On July 9, the 3RDspace will be opened by its participating members. To get yourself ready, please begin by introducing yourself in the space below. In your "howdy" please make sure to include:

1. Your name and Writing Project, Museum of School District site.

2. A short bio about yourself that includes years teaching, your content area and expertise.

3. A short 'emergent' Needs Statement that helps us understand what particular challenge you have at yoru local level, that you with to work on during the Institute.

4. Make sure to read participants' postings and start introducing yourselves!

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Hello 3rd Spacers! I am Patti Swank and I have been teaching English for 26 years at Highland High School in Illinois – approximately 45 minutes northeast of St. Louis. In 2008, I became a Founding Fellow of the Piasa Bluffs Writing Project and subsequently have been a co-director of the Invitational Summer Institute.

Over the last 5 years, our Leadership Team’s innovating and exploring has allowed us to evolve and morph as both individuals and as a team. So, as an individual and team member, I continually examine the “how and why” things happen within our Leadership Team, my teaching practices and also as a teacher leader; as I make connections and notice the intentional practices, I experiment within my classroom and my school. As I am navigating within my school community, I see our culture formed and re-formed. So, I am wondering how do I, as a classroom teacher and as a teacher leader within my school, take it to the next level in the re-forming and re-shaping our school community?  My second question is, as I navigate within my community, building on what we are doing, how do I include others in the process?

I am looking forward to our experience this week as we weave and navigate and design together.

Hi. I'm Elizabeth Yee, a TC  from the Gateway Writing Project here in my adopted home of St. Louis, MO - and the St. Louis Art Museum is one of my favorite haunts.  I'm originally from Brooklyn, New York, and I currently teach British literature and AP English Literature at Villa Duchesne - a private, all-girls, Catholic high school. I've also taught American literature, 7th & 8th grade English, and created several learning cooperatives while homeschooling my own three children. I've been a teacher for more than twelve years.

My school has had several leadership transitions over the past few years and it has been difficult to get the community to engage collaboratively in forming a cohesive future. 

I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone.

Hi all,


My name is Annie Ortiz and I hail from Stillwater, OK where I am part of the OSUWP (orange power) not to be confused with OWP but can be associated with OWP (those red ones). At our site I've been codirector of our ISI for several years except not this summer. My daughter got married in CA right the middle and that sort of took 1st priority:)

I have been teaching for 25 years now (Oh my) and am still loving it. I have taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade but my favorite was multiage 3/4. Last year I moved into the position of teaching gifted and talented children 2nd-5th grade. I pulled small groups of students into my classroom and taught in classrooms too. A wonderful year. This next year I will be teaching gifted 3 days and working as one of the codirectors of our writing project the other 2 days. I have an inquiring mind and led an inquiry group of 10 teachers at my school around the literacy of boys. I loved the community it built. I am wondering about how that community will maintain or unfold or renew itself as this year unfolds because at the end of the school year every grade level had teachers moved to a new grade.

I am also wondering about our writing project site as we transition to a new leadership team. How will we "let go" of our newly retired director and still be us. I am wondering how we can use this model to define ourselves as we move forward.

Since I missed writing project this summer I am in need of a wp fix.

see ya soon


Hello fellow CoLab participants,

My name is Stephanie Rollag, and I’m a TC with the Minnesota Writing Project.   I’m looking forward to meeting everybody and having the opportunity to learn more about the responsive design.  

I just finished my 6th year teaching 7th grade Language Arts at a Middle School in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis.  Prior to living in Minneapolis, I taught 7th grade Reading and Language Arts for three years in a small town in Iowa. The Minnesota Writing Project has been an energizing resource for me through the summer institute, a continuation of our writing group, and opportunities to attend different conferences.  In my school, I have been able to be a part of our staff development committee as our school implemented SIOP strategies.  In addition, team teaching with an incredible ELL teacher has helped me see the benefits of working together to improve the classroom.  This Fall I will be starting a PhD program in critical literacy in curriculum and instruction.  I’m eager to explore questions that I have about education through a different lens.  

As Jen Kohan mentioned, she and I are excited to find ways to expand and continue development of partnerships that the Minnesota Writing Project has in place.  We are looking for ways to continue our collaboration with local libraries, after school programs, and staff development opportunities.  


Hello everyone!  I'm so excited for the week ahead of us -- the explorations, discoveries, sharing, and community-building.  And I'm especially excited that it is not supposed to be 100 degrees all week (the rain tonight was glorious!).

I'm Mike Murawski, and I'm currently the Director of School Services at the Saint Louis Art Museum. I'm originally from St. Louis, and, after leaving for college and graduate school, I have now been back for about 6 years.  I am extremely passionate about arts learning, museum education, and educational reform as well as the ways in which these areas can come together in powerful ways. I have been involved in the work of the National Writing Project and the Cultural Landscapes Collaboratory (CoLab) since 2009, when our very own Ralph Cordova served as the Master Teacher Fellow at the Saint Louis Art Museum and we began to explore learning differently in the art museum.  Being involved in the work of the Piasa Bluffs Writing Project and the CoLab has been transformative in the way I work with students, teachers, and colleagues at the Museum and throughout the teaching and learning communities I have become a part of.

I am constantly interested in how we (as museum educators, university faculty, classroom teachers, students, parents, etc.) can come to see museums as sites for transformative learning, and how we can take full advantage of the powerful types of learning that museums can facilitate.  What are the ways we can navigate the challenging, complicated cultures of museums and the surrounding educational communities to open up this potential, harness it, and allow museums to serve as key sites for meaningful informal learning?  What steps do we need to take to push museum learning past the "field trip" and toward a more participatory and relevant place within our communities?  And how can museums simply become open, free, exploratory spaces where teachers and students can come to grow -- to be empowered as learners in a broad sense.

Nicole Schon

South Coast Writing Project, UC Santa Barbara

The product of an era of pink slips and temporary positions, my experience in education has been one of adaptation and flexibility- my strongest area of expertise is change. I began teaching in 2004 as a high school tutor and elementary substitute, and then became a GATE instructor for grades 4-6. In an unexpected twist, I spent the next several years teaching middle school English, and one year teaching social studies as well. My last year in the classroom, I taught 5th grade.

This past year, I stepped out of the classroom to play a larger role in my writing project as the Technology Liaison, designing a new website, coordinating and facilitating teacher workshops, writing grants, and organizing study groups. I also began work at an online education company, Lesson Planet, which quickly grew to a full-time position where, once again, I wear many hats, from  developing content to facilitating internal and external communication.

 My focus over the past year has become more and more centered on leadership and communication. One area of need that I am actively exploring is how to foster and sustain teacher leadership, both within our writing project and in the larger teacher community. 

Hello! My name is Judy Hug and I live in Santa Barbara, California. I am a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara where I also earned my elementary teaching credential in 1975. I have taught all grades k-7 in public and private schools over the past 36 years. I retired from the classroom in the spring of 2011. I am continuing my role as an educator through work with the South Coast Writing Project at UCSB where I have been a fellow since 1996, volunteering weekly at my former school, and helping to raise my 18 month old grandson, Tanner. As a CoLab member for the past 7 years I have enjoyed the work we are doing in the area of responsive design. Working with colleagues from across the country as well as at home, is very rewarding. Being able to share the CoLab work with ScwriP fellows and area teachers has also been very enriching and satisfying. I am looking forward to the upcoming 3rd Space institute, meeting new colleagues, and furthering our CoLab work.

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