Be part of an innovative and exceptionally diverse teachers’ network with an expansive reach.

The Bread Loaf Teacher Network (BLTN) is a life-changing antidote to teacher isolation. You are invited, as a Bread Loaf student, to join BLTN, a collective of educators, youth, and community organizers committed to sharing practice, scholarship, community, and activism. You will never teach in isolation again.

The Benefits of Collaboration

Established in 1993, BLTN is a nationally visible network of teachers working together to support one another in the profession, to apply Bread Loaf scholarship to teaching, and to develop innovative, youth-informed, socially transformative pedagogies.

As a BLTN member, you will enter a supportive, generative, and inclusive community. Guided by BLTN founder Dixie Goswami’s reminder that “Young people are resources to be tapped, not problems to be solved,” you will join a network collaborating on meaningful classroom and community projects informed by your shared Bread Loaf studies. You will create opportunities for your own students to be valued as critical thinkers, co-inquirers, writers, creative artists, and advocates for educational and social equity and justice.

Central to Bread Loaf’s mission and open to all students, BLTN provides teachers the space and support to work with their peers on projects and multiyear partnerships that engage students from different schools, states, ages, cultures, and nations. Typically, BLTN teachers collaborate to plan for structures that employ creative reading and writing to promote youth empowerment and voice.

Always Learning

With BLTN, you’ll develop theories of learning and teaching that inform effective practices based on decades of sociolinguistic scholarship at Bread Loaf. BLTN teachers routinely and collaboratively refine teaching practices that begin with listening to students, and that inspire classrooms characteristically rich in discourse, informed by student experience, and by networked teaching and learning.

BLTN’s ethos and culture are deeply democratic. BLTN teachers collaborate with colleagues, administrators, families, and community organizations to create models for building and sustaining youth social action initiatives in urban and rural areas where social inequalities are particularly glaring. Theorized inquiry- and action-based projects offer students authentic invitations into leadership as critical thinkers, writers, creative artists, activists, and empathic citizens..

Fellowships

BLTN resources and support can help you and your teaching practice, students, and communities thrive. The network offers unique fellowships for study at the Bread Loaf School of English. Fellows become leaders, inspiring teachers in their schools and across the world to design classrooms and policy around solid learning theory, and to advocate for socially and culturally relevant education. World-renowned Bread Loaf faculty frequently advise and engage in BLTN initiatives, becoming long-term allies and thought partners for BLTN members.

As a Bread Loaf student interested in becoming an active member in the network, you may be eligible to apply for special fellowships that support Bread Loaf study and year-round work.

Outreach and Impact

  • On the Navajo Nation, Navajo students are working with BLTN teachers as part of a coalition to serve as advocates for healthy living and eating practices.

  • In Lawrence, Massachusetts, students of BLTN teachers are running after-school writing workshops and engaging the community in the power of the spoken and written word.

  • In Louisville, Kentucky, BLTN teachers are working with colleagues and students to build a food literacy curriculum that revolutionizes what it means to study English.

  • In Ohio, BLTN fellows created Erase the Space, a nonprofit that aims to improve public discourse and collaboration between Columbus-area students from different socioeconomic and academic backgrounds.

  • In Vermont and Louisville, BLTN teachers head credit-bearing What’s the Story? courses, engaging youth from different schools in community-based research, multimedia storytelling, and social advocacy.

  • The BLTN NextGen Youth Leadership Network brings together community educators and young people, digitally and in person, from Lawrence, Atlanta, Louisville, the Navajo Nation, and rural South Carolina and Vermont to organize youth-centered summits that advocate collectively and powerfully for social justice.

Food Literacy, Healthy Communities, and Youth Leadership

Brent Peters:                [crosstalk 00:01:23].

Brent Peters:               

I've been working on a curriculum with the co-teacher Joe Franzen that puts food together with an English class and we teach a class called, "Food Lit," at Fern Creek Traditional High School in Louisville. We're very excited about that, but that is definitely something that has come from Bread Loaf. It's definitely a program that is a... Come from classes here and come from ideas of literacy that are happening here at Bread Loaf.

Emily Bartels:              

I see this as bigger than Bread Loaf. I see this as Bread Loaf, Middlebury. I see the value of going from K through 12, through college, through graduate school and to scholarship.

Joe Franzen:                

We tried to figure out, how can we make this a core content class where we could get kids engaging with food, engaging with knowledge, engaging with literacy, and to put them in a position to be able to change the world around them.

Houston Barber:          

They wanted to connect the community with sustainability efforts and have a focus on food and literacy.

Joe Franzen:                

And Dr. Barber, he brought us on for a reason, so he said, "Yeah. Go ahead," and we got one period to try this out.

Houston Barber:          

One of the first things that Joe told me, and it was true, he said, "We are going to change the face of how Fern Creek operates as a school and propel the school into proficiency status and we will be a part of that work."

Joe Franzen:                

Test scores came back from that year and we knocked it out of the park. So they gave us two classes the next year. The following year, we ended up having four, full year sessions of pre-AP sophomore Food Lit.

Houston Barber:          

In our regular comprehensive English course through Food Literacy was outperforming our AP students and that just showed that these gentlemen, Brent, Joe, Tyler and Paul began to change the face of how Fern Creek operated. Lo and behold, our results started going up and eventually as his most saw, we became a proficient school.

Rebecca Nicolas:         

They're very insistent, they're very earnest, but they're also very good. When they wanted to do a Food Lit course, I think we were all thinking like, "It probably won't go too poorly because they're good at what they do," and what it has become I think, is just a testament to their commitment to it, to the students' engagement with it, to the way they invest to the community and parents in their efforts. It really has become a program rather than just a class.

Joe Franzen:                 [crosstalk 00:00:04:00].

Joe Franzen:                

We have a cooking club, we have an environmental club, we have a garden club that runs the 30 raised beds, the 100 bourbon barrels, the 35 fruit tree orchard and the 40 chicken operation that we have out there.

Paul Barnwell:             

I was a student in Dixie Goswami's Emerging New Literacies class at Bread Loaf Vermont in 2009 and that was an early catalyst for me to move me towards thinking about new ways to read and write in school, and that led me to an opportunity to come to Fern Creek High School and dr. Houston. Barber allowed me to design a digital storytelling course. One of the nice things about teaching the digital literacy skills and digital storytelling skills, is that it's interdisciplinary in nature and that if you're telling a story, it can be about anything. It could be about any content area, science, social studies. Having a prior relationship with Mr. Peters and Mr. Franzen really opened up possibilities to leverage the technology and the digital storytelling in ways that could compliment the work in Food Literacy.

Brent Peters:               

The vice president of the Navajo Nation was here visiting, Vice President, Rex Lee Jim. I had an opportunity to present out to Vice President about the work that a co-teacher and I are doing with our Food Lit class.

Rex Lee Jim:                

Then afterwards, we met for about five minutes and decided to do an exchange, especially after I heard what he was doing at Fern Creek Traditional High School. Although we simply started talking about food literacy and recipes, it soon turned out to be that it's not really about food. It's about the relationships that food creates. It's that active interaction between family members, community members, and how they use food that contributes so much to the wellbeing of our people.

Brent Peters:               

Through the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, we found a way to make this workshop called, The Garden of the Home God,' happen and it was a food and digital literacy workshop that for four days on the Navajo Nation in February. Then all the participants from the Navajo Nation came to Louisville in April and we continued the workshop in Louisville. We had a chance to look at food-related issues and communities on the Navajo Nation and also in Louisville, and students became researchers and put their research together in these digital projects. They were very powerful and we had... Basically, our group decided to have an online identity. They called themselves the, "Navajo Kentuckians," and so they created a digital space so that all these lessons and all these digital products could be shared back to the community.

Twila Lee:                    

My presentation is a new direction for the youth by the Navajo Kentuckians. This picture is not just as [inaudible 00:06:53] Valley in the Navajo Nation. It is also something we value as a [inaudible 00:06:58], as a Navajo people. It represents the Father Sky, the Mother Earth and within those is the beauty and harmony that's within us, above us, below us and around us.

Speaker:                      

Attitude and where you come from really affects how you get along with people because if people don't understand your differences, it creates an obstacle and you just have to jump over it. What happens when you do jump over it, you create the Navajo Kentuckians. Thank you. [crosstalk 00:07:28]

Maggie George:           

We're rich in the heritage and the language and what we have as [inaudible 00:07:33] people. We're rich in our youth as you saw, and I'm glad that they're thinking about ways that they can be leaders to take our place and shape those policies, make those changes that need to happen.

Claudine Brown:          

I think one of the wonderful things about the Navajo Kentuckians in their pursuit of food ways is that it is very bright and they aren't doing this by sharing their personal stories, but by collecting the stories of others. I think that what they're showing us is that we have a great deal that distinguishes each of us, but we have an awful lot in common.

Emily Bartels:              

They are digitally equipped in multiple ways. They've got different kinds of literacies all coming out of this one experience. The kinds of skills these students now have to make their voices heard in the world are diverse and you could feel how empowered the students were. They know what they're on to.

Claudine Brown:          

This program honors how each student learns. No two of them is the same and no two of them expresses themselves in exactly the same way. So a young woman who cares deeply about photography, tells her story with photographs. A young man who illustrates, tells his story with illustrations. Two people told their stories with poems and I think that, that is one of the ways that an interdisciplinary approach to education makes it clear that we all have something to contribute, but we don't all have to do it in exactly the same way.

Dixie Goswami:           

The Bread Loaf Teacher Network is a part of the Bread Loaf School of English. It's a year-round, professional development network facilitated by technology that includes Bread Loaf teachers, their colleagues and their students. Increasingly, it includes members of the communities where they teach. It's a program that's grounded in summer experiences at the Bread Loaf campuses and continues online year-round.

Rich Gorham:              

... in the classes doing presentations for us about the projects that they've been working on. We've built this network of teachers who support each other, who help each other in their work, we do exchanges with each other, we visit each other because we've all learned that doing our jobs in isolation is just too hard. We need a network of other people. We need to be connected to a graduate school. We need to be connected with other professionals. We need support. We need professional development and the Bread Loaf Teacher Network allows us to work closely with other teachers from other locations with other kinds of expertise over an extended period of time to support our work and help us share best practices.

David Wandera:           

This is the story that involves two elements. You will see one of this kind of tool curriculum I find here. One of them is outside the classroom. When I speak to these teachers and they find out what they do and I go back to Kenya and I'm able to connect my students with their students, my expertise with their expertise, and we have this collaborative activity going on via the Bread Loaf Teacher Network, that's been amazing to me.

Dixie Goswami:           

As the digital possibilities become much more parent and powerful, we are banking on the collective involvement of large numbers of children in improving their own education and communities.

Evelyn Begody:            

We have copies of salt, sugar, fats and this is our next text as you know. It seems like there were not total chapter divisions.

Brent Peters:               

We're excited that there is a Food Lit program at Window Rock High School on the Navajo Nation and I think that there is great potential to continue this relationship, so we're excited to see the Navajo Kentuckians flourish.

Evelyn Begody:            

Food Lit to me, a Navajo teacher on the Navajo Nation means trying to incorporate number one, good reading, good sources that will build knowledge, a broad knowledge base, not only for the current moment, but maybe more lasting because some of the habits that we have at this age determine the habits and health state have in their twenties and so forth. When I think of Food Lit, it means good reading, discussion of reading, being able to write about your reading, but also internalizing what you're reading and that's a little bit harder to do. One of the things I noticed about students who read nonfiction is their reading levels increase. That's because the level of reading that they do is... or the type of reading they do in there are usually cause-effect, process, classification comparisons, contrasts, all the higher level type of thinking.

Rex Lee Jim:                

We started off with studying food recipes, but we ended up studying relationships in all different areas and they started doing research on food policy from the international level. They talk about food economy, they went through the process, they worked with the people, they interviewed them, they went before school boards, the Mayor, the Vice President of Navajo Nation to advocate for healthier foods, access to healthier foods. They've presented their findings at conferences, the National Council of Teachers of English, to National Indian Health Board Public Health Summit and other areas.

Joe Franzen:                

We put together digital pieces that looked at social justice, that looked at income inequality, that looked at food deserts, that looked at obesity and diabetes.

Rex Lee Jim:                

To have high school students to advocate for a healthier lifestyle in front of professionals, of doctors, and professors, and policy makers and political leaders; there's tremendous power there. Young people asking for change backed up by evidence, by research, by quality writing, painting a picture of the future where we're healthier and stronger and better people.

Speaker 16:                 

Just let me know what you all would like to do and then let's get you started. How about that? Does that sound good? Let's get you going. Okay? So just let me know and if you want to start with the wheelbarrows, go ahead and wheel them over there. You guys want to plant? [crosstalk 00:13:56] You guys are going to need some rubber bands too.

Speaker 16:                 

We do a lot of work in our classroom, but also we changed where the classroom is. Earlier this week, we were out in the garden. We made a to-do list, a work list and students have cleaned beds and they have planted things earlier in the trimester and we were out harvesting this week. We're also out planning for the spring.

Speaker 17:                 

Arugula , we're harvesting that and they have to cut it off and then put a rubber band around it. [crosstalk 00:14:22]

Speaker 16:                 

Then what we're going to do is take one of these bulbs here. This is the root, so that goes down. This is the shoot, that's where the plant's going to come down. So we're going to drop it in here.

Speaker 16:                 

Through food studies and Food Lit, we're able to talk about engagement, but we're also able to talk about empowerment. So what our cooking club is doing today is, is we're cooking appetizers for the audience today for the play at our high school, "The War of the Worlds." Our young people are creating recipes that will be served before the play for the audience. Through cooking club, we've been able to see empowerment in students. They're taking these things on. They've done the research or the recipes. Through Navajo Kentuckians, we went to places on the map and we went to the Navajo Nation, Navajo students came to Kentucky and we used the Navajo Nation as a classroom and Kentucky as a classroom, but also we went to places that were not on the map, places inside of us, places of depth and connection, places in the heart. We found voice and I think students, something that came from that was an emergence of voice and connection and a desire to be involved in communities.

Rex Lee Jim:                

[foreign language 00:15:26] You call them chronic illnesses: diabetes, cancer, poverty, lack of resources, all this negative stuff, but we're going to empower you to change that, to become agents of change. It is through your [crosstalk 00:15:48] We have all these health disparities on Navajo and one of the main causes for that is not eating well. We decided to partner with COPE/Partners in Health NCHO Reach and Bread Loaf in Vermont, but we also wanted young people to get involved. We want students to become Food Literate, we want them to understand the role that healthy, quality food has in the lives of people and we want to make sure that if you don't have that then what happens? What else can be done? Just this past weekend, 16 of them came together and did a retreat and talked about all these issues.

Taylor:                         

Hello, my name's Taylor [inaudible 00:16:29]. I'm a sophomore at Window Rock High School and my presentation's about the mindsets: growth and fixed and both their effects on eating habits. Also, realize that we can link our cultural roots with how Navajos used to eat and how they [crosstalk 00:16:47]

Dr. Sonya Shin:            

COPE stands for Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment. It's a nonprofit based in Gallup, New Mexico and partners very closely with Navajo Nation. The work that we do focuses on two areas. One is working with community health workers and here, the program's called Navajo Community Health Representative Program. The second area that we've been working on has been around food access. Navajo Nation is classified as a food desert by the USDA, so we felt that in order to really help families make changes, one of the pieces is to be in the homes to provide that support and the education through the community health workers. But you still have to address some of the bigger social determinants of health. A key one for us has been bringing greater access to healthy foods in Navajo Nation. Based on those two areas, I think our work has evolved over time and this most recent project called, Reach for Healthy Navajo Communities, incorporates both of those aspects and also pulls in Navajo high school students as advocates, as change agents, and also to learn from them so that we can actually better reach the community.

Casey Smith:                

We received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control titled, for short, it's called the REACH Grant. REACH stands for, Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. COPE was able to develop a really awesome coalition of both local partners and national partners. So that's the goal of REACH, to increase access to healthy foods in local Navajo stores then secondly, to strengthen clinic community linkages to increase access to chronic disease prevention for young families. NCHO is going to be under the REACH grant. It stands for, Navajo Community Health Outreach and it's going to be a youth leadership program.

Rex Lee Jim:                

We have [inaudible 00:18:33] out there. Community Health Represent Educating our Navajos. You're the youth version of that. Your job is not only to educate yourselves to become healthy, but also to inform others. As young people, you have so much to offer. We're part of the Bread Loaf Teacher Network and the Bread Loaf School of English. There, we firmly believe that students, young people are the most underused resource. We want you to change the world, your world.

Cassidy Morgan:          

[foreign language 00:19:03].

Cassidy Morgan:          

Hello, my name is Cassidy Morgan and I'm here to present to you today about how Food Literature affected the way I cook for my family at home.

Ashley Lansing:            

Hello, my name is Ashley Lansing. I am in Ms. Begody's Food Lit. My topic for this PowerPoint is how... Sorry.... is how you can have healthy food for low cost.

Brawson:                     

Hello, I'm Brawson [inaudible 00:19:36] and I'll be talking about the dollar menu and is the cheap food worth it?

Tiffany Silas:                

Hello, everyone. My name is Tiffany Silas and my presentation will be on vegetarianism. I'm in the [inaudible 00:19:53] Food Literacy class. What is a vegetarian?

Alvanna Yazzie:            

Hello, everyone. I'm Alvanna Yazzie and my presentation is on [inaudible 00:20:03].

Day Goodwill:             

Hello, my name is Day Goodwill and I will be presenting on grass fed beef.

Ty Fierce:                    

I started out with writing workshops with Bread Loaf and I wanted to develop my writing skills and it led to many other amazing organizations like Partners in Health and COPE. We started to partner with them and I learned how to present. So I found my way here through writing.            

Ty Fierce Metteba [foreign language 00:20:36].

Ty Fierce:                    

Hello, I'm Ty Fierce. I'm a junior at Wind Rock High and a student of Ms. Begody's Food Literacy. This weekend, I believe is a stepping stone. I want to be able to further the... or increase the health of the Navajo Nation. We have plans already that I want to begin. This is just the retreat and it's basically a little session where we get to know each other and see who our new family will become.

Ceci Lewis:                  

I really believe that this weekend will result in some strong partnerships, but also that will connect not only the people who are passionate about it and are adults or elders, but the youth to become invested in their community and in their culture. [crosstalk 00:21:36].

Speaker 30:                 

And then the message is eating healthier, start awareness at a young age [crosstalk 00:21:54].

Speaker 31:                 

With some environmental issues on the Navajo reservation like obesity, natural resources, such as uranium mining and [inaudible 00:22:11], droughts.

Dr. Sonya Shin:            

What COPE really wanted to achieve this weekend was to actually bring in high school students so that they felt like they really were a part of this team and that they actually do have a voice and that they are going to be leaders within this project.

Sonlatsa Jim-Ma:          

The information they shared, the connections they made and a lot of the growth work that they did in two days just shows me that they have learned so much about our Navajo world and now they're walking out enlightened. They have an unawareness at another level.

Tom McKenna:            

What Rex Lee Jim, Vice President Jim would say is that these students are making history. They are engaging with their communities through literacy, through digital literacy, in a networked environment. That's the piece that brings us in as Bread Loaf Teacher Network, that we are supporting teachers in energizing, engaging their students to make real difference here in their own context.

Emily Bartels:              

How do we get the students of Bread Loaf Teacher Network teachers engaged in ways that also help us back in the Bread Loaf School of English community in the ways that we are teaching and we're thinking? How can we apply that model that evolves out of BLTN teachers to the kind of training that we are producing at the graduate level that could help us expand what we do and how we do it?

Dixie Goswami:           

When teachers have support and they are well trained, what they can do to improve the education of students they're working with is simply enormous.

Rex Lee Jim:                

We are in a position today through technology to help one another. The time for isolation, working in silos, saying, "This is my territory," it's done and over with. We need to accept it and move on. We need to embrace technology. We need to embrace the willingness of young people to work with others and their willingness to help others.

 

Our History 

This network of teachers from rural, urban, and suburban schools began with funding from the Wallace Foundations (then the DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund) in 1993. We have since received additional funding from the Annenberg Rural Challenge, the Carnegie Corporation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Write to Change, the Educational Foundation of American, the Humana Foundation, the C.E. and S. Foundation, the Braitmayer Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Educational Testing Service, the Leopold Schepp Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Partners in Health and the CDC, the Ford Foundation, and several state departments of education and school districts.

There are now hundreds of teachers actively engaged in networked projects involving tens of thousands of their students.

BreadNet

Bread Loaf has its own communications network, BreadNet, which is a course management tool, and also functions as an email server, an electronic bulletin board, a site for class folders and conferences, and a communications site for the Bread Loaf community throughout the year. All Bread Loaf students are provided with a BreadNet account (free of charge). Our technology staff will help students install and learn the system. At registration, all enrolled students receive a current BreadNet Account Information sheet that outlines the basics of setting up an account and using BreadNet. BreadNet is supported on FirstClass, which you can download here. To install BreadNet on your mobile device, go the the App store and download FirstClass Mobile.

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