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Director's Chair

December 9, 2011

The really good news is that ASWC has a new host and a permanent home!  The University of Alaska Anchorage/College of Education has accepted and established the NWP grant accounts, provided an office for the use of the ASWC, and has welcomed the opportunities to work in a partnership for quality, writing-instruction training throughout our state.  This transition has taken a while and our friends at University of Alaska Fairbanks are still helping us with carry-over funding and spending.  Together, ALL of us are working to maintain the exemplary legacy of the AK State Writing consortium, and to continue promoting teachers as writers, researchers, thinkers and leaders. 

Your involvement as a district, school, teacher, and teacher consultant is welcomed!  Please find opportunities for engagement elsewhere in this web presence ranging from a district-level membership form to online and face-to-face courses .  Contact me, Mardell Kiesel,, or 907 786 4952 or 907 301 9794, if you would like to have information provided that is not found here.  I look forward to meeting you and/or reconnecting!  


October, 2010

The past fifteen months have been humbling, challenging, rewarding and productive!  With a backward glance, I recall eleven, highly capable "Teacher Consultants" (TCs) delivered trainings to educators across the state of Alaska in three conferences and in seven schools. Twelve writing instruction trainings were offered for university credit and seven, successful teachers have been invited to be interns. ASWC sponsored a "Virtual Open" with eighteen teachers reading, networking, posting and discussing pedogogy online. Registration reached capacity and then a waiting list for the "Science Writing in the Heart of Denali"...a field-experience course sponsored by the Murie Science and Learning Center and ASWC.  

Twelve teachers from member districts were invited to attend, with all expenses paid, the Invitational Summer Institute-2010.  Three qualified interns were chosen to lead and learn with co-leaders, Sondra Porter and Tom McKenna. Those seventeen, dedicated leaders and teachers gathered on the UAA campus for three weeks in June. Using an inquiry-based approach, the participants did self-reflection and pedalogical examination while researching, writing, blogging, and networking.  Each returned to his/her district, school and classroom a stronger and more confident writer and teacher of writing. The ISI was/is the culminating event for our program year, yet it is also a launching experience that positively impacts the future. Teachers were eager to "pay-it-forward" by coaching peers with strategies that support and bolster student success. 

I had the privilege of traveling with fellow ASWC Board members to the National Writing Project Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Each session was charged with incredible commitment, enlivened passion and with can-do attitudes. Yes, Billy Collins enthralled a huge gathering and I would highly recommend reading and re-reading his poetry...but I felt like I, too, had a voice and my thoughts and writings mattered. Connections with the NWP have been invaluable. I have been coached, supported and cheered by NWP staff who have our best interests at heart. 

Our, yes..."OUR" Consortium is thriving and growing and we invite you to get involved or...more involved!  Take a few minutes and explore the Nings and Blogs under "Quick Links," or check out any one or more of the  "Hot Topics, or dive into  "Resources" and then...don't hesitate, contact me for more information!  



July, 2009

Dear Alaska Educators,

ASWC is on the cusp of exciting and dynamic changes! I believe REAL change happens when synectics work to build for the future based on knowledge from the past.  The Consortium has firm footing on foundations that have been established by directors and teacher leaders for the past 28 years. ASWC has a notable and long-standing history in Alaska. It has earned a solid reputation for doing “good work” among teachers. It has upheld and promoted the teacher as a reader, writer, researcher and thinker.
Now is the time to muster; to re-image; and to respond with all of our resources toward a renewed statewide focus and toward customized professional development. We are committed to building a cadre of dedicated educators who promote and deliver exemplary writing instruction. ASWC is ready to address the needs of learners in the 21st century.
During the next two years, the ASWC Board and I will strive to place the Consortium within the reach of every teacher in Alaska. This new website is part of the plan! Check out titles and dates for current and future credit courses. Join an interactive group discussion on a blog, Ning or wiki to network with colleagues across the state and the nation. Follow the links to lesson plans that have been submitted by dedicated colleagues.  Review and learn how member districts are developing and designing viable and vibrant staff development opportunities. There’s more…but better yet, take a tour and see for yourself. The present and the future are incredibly exciting!

With enthusiasm,