Teacher Inquiry

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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From Young Writers Camp to Young Adult Literacy Labs: CT Connecticut-Fairfield Finds New Ways to Revitalize Youth Programs

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Author: Susanna Steeg

Summary: The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield’s adaptation of its traditional Young Writers Camp to a series of Young Adult Literacy Labs (YALLs) provides food for thought for site leaders designing new or considering changes to existing youth programming. The primary change was a move away from two large general writing camps to a dozen smaller genre-specific camps. The change, while attracting more participants, also allowed the site to integrate the camps and the Invitational Institute in some innovative ways, including creating opportunities for camp instructors to present workshops that engaged teachers and young writers in writing together. Importantly, the camps provide the site with a robust revenue line that fully supports the YALLs, provides student scholarships, and generates income for other site activities.
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What Data-Driven Instruction Should Really Look Like

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Author: Kathie Marshall

Summary: This article argues for a teacher-led collaborative inquiry approach to data analysis, as opposed to seeing data analysis as a compliance process. Potentially a conversation starter for how teachers can use inquiry processes to regain control over instruction and improve student achievement.
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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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Teachers, Writers, Leaders

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Author: Ann Lieberman and Linda Friedrich

Summary: How do teacher leaders work for change within their own schools? What can we learn from writing project teachers’ vignettes that describe challenges as well as features of success? This article, illuminating findings from the NWP Vignette Study, could be useful to read in an institute focused on teacher leadership, collaboration, or advocating for school reform. In addition, new leaders who are supporting colleagues as mentors and thinking partners will find ideas and inspiration for their work.
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Sustaining Work with New Teachers

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Summary: Sites and/or educators interested in supporting early career teachers may find this resource useful: a description of how several sites developed and integrated their programs for new teachers—which were originally supported by NWP New Teacher Initiative grants—into the ongoing work of the site. Whether you are considering starting small (Southern Nevada: Study Groups), going all in (Houston: Intensive Summer Institute), or experimenting somewhere in the middle (Delaware: Workshop Series), there is something here to help you devise a program that can provide the support, collaboration, and collegiality new teachers need to thrive during their early professional years.
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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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Citizens in the Making—Inspiring Students to Engage in Transformative Civic Learning

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Guests: Danielle Filipiak, Ben Kirshner, Ellen Middaugh, Nicole Mirra, and Paul Oh

Summary: View this rich webinar about how and why preparing students for youth participatory action research (YPAR) leads to civic engagement, community improvement, learning, and literacy (cue the video to 16:52). Through this inquiry process, students gain an understanding of their communities and then can advocate for change.
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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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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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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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The Challenge of Change: Growth Through Inquiry at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project

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Author: Susan Connell Biggs, Kevin Hodgson, and Bruce Penniman

Summary: This National Writing Project monograph describes the inquiry process undertaken by the leaders at the Western Massachusetts Writing Project when the site faced radical changes and challenges in funding and leadership. In addition to the narrative, it includes a variety of useful resources and tools for engaging in collaborative such as identity mapping, inquiry models, site leadership job descriptions, and more.
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Continuity Linked to Site Mission & Local Context: The Philadelphia Writing Project’s Leadership Inquiry Seminar

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Author: Teri Hines, Bruce Bowers, and Vanessa Brown

Summary: A vital resource for anyone planning an inquiry-based leadership program, this NWP monograph details the strategies and practices that define the Philadelphia Writing Project’s Leadership Inquiry Seminar, a yearlong institute designed to support the professional growth and reflective practice of urban educators as they examine their own pathwyas to leadership.
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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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“Mizzou Men” Explore Their Roles as Men in the Elementary School Classroom

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Summary: Focusing on an inquiry group comprised of men who teach in elementary schools, this article discusses the unique issues faced by this group and how an inquiry process can support them in addressing those issues and sharing successful strategies. It includes the reading/viewing protocol used by the group to examine various publications they read over the course of their inquiry.
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Redesigning the Summer Institute

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Author: Tonya Perry

Summary: The first NWP Invitational Summer Institute in 1974 established a model professional development experience, the basic principles and elements of which have been sustained at local writing project sites over the decades since. But even the best program design invites constant evaluation and adaptation. Reflection is a hallmark of our work and attention to both new opportunities and the changing needs of teacher participants is a vital part of what makes NWP programs so successful. Noting three challenges that emerged over time in relation to their traditional ISI model; timing, teaching demonstrations, and sustaining TCs active engagement with the site beyond the institute, the Colorado State University Writing Project adapted their Invitational Institute’s program design to be responsive to both the challenges and opportunities they faced. This reflective piece is of particular interest to site leaders facing similar circumstances who are interested in following the theory of action and process that CSUWP followed in adapting and redesigning this core program.
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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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Creating a Culture of Inquiry Through the Use of Model Lessons

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Author: Suzanne Linebarger

Summary: Suzanne Linebarger, associate director of the Northern California Writing Project, describes how her site conducts an inservice program of model lessons that supports collective teacher inquiry into key concepts in teaching reading and writing. Useful for teacher leaders developing or leading school-based or outside PD, the resource includes a sample schedule for a yearlong professional development program along with tols for evaluating student writing.
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Are You the Teacher Who Gives Parents Homework?

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Author: Carole Chin

Summary: In this chapter from the NWP publication Cityscapes, an elementary teacher describes how she uses the writing of students and their families to build community, honor family cultures and languages, and provide a forum to address fears, anxieties, and concerns. Threaded through the narrative are many suggestions for activities that teachers might adapt to their own settings and communities.
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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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An LGBT Bibliography for High School Teachers

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Summary: This short list of LBGTQ books can be used when deciding which texts to read as a teacher inquiry group or to use with students in a high school classroom. Annotated descriptions are included for each book and other suggested book pairings are included.
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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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Southern Colorado Writing Project Coaching Protocol

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Summary: Teacher leaders designing professional development programs will find this nine step coaching protocol useful. The resource outlines a cycle for working with teachers and describes how to coach participants through the stages of brainstorming, developing, presenting, reflecting on and revising a presentation/demonstration lesson/inquiry workshop. In addition, it offers “how-to” guidance, a timeframe, and overall goals with each coaching cycle.
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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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Book Review: Inquiry as Stance: Practitioner Research for the Next Generation

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Author: Elizabeth Radin Simmons

Summary: The reviewer provides useful examples of how Cochran-Smith & Lytle’s book might support teacher inquiry practices. Initially put off by the fact that most authors were university professors, the reviewers soon found much value when reading the book from the perspective of a school coach. For those choosing books to support teacher inquiry, a quick perusal of this review may help with the decision. And for those already planning to use Inquiry as Stance in PD settings, the review offers helpful insights on several of the individual articles.
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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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Creating Spaces for Study and Action Under the Social Justice Umbrella

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Authors: Marlene Carter, Norma Mota-Altman, and Faye Peitzman

Summary: This monograph provides an in-depth look at the UCLA Writing Project’s approach to exploring two social justice concerns—matters of race and issues of homophobia—and the design of two multiyear study groups that engage the learning community at the site. The authors chronicle how both study groups were moved to take action as a result of their work together, and describes the programs they created and the impacts of these programs. Finally, the authors reflect on how these study groups have impacted the work of their site, and on the significance of nurtur­ing long-term, focused continuity work for teachers. The monograph would be useful for teacher leaders interested in organizing and leading study groups focused on social justice issues, and/or in learning about strategies that support honest conversations among thoughtful colleagues.
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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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Getting Inside Inquiry: Teachers’ Questions Transform Their Practice

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Summary: Useful for teams interested in planning teacher inquiry programs, this resource tells the story of a collaborative inquiry project carried out among teachers from writing project sites in Oklahoma and Nevada that not only transformed their individual teaching practices but also supported them to start teacher inquiry communities at their sites. This resource includes links to readings other resources on inquiry, a PDF of a teacher inquiry-focused institute, and a great writing exercise (“The Stuck Place”) designed to help teachers begin to develop practice-based research questions.
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Bridging the Disconnect: A Layered Approach to Jump-Starting Engagement

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Authors: Nanci Werner-Burke, Jane Spohn, Jessica Spencer, Bobbi Button, and Missie Morral

Summary: This article describes how middle school teachers looked closely at their own practice with the goal of increasing student engagement. As they explored digital tools and multimodal texts and publishing, they came to recognize the need to interweave attention to the social aspects of students’ learning with their own teaching. In the process, four key ideas rose to the forefront: the use of writing as a tool for engagement and learning, the importance of preparing students to compete in an increasingly digitized world, and the motivational appeal of the graphic novel genre. The results of their inquiry may serve as an example of how teachers can examine their own writing and classroom practices to develop new strategies to engage their students.
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Digging Deeper: Teacher Inquiry in the Summer Institute Demonstration

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: “If this worked for me, why did it work?” This article explores writing project summer institute teacher demonstrations as a form of teacher inquiry at the Northern California Writing and the Red Cedar Writing Project, focusing on the questions that drive demonstrations of successful practices and various “lenses” for response. As Northern California teacher leader Kathy Wainwright notes, “We want our teachers to put their work in a larger context, one that they may not have thought much about. We encourage them to ask, ‘If this worked for me, why did it work?’ In this way, the presenter, as well as the other participants, will share and gain knowledge of more than just a strategy that works. Rather, a piece of theory will evolve from a presentation that has general applicability to the presenter’s teaching and maybe all teaching.” This article could help to introduce an inquiry strand or study group; the lenses for response included in the piece are adaptable for others’ use.
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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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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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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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Developing a Multi-year School Partnership

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Author: Rick VanDeWeghe

Summary: This article describes the Denver Writing Project’s three-year professional development model used in partnership with several local schools/districts. In the first year, the site builds local capacity through teacher study groups, then transitions to site-sponsored professional development related to the topics researched by the study groups during the first year. The third year of the partnership is dictated by local school needs, with some schools starting new teacher study groups and some continuing with professional development through demonstration lessons or other means. Those starting new partnerships would be well-served to explore the document in its entirety, but a specific focus on setting and making explicit the goals for the program (p.2) and the expectations of participants and facilitators (p.2-3) may be especially useful.
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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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A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School

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Author: Carol Booth Olson and Robert Land

Summary: This article documents a longitudinal research study conducted by members of the UC Irvine Writing Project in partnership with a large, urban school district in which 93 percent of the students speak English as a second language. Over an eight-year period, 55 secondary teachers implemented a cognitive strategies approach to reading and writing instruction designed to make visible the thinking strategies that experienced readers and writers access in the process of meaning construction. An important resource, this would be useful as a text for study in a professional development program or for individual teacher research. The project “was not just an abstract research study; it was a concrete attempt to level the playing field for specific ELL students in a large urban school district through sustained, ongoing collaboration with a dedicated and committed group of teachers…” The consistency of positive outcomes on multiple measures strongly points to the efficacy of using this approach with ELL students.
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A Collection of Resources on Teacher Inquiry

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Summary: This collection of materials on teacher inquiry was developed for a 2003 NWP Teacher Inquiry Communities Network online conference. A highly useful resource for anyone who engages in or facilitates inquiry projects, the collection contains extensive and practical information on engaging in teacher inquiry, including definitions, forms of inquiry, process, dissemination/publication, support, and more.
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What Does Teacher Leadership Look Like at Writing Project Sites? (NWP Radio)

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Summary: This hour-long radio episode features several NWP sites whose TCs discuss their experiences as leaders of site programs, leadership teams, and professional development. This resource may be useful for individuals and groups who are exploring models of teacher leadership and ways to support emerging teacher leaders.
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Scientific Writing and Technological Change

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Author: Mya Poe and Julianne Radkowski Opperman

Summary: Looking for specific ways to incorporate technology into teaching while leading students through the scientific research process? Noting that writing in science “is a dynamic process that changes quickly with technological change,” this chapter explores specific examples from both high school and college settings that invite students’ dynamic engagement as writers through proposal writing, literature reviews, storying research findings, and peer review. This resource will be of interest to both classroom teachers and those involved in designing professional development programs or seeking ideas for teacher inquiry.
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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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New Teacher Initiative Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: The National Writing Project’s New-Teacher Initiative supported local writing project sites in expanding their work with early career teachers, placing a particular emphasis on the teaching and learning of writing in high-needs schools. A useful resource for leaders of professional development experiences for early career teachers, this annotated bibliography is a partial listing of the readings that have been most significant in the work of the New-Teacher Initiative. They address four areas: 1) the teaching of writing, 2) understanding culture and its implications for teaching and learning, 3) strengthening inquiry as a mode of learning, and 4) rethinking professional development for new teachers through participation in a professional community.
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Lost in Translation: Assessing Writing of English Language Learners

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Author: Tom Meyer, Fabiola Lieberstein-Solera, and Martha Young

Summary: If you are planning professional development on the assessment of writing that involves students whose first language is not English, you may want to read this thoughtful article. The authors, the site director and two bilingual teacher leaders from the Hudson Valley Writing Project, describe an inquiry which focused on the question, “What if the writing rubrics we use don’t make sense to our bilingual students or their teachers?” By engaging in and studying a multi-faceted process of translating a rubric from English into Spanish, the team developed a rich approach to teacher reflection on student writing, assessment and writing instruction. Specific suggestions for planning are provided.
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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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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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Cultural Landscapes for Literacies Learning: An Innovative Art Museum and Teacher-Research Community Partnership

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Author: Ralph Cordova and Michael Murawski

Summary: Documenting the cross-disciplinary literacy activities supported by a partnership between teacher-researchers and a local art museum, this excellent resource offers both activities and practical strategies for taking writing about art into the classroom using resources from local art galleries and online virtual art museums.
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What’s Next: Possibilities for Literacy and Content Area Learning (NWP Radio)

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Summary: This NWP Radio show captures the conversation among planners, presenters and participants in the 2010 National Reading Initiative Conference in New Orleans. The conference grew out of and captures the learning from a series of inquiries that several NWP sites engaged in to understand the work they were doing with professional development related to reading. Of particular interest to teacher leaders looking at the reading/writing connection and disciplinary literacy, the conference examined the intersections of threads of work related to adolescent literacy and content area learning by addressing the following questions:

  • What is a text and what should we know about reading and writing texts in different disciplines?
  • What does strong interdisciplinary work look like?
  • What is the role of inquiry in content area learning?
  • What is discipline-specific in reading and writing?
  • What role do digital literacies play in content area learning?
  • How can writing project sites and schools organize to work toward deeper understanding and new practices?


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The Family Writing Project: Creating Space for Sustaining Teacher Identity

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Author: Marilyn McKinney, Rosemary Holmes-Gull, and Saralyn Lasley

Summary: How can teacher leaders and writing project sites develop effective ways to collaborate with parents and families? The writers, all with the Southern Nevada Writing Project, argue that family writing projects help develop a writing culture, nurture authentic writing and democratic practice, build relationships between students and teachers, counter teacher burnout, and help develop teacher leadership. This article can inspire and guide groups of teachers to develop family writing projects that have the potential to influence their classroom practice as well as deepen their understanding about the assets that parents bring to their children’s education.
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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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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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Protocols: Looking at Student Work (for participants) and Looking at Student Work (for facilitator)

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Author: Hudson Valley Writing Project

Summary: This protocol is one that takes teachers through the steps of looking at student work in a professional development session. The accompanying script helps a facilitator to guide participants through the “turns” in the protocol process. Adapted from the Prospect Center Descriptive Review Process and the National School Reform Faculty Appreciative Inquiry protocol, this resource allows participants to name what students have accomplished before making recommendations for next steps. Rather than focusing on deficits, it offers an additive model for reviewing student work.
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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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Sample Materials for a Professional Writing Retreat

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Summary: Thinking of gathering some colleagues together to work on professional writing for publication? This resource includes materials that can serve as models for a Professional Writing Retreat: a sample flyer, application requirements, different retreat options, and manuscript requirements.
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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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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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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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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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Building Connection and Community as a Social Educator

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Author: Howard Rheingold

Summary: Teacher Brianna Crowley describes how shifting into being a connected educator expanded her network of colleagues and renewed her teaching career. She spotlights benefits and challenges for herself and the students, and provides advice for ways students can connect to the community and to their learning through social media. She also describes online communities that sustain her as a teacher. This resource can offer an informative door for those educators hesitant to learn along with their students in digital ways.
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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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African American Learners Project Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: This collection of readings is intended to inform the thinking and practice of teacher-leaders and/or writing project sites interested in addressing the racial gap in achievement by expanding their own knowledge base as they seek to enhance the academic performance of African American learners. These texts have helped the contributors examine the history and status of African American education in our nation in the context of the landmark decision rendered in Brown v. Board of Education (1954; 1955). If you desire inspiring readings to further knowledge of social justice or culturally relevant pedagogy, this bibliography offers a place to begin and to build from, adding resources that go beyond its publication date of 2008.
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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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Reflections on Race in the Urban Classroom

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Author: Janice Jones

Summary: In her thoughtful first person narrative, Janice Jones describes her inadvertent “silencing” of the only white student in a class of primarily African American and Latino students. An example of the power of a teacher’s personal reflection on classroom practice, this essay might serve as a resource for a teacher inquiry group or to spur teachers’ writing and conversation about race in the classroom.
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Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

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Author: Antero Garcia, Christina Cantrill, Danielle Filipiak, Bud Hunt, Clifford Lee, Nicole Mirra, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, and Kylie Peppler

Summary: This collection of compelling firsthand vignettes written by NWP educators illustrate “connected learning principles” and depict teachers designing opportunities for all students to have access to, participate in, and thrive within the ever-shifting demands of the twenty-first century. This resource will be exciting for teachers looking for inspiring curriculum design that is based in solid research and theory about teaching and learning while engaging the affordances of new media and networked technologies. For further reading, visit Educator Innovator.
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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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Working Toward Equity

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Authors: Linda Friedrich, Carol Tateishi, Tom Malarkey, Elizabeth Radin Simons, and Marty Williams

Summary: What is equity? What does it mean to work for equity in schools? What does it mean to make equity central to our work as teachers and researchers? With a focus on inquiry, Working Toward Equity explores these and other questions in 13 narratives from a broad spectrum of educators chronicling their real work in classrooms, schools, districts, and professional development organizations. Of use both in planning and leading teacher research, it offers a rich variety of tools and protocols to support individual and group inquiry.
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Creating Connectional and Critical Curriculum, from Family Dialogue Journals: School-Home Partnerships that Support Student Learning

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Authors: JoBeth Allen, Jennifer Beaty, Angela Dean, Joseph Jones, Stephanie Smith Matthews, Jen McCreight, Elyse Schwedler, and Amber M. Simmons

Summary: In this chapter from Family Dialogue Journals: School-Home Partnerships That Support Student Learning, the authors discuss what they have learned from families and how family funds of knowledge became central to their curriculum, creating what they call a “connectional curriculum”—practices that link classroom learning with families and communities. There are many K-12 examples of ways teachers, students, families and communities have used family dialogue journals (FDJs) to support the use of family funds of knowledge, to build community, and to encourage critical thinking about social issues.
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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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When Third-Grade Writers Do Case Studies

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Author: Janet Kiddoo

Summary: Bilingual third grade students acted as helpers to first graders in a collaborative writing workshop. The third grade teacher guided her students through a process similar to teacher inquiry–to reflect on their own experiences as writers in order to help the younger writers, to take notes on their experiences as teacher/tutors, and to carefully think through the problems encountered and results obtained in order to improve their practice. This article models three useful practices in a writing context: 1) students as researchers; 2) older students as tutors to younger; and 3) reflective practice in writing and teaching.
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A Critical Inquiry Framework for K-12 Teachers

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Author: JoBeth Allen and Lois Alexander

Summary: This sample book chapter explains what teacher-led critical inquiry means in a social justice context. Useful in planning inquiry groups with a social justice focus, it also includes excellent content to help teachers to bring a social justice focus to their individual inquiry practice and encourage their students to take a critical inquiry stance in the classroom.
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Action Plan for Teaching Writing

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Author: Marva Solomon

Summary: Do you need to help school colleagues or educators in an institute move from discussion and research to an actionable plan for their classrooms? If so, then this template for an action plan created by the Northern Kentucky WP could be just the tool you seek. The document can be used to help teachers identify an area of their writing instruction they want to focus on, determine why it is important, what they can do to address the area of interest/concern, and how they will evaluate their effectiveness in the area. This may be just the tool you need to streamline and focus discussions about classroom practice.
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Wobbling in Public: Supporting New and Experienced Teachers

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Author: Antero Garcia and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen

Summary: Who is an expert teacher? Who is a novice? This article will be of interest to teacher educators and to experienced teachers working with colleagues who are new to the profession. The authors describe the ways in which teachers who appear “expert” to their newer colleagues “move from novice to expert to novice again as new challenges arise” and argue for the value of making these moments transparent. The article starts with a recreated dialogue and reflection about how and why a pair of facilitators – the authors – make themselves vulnerable as a way to open a conversation with new and preservice teachers about race, whiteness, and positionality.
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Historical Fiction in English and Social Studies Classrooms: Is It a Natural Marriage?

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Author: KaaVonia Hinton, Yonghee Suh, Lourdes Colón-Brown, and Maria O’Hearn

Summary: What happens when history and ELA teachers form a study group to develop understandings of disciplinary literacy and ways this new knowledge might affect each person’s practice? As members read and reflected together on historical fiction and nonfiction, they found that reading texts from both disciplines helped to more fully contextualize a historical period and promote historical empathy. This piece could generate ideas for forming similar study groups and provide an opportunity for teachers to delve into questions and issues related to disciplinary literacy within a professional development forum.
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Imagining the Possibilities: Improving the Teaching of Writing Through Teacher-Led Inquiry

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Author: Jessica Early

Summary: Teachers in Phoenix, AZ improved their practice by participating in a teacher-led inquiry group of Writing Project fellows, collaborating on a curriculum framework for college- and career-ready writing.

This article presents a model of how one group of teachers used inquiry to improve their understanding of student writing and revise their school’s curriculum accordingly. Specifically, they conducted action research on implementing Common Core standards in an Arizona urban charter school. Written by and for teachers, curriculum directors and administrators, it offers a case for encouraging teacher-led inquiry groups as a way to empower teachers and improve writing instruction for students.
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ELL Library American Indian Reference/Resource “Must-Haves”

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Author: Michael Thompson and Laurie Smith

Summary: With the goal of providing materials to inform teachers’ understanding of Native American cultures, Thompson and Smith have compiled an annotated bibliography of “must-read” texts on the subject. This excellent resource can be used to inspire and guide groups of teachers in building local communities of inquiry devoted to Native American Studies.
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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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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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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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Writing and Teaching to Change the World (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Stephanie Jones, Jen McCreight, Angela Dean, and Jaye Thiel

Summary: In this NWP Radio show, Stephanie Jones, co-director of the Red Clay WP at the University of Georgia, and several Red Clay teacher-consultants share their experiences from a school-year teacher inquiry group that led to the publication of Writing and Teaching to Change the World: Connecting with our Most Vulnerable Students. The group discusses how they each focused closely on one student who was on the margin of the classroom community and used narrative inquiry to explore their beliefs, understandings, and practices related to critical pedagogy. This resource is useful in planning and/or leading professional development, study groups, or teacher inquiry focused on individual students and their work.
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Learning From Laramie: Urban High School Students Read, Research, and Reenact The Laramie Project

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Author: Marsha Pincus

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

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Author: Susan Bennett

Summary: This is a succinct overview on the role of coaching in the Summer Institute at the Redwood Writing Project. The document describes the relationship between the coach and the person being coached, carefully laying the groundwork for a supportive and collaborative, non-evaluative relationship. While the piece is based on coaching in the Summer Institute, the description of roles and the set of guide questions could be useful to anyone entering a coaching and/or mentoring relationship.
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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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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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Teacher Study Group Movement: From Pilot to Districtwide Study Groups in Four Years

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Authors:Mary Weaver, Mary Calliari, Janet Rentsch

Summary: This monograph from leaders of the Saginaw Bay WP (Michigan) takes a deep dive into a districtwide approach to teacher-led study groups that resulted in significant changes in teacher practice and student learning as well as leadership development among teacher facilitators. The appendices include study group schedules, facilitation guides, evaluation tools, etc. Those developing and facilitating study groups will find these of great use.
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Mandated Reform vs. Classroom Reality

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Author: Joe Check

Summary: How should teachers pro-actively respond to school reforms mandated from above? This article advocates for teachers to take the lead in determining how these reforms are best implemented at the school and classroom level through reflective inquiry practices. Specifically, the article covers three main lines of inquiry: 1) What effect is reform having on the climate for reflective practice in our school system? 2) What is the teachers’ understanding of system wide change? 3) Has the reform honestly acknowledged the social, cultural, and contextual barriers to students’ academic success? These questions, and Check’s discussion of them, offer great starting point for teachers to confront problematic mandated reforms in a professional development context.
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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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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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“Save the Last Word for Me” Protocol

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Author: Patricia Averette

Summary: This protocol is designed for participants to clarify and deepen thinking about articles that groups may read in an institute or in a teacher study group or professional meeting where group breakouts happen. It provides a structure that enables group participants to engage in close reading and share their thinking in a low-risk context.
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Formative Assessment in Designing and Refining Long-Term Professional Development

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Guests: Toby Kahn-Loftus, Dan Polleys, Catherine Quick, Jennifer Guerra, Maria Garcia, Erin Mohr, and Stephanie Rollag

Summary: For teachers studying the role of formative assessment in the teaching of writing or leading long-term, in-school professional development, this webinar provides a wealth of strategies and resources. National Writing Project teachers from Michigan, Texas, and Minnesota share assessment strategies and program designs and offer insights from their work with teachers in high-need schools into the ways in which critical feedback from student work and teaching practice helps shape and reshape professional development sessions.
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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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Empowering Teachers Through the Summer Institute

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Author: Beth Halbert

Summary: Is leading a program for the site a new endeavor for you? Are you wondering, “what in the world did I get myself into?” Then you should read this article about being thrust into a site leadership role, transitioning from summer institute participant to facilitator, just two weeks before the start of the institute. The author not only shares her personal experience, but also demonstrates how remaining true to the NWP principle of “teachers teaching teachers” is foundational to successful NWP work.
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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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Whiteness Studies, a Short Bibliography

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Summary: A valuable resource for teacher inquiry into issues of race, equity and social justice, this bibliography includes key readings for those wishing to know more about the antiracist agenda of whiteness studies which recognize the need to identify “white” as a racialized category and a powerful symbol of privilege.
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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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Coaching Guide and Protocol

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Summary: This coaching guide and protocol from the Southern Colorado WP may be helpful if you are looking for ways to support teachers in presenting their work to colleagues. While the protocol lays out a schedule and rationale for meetings between presenting teachers and their mentors, the guide provides a framework for establishing roles/relationships/responsibilities and provides a set of questions that can be used to guide the thinking partners through the stages of identifying a question, researching the question(s), and creating a demonstration/inquiry workshop.
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Evolving the Research Paper

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Author: Jack Zangerle

Summary: This blog post describes an alternative research-writing project: developing public service announcements (PSAs). This resource may be helpful as a model for any instructors who want their students to develop PSAs for civic engagement or for the development of digital skills and message-making. This digital “making” event could also be used during summer youth writing camps. A student-created PSA is included with the blog post.
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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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“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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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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Beyond Strategies: Teacher Practice, Writing Process, and the Influence of Inquiry

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Author: Anne Whitney, Sheridan Blau, Alison Bright, Rosemary Cabe, Tim Dewar, Jason Levin, Roseanne Macias, and Paul Rogers

Summary: A key reading, this award winning research study may serve equally well as the focus for a group studying writing process pedagogy and as for teacher leaders developing and leading a professional development program. Based on two contrasting case studies, the overall study provided evidence for the importance of inquiry in transforming teaching practice and student performance. While each teacher discussed how she interpreted and implemented a process-centered theory of writing, the comparative data suggest that inquiry-based inservice may lead to more nuanced thinking about teaching writing and increase a teacher’s sense of responsibility for improving curricula and interrogating her own practice. The study also includes detailed descriptions of the inquiry-based professional development in which one of the teachers participated.
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Writing Projects and School Reform: A Local Perspective

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Author: Marcie Wolfe

Summary: How can teachers’ voices be heard within the top-down forces of reform, and how can NWP avoid becoming a “recipe-based” school reform model? This article tells the story of New York City writing project leaders who supported teachers and administrators within a City initiative to phase out large, struggling high schools and replace them with co-located smaller schools. Central in this resource are the ways the on-site NYCWP teacher-consultants became “redesign pioneers,” using writing to enhance policy and planning meetings as well as teachers’ practice. The article also addresses some of the challenges involved in coordinating with other professional development groups. This may be an important piece for site leaders or advanced inquiry groups to read as a frame for inquiry and for mapping out a plan for entry into schools undergoing redesign or struggling with reform issues.
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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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Developing Leadership and Site Capacity Through Program Evaluation and Research

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Author: Paul M. Rogers

Summary: This article describes how, supported by a grant to engage in multi-year research into their site’s professional development work in high needs schools, leaders at the South Coast Writing Project gathered and analyzed data from nine teachers and their students…surveys, interviews, classroom observations, and collections of teacher and student work—to assess the effects…[on] teachers’ classroom practices and their students’ learning.” In addition to improving the site’s professional development programming, teacher leaders developed “valuable capacities” and confidence as researchers and program leaders.
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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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Responsive Teacher Inquiry and Innovation in Teaching ELA with Diverse Learners (NWP Radio)

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

Summary: This NWP Radio Show looks at a preservice teacher program that focuses on teacher research as a way of inducting new teachers into the profession. The speakers discuss leading preservice teachers through an inquiry during their field experiences in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms as a way to turn their attention to what they can learn from careful thinking and observation of students. The section specifically on teacher inquiry in writing begins at 21:11. Useful as a model for those designing teacher inquiry programs, as well as a thoughtful examination of how new teachers are socialized into the profession. Includes detailed discussion of inquiry processes and rubrics.
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Using Study Groups to Build Community

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Summary: Those involved in planning and/or facilitating teacher study groups will find a useful resource in this brief article describing how the NWP in Vermont developed and launched a long-term school-based teacher study group with several districts. The leaders of the program found the “open-endedness of the study group replicates the principles that make a summer institute succeed…teachers are intellectually and emotionally nurtured, rejuvenated, and empowered. They assume a measure of authority over their own learning.”
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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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The Disruptive/Transformative Potential of the Common Core State Standards

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Author: Meg Petersen and Megan Birch

Summary: Arguing that the Common Core State Standards “represent an opportunity to disrupt and transform existing instructional practices and ways of thinking about curriculum,” the authors challenge teachers to move beyond facilitating writing toward becoming authentic intellectual partners with their students in response to the CCSS emphasis on thinking, arguing, & constructing meaning. The article cites multiple examples of how the authors rethought the interaction of their university students with literary texts and writing assignments. While not focused directly on teacher inquiry, the article provides useful information about bringing a spirit of inquiry into the classroom as a way to reflect on and disrupt traditional pedagogical thinking.
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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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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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Teaching Reading: A Semester of Inquiry

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Author: Antero Garcia

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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The State of Student Technology: A Webcomic Analysis

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Author: Kevin Hodgson

Summary: An innovative and multi-purpose webcomic provides an example of how to: 1) survey and represent data from students about their use of technology and media (mostly outside of school), and 2) document and reflect on one’s teaching (and use of digital tools) in a useful format for both students and teacher-assessment purposes. Key insights support perceptions regarding the savviness and fearlessness of students while at the same time pointing to the need for teachers and parents to guide them in addressing issues of privacy and responsibility as they compose with media.
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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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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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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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Mini-Inquiries: Changing Classroom Instruction One Lesson at a Time

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Author: Cindy O’Donnell-Allen

Summary: When a small group of language arts teachers from the Tar River Writing Project in North Carolina noticed that some students seemed less engaged in their classes, they decided to study their own practices, question their assumptions, and work systematically to change their teaching. Specifically, this inquiry project evolved into the LEEAP program: Leadership for Equity, Excellence, Achievement, and Partnership in 21st Century Classrooms, an initiative to support teachers in studying equity in their classrooms. In addition to the article, this resource also includes three digital-story videos exploring equity, created by the LEEAP team. This work may be useful as a model for conducting teacher inquiry to address specific issues of concern within or across schools.
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Developing a Definition of Teacher Research

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

Summary: A group of experienced K-12 teachers and teacher-consultants from the Northern Virginia Writing Project engaged in teacher inquiry for several years to improve their teaching. The process and the findings from their research reverberated throughout their school system and influenced how their schools were run. This chapter provides a clear and detailed definition of teacher research, and will be useful both as a guide for those planning to facilitate teacher inquiry and as an introductory reading for teachers participating in their first inquiry project.

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Site-Based Leadership Reforms the Writing Curriculum on the Other Side of the Tracks

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Author: Nancy Remington and Robert McGinty

Summary: Leaders from the Great Basin Writing Project in Nevada describe a long-term school partnership that gave teachers at Southside Elementary the opportunity to redesign curriculum and reshape the writing culture of their school. This inquiry-centered approach to professional development, designed and led by teachers-with support from the writing project site, could be a model for any school.
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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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Increasing Student Achievement in Writing Through Teacher Inquiry: An Evaluation of Professional Development Impact

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Author: Nancy Robb Singer and Diane Scollay

Summary: Documenting a well-designed experimental study, this article offers clear evidence of the positive impact of teacher-led inquiry on student writing achievement. Teachers in the experimental group participated in inquiry-based professional development to increase understanding and application of effective writing pedagogy in their classrooms. Compared to a control group of teachers, the teacher-inquiry group demonstrated a broader range of writing tasks, longer duration of writing tasks, and explicit strategies to support students in making the reading/writing connection. In addition, students of teachers in the experimental group showed improved achievement in writing on a nationally scored assessment. This article represents an important resource in for leaders planning and/or advocating for an inquiry-based approach to professional development.
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Practitioner Inquiry and the Practice of Teaching: Some Thoughts on Better

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Author: Susan Lytle

Summary: In this article, Lytle observes that teacher-researchers aim primarily to teach better, a theme she finds illuminated in Atul Gawande’s Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, a physician-written book about the practice of medicine. She discusses why it makes a difference to ask those who work in a particular setting, whether medicine or education, to study and develop solutions to problems within that setting. Thought-provoking background reading on the importance of teacher inquiry, this resource may be useful for study groups or in workshops focused on beginning the inquiry process, and could serve as a valuable reading for anyone who must advocate for teachers to have a role in school reform.
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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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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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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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Leadership Transition: Taking Over a Site in Reorganization

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Author: Gatsinzi Basaninyenzi

Summary: What happens when a Writing Project site needs to be rethought and renewed? This article offers the perspective of a site director who was invited to take over and renew an existing site and who attended a NWP New Site Directors Retreat. At the retreat he explored site business development, invitational summer institutes, inservice, and continuity. Inspired by this experience, he worked with teachers at his site to design rotational site leadership teams, teacher study groups for continuity, newsletter development, and a youth writing program. This resource can be helpful to sites in need of new strategies for site development or teacher-leadership development. It shows, firsthand, how new or re-visioned programs can develop under leadership transitions or a shift toward enhanced teacher leadership of a site.
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Enabling Communities and Collaborative Responses to Teaching Demonstrations

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Author: Janet A. Swenson, Diana Mitchell

Summary: This monograph explains a useful protocol developed by Red Cedar Writing Project for responding to demonstrations in the Summer Institute, called the Collaborative Responses to Teaching Demonstrations (CRTD). This response takes the form of a letter to the person offering the demonstration, thus providing responders with opportunities to draft and revise a piece with a clear audience and purpose. The monograph includes discussions of each aspect of the protocol, as well as tools to help prepare teachers for response, both prior to and during the Summer Institute.
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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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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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