826michigan non-profit writing center 2014-04-15T20:29:16Z http://www.826michigan.org/feed/atom/ WordPress amyw <![CDATA[Check Them Out: April’s Supporter of the Month is the Ann Arbor District Library!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6906 2014-04-02T20:38:19Z 2014-04-02T20:37:04Z One thing we’ve noticed after two years of our Supporter of the Month program is how often we find ourselves writing about how grateful we are to be in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and now Detroit. Our Supporters of the Month have been businesses, individuals, and fellow nonprofit organizations — and what unites them all are their contributions not only to what we do here at 826michigan, but also to the quality of life in this area generally.
Through that lens, there’s really no topping the Ann Arbor District Library. Sure, we’re proud Ann Arbor-ites inclined to love our library no matter what, but the Ann Arbor District Library is just objectively a great library. With five branches, programs ranging from story hours to video game tournaments to book discussion groups, and a huge selection of books, DVDs, CDs, and musical instruments (like a theremin!) to check out, the library really does have something for everyone.
As individuals, we at 826michigan appreciate having the downtown branch of the library right around the corner from our office. As an organization, we can’t really overstate how much we appreciate the support we’ve received from the Ann Arbor District Library over many years.
The library has partnered with 826michigan in many important ways — we certainly can’t leave out our annual robot-costume-building workshop in anticipation of Festifools — but perhaps the most significant is our current partnership. We’re very pleased to announce that several of our most recent major publications, including 2013′s All I Could Do Was Look Up and perennial favorite Don’t Stay Up So Late, are now digitally archived and available for instant download to AADL cardholders! At 826michigan we’re all about helping our students experience the magic of publishing, and this is the magic of publishing in a whole new way.
We sometimes, in more grandiose moments, fancy ourselves to be warriors for literacy. If that’s the case, then the Ann Arbor District Library is the BEST ally we could imagine — an ally that clearly has our back and (we hope) will for many years to come.
amyw <![CDATA[Just the Facts: April’s Volunteer of the Month is Matt Lauer!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6893 2014-03-31T16:39:57Z 2014-04-01T13:04:16Z matt votm

Just the Facts: April’s Volunteer of the Month is Matt Lauer!

We hear our new Volunteer of the Month, Matt Lauer, likes facts. So we thought we’d give you a few facts about Matt Lauer.

FACT: Matt Lauer has been a major player in the success of the first year of our Washington Street Tutoring Lab at Ypsilanti’s beezy’s cafe. As a twice-a-week tutor, Matt is a math guru and unflappable worker-with-students — often effortlessly helping several at once. Matt’s reliability and talent as a tutor has served as an anchor for that program in these first important months of its existence.

FACT: Matt Lauer is a Robotier extraordinaire who holds down our Saturday morning shift at Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair. (A lively shift for the robots of downtown Ann Arbor!) Matt has an admirable commitment to the robot side of what we do at 826michigan, probably due in part to his day job as an electrical engineer. He is also one of the few Robotiers in our current corps who wears a lab coat during his shift, which we think is a stylish touch.

FACT: Matt Lauer has what we could colloquially call “mad hustle”. As a participant in both of our recent peer-to-peer fundraisers, this fall’s The Great Write-Off and our recent Trivia for Cheaters, Matt put in admirable effort to raise money for 826michigan’s programs (the very programs, you will recall, in which he serves so steadfastly!). It touches our robot hearts to see a volunteer with such enthusiasm for helping 826michigan in such a wide variety of ways.

FACT: Matt Lauer (our Matt Lauer) is not on The Today Show. But we would definitely watch if he were!

Matt Lauer! Thank you so much for lending us your many skills and talents. With you around, 826michigan is a better place!

amyw <![CDATA[826michigan seeking a Development Director!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6879 2014-03-26T21:43:54Z 2014-03-26T17:06:35Z Exciting news! At long last, we are able to add a full-time Development Director to our small staff. Click here for a job description and application instructions (PDF for download).

826michigan is an equal-opportunity employer. Please, no phone calls about this job opening.

amys <![CDATA[March Student Writing Gallery!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6872 2014-03-26T16:21:59Z 2014-03-26T12:26:13Z This year, we are posting 8 new, exciting pieces of student writing on the 26th of the month (Get it?). Each month will be curated by our staff. Our aim is to give you an entertaining and fair sampling from our many programs. To celebrate National Reading Month, we’re going to start with one of our favorite poems from the year, which just HAPPENS to be about reading!

MARCH 2014!

* Drop-in Writing * 

Anshi Pacha
Age 8, Emerson School, Ann Arbor
“How To Be A Good Reader”

To be a reader you have to read. You can
read long things, short things, scary things,
mushy love things, but you have to read.

Glue your eyes (not literally) to the paper
and read. Read different things so you
know what you like.

Don’t read exciting things at bedtime. You
won’t get sleep, so you can’t read.

Because when you read, your
imagination is awesome.

Leyla Williams
Age 9, Northside Elementary, Ann Arbor

Once there was a wolf and he was great at tricking people for his fellows in the woods and on the farm. One day the farmer cut down all the corn and brought in the ducks. He had no food to eat! He needed revenge on the farmer.

What he needed was a disguise to make the farmer feed the wolf and not chase him away. He studied the animals to see the best one that got fed the most. It was the sheep. The women sheep were wearing dresses. (He did not want to wear a dress.) The men sheep wore T-shirts and jeans. (That’s more like it.)

Sadly, at the forest store there were only dresses left in stock. “This will have to do!” he said. He put it on and bought some wool. He was ready to go.

Slowly he marched into the field. The farmer did not notice at all! He was fed grass and lettuce. “This will have to do,” the wolf though to himself.

He got fed and turned right into a sheep. (He changed gender though.) He was a wolf, in sheep’s clothing.

* In-school Residencies *

Mariana R.M.
Ms. Desphande’s second-grade class at Mitchell Elementary, Ann Arbor

When I am at the library in Mitchell School, we can check out books. The library teacher’s name is Ms. Reader! Second grade goes to library on Mondays for one hour. The library is between the lunchroom and gym. Sometimes we do different kind of centers. Sometimes she reads us a book. We go to the library because she teaches us about reading. I feel happy when I am at the library. We like the library because we like reading. We sit on the story steps when she reads us a story. When I am at the library sometimes it is cold and sometimes it is warm. There are books in Spanish and English. When we are happy, we laugh and we smile. When I smile I talk about the book. When we go to the library we are excited because we think that it is fun. When she helps us choose a book we like the books she chooses for us. When we get a baby animal book I am happy. When I am in the library in Mitchell School, I never want to be anywhere else. I never want to leave the library with books. I love the library with a lot of books.

* Drop-in Writing for Wee Bots *

Kevin Song
Age 7, Angell Elementary, Ann Arbor

Once upon a time there was a giraffe using a hot tub as a toilet. After he got out, more people got in. Then they realized it smelled like rotten eggs. They went to tell the director of the hot tub that someone might have peed in the tub. The director called the city’s best carpenters to build security cameras to watch whomever was doing something bad. The same giraffe came next week, and he didn’t know there were security cameras because they were nailed into the walls. Then he peed AGAIN in the tub. Then the alarm was set off. And then the director of the hot tub came running over to see who it was. He realized it was just a giraffe. But he gave him a time-out anyway. The giraffe learned a lesson: never pee in a tub.
The end!

Yiyi Huang
Age 7, Thurston Elementary, Ann Arbor
“The Sun”

The sun is hot. The sun is so, so hot. I wish I could throw an ice cube to the sun but it’s going to melt right away and nothing is going to come back to me. I will be really sad. In summer it’s burning me and I’m sweating. It makes me so boiling I can’t even go to the beach and I can’t even put one tiny, tiny part of my skin on my foot can’t even put a tiny, tiny part in the sand. So it’s so hot I don’t even know how to explain it to you. I’ll try to explain it to you when I think of the word. But right now I think I need some time to think. Bye-bye.

* Field Trips *

Ms. Newton’s third-grade class, Estabrook Elementary, Ypsilanti
“Digital Jackrabbit (Model DJ0049X)”

In the future of Briarwatts City, there is a robot named Digital Jackrabbit (Model DJ0049X), but he pretends to be a human named Rex. Rex is a nice, fancy human (robot) in a top hat and tuxedo. No one can tell he is a robot because he has a human mask. He is a fancy business robot, so he is having a business meeting with a real fancy business man.

Suddenly, Evil Jane, another robot (Model EBO-626) disguised as a human, crashes her time-traveling robot car into Rex’s fancy business office, destroying Rex’s time-travel car.

“Now you can’t use your car!” Evil Jane cackles.

She kidnaps Dr. Prof. Pizza Steve and Rex’s business partner as she drives off into another time! Dr. Prof. Pizza Steve is a scientist (and a pizza) who creates robots that can make pizza in their bellies. Evil Jane wants Dr. Prof. Pizza Steve to make an army of Pizza-Making Robots so she can rule Briarwatts City.

Rex will not stand for an interruption to his business! He returns to the lab to retrieve Dr. Prof. Pizza Steve’s other robots to rescue Dr. Prof. Pizza Steve and his business partner. The other robots build Rex another time-traveling car. He time-travels in his new car and tracks down Evil Jane.

Evil Jane was hiding out in 1995! The mid-nineties were the best time for pizza! Everyone knows that.
“This is a very weird time! There are no robots and the pizza is so good!” exclaimed Rex.

“Stop fighting and listen!” says Dr. Prof. Pizza Steve. “You, DJ0049X (aka Rex), and you, EBO-626 (aka Evil Jane), are secretly siblings!”

Ms. Martin’s second-grade class, Bryant Elementary, Ann Arbor

Once upon a time, in the winter many years in the future, there is a super-genius baby named Krystamo the Tiny Wonder Transformer Baby. Krystamo lives in Gold Glacier Island in an ice castle with a golden door, and has a mustache and three tiny blue hairs on his head with a mohawk. He has chubby cheeks and very big and strong legs and can transform into ice or gold to save the day. Krystamo’s best friend, Snow Dude, is a snowman with an icicle mustache who shoots snowballs and ice from his belly button.

One day, Snow Dude is visiting from Russia and is chatting with Krystamo about their mustaches. All of a sudden, Doctor Soup, the Soup Man, crash lands his plane into Krystamo’s castle. For a very, very long time, Doctor Soup had been trying to conquer Glacier Island so he could rule the world and become rich by turning everything into soup. “Hey little Krystamo!” Doctor Soup yells. “I’m here to defeat you once and for all!” Doctor Soup jumps out of his plane, waving his soup spoons in the air.

“No you won’t!” Krystamo shouts bravely, as Snow Dude laughs with courage.

“I’ve got a new invention for you!” Doctor Soup tells them, as he runs around the plane.

“You’ve never defeated us yet!” Snow Dude and Krystamo yell together.

Doctor Soup looks them in the eye. “I have a new onion and garlic soup cannon that will melt all your ice. It has a vacuum to turn the melted ice into more soup!” He presses the green button on his invention, and soup begins shooting out.

Krystamo Baby is not afraid. “I don’t have to worry about that!” he tells Doctor Soup, transforming into a golden force field that will protect Snow Dude and everyone else.

Doctor Soup floats away angrily in his hovercraft. Snow Dude quickly fixes the plane so that he and Krystamo can chase Doctor Soup. They catch up to him over Piranha Lake, where they can see piranhas, orcas, bad dolphins, sharks, and stingrays. “We’ve got you now!” they announce to Doctor Soup.

* Tutoring on Washington Street in Ypsilanti *

Andy Gherasim
Age 12, South Arbor Academy, Ypsilanti

There once was a man named Billy Bob Joe. He lived in the down under. Billy enjoyed watching television in the dark and eating chips. One day there was a storm that hit his house, and he got all wet. Suddenly, he was heard screaming. He had electrocuted himself! After he woke up in the hospital, he was notified that he had to stay in the hospital for thirty days. Billy Bob Joe was furious, so he broke some hospital equipment. Thirty days later, he returned to his home, but it wasn’t there. While Billy was in the hospital, he had lost all his money. He slept on the streets. And begged people, “Please give me some money, please,” Billy said. He saved all the money and spent it on a mansion. He got a girlfriend and became famous for his talents. Billy Bob Joe had a good life and a wonderful family. He lived happily with his family. (The end!)

amyw <![CDATA[On the Same Side: March’s Supporter of the Month is The Arts Alliance!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6830 2014-03-04T20:58:24Z 2014-03-04T20:58:24Z 826michigan is proud to be a member of The Arts Alliance, a county-wide organization working to create an environment where culture and creativity can flourish and the arts are accessible to all. The Arts Alliance says of its work, “We’re an assembly of organizations and people just like you who believe in the power of arts and culture to make our world a better place. The Arts Alliance does the behind-the-scenes work that helps our nonprofit cultural organizations, creative businesses, and artists do what they do best: create great art, celebrate our cultural richness, and help the rest of us understand our world a little bit better.”

Well, gosh. We hope we’re doing our (own, small) part to help everybody understand the world! With everything we do, we’re grateful to have the support of the Arts Alliance — who facilitate mini-grants through the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, alert us to interesting opportunities in the area, help provide professional development for our staff, and much more.

We asked Deb Polich, Executive Director of the Arts Alliance, a few questions about her organization’s work.

1. How did you first hear about 826michigan and why did you want to become involved?

If I am not mistaken, the Arts Alliance’s connection to 826michigan took place when the 826michigan was first forming. As the Arts Alliance’s mission is to support and advocate for the creative community in Washtenaw County, 826michigan and its mission fit right into our mission.

2. What’s your favorite part of life in the Ann Arbor area?

That there is a high value placed on art, culture and creativity.

Indeed there is! Organizations like the Arts Alliance are a huge part of what makes the Ann Arbor area a great place to live, work, and operate a nonprofit organization like 826michigan. We send our gratitude to Deb and the rest of the staff of the Arts Alliance for their support through the years!

amyw <![CDATA[Ruby Tuesday: March’s Volunteer of the Month is Vicky Henry!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6810 2014-02-27T18:35:31Z 2014-03-01T17:00:15Z vicky votm


Ruby Tuesday: March’s Volunteer of the Month is Vicky Henry!

If you’ve visited our robot store, the Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair in downtown Ann Arbor, you may know that the desk is staffed by a rotating cast of friendly volunteers — an elite crew known as “Robotiers” (Robot-tee-YAY).

A Robotier is an ambassador for 826michigan, serving as the general public’s first encounter with the wacky world behind the red velvet curtain (not a metaphor — that’s what separates our store from our tutoring lab!). March Volunteer of the Month Vicky Henry is one of the many Robotiers who has held down the same shift for, literally, YEARS: Every Tuesday from 1-4pm, we can count on Vicky’s bright smile, product-building/envelope-stuffing/store-straightening abilities, and helpful attitude to show up at LSRS&R. We’re always happy to see Vicky! (It doesn’t hurt that she always brings us a bite of some exotic chocolate.)

As a retired Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher, Vicky truly understands and is able to articulate the importance of 826michigan’s work. She’s an excellent representative of our organization, not only as a Robotier but also as a longtime member of our Board of Directors and a gung-ho competitor in fundraising events like Trivia for Cheaters. She advocates for our programs and never ceases to bring us her great ideas about how we at 826michigan (and Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair) can make ourselves and our organization better.

There’s just no-one quite like Vicky Henry! We’re so grateful to Vicky for her many years of service to 826michigan and hope there will be many more. Thank you, Vicky! With you around, we are a better place.


amyw <![CDATA[How to Write Like I Do: 826michigan’s Spring Writing Workshop Series for Adults]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6814 2014-02-28T18:29:55Z 2014-02-28T18:29:06Z 826michigan’s writing workshops for adults return to the Liberty Street Tutoring Lab in March – check out the sessions being offered this spring, and the awesome writers leading each session, below!

Saturday, March 15, 1-3:30pm
The Object Story with Ben Stroud
Register here.

Ben is the author of Byzantium: Stories. His fiction has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, One Story, Best American Mystery Stories, and New Stories from the South. He teaches creative writing at the University of Toledo.
A story needs meaningful conflict, and one way to incite it is through an object – some physical thing given to a character, toward which a character strives, or over which multiple characters fight. We’ll examine how physical objects themselves shape stories and use them to build beginnings of our own.

Saturday, April 12, 1-3:30pm
It Lives!: Revision & Re-Vision with Caitlin Horrocks
Register here.

Caitlin is author of the story collection This is Not Your City. Her stories appear in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Grand Valley State University and Warren Wilson College, and is the fiction editor of the Kenyon Review.
Come gain new strategies for successful revision on many levels, from ruthless line-editing to wholesale re-envisioning of stalled or stale stories. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to bring two pieces of their own writing.

Saturday, May 10, 1-3:30pm
Telling it Slant with Kodi Scheer
Register here.

Kodi is the author of the story collection Incendiary Girls. Her stories have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. She teaches at the University of Michigan and is writer-in-residence at the UM Comprehensive Cancer Center.
It’s often difficult to render even our most interesting real-life experiences in unique ways. Emily Dickinson gave the best advice: “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.” Come talk about how to mine, re-imagine, and re-invent autobiography into original fiction. We’ll (possibly) discuss human-animal transformations, unorthodox angels and ghosts, among others.

All workshops will be held at our headquarters at 115 E. Liberty Street. Tickets for each session are $25, or bring a friend and get 2 for $40. Proceeds from How to Write Like I Do benefit 826michigan’s free programs for 2,700 students aged 6-18 in Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Ann Arbor. To learn more please call (734) 761-3463 or e-mail catherine@826michigan.org. Click here to download the How to Write Like I Do flyer.

How to Write Like I Do is presented with generous support from Thomson-Shore, an employee-owned full service book publishing, production, and distribution company located in Dexter, Michigan.

amyw <![CDATA[826michigan Featured on Michigan Radio’s Website]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6822 2014-02-28T19:39:05Z 2014-02-27T19:29:15Z Kate Wells at Michigan Radio wrote up an article about the current state of arts education, featuring 826michigan’s field trip program. Here’s a great segment about why 826michigan’s exciting and interactive field trips are so beneficial to our students:

“Their teacher, Cathy Winters, says the kids who never talk in class get so into this kind of arts lesson.

‘It gives you chills to hear those kids talk like that. I have a new student who just started today and he’s already raising his hand and getting into it.’”

Check out the full article here.

amys <![CDATA[February Student Writing Gallery!]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6805 2014-03-25T14:27:32Z 2014-02-26T13:26:16Z This year, we’ll be posting 8 new, exciting pieces of student writing on the 26th of the month (Get it?). Each month will be curated by our staff. Our aim is to give you an entertaining and fair sampling from our many programs.

Welcome to our February Student Writing Gallery! It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter, friends, and to that end, we’re putting a special focus this month on collaborative writing. We encourage you to bundle up, cuddle close, and write together. It’ll get you through to spring, we promise!


* In-school Workshop Roadshow *

David Davis, Anayjah Rivera-Dotson, Miana Leath, Aidin, Jayden Orlando
Ms. Barrett’s fourth-grade class at Erickson Elementary, Ypsilanti; Nonsense Poetry

“A Bizarre Bacon Day”

There used to be a kid name Porridge
Who sat down on a torridge
He got up and ran into a tree
And started to follow me
We went to the store
And bought high heels and a door
We met a Bacon-Bot girl
Her name was Pearl
We saw my friend Link
And he said, “What’s that stink?”
I told him it was a girl made of bacon
And the robot girl started shakin’!

Jaeda Smith
Age 6, Ms. Huizenga’s first-grade class at Perry Elementary, Ypsilanti; Robot School 101 

“Love Bot”

My robot is Love Bot. He loves me as a sister and he calls me Sissy. He is small and he is really colorful. Love Bot is kind and he is nice. A while ago his house caught on fire because he was cooking food. Love Bot turned on the hose and he put out the fire and saved his cat. He did it fast because he has super speed power and eight arms. He got scratches on him and a broken arm. But Robot and his cat are fine. They go to the beach. They get ice cream.


* Field Trips *

From Mr. Bell’s fourth-grade class at Mitchell Elementary, Ann Arbor


There was a young ’saur who like to eat
He ate a great large ton of meat
He wanted a drink
He stopped to think
And realized he’d eaten his feet.

“Our Panda”

Our Panda is the tallest
He’s as tall as a tree
Our Panda is STRONG
He lifts wheat and says WOO!
After that, he goes to the movies
And hangs out with other pandas
He says, “RUFF RUFF”
Because he’s TUFF TUFF
That’s why we think he’s

Ms. McGee’s 3/4 class at Haisley Elementary, Ann Arbor

“A Robot Named Joe”

There was a robot named Joe
who longed for a little toe
He wanted to dance
in his shiny yellow pants
To defeat his evil robot foe
(in a dance-off)


Soft and fluffy saviors in the
glistening snow
save me from frostbite and cold
SPLAT! I can throw snowballs at my friends
But I can’t use my phone!
Keep me as warm as a baby bear’s breath.

“Ode to the King of Storms”

Thundering like an engine,
Poseidan, there is no power greater than your storms
Lightning strikes against the Earth
Storms take the dirtiness out of showers
Storms take the dirtiness out of people
People confined to a smaller space must learn patience.
I like playing outside when you finish.


* Drop-in Writing *

“If You Want To Be A Good Pianist”

If you want to be a good pianist
you have to practice a lot and concentrate.

Get just-right music so you can learn fast.

You don’t need to feel bad
because your friends say you’re terrible.

Try to memorize the feel of the keyboard
so you don’t need to look down.

When you play the piano,
you express yourself.

amyw <![CDATA[The Huffington Post Education Features 826LA]]> http://www.826michigan.org/?p=6820 2014-02-28T19:28:18Z 2014-02-25T19:04:46Z Jesse Dylan wrote up an awesome blog post on the Huffington Post’s Education section about the importance of teachers and mentors. After a recent visit to 826LA, Jesse was “struck by the wonderment and excitement among the children that was certainly fostered by the whimsical environs.” But behind the magic of 826LA’s quirky Time Travel Marts, the fundamental force motivating students at every 826 center across the country “is an elite force of mentors and teachers whose compassion and leadership usher young people into new heights of learning.” We are thrilled that our sister chapter in LA has found such a great advocate in Jesse Dylan.

Check out the full post here.