Monday, July 8, 2013

National Writing Project Day #1 & Yummy Cherry Cake

I just arrived home from my first day at the National Writing Project's Summer Institute at UW-Milwaukee and what a great day it was!

First of all, I have to give myself credit for even finding the building I needed to be in!  (I am a little directionally challenged!)  After taking an unintentional campus tour (in the rain), I finally found my building and made my way to my classroom.  I am excited that I now know where I'm going and hopefully this won't happen any more.  :)

Our university director, Karen, did a very fun writing activity with us this morning based on the poem "Where I'm From" by the poet George Ella Lyon.  You can find the poem here, along with a recording of the poet reading the poem to play it for your students. 

Karen began by having us fold a box into eight sections and labeling each section with a different purpose:  sounds/sayings, smells/tastes, places, people, events (good & bad), firsts, traditions/heritage and favorites. Then she gave us about three minutes to fill in each box with a memory from our life.  Here is my brainstorm box:
Karen then brought up the website with the poem and we listened as the poet read the poem.  Then Karen had us write our own Where I'm From poem.  Now, I am not a poet.  I never really enjoyed writing poetry.  But this was an amazing writing experience and before I knew it, I had written a poem.  Here's a snippet:

I am from the garden
     Be it vegetables planted in the cool earth in the late spring
     Sprouting lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes to share
     Or bright and delicate blooming flowers
     That are visited by the honeybees and hummingbirds.

I am from quilting
     Creating history for my kids, preserving a bit of today for tomorrow
     Keeping my hands busy and my mind settled
     Taking part in a tradition that goes back in time
     But is new to this generation of family.

I will spare you the other six stanzas, but please look past my writing and think about the implications for how you can use this in your classroom.

Maybe this could be done with your students at the beginning of the year as a get-to-know-you project.

Maybe you could use it in a content area, perhaps writing as an explorer or scientist.

Maybe you could have your students use this poetry format to write a summary of a book they read.

I think the possibilities are endless!  I can't wait for tomorrow!!

We are doing a TON of writing during the day (which I LOVE!), but I have a big inquiry project to present on Friday and need to get going on my reading.  (Remember, I'm having a motivational issue at the moment...)

But before I go, I'm going to do a quick link up with Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road for the weekly recipe party.
I have two cherry trees in my backyard in our "orchard".  (I say this jokingly...I only have six trees total so it's hardly an orchard-- 2 cherry, 2 pear, and 2 peach.)  This is the fourth year we've had the cherry trees.  Last year, we had tons of blossoms but a late spring freeze that made all of those babies drop to the ground.  Not one cherry...

This year, both trees blossomed and produced fruit....lots of it.  I picked three times for a total of about 15 cups.  While this may not seem like a lot, I was very excited, considering it was my first real cherry harvest.  My son, Ryan, was ever-so-helpful and offered to pit the cherries for hero!
I made two batches of cherry jam and this cherry cake.  All were really delicious and I want to share the cake recipe with you because I haven't seen another one like it:

Sour Cherry Pudding Cake

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1 cup milk
2 T vegetable oil
3 cups pitted sour cherries
1 cup sugar

Mix the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, milk & oil in a bowl.   You can mix by hand but the batter will be thick.  (There are no eggs.)  Spread the batter in a 9 x 13 dish (greased).

Mix the 3 cups of cherries with the other 1 cup of sugar.  Mix well.  Spread the cherries on top of the batter.

Bake about 30-33 minutes at 375 degrees or until lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving.  Would be awesome with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.  Yum!!


  1. So glad you had a great first day! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sounds like a great first day at the writing institute!

  3. I love the idea of using this as a get-to-know-you activity. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for such a detailed post on your first day-bookmarked it! :O) Can't wait to read tomorrow's post! Bring an umbrella, just in case!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  5. So impressed with your orchard-even if it is a mini one. Your cake sounds delicious!!


    I Teach. What's Your Super Power?

  6. What a wonderful post about your day's findings. Love the ideas! Here's hoping you can find the necessary building a little quicker without the impromptu tours for the rest of the time :)

    Thank you for linking up your recipe. Someday...when we own a house...hopefully in the country, I hope to have an orchard like you; mini or not I love the idea!

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

  7. Thank you so much for stopping over to my blog and becoming a member! I appreciate it SO much! I'm a follower of yours as well!

    Your cake looks DELICIOUS!! :)

    I love finding blogs in our area!
    Your MN neighbor,
    Mrs. Johnson's Little Prowlers


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