Today is the National Day on Writing as designated by NCTE, NWP, U.S. Congress, and even the Fresno City Council. NWP has been instrumental in encouraging an internet meme, #whyIwrite. In that vein, I wanted to share a youtube video I love and one of my Facebook updates for today.

First, the video.

And one of my facebook updates: I write to make sense of the world, to discover what I think, to share what I'm passionate about.


Time for a food blog entry! A lot of Fresnans love Don Pepe Taqueria. I went there many years ago--don't remember what I had, but I really didn't like it, so I hadn't been back, in spite of everyone's rave reviews. A few weeks ago, I decided to give it another try.

I'm so glad I did. The fish taco I ordered was really good: soft white fish, shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, and crema. It was big and flavorful.

I'll be returning to Don Pepe!

In addition to another great fish taco at Las Barcas in Huntington Beach, CA, I also recently prepared fish at home. I have a great tapas cookbook by Joyce Goldstein which features an unusual fish recipe, white fish and pine nuts. I noticed it a few weeks back and decided to try it. Again, so glad I did. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the tomatoes and peas in the sauce complemented the fish well. This is a recipe that I'll be making again.

Actually, you should try the recipe, too. Here it is (with the adaptations I made because I didn't have everything the recipe called for).

Fish in Pine Nut Sauce (Merluza en Salsa de Pinones)

1/4 c. pine nuts
2 T. olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 T. finely minced garlic
1/8 c. bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 c. dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Nice piece of white fish fillet (enough for 2 servings)
1/2 c. frozen peas
1/8 c. chopped parsley

Toast pine nuts (8 minutes at 350 degree farenheit)

In a frying pan, heat 1 T. oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the paprika, garlic, 1/2 of the pine nuts, bread crumbs, stirring often for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cooking wine and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.

In another frying pan, heat 1 T. oil over medium heat. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes on each side. Pour the sauce over the fish, add the peas, and simmer until the fish is opaque throughout, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with pine nuts and parsley. Serve at once.

I've tried a number of recipes from this cookbook--Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain--and have loved them all. Make this recipe AND buy the cookbook!

Don Pepe
4582 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93726
(559) 224-1431

When good teachers get together . . . collaboration happens. There doesn't need to be "a teacher" or an assignment. In the Invitational Summer Institute this past month, teachers decided to collaborate across grade levels, asking their students to write for and work with each other. For example, Jeromy's first graders and Erin's English tenth grade English language learners are going to be sharing their work with each other. And Elva has some great ideas about asking her students to translate their understanding of principles of biology into picture books for elementary school kids.

When good teachers get together . . . they want to practice what they've learned. Our ISI participants wanted to try out digital storytelling, so they are working on videos we can use to promote our site.

When good teachers get together . . . they reflect on their teaching. Our ISI Fellows weren't intimidated when we asked them to do teacher research. They are going to try integrating a new strategy in their teaching, exploring the effects on student learning and reporting back to us on our first post-Institute day.

When good teachers get together . . . knowledge is not only shared, it is constructed. Our ISI participants shared their teaching experience--and they created new understandings of teaching. Together, we figured out new applications of technology in educational settings. I'm committed to creating an ENGL 131 that will allow me to employ (and practice) the new knowledge I've gained from working with this group of teachers.

I have really enjoyed working with the SJVWP ISI 2010 Fellows. They are an amazing group of teachers and really wonderful human beings. I'm excited to see how their pedagogy will shift over the coming year. I'm convinced that they will do all kinds of great things in their teaching careers.


Today, one of the participants in the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project's Summer Institute picked out an amazing quote to discuss from the NWP's publication, Because Writing Matters. When I read the book, my eyes must have glossed over this passage, so I'm very glad that Lesli pointed it out:

"If students are to make knowledge their own, they must struggle with details, wrestle with facts, and rework raw information and dimly understood concepts into language they can communicate to someone else. In short, if students are to learn, they must write."

I love how this quote focuses on how messy learning can be and why writing is such a crucial part of learning. I suppose conversation could take the place of writing here, and that certainly is another important component of learning. But as I think about all the times in my life that I've written about a topic . . . even in email when I'm trying to communicate something important . . . I see how writing helped me, eventually, find clarity and a deeper understanding.