My interest in place studies began in June 1997 when I attended the first Nebraska Writing Project Rural Institute in Henderson, Nebraska. The teachers who participated that summer experienced place-based teacher demonstrations at local sites in the surrounding area. We traveled to Farmer’s Valley cemetery where we listened to the stories of the people buried there and the Little Blue River and the Marie Ratzlaff Memorial Prairie where we explored local flora and fauna. Each demonstration concluded with all of us writing about our experience with these places. This rural summer institute left an indelible mark upon my teacher career.
Since that initial rural institute, I have worked toward developing place conscious curriculum that encourages the five senses Toni Hass and Paul Nachtigal believe educators need to instill in their students: A sense of place, or living well ecologically, a sense of civic involvement, or living well politically, a sense of worth, or living well economically, a sense of connection, or living well spiritually, and a sense of belonging, or living well in community. Throughout the past fourteen years, I have attempted to accomplish this task by engaging my students with local citizens through oral histories with nursing home residents, family members, local farmers and local business owners. I have also asked my students to conduct local inquiry projects about concerns of our school, city, or state, which required them to make contacts with many citizens as resources or experts in their fields.
"Finding a Voice in a Threaded Discussion Group: Talking about Literature
Online." The English Journal. September 2007.
"E-Anthology Growing as an Online Writing and Response Forum." The Voice. 2005.
"Humble Pie." Pilaf, Pozole, and Pad Thai: American Women and Ethnic Food. Ed. Dr. Sherrie Inness. University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
"Do You Remember Me? Writing Oral Histories with Nursing Home Residents." The Quarterly: The Journal of the National Writing Project. Summer 1998.