Program Design

Short and Meaningful Programming: Expanding the Work and Reach of the Site

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Author: Meg Petersen and Valerie Combie

Summary: You’re a teacher, not a small business owner? Yes, that is true, but running a Writing Project site and/or developing writing project programming requires an entreprenureial spirit and approach. With that in mind, this collection offers a glimpse into several ways sites have developed shorter, yet meaningful, programming that expands the work and reach of the site while also generating revenue.

Original Date of Publication: November 2015


The University of Mississippi Writing Project has come up with a way to generate revenue while preparing teacher consultants for inservice work.

“For the past several years, the UMWP has offered a series of one-day workshops focusing on a specific topic. We hold five to seven Wednesday workshops on campus per semester – five for grade bands K-5 and five for grade bands 6-12 – and five workshops in the summer. We have this procedure down to an art form at this point. Workshops are $150 per participant plus $20 for CEUs (if desired). Districts may send four teachers for the price of three. We provide lunch for the participants. Workshops will “make” if we have six participants, as this is our break-even point. Most of our workshops have 12-15 participants.
 
The workshops not only provide us with a small but steady revenue stream, but also they allow us to market our other programs and reach schools that might not have a lot of money for PD but can send a few teachers at a time. Many teachers attend more than one session and take the knowledge they have learned back to their districts and share with other teachers, providing the UMWP with visibility and publicity. Additionally, these workshops are safe places to introduce new presenters who are not ready for a school-based inservice, but who are ready to move forward into presenting. All presenters have attended an Advanced Institute on Inservice Preparation, and each workshop has been planned with a veteran presenter.”

South Texas Writing Project enhanced teachers’ knowledge and skills through three summer workshops conducted in June. These workshops provided an easy transition into the Advanced Institute.

During the summer the project offered three workshops during the month of June. Workshop #1 Journaling Across Content Areas” presented by STWP TCs Katie Lewis and Mayra Pena. It helped teachers change their writing perceptions in other content areas including Science, Math, and Social Studies. Teachers were given valuable lessons for expository, narrative, revise and edit strategies. Total of 16 teachers attended the workshop. Workshop # 2 “Using Sensory details to Improve Narrative Writing”. Teachers received strategies and take home materials on how to improve and more effectively communicate through narrative writing with details. The workshop received positive evaluations from participants such as “Excellent presentation! and “I enjoyed the activities. Total of 16 teachers attended the workshop. Workshop #3 “Reading and Writing Strategies for teaching the Holocaust. This was a partnership with an organization “Echos and Reflections” where STWP hosted a guest speaker (HS teacher) to share these strategies. Teachers provided positive feedback and would like the speaker to come back. Total of 29 teachers were in attendance. Teachers in attendance for workshops were from Laredo ISD, United ISD, Laredo Community College, and Zapata ISD Districts. The workshops were followed by the Advanced Institute.

By partnering with Rethinking Schools, and social justice work groups throughout the northwest, the Oregon Writing Project is able to offer this conference, which reached over 1000 teachers last year.

“The conference is totally staffed by volunteer teachers from each of our organizations. Local teacher unions both endorse and financially support the program. Local universities encourage their pre-service teachers to attend. We keep the conference fee low ($30—which includes breakfast and lunch.) Many local businesses donate coffee, bagels, etc. We have no corporate sponsors.
 
Last year, 1200 teachers attended the conference in Portland. This year, we are offering nearly 70 workshops, including: Slam! Finding Lost Voices; A Human Face on War: Poetry and Art; My Baby Rides the Short Bus; Prison Labor Cycle: Players in a System; Building an Opt-Out Movement in Your Community; How Will We Feed the World? A Workshop on La Via Campesina; Femicides: An Activism Poetry Lesson About Gender Crimes in Ciudad Juárez; Real Hope for American Youth Without Papers; Black Students’ Lives Matter; Educating Activist Allies; Hashtag Essay Writing. How do we benefit? Many of the teachers who come to the conference learn about and sign up for OWP summer institute and classes. Nearly half of the workshops at the conference came out of the OWP Summer Institutes from the past few years, so our TCs have space to share their work. This is a labor of love, but it does spread the work of our organization and teachers.”


Related Resources

Original Sources: National Writing Project, http://voicebox.nwp.org/modelatwork/discussion/ms-university-mississippi-wp-offers-wednesday-workshops-local-teachers, http://voicebox.nwp.org/modelatwork/discussion/tx-south-texas-writing-project-builds-capacity-through-its-summer-workshop-series, http://voicebox.nwp.org/modelatwork/discussion/or-lewis-and-clark-wp-sponsors-northwest-teaching-social-justice-conference

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