Moments from Sept. 30 Saturday Seminar

Warming Up for Writing

Teacher consultant and instructional coach, Jane Gilmore, coordinates the warm up writing activities, led by student teachers for students while the teachers preview the day’s lesson.  Today’s activity, ” Rainbow Storytelling Poker. ” got students thinking about essential elements of story in a way that was kinesthetic, fun, and challenging.

Jane Gilmore talking with SJAWP Director, Jonathan Lovell

There was quite a buzz in the room as students got started. 

Jane was surprised and pleased that some of the students began collaborating on the oral stories rather than stay with their own deck.

Teacher Previews


SJAWP is proud to share that seminars for K-2 teachers have returned to Saturdays.  Jennifer Kim is a lively teacher consultant who brings an abundance of ideas, strategies and fun to the writing classroom.


Alexis Doucette expertly models the process for developing small moment narratives around the biographical memories associated with place, namely mapping one’s neighborhood.

Middle and High School

Visiting author and teacher, Margaret McMullen, co-led the preview for teachers with Kate Flowers.  Kate is an associate director of SJAWP, teaches at Santa Clara High, and studied with Margaret McMullen for her MFA.

Middle and High School Teachers and Students in Margaret McMullan’s Presentation


Margaret’s presentation included time to do thoughtful writing, of course.  Teachers and students wrote responses to read aloud account and then a photograph of one of the sit-ins for civil rights at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro North Carolina, 1960.

After reading and discussing the poem, My Mother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears, Margaret set the group up to do an observation.  Just view a scene and report, report, report.  At the end use one I-statement to lend the significance.

Participants read Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota then went outside for ten minutes to write.

Returning to the auditorium some students read their descriptions ending with a surprising I-statement.

Elementary Presentation:  Mapping My Hood



Parents Wrote and Talked, Too

Student Admin Assistants Coordinated

Reserve your space in the next Saturday Seminar, October 21st

TEACHERS Register Online


STUDENTS: Register Online

San Jose Area Writing Project

The SJAWP is a California Subject Matter Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project and the California Writing Project. We are a non-profit organization of, by, and for teachers dedicated to improving the teaching and uses of writing at all grade levels (K-16) and in all disciplines.






Super Saturdays are for students and teachers


One compelling reason to come to the Saturday Seminars is to see your writing friends

Reconnect with peers from Writing Workshop, Creative Writing Camp, or the Teen Writing Institute. There are opportunities in Saturday Seminars to collaborate and socialize.

Save the dates for Fall 2019

September 28, 2019 – October 19, 2019 – November 16, 2019

For further information visit


Saturday Sept. 9

Young writers in opening activity

SJAWP Seminars for Students, Teachers and Parents

Partnerships made up characters and then invented trouble for them

After a meet-and-greet with breakfast snacks, coffee and tea, students went to the writing activity, Creating a Character.  During this warm-up, teacher leaders modeled and students eagerly followed, working in partnerships.

Parent Workshop

At the same time, parents who wanted to stay, made their way to the Parent Workshop with Andrea Katz.



During the workshops, 3-5 students participated with a lead teacher and attending elementary teachers, listening to and creating their own stories to tell.

Ms. J. tells a true story of a boy who frequently got in trouble
Everyone enjoys a story, especially one well told with action, sound, and humor

The teachers in attendance were apparently inspired and refreshed.





Meanwhile, middle school students and teachers were in a workshop with Mrs. Katie Adelman, exploring the power of personification.

Taking abstract qualities and turning them into people


High School

Meanwhile, in another room, high school teachers and students wrote together

Mrs. Laurie Weckesser led the group through a series of flash drafts for finding a topic.  Then writers poured over and discussed mentor texts for inspiration, and finally wrote their own essay defining a belief.

Getting started with flashdrafts
Discussing craft moves in mentor texts


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Teachers writing along with students


Many thanks to our seemingly tireless staff of student administration assistants


And, also many thanks to the SJ Writing Project Director, Dr. Jonathan H. Lovell, who steers these inspiriting events.

Dr. Lovell explains how the units work for the Professional Learning Community for teachers

Please join us for Fall Saturday Seminar #2 on September 30, 2017, same times, same place – Sweeney Hall on the SJSU Campus.


Special author event for middle and high school students and teachers!


Fall Saturday Seminars at SJSU

An Invitation

Dear Families and Friends of the Writing Project,

If your children have attended any of the San Jose Area Writing Project summer programs, then you may be happy to learn we offer a continuation through the school year for students in grades 3-12.  These four fall and four spring sessions are designed to motivate writers and lift the level of their work through expert teacher modeling, clear strategy instruction, time to apply and practice, as well as receive feedback.

And we offer complimentary parallel workshops for parents, so that you can discuss your questions, write in a support group, and learn ways to encourage your children’s literacy.

Each Saturday session, parents and students are invited to a meet-and-greet at 9:30 a.m. in the auditorium at Sweeney Hall.  (Parking is available nearby in the 7th Street Garage.)

Your child may attend all 4 Saturdays for $75.00. Registering online ensures a space in a Saturday workshop. Walk-ins are welcome for $20.00 per Saturday, but class sizes are limited to 25 student writers per class. [Walk-ins who increase a class to beyond 25 may end up on a wait list.] For questions about registration, email or call 408-924-4412.

Register Online

The Fall Seminars Described

September 9

Oral Story-Telling

ms J

You can’t write what you can’t say.

Ms. Aeriale Johnson, Heinemann author and instructional coach, is presently teaching kindergarten at Washington ES, Santa Clara USD

Ms. Johnson taught a popular course for middle and elementary students in the SJAWP summer Writing Workshop 2017, Writing Creatively for Causes.  She brings her expertise to the Saturday Seminar for teachers and students with a session on Oral Story-Telling, bringing the power of speech to writing.  Students will benefit from rehearsal, finding the voice for their messages and writing stories that matter.  Story is the power in argumentative writing, business proposals and informational texts.

September 30

Mapping Your Hood

read around ms cisco

Mrs. Alexis Doucette, trained in Reading & Writing Workshop at Teachers College, Columbia U, NYC, currently teaches 4th grade at La Entrada School,
Las Lomitas ESD.

Mrs. Doucette’s workshop will engage students and teachers in drawing an actual map of their neighborhood. She will model writing strategies from the mentor text, Nothing Ever Happens on 96th Street. As students develop their narratives, teachers will confer with students individually and in pairs.  She is an expert coach both for teachers and students who offers strategies that will transfer to all of the reading and writing students do in school.

October 21

Character Studies

Choice Workshop sharing with partner

Ms. Sarah Brennan, who teaches 5th grade at Discovery Charter School, SCCOE, led elementary and middle school workshops at SJAWP summer Writing Workshop 2017 in crafting fiction.  She brings expertise integrating history/social studies with writing to her session.

Students and teachers will create engaging character studies to people their story ideas. A complex, believable character is the best launch into the meaning and significance of a story, whether realistic or historical fiction, fantasy, memoir, or narrative nonfiction. Students will have ample time to rehearse and revise their ideas as well as write.  This workshop not only engages students in writing but will sharpen their reading comprehension.

November 4

Ms Lopez

Find the Gems

Ms. Lorena Lopez, co-director on the SJAWP site leadership team, and EL Instructional Coach at San Jose USD, has given numerous expert professional development workshops in how to teach writing with English language learners.  Ms. Lopez has also taught writing workshop in SJAWP summer programs for students.

A children’s book author and bilingual coach, Ms. Lopez will lead students and teachers through strategies for getting any kind of writing started, for getting unstuck during drafting, and for revising to bring real voice, humor, and significance to the writing.

If your child is bilingual, [and may not receive school writing instruction beyond formulas for organization], then this workshop will inspire and engage.  Ms. Lopez shares touching and funny stories about her own experience going to an American school not speaking any English.  She will help your children understand the writing process, as well gain clear ways to use their speaking skills to move their ideas onto paper, without fear.  Your child has stories, important stories to share, and Ms. Lopez will help bring them out.


Saturday Seminar Outline

9:00 – 9:30 Registration and Breakfast Snack

10:00 Students meet for an engaging writing warm-up activity.  Optional parent workshop begins.

10:30 Presenter and teacher and students begin workshop together.

11:30 Short break in the hallway outside designated classrooms.

12:30 Workshops end and students go home.

(Teachers stay to debrief the morning’s work)

peer writing conference


Q: What should my child bring?

A: Your child should bring a writing instrument – either an electronic device or journal and pen.

Q: What if my child struggles with correct spelling and conventions?

A: Your child will not be publishing a piece yet, so drafts and revised writing will not be edited for correct written English, beyond what the writer knows how to do as he or she writes.

Q: How will attending these workshops help my child with academic requirements at school?

A: These workshop experiences offer several things children need to thrive in writing:

  • choice of topic
  • agency as a writer
  • oral and visual pre-writing for upfront revision
  • positive formative feedback
  • peer audiences
  • real world reasons to write
  • low-stakes, ungraded practice trying on new strategies.

Here is a short slide show highlighting some of the classes from last spring and fall

We appreciate your support of the San Jose Area Writing Project.

For over 30 years the SJAWP has been facilitating teachers learning from expert teachers, to lift the level of writing at the student desk. The SJAWP student programs have offered high quality writing instruction for over 12 years.

Register Online