Teacher as Writer

Teachers Writing for Publication: Tips from a Teacher, Author, and Editor

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Author: Louann Reid

Summary: Written by a former journal editor, this article provides advice about developing teacher voice and in-depth information about getting published in a range of professional forums. The piece offers useful content for writing retreats, and other events/activities related to teachers’ professional writing.
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“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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Writing In the Community: The New Orleans Writing Marathon as Model

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Authors: Richard Louth

Summary: This article explores the history and foundations of the New Orleans-style writing marathon. Richard Louth describes what it’s like to lead a writing marathon; he provides tips, insights, writing prompts, and writing samples that illustrate how a community can be guided to write together over time and space. This piece is a good introduction for teacher leaders who are thinking about ways to support teachers as writers, often a transformative dimension of a Writing Project experience.
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Becoming Your Own Expert—Teachers as Writers

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Author: Tim Gillespie

Summary: In this brief article, the author argues that teachers need to write so that their teaching of writing can be “based on knowledge we have earned ourselves…. We don’t need to give up our curriculum to experts. We can just watch ourselves write.” In recounting what he knows as a result of being a writer, he provides a great resource for teachers in summer institutes, writing groups, or professional development series that could be used for discussion or as an impetus for participants to create their own “what I know about writing because I am a writer” piece.
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Annotated Bibliography for NWP Professional Writing Retreats

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Summary: The purpose of this annotated bibliography is to showcase pieces of writing that were developed at NWP Professional Writing Retreats. From pieces on teacher practice to books about the teaching of writing, this bibliography has something of interest for every teacher. The range of genres highlights the kind of writing that is supported at Professional Writing Retreats, and offers inspiration for sites interested in creating their own forums to support teachers as writers.
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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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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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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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Expressive Writing in the Science Classroom

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Author: John Dorroh

Summary: In this account of expressive writing in the science classroom, teacher John Dorroh introduces writing to build students’ curiosity, inviting them to wonder, to ask questions, and to imagine. In the process Dorroh wrestles with the issue of assessment and also demonstrates the importance of teacher-as-writer as he writes along with his students.
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“Why I Write” Resources

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Summary: The “Why I Write” series highlights people who write as professionals across disciplines including science, geology, music, environmental studies and education among others. This collection includes a few short videos that accompany the articles and is especially useful in connecting writing in school to the real world purpose of writing in various disciplines and occupations.
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The Work of the National Writing Project: Social Practices in a Network Context

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Author: Ann Lieberman and Diane Wood

Summary: Is it really “magic” that occurs in Writing Project-related professional development? The authors of this report argue that Writing Projects have visible cultural features that lead to the building of successful professional learning communities. Ask teachers to read and discuss this report after they have worked together over time. Their conversation will support them in demystifying the NWP “magic” and unpacking the cultural features that make for successful professional learning communities as a basis for planning their own facilitation of professional learning experiences.
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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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Writing Project Teachers as Writers and Bloggers

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Author: Grant Faulkner

Summary: This article highlights NWP teachers/consultants who use blogs as a tool for inquiry and reflection and as a way to converse with a community of educators about their classrooms, their pedagogy, and educational reform. Teachers reading this piece can see the myriad purposes of creating a blog, and also receive tips on how to begin. This article could be used during a summer institute or school-year professional development series to support and inspire teacher and student blogging.
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Why Retreat? Nurturing Teacher Confidence, Creativity, and Camaraderie

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Author: Kristy Lauricella Dawson

Summary: This article includes several ideas on recruitment, resource gathering, and scheduling that can lead to successful writing retreats, as well as a discussion of the value of bringing together colleagues to work on their writing over time. Through this example, retreat planners can see how nurturing teacher creativity leads to better classroom instruction.
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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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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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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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Pre-Retreat Coaching Leads to a More Successful Writing Retreat

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Author: Rebeca García-González

Summary: This article describes how pre-retreat coaching can be organized to deepen the effectiveness of a Professional Writing Retreat. This scaffolding prior to the event can be designed to help participants refine, adjust, or modify their writing plans and help build an early connection to a veteran site leader or retreat facilitator. Included are a brief list of pre-retreat coaching ideas and an example of an email to a writing retreat participant.
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I Teach, (I Feel), I Write: Professional Writing with Emotion

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Author: Joe Check

Summary: “If feeling emotion is part of working in schools, how does emotion fit into writing about that work?” This essay considers the reality of teachers’ emotional involvement with their work and how to deal with that in their professional writing. A useful reading for writing groups and their facilitators, it considers three common struggles that many educators face when writing professionally – writing about a situation that they are frustrated by or angry about, trying to remain removed from the writing as a way to maintain objectivity, and being so passionate about topics that they struggle to identify a specific audience.
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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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A Weekend of Writing Isn’t a Weekend of Work

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Author: Cheryl North-Coleman

Summary: This article describes ideas for recruiting for professional writing retreats, shaping the retreat events, and providing necessary equipment and materials. Most of all, it reminds retreat planners and facilitators of the importance and centrality of time to write.
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Writing in Good Company in New Orleans (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Richard Louth, Kim Stafford, Susan Martens, and Tracy Cunningham

Summary: In this NWP Radio show, teacher leaders from the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project discuss their writing marathon-focused advanced institute, a model of a large-scale writing marathon that draws attendees from across the county. Guests on the radio show share information that can be useful for designing local events. They emphasize the ways that marathons inspire writing while also celebrating local place and developing community among writers.
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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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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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A Year of Action Research: An Adaptable Model

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Author: Lucinda Juarez

Summary: This advanced institute program overview from the Lake Michigan WP could be a valuable resource for any sites looking to add an action research/teacher research component to their programming. The overview outlines program goals, objectives, key components, and expectations for participants, as well as a detailed and helpful breakdown of the focus for each of the academic year meetings. This short overview is an example of how to concisely convey the scope and desired outcomes of a program.
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A Guide for Writing Marathon Leaders

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Authors: Richard Louth

Summary: This in-depth guide, drawn from the book “I’m a Writer”: Essays on the Writing Marathon and Why We Write, covers just about everything needed to organize and run a successful writing marathon. In a writing marathon, small groups write and share their writing as they move through a setting such as a landscape, a city neighborhood, a museum. These events–for teachers, community members, and/or students– can inspire writing while also developing community among writers and celebrating local spaces.

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Stories of Impact: The On-Site Work of the New York City Writing Project

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Author: Elaine Avidon, et al.

Summary: This e-book includes powerful chapters written by teacher consultants about the individual and collective impact of their work and its alignment to their site’s mission and beliefs about professional learning. Reading select chapters would support fellows in imagining different kinds of school coaching; alternatively, the book offers a powerful model for site leaders who want to pull together leaders to collectively evaluate and write about the impact of their site’s programs.
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Teacher-Writers: Then, Now, and Next

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Author: Robert Yagelski, Anne Elrod Whitney, James Fredricksen, and Troy Hicks

Summary: Why should teachers write about their work? What is the evolution of this movement? The authors identify the teacher-writer as an activist, advocate, and knowledge creator. When teachers write and take on these various roles, they assert agency and authority in an age of teacher exclusion and blame.
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Teaching in Two Worlds: Critical Reflection and Teacher Change in the Writing Center

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Author: Dale Jacobs

Summary: This article is a model of how one teacher used inquiry to revise his classroom practice. The author explains how his experience working in a college writing center led him to revise his approach to classroom teaching, leading him to a pedagogy that was more student-centered and focused on individuals. He describes a process of “productive disruption” in his thinking about his practices, followed by critical reflection that led to change. This article would be useful in a professional development context focused on teacher inquiry or reflective practice, especially early in the discussions, as an example of this approach in context. It could also be recommended to writing center tutors who move into the classroom, to demonstrate how their skills as tutors can effectively translate into the classroom.
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Designing a Writing Retreat and Building Site Leadership on a Small Budget

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Author: Nancy Mellin McCracken & Barbara Smith

Summary: This article depicts the Kent State University Writing Project’s journey into the development and sustainability of a Professional Writing Retreat which also spurred new site leadership. Their experience brought forward important details about what really matters for successful retreats.
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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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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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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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Lessons from Tony: Betrayal and Trust in Teacher Research

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Author: Sharon Miller

Summary: In a compelling narrative laced with details of a teacher’s relationship as a co-researcher with Tony, a student in her class of seniors with special needs,
and her own ethical struggles as a teacher-researcher, Sharon Miller provides insights into questions such as ownership of data, and the relationship between vulnerable populations and consent forms. The honest and respectful portrayal of her own experience provides lots of fodder for teacher inquiry communities to grapple with, whether students participate as informants or co-researchers.

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Why Science Teachers Should Write

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Author: Marsha Ratzel

Summary: One science teacher explains the importance of students writing to learn in science and science teachers writing to clarify their teaching. Although it is short, it gives examples of student work and is a powerful piece to share with science teachers.
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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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Window Sill: Teacher-Researchers and the Study of Writing Process

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Author: Marian M. Mohr

Summary: For those new to facilitating teacher-research, this article provides insight into the process, specifically how teachers approach research, the potential for research to change teaching practice, and implications for teacher education. It’s written as an introduction to a collection of research reports on the writing processes of students, grades one through twelve, and prepared by the participants in a teacher-researcher seminar.
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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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Diving with Whales: Five Reasons for Practitioners to Write for Publication

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Author: Grace Hall McEntee

Summary: The author offers five compelling reasons for teachers to write for publication, including the opportunity to understand our teaching practice and to inform the public. This brief article would work well as a resource for educators who are beginning to explore writing about their work. The article could be sent in advance of a professional writing retreat as well.
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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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Ten Prompts to Help Turn Your Demonstration into an Article

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Author: Art Petersen

Summary: This brief list of prompts is designed to help teachers think about turning teaching demonstrations into professional articles. The prompts could help launch a writing retreat or encourage teachers to move towards publishing their classroom inquiry projects.
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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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