.

After much discussion, we decided to create a literary magazine and multifunctional website that can be used throughout our classrooms. The lit. mag.  will focus specifically on themes of individuality, isolation, and society. These themes run through each teacher’s curriculum, and it’s a good starting point to working with each class, even if we are not covering the exact same materials. While the end goal is to have a fully produced literary magazine that can showcase our students’ work, our process will also serve as a template for each class to edit and revise each others work. The magazine will be used as a teaching tool, as well as something collaborative and physical that each student can have.

The website will serve as a platform and teaching tool for students. Students in each class will be asked to edit the site by creating student led teaching tools, which will be published onto the website, and then can be used throughout the four classrooms. As an example, if students in my class are reading Orwell’s 1984, and another class is also reading the same novel, students in my class may record themselves teaching about dystopian novels, while the students in the other class could view that video, then post questions to ask the first group through a forum already on the site. In this way, students have access to ideas from students they may not necessarily have had the opportunity to work with, work which we hope will span multiple grade levels.

bobuhlBob Uhl
Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School
South Burlington, VT
BLSE 2019 (anticipated)

My collaborative project for this school year will be the same as it was last year: I’ll be working with various high school and middle school students on What’s the Story. As before, Bill Rich and Tim O’Leary will be my primary colleagues. The nature of the project will remain essentially the same: students will select a social issue that affects citizens of Vermont, investigate it I-Search style, and ultimately present their findings using one or more forms of media (video documentary, essay, letter, presentation, etc.) with the aim of creating real social change in their communities and the state as a whole. Last year, a few groups of our students won recognition in Vermont’s Freedom and Unity film festival, a success that, to be honest, didn’t surprise me given the skills and devotion of our students.

Because of the collaborative nature of What’s the Story and the fact that it draws students from various schools (as well as students who are homeschooled), the project itself won’t be taking place within my classroom. Instead, a good deal of it will be conducted by students independently in the form of reflective writing assignments shared online. We will, however, be meeting as a whole group about four times throughout the school year for overnight work sessions at the Common Ground Center in Starksboro. We will also likely hold several small group sessions at various locations throughout the state, one of which will likely take place at my classroom in South Burlington.

Jessica Vowels
Bullitt Central High School
Shepherdsville, KY
BLSE 2018 (anticipated)

My BLTN collaborative project stems directly from the work I’ve been doing in Brenda’s Brueggemann’s class. I’ve begun to see writing as a process and not a linear progression. For the process to work, writers must find authentic goals and sub-goals and truly engage in an attempt to make meaning of their own experiences. The editing experience arises from real attempts at re-vision—to put things together in new ways demanded by these authentic goals and sub-goals. The project described below attempts to give students an opportunity to participate in a writing exchange that might, hopefully, fulfill those needs

  • Idea: Think outside your hashtag!
  • Abstract: We propose a collaborative writing endeavor aimed at helping students from different regions and demographic areas understand multiple perspectives. The students will be placed in small groups based on the classroom teacher and will write a descriptive piece about a scene from their environment. The purpose of the piece is to capture the “essence” of their environment. Our aim in creating this collaborative assignment is to help our students understand people from different places, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Action piece:
    Through the writing of the environmental narrative the students will have a chance to cultivate their own voice in their writing, and, through the artistic critique, will be able to hone that voice and refine their writing based on their audience’s response to their work. This will also create contact zones across city boundaries and state boundaries. This will benefit the students in their understanding of the world outside their “hashtag”. Our hope in creating this project is for our students to develop as writers with less predetermined structure from a dominant culture and to expand their worldview, hopefully making their discourse more productive across cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic boundaries. Once we have completed the first writing exchange, we will convene (online) and develop an evaluation of the project with the intent of continuing the project and making it more successful year by year.


Se Jong Yang
Columbus Korean School
Columbus, OH
BLSE 2016

My goal for this year is to continue the project between Korean students and American students. My project partner Emily Navarro visited me this summer in order to discuss more about our project. Emily and I shared our previous collaborative experience with our students and we found that students were greatly affected by this project since it promotes their cultural learning as well as English learning (for my Korean students). Students were eager to hear from the other side of the world. Students in both countries frequently asked when they would get the next email from their partners and they made a serious effort to write an email. We found that students frequently checked the Internet to seek some information about the target culture since they participated in this project. For Korean students, considering that they just started to learn English, their emails made me impressed and surprised at their English abilities. Most of their age levels in Korea (10-14 years old) can barely complete writing one perfect English sentence. I think motivation that the participants gained from this project made them put more efforts into developing their English skills.

Please use the comments section below to enter into conversation about any of these projects. 

2 Comments to “Bringing it Back: BLTN Teachers Reflect on Summer Learning”

  1. David Wandera says:

    The many projects that these awesome educators are showcasing go to show that, truly, what happens at broadloaf does not stay at breadloaf…that students are at the center of what we do…that a significant component of good teaching is collective participation. A shout out to these social justice warriors.

  2. David Wandera says:

    The many projects that these awesome educators are showcasing go to show that, truly, what happens at broadloaf does not stay at breadloaf…that students are at the center of what we do…that a significant component of good teaching is collective participation. A shout out to these social justice warriors.

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