reflective practice

Honoring the Word: Classroom Instructors Find That Students Respond Best to Oral Tradition

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Author: Michael Thompson

Summary: In this award winning essay, Native American teacher and NWP site director Michael Thompson, reflects on his own practice and shares findings from research interviews he conducted with instructors in tribal college and university classrooms to learn how they approach literature and writing. In particular, he wondered if assigned texts represented “the value that Native people have historically given to traditional stories, teachings, speeches, tribal journeys, and accomplishments.” Instructors reported that Native communities typically value the spoken word over the art of writing and described language practices such as collecting personal narratives of elders in documentary films and digitized recordings. Classroom teachers, study groups and professional development leaders interested in exploring resources and practices that support efforts to “reclaim and honor oral traditions” of native peoples may find this article of interest.
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My New Teaching Partner? Using the Grammar Checker in Writing Instruction

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Author: Dorothy Fuller and Reva Potter

Summary: What happens when middle school students are invited to explore grammar check tools in an intentional way as part of a teacher inquiry project that connects to instruction? The authors describe their process and the benefits: students became more informed users of the tools and more confident writers, and they made explicit and intentional connections to grammar concepts. This article could be included as a resource in a professional development program or study group focused on finding authentic ways to incorporate grammar into writing workshop approaches.
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Sustainable Practices through Purposeful Partnering at Shoreline

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Author: Steve Pearse

Summary: This article describes the successful longterm partnership between the Puget Sound Writing Project and the Shoreline School District that focused on improving student achievement in writing. Following a model of a year-long embedded invitational institute, P-12 teachers engaged in writing, working in writing groups, and conducting research on the teaching of writing. The resulting teacher-designed curriculum, aligned with NWP core principles, was posted on the district’s website for district-wide use by teaching colleagues.
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Extending the Teacher as Writer Conversation: Writing as Praxis

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Author: Robert Yagelski

Summary: A key reading for individuals and study groups looking to understand the “”transformation”” that teachers say occurs in writing project institutes and other programs when they write, respond as members of writing groups, revise, and publish. Yagelski grounds his exploration in theory as he considers the power of writing is an active (rather than a passive) pursuit that engages teacher writers in reflective practice that allows that to re-make themselves in the present in the process of looking back and looking forward.
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Whose Core Is It?

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Author: Christina Puntel

Summary: Elementary school teacher and bilingual coordinator, Christina Puntel, pushes back against the mandated content/performance descriptors provided by her district to assert that the “core” of her curriculum is her students’ learning. “I teach with an ear close to the core of each child, to the core of the monarch unit, the silkworm unit, the family songs unit…” Her important reflection on the humanity of the students at the heart of classrooms and curricula will be of interest to teachers and study groups wrestling with the influence of mandated curricula on their teaching.
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Student-Made Badges as Self-Assessment

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Author: Chad Sansing

Summary: Teacher Chad Sansing explains how he uses badges, rather than as an award or symbol of achievement, as an assessment tool for student self-reflection. He approaches the students’ use of badging through the lens of digital-making and web-authorship. Through coding, the badge designs emerge and are used for critical reflection.
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Learning From Laramie: Urban High School Students Read, Research, and Reenact The Laramie Project

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Author: Marsha Pincus

Summary: In this story of an extended teacher research project, the author shares the design, purpose, and impact of a course called “Drama and Inquiry,” where she and her students explored multiple perspectives, shifting identities, and ethical dialogue through their study of non-canonical plays including “The Laramie Project.” Consider including this article in an advanced institute to support conversations about teacher inquiry and social justice.
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Preaching What We Practice

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Author: Shelbie Witte

Summary: In what ways do teachers of writing use revision in their own writing? How do digital writing environments impact revision and its instruction? What are teachers’ perceptions of revision in their own writing and in writing instruction in the classroom? Shelbie Witte’s research investigated these questions among teachers who participated in National Writing Project summer institutes and contributed to the NWP E-Anthology. This insightful and accessible article on revision practices and habits can become a part of any writing teacher’s repertoire about best instructional choices for student writers based on teachers’ own writing practices.
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Book Review: English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone

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Author: Debra Schneider

Summary: How can we best support English learners in classrooms where rigorous curricula focus on intellectual practices across content areas? How can we engage in practices that enable students to construct rather than reproduce knowledge, develop deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge and forge connections between school and the outside world? In this review of Pauline Gibbons’s book, Debra Schneider shares insights and successful strategies emerging from her own practice and study group related to the chapter on Academic Literacy [see PDF], suggesting that teaching content “deeply” enables teaching standards in authentic ways. An excellent resource for study groups, inquiry groups, or those leading professional development.
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Family Matters: A Mother and Daughter’s Literacy Journey

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Author: Amy Clark

Summary: What happens when we explore our “people”—when through writing we explore the richness of our culture, our family, our identity? How often do we find examples of a mother and daughter who have the opportunity to experience a summer institute together? This beautifully written narrative set in Appalachia could be a read aloud in a workshop or summer institute to generate ideas for writing, or as a way to discuss family/generational literacy, dialect, place, and an authentic rendition of the many facets of the writing experience.
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