Summer 2013 To-Do List

Now that grading is done, it’s time to get my summer to-do list down. I need to be especially dicsiplined this summer because baby #2 is arriving in August [Seeger Reyes Wolff born 8/14 :-)] and there will be no time to get things done for a while after that. I’ll cross them off and add the dates of completion when and if they are completed. I’ve broken them into three categories: Personal, Scholarly, and Creative:


  • fun adventures with Wendy and Hydan
  • see my grandparents saw gpa June 22 (gpa passed away on 8/23)
  • garden (I’m behind on this already and would love to plant corn) planted June 14, beets added June 18
  • set up baby #2’s nursery finally completed August 8
  • biking (I need to lose about 15lbs this summer)
  • eat healthy, by which I mean pescatarian, and no soda (even local root beers)
  • clean out basement
  • sell a bunch of stuff on Craigslist Lenox China, Pottery Barn dinnerware, Pottery Barn buffet & hutch, Amish pot belly dresser posted on July 7
  • clean home office and campus office completed May 28
  • complete Dropbox to Spideroak transition
  • bring Ellie to the vet completed July 11


  • Computers & Composition article proof edits (deadline: 5/24/13) completed May 22 and August 12
  • #cwcon13 paper (deadline: 6/5/13) completed and presented; see the screencast
  • learning space design article revisions (title: “Learning in Trees and Classrooms”: Responsive Architecture, Phenotypic Plasticity, and the Future of Classroom Spaces)
  • web 2.0 reader
  • #springsteen internet ethnography and survey fan study IRB submitted July 11; see it online; approved July 30, 2013; released the survey August 1
  • turn #springsteen symposium talks into articles
  • sabbatical application (I hope to be on sabbatical 2014 – 2015 academic year)
  • set up new RSS feed reader set up newsblur on July 11
  • blog
  • overhaul web site (will never get done this summer but it needs to be stated)
  • reading on: internet ethnography, grounded theory, fan studies completed throughout summer
  • Scan: New Media journal article review (due July 22, 2013) completed July 21, 2013
  • upgrade yourTwapperKeeper completed and upgraded server to 20GB June 18


  • Chocolates photo show preparation (deadline: 5/21/13 and up to 6/7/13) Completed May 29
  • finish “Tiresias Groans” generative poem and then put online with #inarchs13 student poems
  • submit One Gray Whale picture book to another publisher Completed May 23 to Charlesbridge
  • revise and submit some poems to journals Completed May 23, submitted “Bear to Boston,” “Such Mysteries,” and “On My Wife’s First Trimester Screen” to Sundog Lit (rejected); July 1, submitted “On My Wife’s First Trimester Screen” to Poetry (rejected).
  • 2335 McCoy Road Chocolates prep for August show in Biggs Museum Completed June 11
  • lots of toy camera photography in preparation for November photo show, Toys will show Chocolates instead
  • cwip (upload student books and then shut it down)
  • work on Shingles
  • submit Chocolates images to various galleries Submitted to: ImpossibleNYC (June 13); Photobooth San Francisco (July 8); Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO) (July 25) [no word from any gallery]


  • grade incompletes completed July 19
  • write observation letters completed June 12
  • finalize job search EEO form completed May 28
  • prepare for fall 2013 Writing for Electronic Communities completed September 5
  • notify #iwsf12 students to move their web sites completed July 31

There’s quite a bit on there. We’ll see how it goes.

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Why I’m Putting My Recontracting, Tenure, and Promotion Documents Online

On June 12, 2012, I posted all of my recontracting, tenure, and promotion documents online along with some thoughts about the recontracting process for faculty and graduate students. I had been meaning to put these documents online for some time now, with my initial goal to do so after being awarded tenure. The birth of my son two days before being awarded tenure prevented me from doing that. If time had permitted I would have made an online version of my tenure application but time didn’t permit back in August 2010. This post briefly explains my rationale for putting these documents online.

To make visible a process that is often opaque, confusing, and intimidating to new (and seasoned) faculty.
Much of what we do in academia is opaque, confusing, and intimidating—to those within the academy and outside the academy. It starts with the dissertation process and continues through the hiring process and the recontracting process. My academic philosophy has been to make visible what is often hidden, which is why all of my course information is online and at some point a few years ago I began the process of putting course evaluations online. Putting the recontracting documents (which contain course evaluations) online is a natural extension of my philosophy. And since the recontracting documents are reflections of my work, they very nicely coalesce and explain what I have been doing in my Teaching, Scholarship, Creative Activity, and Service, why I’m doing what I do, how they all connect, and why the work is important—for me, the department, the university, and the field.

I am also very aware that my department, the Department of Writing Arts, is one of the few stand-alone Writing departments in the country, and perhaps the only one located within a College of Communication. These institutional contexts help inform our department values and the guidelines we have composed to evaluate our favulty. My recontracting documents from the Third Year packet and onward contain the department’s Recontracting, Tenure, and Promotion guidelines. The guidelines, I think, are a model for other such departments and concentrations housed within English departments that are considering the possibility of become stand-alone.

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Call for Artists, Photogs, & Writers: 5 Books, 5 Charities, 5 Ways to Help!

Composing with Images Press, the press that I co-founded with Billie Hara, has released it’s latest call for entries. Take a look and consider submitting. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Composing with Images Press (CWiP) seeks images (photographs, drawings, or paintings), poetry, prose, and personal experiences (stories, letters, or journal entries) that explore and/or represent 5 different themes to create 5 different multi-genre books to benefit 5 charities. The charities and themes are:

  • Children’s Defense Fund (theme: I have a Voice)
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (theme: The Teenage Experience)
  • March of Dimes (theme: Motherhood)
  • Operation Homefront (theme: Heroes)
  • Wildlife Conservation Society (theme: Wild)

The books created in response to this call will compose the first 5 books in our Student Books Series. In the Student Books Series students at colleges and universities under the guidance of their instructors and in collaboration with CWiP, will conceive of, design, and edit books to benefit a charity of their choosing. As with all CWiP books, 100% of the proceeds from book sales and submission fees will be donated to the students’ charity. The charities and themes for the first 5 books were selected by Writing Arts majors in Bill Wolff’s Writing, Research, and Technology course at Rowan University.

Deadline for submissions: October 17, 2011, at 11:59pm, Eastern Time.

Composing with Images Press is a small not-for-profit, all volunteer, independent book publisher founded by Bill Wolff and Billie Hara. CWiP publishes photo and art books that bring together image and text to engage creative, social, and cultural issues within a particular theme. 100% of all proceeds are donated to charity. Our first books were immediate best sellers and raised almost $1000 for BP oil spill cleanup efforts. Play!, a book to benefit The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, will be released in November, 2011.

You will find a summary of each call below. Follow the links to the full call and submission specifics.

We look forward to your submissions!

Call for Entries: I have a Voice
(to benefit the Children’s Defense Fund)

CWiP is seeking a variety of genre entries that represent and capture the essence of the theme, I have a Voice, and empowers and inspires children to view life in a positive way and to follow their dreams. Topics might include, but are certainly not limited to, individuality, role models, dreams/goals, success, family/friends, play/activities, safety/health, environment/community, and love and perspective. If you are a parent or teacher, ask your child or students to write about or create artwork that responds to to this theme in ways that only a child can present. We encourage entries that express your and children’s imaginations!

This call is open to amateur and professional artists and writers worldwide of any age working in any artistic or written medium. Work by children is of particular interest.

Call for Entries: The Teenage Experience
(to benefit the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network)

CWiP is seeking a variety of genre entries that represent and capture the essence of the theme, The Teenage Experience.  These might include, but are not limited to, entries that represent common problems facing teenagers, what it feels like to be a teenager in your contemporary society, or the joys that come with being a teenager today. Subjects that might be considered in writing or images, for example, are bullying, friendship, athletics, drama, school-life, concerns about the future, and so on. These are of course just suggestions for representing The Teenage Experience. We encourage entries that express your imagination!

This call is open to amateur and professional writers and artists worldwide over the age of 13 working in any artistic or written medium. We are specifically interested in work created by teenagers.

Call for Entries: Motherhood
(to benefit the March of Dimes)

CWiP is seeking entries in a variety of genres that represent and explore the essence of the theme, Motherhood. These might include, but are not limited to, photographs of pregnancy, photographs of children and families, photographs of motherhood, drawings or poems in the area of motherhood, tips on motherhood, letters on motherhood from the perspective of children, and personal stories on the stages of motherhood before, during, and after pregnancy, and as motherhood evolves throughout the life of the child. We are also interested in work that depicts motherhood from the perspective of children, partners, and/or spouses. These are of course just suggestions for representing Motherhood. We encourage entries that express your imagination!

This call is open to amateur and professional writers and artists worldwide of any age working in any artistic or written medium.

Call for Entries: Heroes
(to benefit Operation Homefront)

CWiP is seeking entries in a variety of genres that represent and capture the essence of the theme, Heroes. These might include, but are not limited to, photographs, drawings, and paintings portraying who your hero is or what a hero is to you, as well as poems, stories, or even lyrics about a heroic experience, someone you consider to be your hero, and/or what it means to be a hero. The work you submit might also attempt to capture through image and words metaphorical ideas of what it means to be heroic. Although the book will be specifically benefiting families of military personal, the pictures may include, but are limited to, a person in uniform.  These are of course just suggestions for representing the idea of Heroes. We encourage entries that express your imagination!

This call is open to amateur and professional writers and artists worldwide of any age working in any artistic or written medium.

Call for Entries: Wild
(to benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society)

CWiP is seeking entries in a variety of genres that represent and explore the essence of the theme, Wild.  These might include, but are not limited to, entries that showcase animals in their natural habitat, survival in the wild, personal experiences in the wild, or simply, a depiction of what you believe Wild  represents. We are not, however, limiting our desire for entries to focus solely on animals, but human experiences in their natural habitats: you could consider the place where you live, i.e. the city as a wild place. These are of course just suggestions for representing Wild. One might also consider what ‘Wild” means from the standpoint of the animal, the place, the person in the place, etc. Dress up as an animal – we encourage entries that express your imagination!

This call is open to amateur and professional artists and writers worldwide of any age working in any artistic or written medium.

CWiP thanks you for supporting these charities and the students who are doing the important work of creating the books! We look forward to your submissions!

Have a great day!

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“schools aren’t businesses”: two must-read education articles

There are two must read education-related magazine articles this September, one in Harper’s and one in Smithsonian. These are must-reads for educators, but the real beneficiary of them would be those who are not in public education (and, especially those who also continue to complain against it and rail against teachers) and politicians who spend most of their time extolling the benefits of standardized tests and competition based education. As a bonus, I’ll also link to an old and excellent interview by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo with then presidential candidate Wes Clark, who is spot on about education.

Getting schooled: The re-education of an American teacher [full pdf so you don’t need subscription],” By Garret Keizer in the September 2011 issue of Harper’s

Choice passage (mostly because of the use of the word “nincompoop”):

Except for a few precious hours on Friday nights, I had little of what is generally called a life. My wife and I seldom went out. My normally robust correspondence dwindled to nothing. I was unable to file our income taxes until July. Though I took pains not to appear so to my students, I was often despondent. One morning, when my wife remonstrated with me for picking up a drunk hitchhiker by myself on a lonely road late the night before—“What if he’d pulled a gun?”—I responded, half joking, that if I could just get myself shot I might not have to correct any more papers.

My point here is that even under ideal circumstances, public-school teaching is one of the hardest jobs a person can do. Most sensible people know that. Anyone who claims not to know that is either a scoundrel or a nincompoop; or, to put it another way, a typical expert on everything that’s wrong with American public education and the often damaged children that it serves.

Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?” by LynNell Hancock in the September 2011 issue of Smithsonian

Choice passage:

The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country’s economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. “I’m still surprised,” said Arjariita Heikkinen, principal of a Helsinki comprehensive school. “I didn’t realize we were that good.”

In the United States, which has muddled along in the middle for the past decade, government officials have attempted to introduce marketplace competition into public schools. In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on compe­tition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. “I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,” said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.”

Wes Clark on competition in education from a 2003 interview with Josh Marshall (.pdf) of Talking Points Memo:

For example, take the idea of competition in schools. OK now, what is competition in schools? What does it really mean? Well, competition in business means you have somebody who’s in a business that has a profit motive in it. It’s measured every quarter. If the business doesn’t keep up, the business is going to lose revenue, therefore it has an incentive to restructure, reorganize, re-plan, re-compete and stay in business.

Schools aren’t businesses. Schools are institutions of public service. Their job–their product–is not measured in terms of revenues gained. It’s measured in terms of young lives whose potential can be realized. And you don’t measure that either in terms of popularity of the school, or in terms of the standardized test scores in the school. You measure it child-bychild, in the interaction of the child with the teacher, the parent with the teacher, and the child in a larger environment later on in life.

So when people say that competition is-this is sort of sloganeering, “Hey, you know, schools need this competition.” No. I’ve challenged people: Tell me why it is that competition would improve a school. Most of them can’t explain it. It’s just like, “Well, competition improves everything so therefore it must improve schools.” If you want to improve schools, you’ve got to go inside the processes that make a school great. You’ve got to look at the teachers, their qualifications, their motivation, what it is that gives a teacher satisfaction, what it is a teacher wants to do in a classroom. We’ve got to empower teachers. Give them an opportunity to lead in the classroom. Teachers are the most important leaders in America. All that is lost in the sloganeering of this party. And the American people know it’s lost. So you asked me to give you one thing about this party that’s in power — it’s the sort of doctrinaire ideology that doesn’t really understand the country that we’re living in.

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