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Fall Forum: Writing as Civic Engagement

On the Page and in the World: Writing as Civic Engagement

Civically-engaged writing offers students a chance to develop a public voice and to use that voice to act on behalf of their communities. We realize that the classroom is not simply a place where we prepare students for the world beyond it. It is also a place where students can be in the world right now. We want students to recognize that they are part of something larger than themselves and see their writing as a means of connecting to and impacting civic issues of profound significance.

As educators, how do we help students situate their work and perspectives in contexts larger, more relevant, and potentially more fraught than a classroom? How can we support students to produce authentic writing that resonates and encourages discourse with audiences broader than the classroom community? How do we strengthen the voices of students who have been historically taught that their voices do not matter? How do we engage students as agents of their own change? How can civically-engaged writing be used to increase rigor in all aspects of instruction?

This forum is designed for educators who are just starting to grapple with these questions as well as those who have been navigating them for years. The Bay Area Writing Project invites you to join this important conversation at the 2017 Fall Forum.

Fall Forum: Schedule

8:30 – 9:00: Registration Information
9:00 – 9:30: Director’s Welcome
9:30 – 10:00: Keynote – framing the issue and challenges
10:10 – 11:40: Session 1 Workshops
11:45 – 12:30: Lunch
12:45 – 1:20: Student Panel
1:30 – 3:00 : Session 2 Workshops


2017 Fall Forum Registration Form for checks and School purchase orders
  • Registration: $150
    • Take advantage of early bird registration (Before October 1, 2017): $125
    • BAWP TCs email the office for a special discount
  • Light Breakfast and Lunch included with registration
  • .5 CEU Credits available to participants on day of conference (additional fee)
Groups of 3 or more teachers from one school get a 20% discount! Email the bawp office (bawp@berkeley.edu) with questions on school discounts or registration.
Free street parking on Arch, LeConte and Spruce
Campus ($ Fee) parking options (lot recommendation: Lower Hearst parking structure)
Requests for cancellations must be made in writing (bawp@berkeley.edu). Those made before 11:59 pm on 10/22/17 will be reimbursed minus a $50 cancellation fee.
Any requests received after October 22, 2017 do not qualify for a reimbursement.

Welcome by Director of BAWP, Katherine Suyeyasu
9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.

Keynote by Mark Ali: Public School, Private Educations
9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Mark’s keynote will frame the issues and challenges students face as they try to navigate an educational system that, by and large, has traditionally underserved a large segment of its students in unjust and inequitable ways, whether by race, class, or gender. By engaging students civically, through discourse and authentic writing opportunities, the gap between school and society can be bridged. The current climate demands educators provide young people with a true and effective education, rather than a misguided and proper one. The goal of this keynote will make the case how and why educators must prepare and empower students to influence the world of ideas through the development of their own voices.

Session 1 Workshops
10:10 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Housing, Homes, and History: Using a Historical Exhibit to Explore Past and Present Concepts Making a Home in a Community

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.20.15 PM.pngIn this workshop participants will explore ways to use museums and National Park exhibits as a resource for historic inquiry.  We will specifically use resources from Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park in a simulated exhibit to investigate how the Richmond community supported families making home as tens of thousands migrated to Richmond to work in the shipyards. Through connecting the past with our present experience, and we will consider how today’s communities can support families making homes in the present. Then we will look at one way to involve elementary students in civic engagement through a letter writing campaign.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to 3rd through 5th grade educators.

Grace Morizawa taught elementary school in Oakland, worked on a national school reform project, and was a principal of an elementary school in San Pablo CA.  Currently she is the Education Coordinator for the National Japanese American Historical Society.


Arguing for Real Justice in the American Justice System

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.20.38 PM.pngThis workshop will use Ava Duvernay’s documentary, 13th, as a compelling visual and written text that can help participants think about mass incarceration over time. Participants will treat the film like an essay, for which they must identify key elements: argument, evidence, and rhetorical devices used to make arguments (ethos, pathos, logos, telos and kairos).  They will deconstruct film segments and related readings to craft their own mini-historical analysis writing on subtopics, including detention centers, the link between poverty and imprisonment, policing, and the war on drugs.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to high school teachers, but can be modified with middle school and college students in mind.

Hillary Walker has been teaching Social Studies and English for twelve years.  She currently teaches Writing for College and the World to seniors and World History to seventh graders at Life Academy in Oakland.

Take a Stand: An Organic Introduction to Argumentation

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.19.37 PM.pngIn this workshop, teachers will be introduced to an early-in-the-year assignment which helps students take a position on a topic, share their thoughts with others, and subsequently produce a position paper.  The goal of this joint Social Studies/English assignment is to cultivate and validate student voice as well as introduce the academic genre of argument in both disciplines. Teachers will have the opportunity to experience elements of the lesson themselves as well as imagine how they could adapt the instruction for use with their own students.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to high school English and Social Studies teachers, especially those who instruct 9th and 10th graders, but could easily be adapted for use in middle school classrooms.

M. Clare LePell gave the keynote address at the Bay Area Writing Project’s first Fall Forum in 2016 and has begun her 32nd year teaching English at Castro Valley High School. In addition, Clare is marking her 25th year as a BAWP Teacher Consultant.

Im/Migration Project: Exploring Family History to Build a Classroom Community with Diverse Voices

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.32.00 PM.pngOur students bring both personal history and narratives to our classrooms, but without the invitation, they often don’t share their stories with the larger classroom community. In this workshop, we’ll look at ways that students can make both family and community connections by exploring their own family migration stories, mapping those journeys, researching historical contexts, and taking on the perspective of a family member to write and then share a migration story.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to age groups, grades 4 and up.

Adela Arriaga has been BAWPing since 1991. She currently teaches high school English in SFUSD, but has taught in a variety of public school settings in the Bay Area over her 25 years in education, from grade 6 to adults.

The Re-Education of Us: Youth Participatory Action Research as Transformative Counter Story

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.21.14 PM.pngWoodson’s Miseducation of the Negro and Constantino’s Miseducation of the Filipino have drawn attention to how schooling has created dominant narratives that have impacted how students of color see themselves — as broken, damaged, not enough, bad. This miseducating process has made invisible the systemic nature of oppression and supremacy, which has rendered hope inert. Critical Race Methodology and YPAR, however, can challenge youth to critically examine miseducation and aim towards liberation. With the use of pop cultural texts and multi-media, this workshop demonstrates how agitating, arousing, and inspiring youth to write counter stories that work towards community healing and transformation.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to secondary educators.

Dr. G is grounded in a commitment to empower of youth, teachers, and school leaders to radically imagine ways to transform their own realities. He works as an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership for Social Justice and within the Center for Research, Equity & Collaborative Engagement (CRECE) at CSU East Bay.

Action, Agency, and Audience: Using Letters  as a Writing Tool for Civic Engagement

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.18.50 PM.png“There’s nothing we can do about it. That’s just the way it is.”

This workshop will help alleviate the frustration and inaction that students and teachers often experience when discussing social justice in the classroom and beyond. By providing methods to help students find their own voice and the appropriate audience to hear it, they will become agents of their own civic change.  Focusing primarily on advocacy-letter writing and policy proposals, this session will help you and your students discover practices to “do something” and thus upset the “way it is.”

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to secondary and college educators.

Courtney Goen is a former secondary social studies teacher of over 13 years, but has recently transitioned to teaching history at the college level. A genuine history geek, Courtney’s party trick is naming all 45 presidents in chronological order. As a result, she is not always invited back to said parties. She is a National Board Certified teacher and thrilled to be part of the Bay Area Writing Project community.

From Critical Consumers to Critical Producers of Digital Platforms

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.20.57 PM.pngCritical computational literacy (CCL) combines the strengths of critical literacy and computational thinking. Through CCL, youth conceptualize, create, and disseminate digital projects that break silences, expose important truths, and challenge unjust systems, all the while building skills such as coding and design. Participants of this workshop will leave with a robust understanding of the potential and possibilities of urban youth of color in creating mobile and web-based interactives through engaging hands-on activities. We will practice through the creation of infographics that is pertinent to different grade levels and disciplines.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to educators across all content areas, especially those in grades 7-12.

Clifford H. Lee is an associate professor in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California. As a former secondary, public school English, Social Studies, and Media Arts teacher in East Oakland, his interests and passions remain focused on transforming the educational trajectories for urban youth of color. He is also the Scholar-in-Residence at Youth Radio.


Student Panel
12:45 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

Session 2 Workshops
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The Power of Pencils… To Sketch, Note Take, Plan, And Develop Powerful Writing Skills!

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.19.28 PM.pngIn this workshop participants  will look at the many writing opportunities students can experience through project based learning and integrating curriculum.  A real world challenge in a first grade classroom models this process, although the process can easily be adapted to other grade levels.  Teachers will explore a multi-sensory and multiple intelligence approach to create a classroom environment that is inclusive of our students’ various strengths as learners.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to elementary educators.

Carol Siddle  is a first grade teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District. Her prior experiences have included teaching special education in a high school community based program, a kindergarten-second grade special education class, and a first/ second grade class. She is an Early Childhood National Board Certified teacher.

Writing for Change: Cycles of Inquiry in the Classroom

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.19.59 PM.pngStudents in diverse classrooms confronting social issues need to believe they can make a change. However, teachers may wonder how to develop authentic ways for students to facilitate change. In this session, we will examine cycles of inquiry that incorporate writing-based action components into upper elementary and middle school classrooms. We will look at samples of student writing that takes a stand and educates others. Participants will engage in the first steps of an inquiry process in which teachers and students move from identifying problems to developing solutions and taking action.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to 3rd through 8th grade, but could be adapted to any level.

Page Hersey has worked as a classroom teacher, literacy specialist, and teacher educator. A  BAWP teacher consultant since 2007, she currently teaches and advises at Touro University in Vallejo. Page is a passionate human rights educator integrating global and local issues of human rights and social justice into her work.

Creating Digital Leaders

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.19.09 PM.pngIn the age of clickbait headlines and news sound bytes, our consumption of current issues is shaped by snippets of carefully tailored, powerful language and images that rapidly multiply on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Concurrently, access to devices and the internet has democratized information production and sharing.  As digital consumers and as content creators, we have the responsibility to examine the complete role that technology plays in shaping our understandings of all issues today.

In this workshop we’ll explore our own experience with technology as it relates to reinforcing or interrupting online narratives. We’ll discuss the implications for students’ learning in and out of schools, and learn 3 techniques we can use to help develop digital leaders.  We will use inquiry-based strategies and online platforms that can be applied to your classrooms immediately to engage students in similar conversations. Please bring a laptop or other mobile device to this workshop!

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to 6th through 12th grade educators.

Ari Dolid is an Instructional Coach in the San Leandro Unified School District, focusing on English Language Arts and strategic integration of technology in grades 6-12. Previously, he taught English Language Arts for 14 years, and is a co-founder of The Social Justice Academy at San Leandro High School, a small school program dedicated to empowering youth to become agents of change in their communities on personal, cultural and institutional levels. Twitter: @aridolid

If Not Now, When? Student Writers Advocate for Civic Engagement

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.20.25 PM.pngThis session will explore a rubric that highlights key skills which support students writing for a civic purpose. These skills, such as “employs a public voice” and “advocates civic engagement” are articulated in the Civically Engaged Writing Analysis Continuum (CEWAC) developed by the National Writing Project. By using this tool to score student work participants will deepen their understanding of the features of civically engaged writing. They will see assignments aligned to this rubric, as well as anchor papers and commentary for those papers. Ultimately, participants will consider instructional shifts to their current practice that will support students writing for civic purposes.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to high school English and Social Studies teachers, but could easily be adapted for use in middle school classrooms.

Stan Pesick taught history in the Oakland Unified School District for twenty years and then helped coordinate the district’s history/social studies program for another twelve. He currently works with the National Writing Project, the National Park Service, the Mills College Lesson Study Group, and the Bay Area Writing Project.

Real Rap: Let’s Do it for the Culture!

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.19.49 PM.pngIn this workshop, participants will be introduced to a reading and writing framework rooted in the modes of discourse which encourages students to insert themselves in the classroom and assert themselves outside of it. Additionally, participants will see how pairing traditional texts with non-traditional texts provides space for students to have authentic discourse in and outside of the classroom by honoring the culture they come to school with. Lastly, participants will have an opportunity to see the framework in action by working with a text set viewed through the lens of Ibrahm X. Kendi’s scholarship on the racism of good intentions.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to middle school, high school, and college educators.

Mark Ali is an educator in Hayward Unified School District who currently teaches English Language Arts at Mount Eden High School, and has been a BAWP teacher consultant since 2009.

Beyond “Say, Mean, Matter”: Critical Literacy for Critical Consciousness

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.21.05 PM.pngStrategies like “Say, Mean, Matter” lead our students to surface-level analyses of texts, but we know youth are capable of deeper interpretations.  What happens if we explicitly teach critical frameworks and how to apply them? How would these critical lenses incite writing that demands community transformation? This session explores a critical reading strategy adapted from the 5 Levels of Analysis (Camangian, 2013) as a primer for civically engaged writing.  Through this, students grapple with complex meanings within text, the subtext, and apply their analyses to their own lives in order to build not only academic literacy, but literacy for liberation.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable Secondary educators.

Karen Salazar is a Humanities Coach at Epic Middle School in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood.  As a high school English and Social Studies teacher of 11 years in Oakland and Los Angeles, she is a passionate believer in the responsibility of educators to use their classrooms as spaces to nurture critical consciousness.

Turning Empathy Into Activism

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.18.59 PM.pngHow can we facilitate classroom spaces where students have the agency and tools to turn their empathy into activism? Examining a learning experience that culminated with students writing and presenting policy recommendations advocating for equity for transgender youth, workshop participants will explore classroom activities, examine student work, and talk with students who have completed the project themselves. Teachers will be encouraged to consider how bringing controversial, relevant topics into the classroom can empower students and benefit school culture.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to middle school, high school, and college teachers.

Eva Marie Oliver is in her 7th year of learning with and from her students in writing, English, and Humanities classrooms at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience. If not in the classroom, Eva can be found reading, practicing yoga, hiking, or swimming.

Ingrys Arevalo is a 10th grade student activist at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience; she studied with Ms. Oliver in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. She also works at Life Academy’s Writing Center as a tutor.

Luis Reyes is an 11th grade student activist at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience; he studied with Ms. Oliver in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. He also is one of the founding members of Life Academy’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA).

Ally Up!: Research, Resistance and Technology

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 12.20.48 PM.pngAs we face new challenges as a global community we must unify to move forward together. With that in mind, how can we use the writing process to encourage this process? How do we use research to help our students become better allies to each other? In what ways can we use technology as part of this work?  In this workshop, participants will examine alliance building, and write an exploratory inquiry piece to be used as a blog.

Intended audience: This workshop is most applicable to college and high school teachers, but could be adapted for middle school students.

Carmen Johnston has been working in youth development and education for over twenty years. She is the co-founder of the Change It Now social justice learning community at Chabot College. She is currently a full-time English professor at Chabot College.