Iowa Council of Teachers of English

Standardized Is the Antithesis of Creative

Standardized Is the Antithesis of Creative

JoAnn Gage, Teacher Writer

January 31, 2020

When I go out to eat at the Olive Garden, I know exactly what to expect. The menu and decor are standard and successful, and cooks there are able to follow a recipe to create the same dishes in every branch of the chain. But I wonder if Olive Garden cooks ever garner the inventive nature and deep under...

Common Sense Sunset

Common Sense Sunset

Rex Muston, Teacher Writer

January 13, 2020

My bright focused third hour pupils tell me a check marked box is a visual representation of resolution.   Driving home I double take the sunset, pausing momentarily at high speed, caught in a whirlpool of January insight, resolved to the littlest things.   My consc...

Fairy’s Winter Journal

Fairy’s Winter Journal

Tracy Tensen, Teacher Writer

January 1, 2020

Dec. 29, 2019 It’s especially chilly today.  I don’t mind snow—it is the most lovely part of the off season, but this wind is another thing altogether.   One might think that fairies go into complete hibernation in the coldest of the months, but this is certainly not the case.  J...

20 WORDS for 2020

20 WORDS for 2020

December 12, 2019

Iowa teacher-writers will bring 20 words to life over the next 12 months. Contributors looked ahead to 2020 and selected words to use as guides, reminders, motivators, and prayers. BREATHE is the only word submitted by two people.  Kerry Neuberger of Garner-Hayfield-Ventura said, "It is easy t...

Nervous…Excited…Grateful: My First Time at NCTE

Nervous…Excited…Grateful: My First Time at NCTE

Katie Voortmann, Teacher-Writer

December 9, 2019

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous as I was boarding the plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport in order to go to Baltimore. After winning a travel stipend for a writing contest at Buena Vista University, my advisor recommended I go to NCTE. The first words out of her mouth were, “It’s going...

When I Picture My Father

When I Picture My Father

Jennifer Hartwig, Teacher-Writer

November 17, 2019

When I picture my father, I picture a truck, My father stepping up and climbing in, Ready to head to the field or to deliver grain to the elevator, Or proudly opening the door for his satisfied customer to take the wheel.   When I picture my father,  I picture a tractor,  My father perched...

Two Poems

Two Poems

Rex Muston, Teacher Writer

November 4, 2019

  GOOD TO SEE SCOTT   The rotten trunk of the dead oak at the home of my children’s mother lasted longer than our marriage ever could.   Last week it gave up the ghost, falling with an imagined death rattle across the fence into Kathy’s yard.   We bonded lookin...

Reflections of a First-Time Presenter

Reflections of a First-Time Presenter

Lisa Robinson, Teacher-Writer

October 21, 2019

The days of ICTE are ones that I look forward to each fall, not only because I know I will feel rejuvenated and excited about my profession, but because I love seeing familiar faces and sharing my passion with like-minded people. I also laugh A LOT.   This year I presented for the first time. Yi...

What Teacher-Writers Want

What Teacher-Writers Want

Allison Berryhill, ICTE Publications Co-chair

October 12, 2019

Teacher-writers gathered in the Meadows Room at 2019 ICTE Fall Conference Thursday evening to put pen to the page. Again on Friday, during "Active Voice: A Teacher-Writer Round Table," we opened our time together with one of my favorite poem-model writing prompts. Mirroring C. G. Hanzlicek's beautiful poem "What I Want Is" invites us to explore our desires. As we unspool our wants, we learn about ourselves and each other. Several attendees allowed me to share their poems. Please appreciate this collection--all written during about six minutes of warm-up time--and then set your timer and write your own. Use Hanzlicek's ...

“Caterpillars” and “Unwavering”

“Caterpillars” and “Unwavering”

Candace Berkley

October 2, 2019

Caterpillars The smell of parsley reminds me of late summer, when the freedom of June days is but a feeling fading fast into the routine of school. My mother always planted parsley in big clay pots, and the black swallowtail butterflies loved parsley. Its vibrant green, small-but-sturdy stalks capped ...

Two Poems: “The Family Farm” and “Students”

Two Poems: “The Family Farm” and “Students”

Jan Luton, Teacher Writer

August 15, 2019

The Family Farm A place of tranquility    cradled in the country. A nurturing nest    that houses good beginnings. A chameleon patch in a quilt   with seasonal changes. An entertainment   with business of production. A checkerboard of seasons   white, brown, green and g...

Practice What You Preach: Start with Brainstorming

Practice What You Preach: Start with Brainstorming

Jennifer Hartwig, Contributing Writer

July 31, 2019

I try my best to practice what I preach - as a mother, a Christian, a teacher. This summer, in fact, I had every intention of practicing what I preach - or in this case teach: writing. My writing was going to work in tandem with my 30+ year family photo collection which I was going to organize into...

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