About Writing

Students Tell Their Stories Digitally

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Author: Joel Elliott

Summary: When designing a digital storytelling workshop, it may be easy to forget that it’s really about the telling of stories and the writing practices that generate powerful narratives. This piece provides a good conceptual starting point and reminder that in such settings, students are more engaged, willing to work harder and write longer pieces–and all the while quite adept at figuring out the technology.This is important for teachers nervous about not knowing the latest digital tools.
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Literacy, ELL, and Digital Story Telling: 21st Century Skills in Action

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Author: Yumi Matui and Clifford Lee

Summary: This video documents how high school history students created digital stories as part of the American Immigration Project. The semester-long multimodal project incorporated interviews, transcription. discussion, writing voiceover scripts, and digital production. Composing images and audio to create powerful presentations, students shared their stories at a final Exhibition Night screening. Teachers interested in project-based learning will find inspiration as well as practical strategies in the related resources.
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The Journey of an Emerging Site Leader

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Author: Kathleen Ann Gonzalez

Summary: Are you taking on a new role at your writing project? Are you both excited and nervous? If so, then joining this journey of stepping into the role of a site leader may help set you at ease. The author confirms what we know deep down: trusting your writing project instincts and staying true to NWP core principles lead to positive outcomes and experiences. Highlights not to be missed include several concrete strategies and suggestions on how to help writing groups develop community and maintain momentum throughout an institute.
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Exploring Resources from Teacher-Researcher Marian Mohr

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Summary: A leader in the field of teacher research, Marian Mohr left a legacy of resources to support teacher inquiry. This article provides an excellent annotated bibliography of resources for anyone interested in participating in or guiding teachers through the inquiry process.
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Toward a Scholarship of Teaching Practice: Contributions from NWP Teacher Inquiry Workshops

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Author: Patricia Lambert Stock

Summary: In her keynote speech at NWP’s 2007 Spring Meeting, Patricia Lambert Stock reports on her study of an overlooked genre of educational research: the teacher workshop. Describing in detail a presentation on mock trials, she shows that such workshops not only have the customary elements of research published in professional journals but, in addition, they are theory-based and situated in a teaching context, construct an argument about teaching and learning and have an immediate impact on teaching practice.
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The Authenticity Spectrum: The Case of a Science Journalism Writing Project

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Author: Angela Kohnen

Summary: Although learning to write like science reporters was initially designed to help students develop scientific literacy, the SciJourn project became much more — a key to high school students’ engagement as learners, researchers, and writers and their teachers’ opportunity to explore “real world” genre-based writing assignments and assessment. This article provides a rich discussion with specific examples for learning to develop assignments and learning experiences that take into account “functional authenticity.” Those designing professional development, grants, summer institutes, or study groups on topics such as disciplinary literacy, genre, or authentic learning/writing will find ample food for thought!
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Writing to Transform: Teacher-Consultants Lead Change in Their Schools

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Author: Linda Friedrich

Summary: What do successful teacher leaders do? This short article suggests an emergent framework from a larger study about teacher leadership. Leaders address problems, facilitate collective learning, and celebrate the work of writing. This article could be powerful to read and discuss at a continuity event on taking next leadership steps.
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CRWP: Teaching On-Demand Argument Writing

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Summary: This online learning experience from the College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) supports on-demand writing. A PowerPoint with a slide-by-slide voiceover, it takes you through a step-by-step approach to teaching on-demand arguments of policy. It uses a two-day reading and writing task as a teaching prompt and another reading-based prompt as the task students complete on-demand. The PowerPoint, once downloaded, is editable. This resource could provide a digital writing experience for teacher groups to explore their own on-demand argumentative writing skill, or it could be used as a model so teachers can form their own on-demand readings and prompts.
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Striking It Rich: Finding My Digital Story in Northern California

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Author: Corey Harbaugh

Summary: This short piece could be a useful conversation starter or reflective tool in an institute or workshop focused on narrative. Reflecting on his excitement about the allure of new digital storytelling tools, the author reveals his insight that the power of telling our stories and making them public through digital media is also the power of writing itself–for students and for ourselves as teacher-writers.
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Integrating Science and Language Arts in First Grade Using a Culturally Relevant Lens

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Author: Mike Rose

Summary: Rose offers an in-depth portrait of a writing project teacher integrating the study of science and language arts in her first-grade Baltimore classroom, all while advancing and honoring the cultural knowledge and understanding of her thirty African American students. This chapter, from Rose’s Possible Lives, not only highlights curriculum development, but also offers a model for integrating student dialogue and student work while writing about classroom learning.
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Puny Poetry Meets Its Match

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Author: Gerri Ruckle & Jim Horrell

Summary: What can we do when confronted with the challenge of helping young poets develop an awareness of the expressive power of poetry as opposed to rhyming lines that that often convey little meaning? By sharing a series of scaffolded strategies illustrated with multiple examples of student writing, the authors tell the story of how they changed their teaching and supported students in exploring poetry and creating sophisticated works of self-expression. Excellent ideas for professional development related to teaching poetry within a reading/writing workshop approach.
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Reflection & Reform: Five Myths About Reflective Writing

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Author: Joe Check

Summary: Making an argument for reflective teaching in the face of mandated, external programs, the author identifies five “myths” or beliefs about reflective writing and suggests ways to address the negative attitudes engendered by them. Useful to demonstrate the potential for connection between reflective teacher inquiry and externally mandated school change/reform. This resource may be useful in addressing concerns that Writing Project methods can’t be implemented in heavy top-down schools and provides support for the necessity of teacher voices in the reform process.
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Literacy in the Digital Age

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Guests: Natalie Franzi, Steve Figurelli, Paul Oh, and Claire Rivero

Summary: In this webinar representatives from the NWP, the Teaching Channel, and Student Achievement Partners discuss effective uses of digital literacy tools, arguing that our vision must evolve to incorporate a new approach to literacy instruction, one in which technology becomes an accelerator to create and personalize meaningful learning contexts. This video would be a good way to launch a discussion about online tools and out-of-school literacies. The speakers also recommend specific digital tools and strategies.
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“I’m a Writer Now!” The Who, Where, and When of an ELL Newspaper

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Author: Joe Bellino

Summary: Joe Bellino, a teacher of English language learners, describes the process of publishing “Silver International,” a newspaper written by his ELL/International high school students as well as how the paper positively affected readers, writers, and the school. This resource offers inspiration for teachers planning authentic writing experiences that give voice to the bilingual/bicultural experiences of their students.
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Demystifying the College Admission Essay Genre

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Author: Jessica Singer Early and Meredith DeCosta

Summary: This chapter from Jessica Singer Early and Meredith DeCosta’s Real World Writing for Secondary Students presents a writing workshop for ethnically and linguistically diverse high school students in which students receive instruction on specific genre features of the college admission essay. The chapter offers an overview of the college admission essay genre, key components of the college admission essay workshop, samples of student writing, and professional resources for teaching the college admission essay. Equally useful as the focus of a professional development session or as the basis for a youth writing program, the chapter is especially relevant, for teachers who work with linguistically divers youth, as a way of providing access to “gate-opening writing tasks.”
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The How of Writing: First-Graders Learn Craft

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Author: Glorianne Bradshaw

Summary: Inspired by the ways upper grade teachers use mentor texts to generate more interesting student writing, Bradshaw uses the Frog and Toad books to teach writing to her first graders, demonstrating sentence variety, show-not-tell, onomatopoeia, the “good beginning,” and other techniques. This resource also shows the value of networking vertically among grade levels, as is often seen in NWP summer writing institutes. Useful as a starting point for discussion for a cross-grade group of educators who will be collaborating or spending professional development time together, this article is ideal for a summer institute reading or for literacy coaches or curriculum coordinators who can see how writing workshop might look in early grades as opposed to upper grades.
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Publishing Students’ True Stories

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Author: Rus VanWestervelt

Summary: Creative nonfiction? What better way to engage students in all disciplines than to write real stories about life events that matter to them! And what if there were opportunities to publish these pieces in a journal designed and edited by youth? In telling the story of the creation of a journal that eventually encompassed the state, the author provides a resource list of models of creative nonfiction as well as an example of one student’s narrative that focused on her family’s evacuation from the American compound in Saudi Arabia following terrorist bombings. Even without a goal of publishing a journal, there are excellent suggestions that could be used for creating and supporting collaborative writing spaces (e.g., in classrooms, student writing clubs, supporting Scholastic Awards).
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Literacy Coaches Explore Their Work Through Vignettes

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Author: Carrie Usui

Summary: What is the work of a literacy coach? Twelve UCLA Writing Project teacher-consultants serving as literacy coaches in the LA Unified School District spent a weekend retreat exploring that question by writing vignettes as a way to illustrate what it is they do as coaches. Here they share some of what they do and how it makes a difference for students and teachers in the schools where they coach.
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Theory, Politics, Hope, and Action

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Author: Carole Edelsky

Summary: This article is a great resource for study groups, inquiry communities, and professional learning of all types with a focus on ELLs and writing. After introducing two pieces of “gorgeous” writing from 5th graders in a dual language classroom, Edelsky explains how this writing came to be. First she provides a theoretical overview focused on how people develop language and identity through authentic work within a “community of practice.” Then she describes the genesis of a different approach to writing development among a group of elementary teachers dealing with the question of “how you make schoolwork like real out-of-school work.” Offering 7 “partial answers,” this article is highly accessible with the potential to generate myriad inquiries into issues about language learning, writing, power, and equity.
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Challenges for Writing Teachers: Evolving Technologies and Standardized Assessment

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Author: Anne Herrington and Charles Moran

Summary: This introductory chapter discusses existing and emerging technologies and electronic text types for use in curriculum and assessment. While the authors provide examples of how teachers have embraced new forms of writing by developing relevant learning objectives and e-projects, they also argue that automated assessment of writing limits student writers in the service of data compilation needs. Useful as a teacher inquiry piece or for NWP site leaders as they work with state entities and school administrators in partnership development, this chapter has helpful references from experts who have sifted through various electronic tests, companies, and state processes.
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Meeting the Needs of Racially and Linguistically Diverse Students through Courageous Conversations

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Author: South Coast Writing Project

Summary: Although conversations about race and diversity are not easy, they can allow teacher leaders to examine and interrogate their beliefs and practices to determine the direction of their teaching and of their writing project sites. This article describes how the South Coast WP spent two years engaged in “courageous conversations” around issues of diversity as a way to better meet the needs of the linguistically diverse student population in the area. Also included are useful details on how the program started with an open institute and links to several of the key resources used throughout the project’s implementation. The article and its related resources might inspire study groups and leadership teams to engage in their own critical reading and courageous conversations.
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Love Ties My Shoes: Long-term English Learners as Thoughtful Writers

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Author: Lynn Jacobs

Summary: Students in a high school English Language Development class writing a book? Lynn Jacobs’ story of her students success can inform teacher study groups and inspire professional development sessions. For details about the project, powerful student voices describing the process, and ties to professional literature that help to explain how and why this was a possibility for Jacobs and her students, check out this inspirational article.
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Why We Need a #techquity Conversation

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Author: Joe Dillon

Summary: This blogpost introduces a foundational conversation about issues of equity, technology, and instruction. Easy to read and digest, the post offers readers access to an ongoing discussion occurring on Twitter that has its own hashtag: #techequity. The post includes great hyperlinks outward to related conversations.
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A Cure for Writer’s Block: Writing for Real Audiences

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Author: Ann Rodier

Summary: This teacher describes how she connects as a writer to a student whose drafts begin to find a real audience. By guiding student writers toward an authentic purpose for their writing, young authors can see themselves as professional writers. Use this narrative as a hook to bring teachers together to discuss ways authentic audiences can propel students toward meaningful writing.
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Pew Report Illustrates Impact of Digital Technologies on Student Writing

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Summary: A well-balanced resource for those planning workshops, studying curriculum and developing grants, this report reviews the results of a 2013 survey of NWP and Advanced Placement teachers that focused on the ways digital technologies and tools are shaping the writing of middle and high school students and the practices of their teachers. The findings note that, while digital tools are facilitating teens’ personal expression and creativity, broadening the audience for written material, and encouraging them to write more often, they also present unique challenges including the “creep” of informal style into formal writing assignments and the need to better educate students about issues such as plagiarism and fair use.
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A Snapshot of Writing Instruction in Middle Schools and High Schools

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Author: Arthur N. Applebee and Judith A. Langer

Summary: This 2011 article describes research which updates earlier work and which addresses the following questions: How much writing do students do? Who reads what students write? What is the effect of high-stakes tests on writing instruction? What kinds of writing instruction do teachers emphasize? How has technology influenced the teaching of writing? From writing tasks and genres to standards-based writing and writing in the disciplines, the authors present readers with reminders that writing can contribute to learning and deepen understanding. Teachers and teacher groups may use this article to spur discussion of ways to go beyond test-focused writing assignments by offering students the chance to develop writings based on their reflections, interests, and contemporary connections to learning.
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College-Ready Writers Program Lesson Study (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Guests on this radio program were part of NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) who participated in an online version of a lesson study focused on two mini-units. Guests talk about how the structure of the lesson study has impacted their practice, their experience with teaching the mini-units in their classrooms, and their experience with participating in the online community. Site leadership teams may develop a similar online lesson study using lessons learned by these educators about digital interaction in professional inquiry groups. This resource may be useful for sites who want to engage in continuity across rural areas, or teachers want to try the argumentative writing modules and compare processes and outcomes with other educators.
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CRWP: Extended Research Arguments

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Summary: This resource from NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) includes actual assignments, student work, and interviews with teachers about one student’s process. The “Extended Research Argument” video is a good introduction to the resource, inviting you to explore the ideas behind extended argument and demonstrating how to use the “Inside the Life of Piece of Writing” website in both high school and middle school. For teacher study groups or professional development experiences centered on extended research argument, this resource provides authentic examples of teacher process and student writing.
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Research on the Assessment of Voice in Student Writing

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Author: Sherry Swain, Richard L. Graves, and David Morse

Summary: This article details research about rhetorical elements associated with statewide assessment scores, and it focuses on teacher-noted occurrences of voice in student writing. The authors also spotlight student writing excerpts that are demonstrative of voice, concluding that voice is hard to define and has a metaphoric quality, possibly that of “soul.” Because voice is often assessed in student writing (i.e., the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing), teachers often seek to find concrete ways to find voice or to model it. This resource can be helpful for teacher inquiry groups as a guide to finding examples of voice through an action research project. Any school or district-level inquiry team could use this research to support curriculum development or to help understand that voice grows through the composing process.
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Why I Write: Scientist Timothy Ferris on Writing to Learn

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Author: Timothy Ferris

Summary: Ferris explains that he writes as a way to learn science and describes the vital role that science has played in changing the world for the better. He discusses how writing for general audiences can help scientists to “clarify their own thinking, by obliging them to put specialized ideas into wider contexts and to express them simply.” This short piece could be motivating for science students and teachers to read aloud and discuss before prompting them to write their own ‘why I write’ narratives.
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Introduction: Why Digital Writing Matters

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Author: National Writing Project, with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks

Summary: What does it mean to write digitally? What does it mean to be a teacher of writing in a digital age? In this introduction to the book, Because Digital Writing Matters, the authors provide an overview in response to these questions. They include a review of historical perspectives on writing, of expanding definitions of digital writing, and of the impact of the integration of technology on the teaching and learning of writing. In addition, they explore what digital writing might look like in classrooms including a discussion of the new media Literacy tools, strategies, skills, and dispositions that are necessary to operate within our expanding participatory culture. This chapter and related resources may be especially useful for study groups, as well as those planning professional development or developing grant proposals focused on digital literacy.
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Interest-based Learning and Passion Projects

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Guests: Laura Bradley, Kim Douillard, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Paul Oh, Jo Parasio

Summary: In celebration of October’s Connected Educator Month, this webinar focuses on creating opportunities, space, and time for all youth to be agents in their own learning. The participating educators draw inspiration from the “Maker Movement” and the Connected Learning principles as they share ideas and strategies related to the notion of youth agency. Links to numerous additional resources are provided.
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The Evolution of a Model Writing Teacher and a Model Writing School

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: How does a Writing Project teacher become a leader? This brief portrait describes how award-winning elementary teacher Julie Johnson evolved into an exemplary teacher of writing and collaborated with colleagues to develop a model writing school. This resource can fulfill multiple needs for site leaders and leaders of advanced institutes or teacher inquiry groups if they are looking for examples of effective early-grade writing classrooms, evidence of content-based writing in elementary grades, or schoolwide efforts to find effective approaches to writing.
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Place-Based Poetry, One Step at a Time

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Author: Ann Gardner

Summary: With the goal of helping her students create free-form poetry that engages “the part of their brains that allows them to crawl into deep recesses of memory, shake hidden treasures awake, and write from their souls,” Gardner illustrates each step of the writing process she introduces to her students. Sharing a close look at student writing, she juxtaposes specific revisions made by one student from the Navajo reservation with those created through her modeling with the class. This article would be equally useful in professional development discussions with teachers and team planning for young writers programs.
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Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning

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Author: Judith Rance-Roney

Summary: Interested in introducing digital storytelling in a writing classroom? Rance-Roney, a teacher with the Hudson Valley Writing Project, explains digital storytelling, discusses its strengths in promoting literacy, and, by documenting her own multilingual classroom work, suggests a path for getting started with this technology.
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Literacy in the Digital Age: Nine Great Speaking and Listening Tools

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Author: Natalie Franzi and Steve Figurelli

Summary: This blog post showcases nine different digital tools and links to related resources useful in engaging students and/or teachers in sharing stories or other work through a variety of media and to a variety of audiences. Thoughtful use of digital tools enables both students and teachers to be “active creators of content.” This entire could be used in professional development on digital learning.
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Subversive Acts of Revision: Writing and Justice

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Author: Heather Bruce

Summary: Bruce explains how revision can be taught as a tool to critique unjust texts. She writes, “We must …speak back to those who would take our power from us and continue a legacy of damage to our students.” Reading this piece could spark powerful conversations about teaching for social justice while supporting students as critically active readers who write as a way to resist and/or advocate.
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On the Use of Metawriting to Learn Grammar and Mechanics

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Author: Douglas James Joyce

Summary: In this short article, the author proposes a strategy to support adolescent composition students to develop an awareness of grammatical patterns underlying their writing (errors). The article includes an assignment and student examples.
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Lawnmowers, Parties, and Writing Groups: What Teacher-Authors Have to Teach Us about Writing for Publication

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney

Summary: When teachers write for others in their profession they are taking on a form of leadership and embracing a means for advocating for the value of teacher classroom inquiry and reflective practice. This article, is one of many by Anne Whitney, a researcher who has studied the professional practice of NWP teachers, that invites teacher-writers to get beyond the hurdles of doubt as they approach publication of their professional writing. An inspirational article for teacher writing groups that will resonate with teachers who are ready or getting ready to share their work more publicly.
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Teachers Teaching Teachers Focuses on Technology and Teaching Writing

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Summary: Teachers Teaching Teachers, a weekly interactive webcast which has been hosted by the New York City Writing Project since 2006, could become an individual or group meeting place for educators wishing to connect with teachers from across the country and the globe for two main purposes: developing teacher knowledge and leadership in schools and districts, and putting this knowledge and leadership to work to improve student online reading and writing through the use of blogs, wikis, podcasts, and webcasts.This piece provides a brief description of the project and a link to Teachers Teaching Teachers where previous webcasts have been archived and are easily searchable as a rich resource.
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Planning for Young Writers Camps

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Author: June Joyner

Summary: Many writing project sites count on young authors’ camps to reach out to the community and bring in revenue. This resource is a planning tool that illustrates how one writing project site thought through the decisions involved in launching a summer youth camp. Those looking to expand, revise, or begin summer youth writing programs may find this resource useful, as it 1) lists expectations for teachers leading camps, 2) provides budget “givens” and guidelines, and 3) outlines the many decisions camp leadership teams make in preparing for an engaging summer experience that also contributes to site income.
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Writing from the Feather Circle

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Author: G. Lynn Nelson

Summary: In this resource, a writing teacher from Arizona applies the Native American feather circle to the teaching of writing and describes her work teaching sections of first-year composition exclusively for Native American students. The feather circle focuses on speaking from the heart; in the classroom this approach involves writing honestly and openly first and worrying about form later. The author expertly shares the writing experiences of her students from a culturally responsive stance, and how an emerging group, “Native Images,” has shared their writings and art in community-based settings and across the country. This resource would be useful in teacher discussions of culturally relevant pedagogies for writing.
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Because Digital Writing Matters: A Conversation with the Authors

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Summary: The NWP book, Because Digital Writing Matters, examines what teachers, administrators, and parents can do to help schools meet the challenges of digital writing and to equip students with the communication skills they need to thrive in an information-rich, high-speed, high-tech culture. It provides a roadmap for teachers and administrators who are implementing digital writing initiatives in their classrooms, schools, and communities.
Offering practical solutions and models for educators and policymakers involved in planning, implementing, and assessing digital writing initiatives and writing programs, Because Digital Writing Matters examines such questions as the following:

  • What is digital writing?
  • What happens in an effective digital writing classroom?
  • How does digital writing support learning across disciplines?
  • What are fair ways to assess digital writing?
  • How can schools create effective programs to prepare teachers and students to succeed in a digital, interconnected world?

The authors make the case that digital writing is, more than just a skill, a complex activity and mode of thinking that entails, in all grades and disciplines, interfacing with ideas and with the world.
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Immigrant Teens in the South Bronx Learn the Art of Online Discussion

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Author: Kathleen Costanza

Summary: This article describes the work of immigrant youth in the South Bronx as they discuss the novel “Sold” about a Nepali girl named Lakshmi whose stepfather sells her into slavery. A LRNG grant developed by the NYC Writing Project and four teachers enabled youth and teachers to use the Youth Voices platform for this and other student-driven online writing projects that fostered opportunities to write for authentic audiences.
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Innovative Writing Program Helps High Schools

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Author: University of Arizona – University Relations

Summary: This news article describes the Wildcat Writers, an innovative service learning and writing program housed in the University of Arizona. By exploring topics like censorship, designing infographics, producing novels, and organizing campus events, the high school writers learned how to promote literacy, creativity and artistic innovation. The grant behind this initiative is explained as well as the university partnership with its NWP site. Takeaways from this resource are the learning outcomes seen in the enthusiastic quotes from student writers, the planning and funding sources for such a partnership, and the collaborative facilitation that provided a unique pathway for youth from high school to the university–all helpful for site leaders and summer writing program organizers who may gain ideas for like partnerships in their areas.
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Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing

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Summary: Developed collaboratively among representatives from the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project, Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing describes the rhetorical and twenty-first-century skills that are critical for college success based on current research in writing and writing pedagogy. This short introduction includes a list of the habits of mind identified as essential for success in college writing and includes a link to the complete Framework which is of particular interest to study groups and teacher leaders planning and facilitating professional development in the teaching of writing.
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Using Metaphor to Explore Writing Processes

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Author: Christian Knoeller

Summary: In this article, Christian Knoeller describes a metaphor writing assignment that offers an effective alternative to instructional materials that present writing processes in overly simple and mechanical ways. Knoeller argues that metaphor enables examinations of how we compose and revise, how we go beyond static processes, and how we become more of who we are through writing. The article includes student and teacher excerpts of extended metaphorical writing that illustrate these ideas. Point of use for this resource may include planning/design of a longitudinal professional development partnership or the facilitation of any writing session using Knoeller’s metaphor writing assignment. For teachers of writing, this article provides evidence of the impact that the exercise–and metaphor as a mode for analysis–can have on writers from middle school through college and beyond.
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Bless, Press, Address: A Formative Response Protocol for Writing Groups

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Summary: A useful resource for a writing group, Bless, Press, Address is a classic NWP formative response protocol designed to guide feedback to a writer on a draft piece of writing. Rather than offering a summative assessment on the quality of the writing, the protocol invites group members to share how the writing was received, felt, and understood. The protocol clearly lays out the purpose of the response, the roles each person plays, and the steps to follow for a productive feedback session.

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Collaborating to Write Dialogue

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Author: Janis Cramer

Summary: By engaging children in a collaborative workshop environment to help them learn to develop characters, consider word choice, and interweave dialogue and description, the author simultaneously helped her students to strengthen social and independent writing skills. Opportunities to perform their dialogues in front of the class were also a component of this authentic experience in writing narratives. This article provides vivid details and examples of student writing and could be a useful resource for professional development related to hands-on approaches to writing as process.
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Brief Reviews of Major Works of James Moffett

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Author: John Warnock

Summary: These brief sketches of the works of James Moffett emphasize ideas for classroom practice found in Moffett’s works. For any advanced institute or teacher study group who wants to do a deep dive into Moffett and his legacy related to student-centered writing experiences, these readings would provide the door.
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Reflective Journaling for Deeper Student Learning

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Author: Anna Collins Trest

Summary: Are you struggling to get students to write during journaling time? Are the responses you get cursory or less than you had hoped? If so (and even if not), then read how one elementary classroom transformed the depth of student writing responses by transitioning from “writing prompts” to “reflective writing.” By writing with the students on the prompts they generated, by having extended discussions about the writing, and by tapping into the students’ prior knowledge and interests to ensure relevance, this teacher’s journey to finding paths toward powerful student writing was successful. This resource may be useful in working with novice teachers, or for anyone looking to invite more student input into writing assignments.
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CRWP Mini-Units

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Summary: This resource from the College-Ready Writers Program features one-minute videos that define mini-units and explain the value of using nonfiction sources/texts. There are links to related pages on the CRWP website that focus on creating text sets and on developing and sequencing mini-units. These resources will take facilitators and teachers through both the content and implementation of researched argumentative modules, with space to supplement or customize. Teachers can write in response to some of the units to see how they might work with students.
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The Relationship of High School Student Motivation and Comments in Online Discussion Forums

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Author: Chris Sloan

Summary: Although online discussions have become more and more ubiquitous, there is a dearth of research that has looked at relationships between students’ commenting and motivation to learn. Course and program designers wishing to better structure discussions in online learning communities to take into account traits of comments students find most valuable may be interested in mining this research study of 12th graders. Discussion posts and comments composed on http://youthvoices.live helped to identify ways to enhance motivation to learn.
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Metaphors, Frames, and Fact (Checks) about the Common Core

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney and Patrick Shannon

Summary: This article offers a critique of the Common Core State Standards by examining its political history and the controlling metaphors on which it is based. It would be of particular interest to a study group or as a resource in a professional development program exploring the politics of mandated curricula as well as the practical and political implications of the Common Core.
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Orientations for the Teaching of Writing: A Legacy of the National Writing Project

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Author: Anne Whitney and Linda Friedrich

Summary: In this comprehensive review and analysis of a qualitative study of twenty years of interviews with NWP Invitational Institute participants, researchers Whitney and Friedrich conclude that NWP’s influence on participating teachers over time and across settings resulted in their adopting a set of orientations toward the purposes of writing; students’ abilities and responsibilities as writers; and the relationships between ideas and form that govern a teacher’s choices about how best to structure writing opportunities for students. A key reading for teachers and program leaders that analyzes the foundations of the National Writing Project’s unique success as a professional development network that inspires improved teaching practice and student performance.
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Writing Across the Hidden Curriculum

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Author: William Strong

Summary: Pushing back against the “hidden curriculum” of school writing as teacher-centered and reductive, Strong asserts a model of student-centered writing to learn. This article explains the importance of writing across disciplines and gives practical examples of authentic content area writing skills. His 12-point description of “The Hidden Curriculum of Writing” can serve as a powerful conversation starter with any group of teachers.
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How to Build Better Engineers: A Practical Approach to the Mechanics of Text

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Author: Ron E. Smelser

Summary: How do engineers write—in what ways, for what audiences, and for what purposes? How do we as teachers support novices in developing an understanding that learning to write clearly to communicate arguments in proposals and presentations may make all the difference in moving an idea to a product that is economically and practically feasibile? This article presents a structure that emulates what engineers encounter in a peer-review proposal process. Those planning and leading workshops grounded in real-world practices for aspiring engineers or other related professions will find useful ideas here.
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Teacher Transformation in the National Writing Project

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney

Summary: Why do teachers so often attribute their personal and professional “transformation” to their writing project experiences? Researcher Anne Whitney considers how participants’ writing time and writing group experience impacts their identity as writers, learners, and instructional leaders. Reading this study could spur an interesting discussion about what writing experiences are transformational and essential when planning learning for new teacher participants.
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Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text

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Author: Margaret Kantz

Summary: This report looks at ways in which college freshmen interpreted and negotiated an assignment calling for writing based on reading, along with how teachers then judged the abilities and preparation of the students based on that writing.The study discovered that students and teachers had different understandings of the expectations of the task and that such tasks are more difficult and complex for students than teachers realize. Although an older article, the conclusions of this research are still relevant in understanding the difficult transition from high school writing to college academic discourse. This article would be a useful starting point for discussions on how teachers must examine their assumptions about students’ interpretations of assignments. In addition, it might serve as a model of inquiry into the writing process of students.
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On the Verge of Understanding: A District-Wide Look at Student Writing

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Author: Kathleen Reddy-Butkovich

Summary: This article offers an account of how to look at student writing using a simple but effective protocol, asking what students have accomplished and what they are “on the verge of” accomplishing. Although the article features elementary teachers collaborating, the protocol will be a useful framework for educators at all levels.
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Helping High School Students “Gear Up” for College

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: This article highlights a program designed to support 9th graders developing an understanding of how to differentiate and act upon revision and editing concerns. The program’s development and implementation reflects a collaboration between area high school writing centers, teachers, and university composition faculty. Since Gear-Up funds programs throughout the country, teacher leaders and site directors might see possibilities for local adaptations.
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Classroom Tools That Work

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Author: Janet Neyer

Summary: This blog post focuses on open source tools (most from Google/Chrome) that may be helpful for students to use at various stages of the writing and research processes. The brief examples of ELA uses of these apps and extensions may assist you in planning professional development focused on supporting all learners in digital spaces. If you are looking for tools yourself for planning and developing content materials for workshops, classroom use, or personal research, this blog post may be directly helpful for you, too.
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Teaching Writing in an Assessment Era: Passion and Practice (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Jonathan Lovell, Mary Warner, Marie Milner, and Brandy Appling-Jenson

Summary: Directors and teacher-consultants from the San Jose Area Writing Project discuss their book, Teaching Writing Grades 7-12 in an Era of Assessment: Passion and Practice. The following key questions guided their work: “Why might my students wish to engage in the performative activity of writing?” and “Why might they wish to engage in this practice with not just dogged persistence, but with genuine passion?” With powerful voices, two of the teacher writers discuss an I-Search project (segment: 20:54–31:27) and empowering language learners (segment: 31.45–47). CONTINUE READING

“A More Complicated Human Being”: Inventing Teacher-Writers

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Author: Christine Dawson

Summary: How might teachers pursue and support personally and professionally worthwhile writing practices in the midst of the many demands associated with teaching? How might writing groups sustain their work together – in person or online? This final chapter from The Teacher-Writer: Creating Writing Groups for Personal and Professional Growth, a book that documents the first year of a successful teacher writing group, includes strategies developed and a generative framework grounded in lessons learned by the group as they met face-to-face and worked online. Their story and what they learned together will be of particular interest to teachers who wonder how to build on their commitments to personal writing and sustain a collegial community that forms in the process of writing and sharing.
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Elbow Room: Tweaking Response in the Secondary Classroom

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Author: Anne Marie Liebel

Summary: Using Peter Elbow’s theory of peer response as described in Writing Without Teachers, Ann Marie Liebel began implementing response groups, providing space for her student writers to lead the way in revision. Central here are the ways she reflected as a teacher/facilitator and the ways she listened to her students as she adjusted Elbow’s methods to fit her high school and college freshman classes. Because this resource will instigate thought on how to initiate or improve peer response groups, it may be useful for teacher inquiry, for leaders of young author summer writing camps, or for guidance prior to summer institute writing group experiences.
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VoiceThread Ties Together Student Voices, Images, and Writing

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Author: Shullamuth Smith

Summary: Writing Project teachers discuss ways in which they have used the website VoiceThread with their students to create online, multimodal presentations that allow for a range of feedback. In addition to enabling students to add voice narratives to their own work, VoiceThread allows teachers and others to record comments to students. The resource includes a video and responses to student work in response to the Day of Tolerance that featured the stories of survivors of Japanese internment camps.
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Overview of the NWP’s College Ready Writers Program

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Summary: This overview provides key information about the National Writing Project’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) and how it works, along with the results from multiple years/areas of the country. In “About the Program,” teachers can find resources that complement each other in a year-round approach to teaching argument: routine argument writing, mini-units, extended research arguments, on-demand tasks, formative assessment resources, and videos of teachers who have used the resources. The “How it Works” sub-link offers a model for an Advanced Institute for CRWP. The last sub-link provides the results of a 2-year random assignment evaluation which found CRWP had a positive, statistically significant effect on the four attributes of student argument writing—content, structure, stance, and conventions. Points of use include: site leadership team review of CRWP to see how it might be used in their region/locale; and teacher leadership or teacher inquiry related to bringing CRWP into their writing instruction.
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“Let’s Talk”: Building a Bridge Between Home and School

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Author: Catherine Humphrey

Summary: How do we create opportunities for both our students and their parents to be involved in assignments that generate a sense that the writing being done is “”real?”” The author of this piece provides a window into an initial essay assignment that prompted her high school students and parents to talk together prior to taking a position on an education-related op ed piece. She also offers tips for generating and sustaining quality verbal interactions. Many examples of reflections from parents and students reveal both positive responses and challenging situations that could spark lively conversations in study groups, school/community professional conversations focused on parent engagement in writing, or in individual classrooms with students.
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Author to Author: How Text Influences Young Writers

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Author: Dina Sechio DeCristofaro

Summary: What role does reading play in children’s development as writers? After surveying her fifth graders about where they get ideas for writing, the author of this piece examined the relationship between what students read and what they write. She identifies specific aspects of what her students borrowed from mentor texts, such as “subject,” “tone,” “genre,” “style,” as well as ideas stemming from silent, self-selected readings. This resource features student samples connected to specific mentor pieces and would be useful in teacher study groups or during a summer writing institute where teachers are discussing the value of deep, consistent reading to help young authors develop themselves as writers.
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Narrative Writing and the Common Core State Standards, from Helping English Learners to Write

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Authors: Carol Booth Olson, Robin C. Scarcella, Tina Matuchniak

Summary: In this chapter from Helping English Learners to Write, the authors explain the critical role of narrative writing in helping English learners develop their English language skill and succeed in English Language Arts coursework in the secondary grades. Building upon a strong research-based rationale for narrative writing, it provides many specific and effective teaching strategies that would be useful for middle/high school teachers. In addition, this chapter would be of interest to teachers beginning inquiry projects.
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Sharing Student Work With the Community: Wall of Literacy Learning Exemplifies Student Writing

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Author: Lynne Alvine

Summary: “How could we show the public all that is good in our schools? How could we open a window on classroom life to those who do not spend their lives in classrooms?” To illustrate the work of teachers and their students in rural classrooms, a team of teacher researchers “opened a window on classroom life” by creating a “wall of literacy” to illustrate their own and their K-12 students’ writing development. Hallway spaces were turned into a “museum” of writing that was opened to the community. This article describes the both the design and the outcome of the event.
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Are You Ready for College Writing?

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Author: Mary Ann Smith

Summary: What is college writing like? This report on a series of pilot workshops for high school juniors focused on this question, and the students quickly discovered that college writing is not the traditional five-paragraph essay. Instead, it is multifaceted, always involves critical thinking, and is the most common form of assessment. These principles and others are outlined in this short report, which also gives some information about developing the workshops. This resource is useful in the planning stages of similar workshops on academic discourse for high school juniors, and demonstrates the importance of an inquiry stance to questions about writing.
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Helping Teacher-Writers Begin to Write

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Author: Troy Hicks, Anne Elrod Whitney, James Fredricksen, and Leah Zuidema

Summary: How can we best support our own and our colleagues as teacher-writers? In this chapter from Coaching Teacher-Writers: Practical Steps to Nurture Professional Writing, planners and leaders will find constructive strategies to motivate teacher-writers to begin, sustain, and complete professional writing. A valuable resource for facilitators, the chapter offers, “descriptions of key practices…developed over years of coaching, teaching, and collaborating with K12 teachers who write about classroom instruction, teacher research, or advocacy for better policy and pedagogy.
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The Diversity of Writing

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Author: Charles Bazerman

Summary: In this article, Bazerman writes of the various things writers do with words, describing how writers enter a complex and deepening engagement with a “symbolic environment” that coincides with the culture’s social, economic, and civic possibilities. He describes the many purposes, forms, and impacts of writing, and discusses how real-life reading/writing connections can frame how we design reading and writing for students. From legislators to journalists to technical writers in various contexts, this resource can be used as a study text that undergirds teacher inquiry into disciplinary literacy and varied forms and genres of writing.
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Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family Letters Bring History to Life

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Author: Willow McCormick

Summary: What happens when teachers asks elementary students to conduct research about relatively recent history? In this article, a writing project teacher offers a wonderful model for integrating authentic writing and social studies instruction. By exchanging letters with grandparents, her students build a deeper, personal connection to history while deepening their understanding of the Civil Rights era.
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The Family Writing Project Builds a Learning Community in Connecticut

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Author: Valerie Diane Bolling

Summary: Family writing projects provide opportunities to build relationships among families, students and teachers while strengthening literacy, and are an especially powerful resource for families for whom English is not a first language and who are sometimes unfamiliar with the dominant school culture. This article describes activities, structures and benefits for all in one Connecticut school community.
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Writing Centers: More Than Remediation

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: A resource for educators interested in establishing writing centers or as a guide to professional conversations about the limits and possibilities of writing centers, this article reports on what one teacher learned from her experience establishing a high school writing center. Jennifer Wells, a teacher-consultant with the Central California Writing Project shares both the resources and mentors that helped her in foundational ways along with how she navigated the misconceptions of what writing centers do. This article and Wells’ book can serve as a guide for professional discussions of writing center development.
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30 Ideas for Teaching Writing

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Summary: This resource offers successful strategies contributed by experienced Writing Project teachers. Readers will benefit from this variety of eclectic, classroom-tested techniques. These ideas originated as full-length articles in NWP publications (a link to the full article accompanies each idea below). This resource can be offered to summer institute or school-partnership participants as they collect ideas to enhance their writing instruction or as possible teacher study group topics.
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Portfolios That Make a Difference: A Four-Year Journey

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Author: Judith Ruhana

Summary: In this article, a teacher recaps her journey with portfolio assessment over four years. The writer shows how teachers can and need to adjust their teaching based on their students’ reflections on learning. The article will be of interest to teachers grappling with issues of assessment and grading. It includes rich samples of student writing and useful rubrics.
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Community Connections for English Learners: Changing the World Starts with Just a Few Words

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: This short article illustrates the ways in which a teacher can engage her colleagues in professional learning and provides examples of classroom activities that built connections between ELL students, their parents and their community. Engaging students in creating digital movies to document the history of discrimination along with the impact of the Civil Rights Movement, Katie McKay encouraged students to consider how agents of change have been successful in securing individual rights. This multimodal, multi-disciplinary piece could be helpful for new teacher leaders or those finding themselves seeking ways to create authentic intersections with their colleagues and their English speaking and ELL students built upon respect for all learners.
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Such Stuff as Writing Dreams Are Made Of: Technology in the Writing Retreat

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Author: Michelle Rogge Gannon

Summary: This article describes how to plan and implement a Professional Writing Retreat that supports writers who create multimodal texts, and how to troubleshoot technology-related issues that might arise. Included are guidelines for responding to multimodal writers in ways that support their revision in various media. This resource may be useful for groups who are planning writing retreats at their local sites; additionally the revision guidelines may be adaptable for working with students.
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National Writing Project Offers High-Quality Writing Assessment Services

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Summary: Over an eight-year period, the National Writing Project created and refined the Analytic Writing Continuum (AWC) Assessment System, originally based on the framework of the Six +1 Trait Writing Model (Bellamy, 2005), for research and instructional purposes. Unlike the holistic scores used in most large-scale writing assessments, which offer limited information about how improvements in student writing may be achieved, the AWC provides accurate assessment of both holistic and important performance attributes of writing. Teacher study groups or advanced institutes interested in advancing their knowledge of assessment for writing can use the AWC research brief to draft recommendations and to provide information to school stakeholders.
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Book Review: The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning

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Author: Carl Nagin

Summary: This review of George Hillocks’ 2002 book, The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning, is still a relevant read, providing history and research connected to the issues involved in high stakes state writing tests. The review details the validity and reliability of such tests, the scoring processes, the variety of tests from state to state, and the lack of involvement in teachers who score. Worthy of a teacher book group or a schoolwide reading, this review could be used a gateway to the book written by a distinguished researcher in the field of composition.
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Oakland Writing Project’s Literacy Webinar Series: Reading and Writing in Digital Spaces with a Focus on Revision

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Summary: In partnership with the Oakland School District, the Oakland MI WP developed and hosted an online webinar series focused on revision. Links to all of the webinars, resources, and related readings for the 2015-16 series (Revision: the Heart of Writing) and 2014-15 (Reading and Writing in Digital Spaces) are available here. The strong line-up of presentations gives a deep look into both revision and digital literacy. Individual webinars could be great additions to professional development sessions that have a revision or digital literacy component. Additional workshops and webinars are also posted on this site.
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Bridges: From Personal Writing to the Formal Essay

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Author: James Moffett

Summary: Asserting his belief that “all writing is idea writing,” James Moffett explores the transition from writing personal experience themes to writing formal essays. In the process, he presents a schema that groups different writing types and shows their connections. This essay, and Moffett’s work in general, is a key resource for teachers exploring issues of genre and levels of discourse in writing.
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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 revising 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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Hey Matt! There’s a Reason We Write Like Every Day!

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Author: Molly Toussant

Summary: Students often wonder why they have to write every day. In this piece, with her students as her audience, one teacher outlines and then elaborates the beliefs that guide her teaching of writing. Points of use for this article may be early in summer institutes or school partnerships to guide teachers in examining their own beliefs about teaching writing as well as the value of making their beliefs more transparent to learners. This article may also be ideal for engaging community partners, parents, or administrators in discussions about the work of teachers who teach writing.
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Scaling Up Youth Programs (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Mary Buckelew, Carol Minner, and Paul Rogers

Summary: Youth programs invite teachers to apply their experience in new contexts: after-school and summer work with students, families and their local communities.This NWP Radio show features youth program models from three sites. Teachers who are planning programs for youth may be interested in the following segments: (2:16-5:44) which features a discussion of the overall potential and value of youth programs; (28:30-34) which describes program partnerships with museums, national parks and botanical gardens and the key role of teachers in leading the work; (45:15-48:38) which features a discussion of youth programs that work with migrant students. The show also includes a discussion of how youth programs can contribute to the financial stability of a writing project site.

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Completing the Paradigm Shift to Process Writing: The Need to Lead

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Author: Samuel Totten

Summary: In this article from the NWP Quarterly, Samuel Totten describes the ever slow shift towards teaching writing as a process and some of the barriers teachers and schools face in making the shift. While the article is over a decade old, the issues that keep teachers and school in an assigning rather than teaching writing mode remain as relevant as ever. Teachers exploring their own approach to writing, whether as part of an institute, a one-day workshop, or a study group, could use the article as a jumping off point for discussion of their own teaching of process writing and what structures support or inhibit such an approach.
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Beyond the Five-Paragraph Theme

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Author: Glenda Moss

Summary: After teaching the five-paragraph essay early in her career, Glenda Moss now describes how it locks students into thinking it is the only way to write. By sharing her journey as she moves into teaching college writers, she shares the limitations of the five-paragraph essay, how it inhibited critical thought, and how it restricted access to multiple genres. Because this form of writing is still prevalent, this article could be a helpful segue to help teachers or teacher groups discuss how to approach writing instruction.
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Tech Tools for Teachers, by Teachers: Video Game Design in the Classroom

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Author: Greg Kehring

Summary: What can the writing process teach students and teachers about video game design, and how can game design expand our understanding of writing genres? Read about this middle school teacher who used Gamestar Mechanic to engage his students in digital writing and connected learning. From “creation” to “peer revision” and finally publication on a gaming website where others played the games and offered feedback, he and his students discovered the power technology can have in understanding composing and creative processes and providing new avenues for writing. For teachers who are reluctant to engage in digital work (or who are ready to take some new steps), this article can provide encouragement, guidance, and testimony about how students learn and respond to such experiences.
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Content Area Literacy and Learning: Selected Sources for the 21st Century, An Annotated Bibliography

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Author: Judith Rodby

Summary: Those looking for materials related to content area and cross-disciplinary reading may find this annotated bibliography useful. It is organized around three general categories of research and practice: 1) generalized reading strategies; 2) adapting/applying generalized reading strategies to specific content areas (math, science, history); and 3) content area-specific approaches that focus on genres, discourses, and identities implicit in the ways of knowing in subject areas and disciplines.
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Rural Sites Teachers Inspire Community Connections

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Author: Phip Ross

Summary: This article gives several suggestions for how rural teachers can involve parents in literacy projects that impact student learning and engagement. Successful strategies include “parent-teacher-student journals.”
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Inviting Parents in: Expanding Our Community Base to Support Writing

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Author: Cathy Fleischer and Kimberly Coupe Pavlock

Summary: Looking for ideas for ways to reach out to parents to help them understand why we teach writing in the ways we do along with sharing successful strategies for how they might help their children or teens with writing? What about how to build awareness of connections between high school and college writing? This article, filled with research-based strategies and examples for those seeking to facilitate such experiences, also makes a case for how successful workshops with parents can help them become “informed, knowledgeable readers of educational reform and potential advocates for change” that may supplant what they are aware of from media or legislative mandates.
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The Five-Paragraph Theme Redux

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Author: Elizabeth Rorschach

Summary: What are the constraints of teaching the five-paragraph essay? Rorschach argues that its preset format can lull students into nonthinking conformity and questions whether struggling writers need such a format to be successful. Dive into this provocative piece, complete with student writing excerpts.
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Negotiating Academic Discourse

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Author: Linda Flower

Summary: This report discusses the difficulties experienced by many college freshmen as they seek to negotiate the transition from a writing process based on comprehension and response to a more fully rhetorical, constructive process. Summarizing a series of research studies on student responses to a reading-to-write task, the report concludes that the deficit model (“lack” of skills) and developmental model (“stages” of growth) are incorrect characterization of the transition between these two processes. Instead, the report supports a discourse community model, which views students as attempting to negotiate their entry into academic discourse by learning the conventions, expectations, etc. expected by this community. Although this study took place in the 80s, the report still offers important food for thought as teachers work with students negotiating the academic transition. The report would be useful in contexts related to high school-college transition.
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Professional Writing Retreat Handbook

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Authors: Joseph Check, Tom Fox, Kathleen O’Shaughnessy, and Carol Tateishi

Summary: Support teachers to share their work through publication! This comprehensive handbook helps facilitators plan a Professional Writing Retreat from beginning to end. The guide includes detailed suggestions for the design of retreat agendas and activities, as well as a list of additional resources and short articles. It also includes ideas for creating an anthology of participants’ writing with the support of the group.
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Curating a Writing Museum: A Protocol

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Summary: This protocol introduces an activity that professional development facilitators can use to guide participants in creating a “museum gallery walk” to study their students’ writing. The activity would work well after participants have experimented with new writing instruction in their classrooms and presumes that participants have student writing for collegial review that they have brought to the table. This resource can lead to rich discussions about what students have accomplished and can accomplish as writers. The activity can also be adapted easily to PD with a focus on teachers as writers prompting them to examine their own writing in similar ways.
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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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National Survey on New Forms of Writing

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Summary: This national survey (2009) looks at public opinion on the importance of writing for work and personal life and how well we are preparing young Americans to write. Along with expressing dissatisfaction with their own writing ability and with the job high schools are currently doing to train students to write clearly, a broad majority of respondents want public education to place more emphasis on teaching students to write well. As sites leverage professional development offerings or seek partnerships with schools, they might use this resource in arguing for including new forms of writing in schools and how those might be addressed in instructional planning and the professional growth of teachers.
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Students as Writers and Composers: Workshopping in the Digital Age

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Author: Troy Hicks and Franki Sibberson

Summary: In this collaborative conversation between former middle school teacher and current National Writing Project site director Troy Hicks and third-grade teacher Franki Sibberson, they consider a range of teaching and learning practices that “guide students to consider themselves multimodal text-makers who combine words, images, sounds,and gestures” as they compose. In the process, they consider key issues related to writing and technology, including redefining “text” and assessing digital writing. A link to the audio of their conversation is included.
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Revision and Writing Groups in the First Grade: Finding the Black Ninja Fish

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Author: Joanna Franklin

Summary: After her experience participating in a writing group in her NWP summer institute, this teacher/author developed an instructional sequence in order to teach revision in her first grade class. She begins in September with students rereading their writing, advances through Author’s Chair and the creation of a class set of criteria for excellent writing, and by March has her students successfully working in writing groups and revising their writing. This work affirmed her belief that if first-graders are given appropriate support and structure, they are capable of deep thinking and learning. Through this article, early grade teachers in any professional development forum may see possibilities for change in their writing instruction.
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Heart and Voice: A Digital Storytelling Journey

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Author: Kerry Ballast

Summary: Kerry Ballast’s essay tells the story of how she transformed her teaching and her relationship with her students and technology. doing what she knows best as a teacher of writing while, at the same time, learning from and with her tech-savvy students. Together they transform their early memoir writing into multi-modal digital stories. Ballast’s story could be an inspirational piece to read and discuss at a workshop, summer institute or with teacher inquiry group. It’s a personal teaching story of risk-taking and the rewards that come from engaging technolgoy while trusting the process to celebrate the voices and lives of students. The link in the text to Story Center, a site that offers additional resources including webinars on digital storytelling.
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The Concept of a Writing Center

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Author: Muriel Harris

Summary: Interested in establishing a writing center at your institution? This resource describes all aspects of running a writing center and reviews the many issues to be considered by anyone seeking to establish one, from developing program goals to funding to staffing and staff training. Useful as the focus for a study group, advanced institute or program development meeting, this resource can serve to focus an inquiry into how teachers might take the idea of a writing center back to their schools.
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Seeing Academic Writing with a New “I”

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Author: Rebecca Feldbusch

Summary: How often do we tell our students (or ourselves) that making personal connections will strengthen their writing, and yet when it comes to academic writing warn against employing the evil “I”? In this essay, Rebecca Feldbusch pushes back against the strong admonitions of teachers across the disciplines to avoid first person for fear that, in spite of evidence to the contrary, they will be scored harshly on high stakes testing. As part of a professional development session or study group, this essay could provoke productive dialogue and inquiry around grammar, conventions, and other long-held beliefs about writing.
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Getting Real: Authenticity in Writing Prompts

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Author: Patricia Slagle

Summary: Are you excited about the idea of giving your students an authentic audience for their writing? If so, you will find this description of authentic writing prompts in a high school class a valuable resource. While the strategies and examples are drawn directly from a high school classroom, the approach to sharing the students’ writings with the intended audience, as well as the discussion about what happens when the intended audience does or does not respond, is applicable across all grade levels.
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“Out of Our Experience: Useful Theory,” Excerpt from Teacher Research for Better Schools

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Author: Sheila Clawson, Marion S. MacLean, Marian M. Mohr, Mary Ann Nocerino, Courtney Rogers, and Betsy Sanford

Summary: Teacher-researchers detail their inquiry journeys, highlighting theories that influenced or explained their thinking about practice, about teacher and student learning, and about school change. Useful in inquiry-focused contexts, to demonstrate connections between theory and practice, and as models of how teachers can use theory to articulate their own journeys of discovery in teacher research.
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Narrative Writing Works Magic with Children Learning English

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Author: Lisa Ummel-Ingram

Summary: Lisa Ummel-Ingram tells the story of engaging her third graders in creating books that honored their lives, language and cultures through storyboarding, sharing, conferencing, gathering information, and illustrating. Student ownership, confidence and language development extended into subsequent years as students saw themselves as authors and learners. This piece provides many details and examples of what worked as well as challenges along the way. It could be a valuable resource for elementary teachers or workshop leaders looking for specific ideas and support for implementing workshop approaches and culturally responsive teaching with language learners.
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Long-Term English Learners Writing Their Stories

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Author: Lynn Jacobs

Summary: Long-term English Learners – those who typically have attended school for at least seven years–speak English well but are often considered below grade level. Because they assume many adult responsibilities in their out-of-school lives, including household duties and translating for family and others, they present opportunities for teachers of writing. Secondary classroom teachers and those planning and providing professional development focused on writing for English Learners will discover several effective strategies in this article. Jacobs describes the process and outcomes of working with her students to publish a book of stories and poems. The authentic nature of writing about their lives, together with models of published texts, motivated a desire to write well and boosted their confidence as writers.
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Working with a Mandated Curriculum

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Author: Kelly Lock

Summary: Do you ever feel as if we live in a perpetual state of top-down, mandated pedagogy? How are classroom teachers responding to calls to act on these directives? This is the question Kelly Lock tries to answer as her school district orders an abrupt midyear mandated transition and required change to the writers’ workshop model.This article could be a valuable piece for educators who wish to discuss where we each draw the proverbial “line in the sand.” When do we give the new mandate a whole-hearted try and when do we adapt to include strategies for the benefit of our students?
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Incorporating Multigenre Writing in the Social Studies Classroom

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Author: Kari Scheidel

Summary: Noting the gap between the level of sophistication of her students’ writing in writing workshop and in social studies, teacher Kari Scheidel reflected upon her teaching practice asking “How do I use writing effectively in social studies?” and “How do I find time for it?” In this article she shares how she developed inspiring ideas for having students practice multi-genre writing to learn in social studies. In the process, she also shares samples of student writing in American History and suggests how students’ individual and collaboratively authored pieces inspire their creative engagement at the same time that they build their subject area knowledge.
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Assessment in a Culture of Inquiry: The Story of the National Writing Project’s Analytic Writing Continuum

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Author: Sherry Swain and Paul LeMahieu

Summary: This article details the journey of teachers and researchers who worked together to create the NWP’s Analytic Writing Continuum (AWC), an approach to writing assessment that is locally contextualized yet linked to a common national framework and standards of performance. In addition to demonstrating the AWC’s great potential for classroom use, the authors describe the multiple ways NWP sites have utilized the AWC to conduct research, to re-envision large-scale writing assessments, to develop effective professional development, and to mentor teachers in further development of their own writing. They also provide illustrations of how the AWC enabled students to discuss and iterate ways to improve their writing. This article, or excerpts from it, may prove useful during summer institute or teacher PD discussions of the most effective and in-depth ways to both scaffold and evaluate writing.
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“I’m a Writer”: Essays on the Writing Marathon and Why We Write

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Author: Richard Louth

Summary: This brief piece describes a book that puts writing–both teachers’ and students’–at the center. The first part focuses on writing marathon how-tos and offers guidelines, planning and facilitation resources, and teachers’ anecdotal experiences of writing in community. The second part of the book includes essays by teachers about why they write and how their own writing impacts their teaching. Further resources are included on this page, along with purchasing information for the book.
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Technology in the English Language Learner Classroom?

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Author: Judith Rance-Roney

Summary: How can new technologies foster the love of writing for students in the English language learning classroom? How can our integration of technology narrow the digital divide? Sites or schools looking for specific ideas and strategies to frame a conference workshop or PD session might easily draw from this collaborative, pre-conference Artifact Rotation to sample four technologies—digital storytelling, blogging, podcasting, and Google Docs—enabling attendees to experience how to put students at the center as independent, engaged learner and writers.
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Improving Students’ Academic Writing: Building a Bridge to Success

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Author: Juliet Wahleithner, Jayne Marlink

Summary: This report would be of interest to those embarking on college-preparatory reading/writing initiatives; it describes the statistically significant impact of a statewide professional development program designed to improve students’ understanding and ability to write academically in high school, and specifically in grades 11 and 12. The authors clearly lay out the study’s purpose, methods, and guiding frameworks, including one for forming sustained professional learning communities.
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Writing As a Mode of Thinking

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Author: Danling Fu and Jane Hansen

Summary: What’s missing in writing instruction that focuses on organization, vocabulary and sentence structure? What is the role of thinking in writing, and how can we make thinking visible in writing? This article, which could provide a useful focus for a study group or other professional development session, captures a discussion of writing as a mode of learning and the role that evaluation plays in writing across the disciplines.
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Reflections on an Online Teachers Writing Group

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney

Summary: After participating in an NWP program, teachers may be eager to continue writing and yet may find themselves consumed by other obligations related to teaching and their personal lives. This thoughtful article offers concrete, constructive protocols for sustaining a writing group online as well as authentic models of collegial response and reflection upon the implications of teacher writers experiences for their own clasroom student writing groups.
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Know ELLs: Support for Teachers of English Language Learners

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Author: Great Valley Writing Project

Summary: This Ning, a social website/blog developed and maintained by several teacher leaders from the Grand Valley Writing Project in Central California, focuses on issues related to teaching English Language Learners. Know ELLs is a site for dialogue, but it also contains specific strategies for teaching bilingual/bicultural students. It is also a great example of site and program sustainability: the website was created in 2010 as an outgrowth of work with NWP’s English Language Learners Network, yet it remains an active site for NWP teachers from all over the country. Site teacher leaders looking to maintain momentum after the conclusion of an institute or other extended PD opportunity, would be well served looking at this site to see what is possible.
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Honoring Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

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Author: Michelle Crotteau

Summary: As teachers we often struggle to find ways to honor our students’ home dialects while still preparing them to take high stakes writing tests requiring the use of Standard English. In this piece, the author describes her three-pronged approach within a Writing Strategies class to work with students in danger of not receiving diplomas because they had failed the state test. Students developed linguistic and mechanical fluency by speaking and writing about their interests (e.g., hunting), drawing upon their Appalachian English dialect, and developing knowledge about how to recognize audience-appropriate situations for employing both Standard English and their own dialect. Lots of examples of student writing coupled with her own rationales and experience make this a useful piece for workshops, study groups or professional development focused on culturally relevant practices within a high stakes testing environment.
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The Family Writing Project: No More Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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Author: Arthur Kelly

Summary: Describing the family writing project that he developed and led, Arthur Kelly explains that such programs offer families the rare opportunity to come together and create a community of writers: “As in National Writing Project summer institutes, participants in family writing projects discuss ideas and issues that are important to them. They work together on activities, write extensively, and respond to each other’s work.” Useful for teachers exploring program models to support community literacy, this article includes several writing prompts that work in family writing contexts as well as a rationale for why family writing programs build community and honor writing as they honor writers’ lives.
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Protest and Student Voice

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Author: Kathleen Hicks Rowley

Summary: This article describes how a teacher introduces her students to liberatory practices and protest movements as a framework for year-round readings, writings and curriculum. Based on the understanding that part of a teacher’s role is to help students make connections to moral responsibility within the world, the teacher/author designs curriculum that includes a classic novel like Lord of the Flies with its themes of injustice and places it alongside a study of trauma and mass incarceration. Reading/writing connection ideas like this are relevant to educators seeking curriculum that explores critical literacy and concepts of injustice. Community youth writing projects could also use this resource.
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Formative Assessment as a Compass: Looking at Student Work as an Intentional Part of Ongoing Professional Development

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Author: Beth Rimer and Terri McAvoy

Summary: This e-book is a practical resource for teachers as they think about formative assessment in relation to writing instruction. Using questions posed by the authors and links within the text, a facilitator can use this guide to help teachers think about the role of assessment in their classrooms and to assist them as they consider approaches that can be informative about student writing growth. Available through iTunes as a multi-media iBook for iOS and Mac users, the e-book is available as a PDF below.
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Wise Eyes: Prompting for Meaningful Student Writing

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Author: Mary Ann Smith and Sherry Swain

Summary: How can teachers create effective prompts that motivate students to show what they can do as writers? Focusing on purpose, audience, authenticity, and accessibility, the authors of this short book analyze existing prompts and provide guidelines for teachers in developing their own prompts for different modes of writing. They also consider adaptations for culturally or linguistically diverse learners. Excerpts from this book may be particularly useful in school-based professional development partnerships, as well as in teacher inquiry focused on assessing student work.
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Improving Assignments With the Writing Assignment Framework

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Author: National Writing Project and Mary Ann Smith

Summary: Featuring a range of protocols, tools, and student samples, the Writing Assignment Framework and Overview was designed as a resource for use in planning instruction and professional development. Growing out of work NWP did with the Authentic Intellectual Work framework, these tools aim to support teachers in all disciplines to think critically about the effectiveness of their assignments in supporting intellectual work that “is similar to the type of problem solving that adults face in their everyday lives and helps prepare students to be critical, analytical thinkers.” At page 10 in the document, teachers share designs for professional development sessions using the tools and forms.
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The Landscape of Digital Writing

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Author: National Writing Project, with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks

Summary: This first chapter of Because Digital Writing Matters explores the new digital landscape for writing, examining both the complexities and challenges of digital writing for teachers and students, and unpacking what is necessary for educators and policymakers to understand in order to develop and sustain effective digital writing programs and curricula. In addressing myths and realities involved in teaching, learning and assessing digital writing practices, the authors offer numerous examples of rich and integrated ways educators have found to meet state standards through connected learning and leveraging the ability to create and share ideas, resources, and information across digital spaces. This chapter offers perspectives and background that may be useful in promoting conversations related to navigating the changing roles of teachers and students in response to the changing digital landscape.
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Local Site Research Initiative Final Report: Impact of NWP Professional Development on Student Learning

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Summary: This report on the 2004-2006 results of Local Sites Research Initiative studies demonstrates the positive impact of NWP professional development on student learning. Conducted at a variety of sites around the nation, these studies consistently showed greater improvement in writing on every measured attribute among students taught by NWP-trained teachers, when compared with students taught by teachers who were not NWP-trained. These results may be useful in making a case for NWP work in your school or district.
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On Becoming Change Writers

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Author: Pamela Bodnar and Gail Desler

Summary: For sites interested in creating opportunities to use writing and technology to connect students, teachers and community partners to explore intersections around issues of social injustice and to empower them to take social action, this curated collection of videos, images, and written words of children and their teachers provides a host of powerful stories and resources to inspire and begin to plan. The rich collection of resources demonstrate what it means for learners to have spaces and tools that enable them to use multimodal writing for inquiry and to “find a place in the world,” to connect historical events of social injustice to experiences of today and their own lives and identities.
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Looking at Student Writing as Part of Professional Development

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Author: Bruce Penniman, Stephanie Joyce, Karen Smith and Julie Webb

Summary: In this NWP webinar, several leaders from the Area3 (UC-Davis) and Western Massachusetts Writing Projects discuss their experiences offering professional development to high needs elementary schools. While the site leaders offer helpful insights and perspectives on the development of the program experience, the primary focus is on the facilitation of the professional development and the resources/protocols used to assist teachers as they look at and discuss student writing. A fantastic set of resources for guiding collaborative review and discussion of student writing, that include all of the protocols shared as part of the webinar, are linked in several google folders.
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The Politics of Correction: How We Can Nurture Students in Their Writing and Help Them Learn the Language of Power

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Author: Linda Christensen

Summary: This brief yet powerful article by Linda Christensen is sure to encourage thoughtful and extended professional dialogue among educators grappling with dilemmas about students’ home and school language. Christensen describes practical strategies for honoring students’ home language while also helping them achieve greater command of the gatekeeping language of power, standard English. This article would work equally well as an introductory reading in an extended professional development institute or as a central focus reading in a shorter workshop.
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Writing and Reading in the Classroom

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Author: James Britton

Summary: Within this foundational piece, Britton describes examples of K-university classroom practice, as well as theory and research supporting learning environments where reading, writing, and talk become catalysts for communication, collaboration and learning. The depth and breadth of this chapter might lead to some intriguing opportunities for study groups to draw parallels and contrasts between 1987 and today; to historically and theoretically situate practices such as dialogue journals, free-writing/free-reading, collaborative learning, and real world learning; and to explore further suggestions for teachers and administrators.
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Thank You for Sharing: Developing Students’ Social Skills to Improve Peer Writing Conferences

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Author: Keri Franklin

Summary: In this article, Keri Franklin provides ideas and methods to prepare student authors for meaningful peer conferences which promote social talk in students’ responses to peers’ writings. Students benefit from peer conferences by receiving ideas from an audience of peers and more feedback than one teacher can provide. This article is ideal for a teacher study group examining effective techniques for writing groups or peer revision/conferencing, as well as for a professional reading prior to writing-group time in a summer institute.
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The Birth and Death of Portfolio Assessment

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Author: Pauline Sahakian

Summary: Although this short article is ostensibly about portfolio assessment, the author warns that promising teaching practices will only endure if mentors facilitate ongoing conversations about the hows, whens, and whys of practice. In other words regular practices cannot be taken for granted; mentors and facilitators cannot assume new leaders will simply take up time-honored practices.
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Teacher Discoveries and Connected Learning

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Author: Joe Dillon

Summary: How does digital writing shift our teaching? This blog post describes how multiple NWP teachers have applied Connected Learning principles to their classrooms. Hyperlinks within the piece take readers to additional details about each teacher’s work. From discovering how blogging can inform writing instruction to enacting paperless classrooms, readers can come away with innovative ways to integrate technology. Any site professional development or summer institute session about integrated digital instruction could use this resource to explore new strategies and tools.
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Writing Spaces: Expanding the One-Story House

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Author: Elizabeth Leiknes

Summary: Leiknes encourages a fresh perspective on how we approach writing as a process with young authors. Using her own home as an organizing metaphor, she points out ways to clear the cobwebs in prewriting, to try a fresh coat of paint when drafting, to collect tools of the trade for revision, to rid ourselves of sludge in editing, and finally to expand beyond a one-story house when writing for additional audiences. The teacher-author recognizes that these approaches enable her to dig deeper into her own processes of writing as she guides her elementary students. Ideal as a professional study piece to introduce writing as a process, or for an early reading in a summer writing institute.
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CRWP: Formative Assessment

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Summary: This resource from NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) features two strategies that teachers can use to assess students’ source-based arguments. The “Using Sources Tool” focuses on the quality of students’ claims and how well they use evidence to support them. The “Claim, Evidence, Reasoning Protocol” can help students and teachers see how well they have developed source-based arguments. This page also includes student writing that has been annotated through the lens of the “Using Sources Tool” to illustrate how teachers can use the tool in their classrooms. These assessment strategies can be useful for teachers in any content area who are looking for effective ways to analyze students’ evidence-based arguments. Teacher study groups can examine and apply these two tools and discuss their impact.
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Resources for Educators of English Language Learners: An Annotated Bibliography

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Author: Judith Rance-Roney and Lynn Jacobs

Summary: With the goal of collecting “diverse perspectives in the field of teaching English language learners and to provide audiences with readings that will involve, inform, and inspire.” Judith Rance-Roney and Lynn Jacobs created this 41 page comprehensive annotated bibliography. Of special interest to classroom teachers of English language learners, teacher inquiry groups, and professional development leaders, this rich collection contains many direct links to the original resources.
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A Thousand Writers Writing: Seeking Change through the Radical Practice of Writing as a Way of Being

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Author: Robert Yagelski

Summary: Have you ever found yourself having to justify teachers’ writing as a key, non-negotiable component of your site’s professional development? If so, this article can help ground you in the importance and value of the act of writing. Yagelski proposes a pedagogy of “writing as a way of being” and describes how the approach can encourage awareness, reflection, and inquiry in ways that product-focused approaches may not. Yagelski’s full vision–that writing is more than communication, and that our lives and thinking live within writing–will be helpful to any teacher inquiry group or educator/leader teams who are working together to construct their own philosophical stance about writing: what it is, what it does, and what it should look like in classrooms. This piece will also be an invaluable resource for any teachers needing to justify the practice of having students write without being directly tied to the day’s objective, goal, or standard.
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Boys’ Literacy Camp Sets a Standard

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Summary: When adolescent readers can read, but won’t read, how can teachers get them engaged? Teacher-consultants in Maine created a summer wilderness camp where students must read in order to do things they want to do. For example, they had to read about canoe safety before piloting a canoe, or study how to edit a film digitally in the process of making one about their adventures. The goal was to making reading and writing real and necessary. This idea would be readily adaptable for summer youth programs.
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Community Literacy: Can Writing Make a Difference?

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Author: Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Wayne C. Peck

Summary: This resource describes the process emerging from a Community Literacy Collaborative (CLC) initiative that enabled youth to use inquiry and writing to enter into a policy discussion about increases in school suspension and for their university mentors to enter into the discourse of urban teens. The approach is designed to promote intercultural discourse across race, class, gender, age, and economics barriers. Remarkably current (the school to prison pipeline comes to mind), this piece provides real world examples undergirded by a strong theoretical rationale and could be a useful resource for those framing community-based projects aimed at advocacy and civic engagement.
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