Composing Literacy Leadership in Professional Development: New Meanings of Practice and Process

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Author: Linda Friedrich, Kyle Shanton, Marilyn McKinney, and Tom Meyer

Summary: This paper offers three illustrations of NWP teachers engaged in literacy leadership while navigating complex contextual demands including the fundamental challenges of sharing their expertise and establishing trust. The authors offer a framework that suggests that leadership often involves trying to influence others, who themselves may openly or tacitly resist such leadership and learning. Site leaders and fellows who are ready to consider building their own leadership practice with other adult learners will find the portraits and framework useful.

Democracy, Struggle, and the Praxis of Assessment

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Author: Tony Scott & Lil Brannon

Summary: Invited to assist in restructuring the assessment practices of a college first-year writing program, Tony Scott and Lil Brannon examine the structure and ideology of the existing assessment system, exploring how it serves to preserve the status quo by providing seemingly objective proof of the effectiveness of the prevailing formalist model of instruction. Their qualitative research examines the relationship between assessment, valuation, and the economics of first-year writing and considers how assessment practices can become reductive within set power structures and lead to normative practices that limit expectations for student writers. In the process, they expose how the existing assessment model obscures the wide variety of ways in which student writing is understood and valued by faculty and instructors.

Book Review: The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning

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Author: Carl Nagin

Summary: This review of George Hillocks’s 2002 book, The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning, is still a relevant read, providing history and research connected to the issues involved in high stakes state writing tests. The review details the validity and reliability of such tests, the scoring processes, the variety of tests from state to state, and the range of knowledge about writing held by teachers who score. Worthy of a teacher book group or a school-wide reading, this review could be used as a gateway to this book written by a distinguished researcher in the field of composition.

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

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Author: Samuel Totten

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

National Survey on New Forms of Writing

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

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.