Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009 Halle Award Winner

Roxanne Henkin is the recipient of the 2009 NCTE Richard W. Halle Award for Outstanding Middle Level Educator. This award honors a junior high/middle level educator who has worked to promote understanding of the developmental needs and characteristics of young adolescents, especially in the English language arts.

Roxanne Henkin is a Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at The University of Texas San Antonio. Previously, she was a Professor at National-Louis University in Chicago and has spent 18 years as a classroom teacher. She is currently director of the San Antonio Writing Project.

Involved with NCTE for many years, Roxanne is currently the lead coeditor, along with Janie Harmon and Elizabeth Pate, of Voices From the Middle. She is a member on the Summer Activity Review Panel for ReadWriteThink and involved with the NCTE Affiliate Co-sponsosred Speaker Program. She has served as a member and co-assistant chair of the Middle Level Steering Committee and member of the Elementary Steering Committee and has been active in several other NCTE committees.

Roxanne has written numerous journal articles and the books, Confronting Bullying: Literacy as a Tool for Character Education and Who's Invited to Share?:Using Literacy to Teach for Equity and Social Justice with Heinemann.

Link to original article

Monday, June 29, 2009


Confronting Bullying: Literacy as a Tool for Character Education

Everyone has a stake in bullying especially when we know kids who are bullies are much more likely to end up in jail as adults. In many of the recent school shootings the victims have experienced bullying themselves.

Even though as individuals we can’t stop every act of violence, we can in schools work to reduce bulling on our campuses. “Everyone must identify a personal role in the formal and informal policies that seek to reduce violence, harassment, and bullying…Only when individuals are aware of a problem can they begin to consider taking action”. (Hazler 1996, p155)

Although bullying is receiving attention in schools, Confronting Bullying is the first to offer the inclusive inquiry cycle and the critical literacy perspective on bullying. Most books about bullying in classrooms offer suggestions that aren't embedded in literacy practice. Most character education books don't provide rich literacy instruction and quality book recommendations. Confronting Bullying provides all of these.

Confronting Bullying is available in over 223 libraries across the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa. It is also included on the parentbooks Violence and Bullying booklist and the Action Alliance for Children Booklist.

Avaliable at Heinemann, Barnes & Noble, Borders and other fine retailers.


Who's Invited to Share?:Using Literacy to Teach for Equity and Social Justice

Who's Invited to Share? has had an impact nationally and internationally and has been used for study groups at universities including American University, University of Georgia, Hofstra University and in Saskatchewan, Canada. The book is avaliable on websites from England, Canada, Australia, Israel, Brazil and Who's Invited to Share? is also avaliable in over 225 university libraries in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa.

Review from
"I will begin by saying this book has inspired me to use my gift of teaching with a group of students who will need it the most. Dr. Henkin shares a variety of personal and professional narratives which highlight the need to teach so that all voices are heard and honored. This book serves as an excellent resource for all teachers who are working toward creating an environment where all children are respected for what they bring to the classroom.

Dr. Henkin lists a variety of professional resources as well as children's books that deal with the issues of gender, diversity, and multiculturalism. These resources provide an excellent starting point to better understand the issues children bring to the classroom and the issues teachers face in the classroom.

Dr. Henkin interviews and observes many classrooms where teachers and students work together to create classrooms that are equitable for all. The students in this book seek to make their community better for all who live there. The curriculum is rich and meaningful and all voices are heard. This book is a must for all teachers to read."

Avaliable at Heinemann, Barnes & Noble, Borders and other fine retailers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Please Donate to the Limpopo Writing Project

The Limpopo Writing Project took place during the first two weeks of January 2009 at the University of Limpopo in South Africa. Eleven teachers joined the two South African Co-Directors and the Director and the two of us from the US for the Limpopo Writing Project Summer Institute, the first of its kind in South Africa. I had gone to teach writing and Mary Lou assisted by teaching computer skills and mentoring the teachers.

The Limpopo Writing Project is modeled on The San Antonio Writing Project. The San Antonio Writing Project is a local, non-profit organization designed to promote the effective teaching of writing in San Antonio area schools ages Pre-K through the University level. Our teachers become San Antonio Writing Project consultants after they’ve completed the five-week Summer Institute. They share their belief that writing is essential for learning in all content areas with their students. Hundreds of children in the greater San Antonio area are receiving better writing instruction thanks to the teacher consultants from SAWP.

I met Dr. Leketi Makalela when he was visiting UTSA with another grant at the university. He had heard about The San Antonio Writing Project and wanted to replicate it at his university in South Africa. He asked us for help. We raised money and received a small grant to bring two South African teachers to the US last summer to participate in the 2008 San Antonio Writing Project Summer Institute. Ngokoana Dikari and Nakedi Mogaba stayed at our house, participated in the workshop and participated in our lives for five weeks. Their professor, Dr. Leketi Makalela joined us for the last two weeks of the SAWP workshop.

Leketi is now the Director of The Limpopo Writing Project and Ngokoana and Nakedi are now the Codirectors. The eleven teachers that participated in the Limpopo Writing Project came from all over rural South Africa. Each day we wrote and shared our writing, talked about writing instruction and shared classroom lessons. We also participated in book discussions. Mashaba, a high school teacher wrote near the end of the workshop,

“Looking back, I wish I could have been in this workshop ages ago, but then it is not too late to mend. From now onwards, I am a good writer and all my colleagues and learners will be good writers, too. Somebody has already mentioned that we are seeds, and seeds bear fruits.”

The San Antonio Writing Project is funded by a grant the National Writing Project receives from Congress. There are no funds available for this work in South Africa so we’ve had to raise the funds ourselves. Last year all the money was donated by our friends and family. 100% of the money went into funding the workshop and paying for the room and board of the participants. Mary Lou and I as well as the Co-Directors and Director in South Africa are volunteers working for free.

We are trying to do everything we can to raise funds for the Limpopo Writing Project. We need about $6000 American dollars to replicate the 2009 Summer Institute. We'd also like to support writing students in the teachers' classrooms. Leketi has shared that $50 could change a child’s life in South Africa for a school year. We’d like to give at least one writing student in each of the teachers’ classrooms $50 which would pay for the school fees, the uniform, and all their school lunches for a year.

Please consider donating to The Limpopo Writing Project. Your contributions are so appreciated. Please send donations to

The Limpopo Writing Project
C/O Mary Lou Daugherty
207 Northcrest
San Antonio, TX 78213

The Limpopo Writing Project

I'm thinking about all the teachers in the Limpopo Writing Project and all the teachers that I met in South Africa. We are now in the 2nd week of the SAWP 2009 summer institute and we're thinking about all of you and the influence you've had on our project. After every demonstration, one of the connections we always make to the topics are the global ones. I also share stories about Nakedi and Ngokoana and the SAWP TC's from last summer as they relate to this year. I also talk about the Limpopo Writing Project and all the teachers that I worked with there. If any of you are reading this, please reply. The teachers would love to blog here with you. They'd also like to have your students write to theirs.

We are trying hard to raise money for the 2010 Limpopo Writing Project Summer Institute. Everywhere I go I talk about the project and it's generated a lot of interest. Mary Lou and I even spoke at our Temple about the Limpopo Writing Project last Friday.

We are doing everything that we can think of to raise enough money so that the 2010 LWP Summer Institute will be a success. The next blog entry will detail how we can support the project. But please, everyone who is reading this, please consider donating to The Limpopo Writing Project and please ask your friends and family to consider supporting us too. Contributions can be made out to The Limpopo Writing Project and sent to LWP in care of Mary Lou Daugherty, 207 Northcrest, San Antonio, Texas 78213.

SAWP Summer Institute 2009

We are in the second week of the 2009 San Antonio Writing Project Summer Institute. We are meeting in the same small room that we’ve had for previous institutes which is definitely cozy. This year we are especially focusing on technology and have gone paperless. Our SAWP assistant and Graduate Student Jacob Sanchez is doing his Master’s thesis on this process.

Already we are seeing amazing things happening. Our logs have been transformed by movie maker and other programs into videos that document our days work through words, video, pictures and music. As one participant noted, you can see the process evolving each day as a new logger plans and takes pictures and the story board emerges in front of us.

We’ve been having spontaneous technology discussions as we reflect on the similarities between the writing process and the process of creating movies. We are challenging ourselves to get with the new technology and to embrace continual change.
For the first time ever, we’ve eliminated the SAWP notebooks and instead post all of our powerpoints and handouts on our google site. We’re also posting our writing and having electronic writing conferences too. Instead of a notebook, everyone received a jump drive. We’ve done a lot of writing and discussing about technology, especially our fears and concerns. But nothing surpasses the excitement we feel when someone shares their electronic journal or technologically advanced demonstration. We’re proud of ourselves and we know that we are moving into new territory. We don’t know where we are going but we also know that we will never move backward again.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Kahani Project Article on UTSA Today

"The stories are amazingly personal and yet universal," said Roxanne Henkin, UTSA professor and director of the San Antonio Writing Project. "The students talk about their lives and their struggles to show their families in India that they are still Indian while fully American too. Their parents and the Indian community in San Antonio expressed pride and support as the students of all ages shared their stories."

Link to article:

Monday, May 11, 2009

The President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Community Service

Professor Roxanne Henkin received the President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Community Service.

A professor of literacy education in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, Henkin's service reaches beyond the local community to national and international audiences.

Responding to San Antonio's need for teachers who can offer children the best literacy instruction possible, Henkin established The San Antonio Writing Project (SAWP) as a local, nonprofit organization. SAWP provides literacy training to selected teachers who attend a summer institute and receive ongoing professional development throughout the school year.

SAWP has also hosted annual conferences, sponsored summer writing camps on San Antonio's West Side and developed the Cuentos Project, in which schools encourage students to interview their families and write their stories or "cuentos."

Henkin also extended the reach of the SAWP and her extensive knowledge about teaching literacy to South Africa, partnering with the University of Limpopo for ongoing training. She spends time each in local elementary schools where she has established professional development sites and where she observes UTSA students working toward their teacher certification.

Henkin also links her literacy expertise with service to the religious community, conducting training for literacy volunteers who work in local school districts and taking UTSA students to the San Antonio Holocaust Museum. Finally, Henkin has a long and active presence in the National Council of Teachers of English, a national literacy organization.

Link to full story

Story by Lynn Gosnell
Photo by Mark McClendon

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kahani Project Pictures

Kahani Project Picutres

Here are some pictures from the Kahani Project at the Institute of Texan Cultures this past weekend May 2nd 2009. The stories are amazingly personal and yet universal. The students talk about their lives and their struggles to show their Indian families in India that they are still Indian while fully American too. Their parents and the Indian community in San Antonio expressed pride and support as the students (of all ages) shared their stories.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 13, 2009

In the last month since my return from South Africa, I've been very busy teaching classes, working on the San Antonio Writing Project and editing the journal, Voices From the Middle. I've also been sharing my experience in South Africa and particularly our work with The Limpopo Writing Project. We need to raise as much money as possible for the 2010 Limpopo Summer Institute. In addition to telling our stories, I've been searching the web looking for grants that might fund the Limpopo Writing Project. There aren't a lot of grants and I would love help from anyone who has experience or insight into the process or can help in anyway.

Meanwhile, The San Antonio Writing Project had a very successful 3rd conference in February. Our TC's did a wonderful job sharing their expertise and we had terrific evaluations. We loved listening to author David Liss share his writing process. I was particularly impressed with the great organization of the conference because I was out of the country for so much of the planning. I am so proud of all our teacher consultants. The deadline for applicants for The 2009 SAWP Summer Institute is April 1st. You can apply online for it at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Roxanne's Visit Video

Here are the 3 parts of the video on google video.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Leketi's Presentation

Leketi's Presentation Visitor's Day

Link to Leketi's Presentation Video

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Wonderful Time in Johannesburg

We had a wonderful time in Johannesburg. We stayed with Cynthia Hugo, the Director of the Read Foundation. She has magnificent gardens and a beautiful home, and we were treated royally. We spent one day visiting schools in Soweto and then worked with teachers for the following two days. These teachers all work with Read and they were leaders in their schools. We had wonderful, full days writing and talking about writing practice. A number of them said that they'd like to come to next summer's SAWP Writing Institute, and I told them that if they can get the plane tickets, they are welcome.

Johannesburg is a vital busy city with lots of traffic jams. I loved the practice of morning tea during our working days. The food was wonderful. We have only a few days left and then it's time to return home. Working in South Africa had been a life changing experience!

Friday, January 16, 2009

All of Us

Limpopo Writing Project Day 8

Today was a day of celebrations and goodbyes. We shared our photo gallery and played Ngokoana's theme song from the summer, Islands in the ? (I'm not sure about the title.) The song was so beautiful and the pictures so touching that we found ourselves dancing to the music. Pretty soon we all started line dancing together, every one of us! Then we shared our final stories, which were wonderful and from the heart. We had a certificate ceremony and Mary Lou and I were surprised to receive certificates, a gift of Dr. Makalela's new books and cards thanking us, The San Antonio Writing Project and my parent's for their financial donation and belief in the project.

Then Mari stood up representing the group and thanked us for all our support, followed by Grace who offered a parting prayer. Then everyone stood up and sang the South African National Anthem. It was hard not to cry.

Tomorrow we leave for Joburg. There have been so many highlights of our time in Limpopo. Of course the workshop and the wonderful teachers ranks high on our list. Ngokoana's wonderful hospitality and the many meals and experiences that she provided for us. Her husband's wonderful bar-b-que or every kind of South African meat available to us. Buying material with Ngokoana in the market. The wonderful day in Venda with Ngokoana and Mosima. Spending time with Ngokoana's wonderful 4 year old daughter, and watching her start her first day ever of school. Ngokoana's Uncle Selaelo who took us to dinner.

Other major highlights include visiting Nakedi's home and meeting her family and visiting Leketi's village and meeting his Mother and 90 year old Grandmother. The trip was more than we could have hoped for and the experiences are something that we will never forget. We feel that we are as lucky at the brilliant stars that light up the Southern Hemisphere sky and we are so grateful for these amazing experiences.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Limpopo Writing Project Day 6

Thanks to all who responded! As you can see, even Ngokoana has responded back! We'll be in the computer room tomorrow afternoon so I'll encourage everyone to write back. I also want to say hello and give a warm welcome to all my students who will be starting class this week without me. I'm so sorry to miss the first day of class, and I wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you. You'll be in good hands with Dr. Lillemon. I want to say hello to her, too.

Today is day 6 of the workshop that will be ending way too soon for me! Next week I work with teachers in Johannesburg. Today we shared two teacher demonstrations and then I shared a demonstration on revision. We wrote in the afternoon, shared with our writing groups and then had our book discussions. I'm in the group that is reading the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. What a strong and brilliant man he is.

Yes, Shannon, it is amazing that we can communicate with each other. I've told the South African teachers that you all want to have your students write to theirs, and they are excited about it. Thanks Laurie, Nora, Leona, Lisa, Rachel and everyone else for responding, and please keep posting! Yes, Kalpana, it would be amazing to have a writing project in India, and if anyone can make this dream come true, it's you!

We have to do some big time fund-raising for the Limpopo Writing Project when I get back. Everything has been more expensive than we planned and we keep digging into our pockets to keep the project going. Even the two lap-tops that we spent $50 mailing required another $335 rand when they arrived here. So please think of ideas to help us raise money.

Ngokoana has been an amazing host introducing us to lots of people, feeding us and showing us the countyside. Yesterday (Sunday) her friend, Mosima drove us far into the bush to the Venda country to see a famous potter. We saw where she fires her pottery and got a chance to talk with her and to tour the grounds. After lunch, we took winding dirt roads up and down a mountain and saw people with cattle and goats that would block our road. The road itself was very rocky and there a few scary moments when I wondered if the car would survive. The local people though were wonderful and encouraged us to keep going up the mountain. We were looking for a lake, but as often happens, the journey was really the destination.

In my last blog I meant to say that the Limpopo region looks a lot like South Texas except that it also has mountains. It rained today so it was cooler and much more pleasant. I wish that all of you were here with us enjoying this magical country. It's great to have your comments though. Please keep them coming.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Limpopo Writing Project Day 4

The teachers have been writing about their lives, getting on the internet and presenting their teaching demonstrations. Their writing is wonderful, on a variety of subjects that touches our hearts. The weather is very hot,just like the summers in San Antonio. Our classroom is not air-conditioned but the teachers take it in stride, it's the Americans who are wilting.

We went to the Indian market and bought some beautiful fabrics after class. Ngokoana is keeping us busy sightseeing, inviting us to dinners and introducing us to her family, relatives and friends. Nakedi is staying on campus because we are far from her home, like all the other participants. They are both doing a great job co-directing the project with Dr. Makalela. This project is more like a retreat or summer camp since the teachers are staying on campus and we are catering all their meals. They are together day and night. We're even working tomorrow, Saturday, but we have Sunday off. We have bonded and I look forward to working with them everyday.

This part of South Africa looks a lot like South Africa with hills (and mountains) and beautiful plants and trees. We're amazed at how many of them we have at home, but then they came from South Africa to the U.S. All the teachers send their best wishes and look forward to connecting with you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hello from South Africa

This is my first chance to write even though we've been gone over a week now. My internet access is very spotty. We celebrated the New Years in a plane traveling from London to Joburg. We flew up to Kruger National Park which we explored with our friends Miriam and Cheo Martinez. We saw zebras, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos, impalas, water buffaloes, monkeys and baboons. I spent my birthday there and then Leketi picked us up in the evening and drove us to Polowane.

We were very exited to see Nakedi and Ngokoana as they were to see us. We gave them regards from everyone and they've sent them all back to you. They were most surprised and delighted to hear that Leona is getting married!

We've now finished the second day of the First Limpopo Writing Project Summer Institute, the first of it's kind in South Africa. We have 11 teachers plus the Director and Co-Directors. The teachers are excited to be participating and also send their thanks to all of you who have made this possible.

I'll follow with more updates when I can. Please send comments and I'll share them with the group.