research

Changing Teaching from Within: Teachers as Leaders

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Author: Ann Lieberman & Linda Friedrich

Summary: For sites and individuals interested in exploring why teachers become leaders in their schools and communities and how they move into positions of leadership, this paper and accompanying slides provide a rich and in-depth look at stories from a research study of NWP teacher-leaders recognized as effective models of teacher leadership. Exemplary in its research methodology and rich in detail and examples of collaboration, coaching, reflective practice and professional growth within school reform contexts, these resources could be useful in study groups and a variety of other contexts where teachers seek to learn about teacher leadership and NWP social practices in action.
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Narrative Knowers, Expository Knowledge: Discourse as Dialectic

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Author: Anne DiPardo

Summary: DiPardo addresses the divide between narrative and expository writing, noting the problematic tendency in composition teaching and scholarship to privilege “pure” exposition. She argues that instruction which fosters this divide, which contends narrative and expository are separate modes, denies students the opportunity to develop a complex and more realistic way of knowing and writing. This article is useful for professional development on expository writing to encourage rethinking of the genre, to realize that the best “real-world” examples of expository writing are indeed multimodal in nature and embrace narrative in myriad ways.
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Breaking the Boundaries of Texts: Video Game and Literacy Curriculum Development for English Language Learners

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Author: Nora A. Peterman, Lan Ngo, Robert J. LeBlanc, Susan Goldstein

Summary: This article describes a study of a literacy video game designed to help English learners negotiate new vocabulary and unfamiliar language structures as they read. The game, collaboratively created on Gamestar Mechanic by a team including a public high school teacher, actively engaged that teacher’s EL students who developed a sense of ownership over their learning. The authors discuss gaming as a literacy practice and suggest how it might be adapted to other contexts. This article may be useful in professional-development discussions of EL students and multimodality and could be a suggested reading as teachers develop inquiry into these issues.
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The Southern Arizona Writing Project Teacher Research and Inquiry Community (NWP Radio)

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Summary: In this NWP Radio program, moderator Elyse Eidman-Aadahl and teachers from the Southern Arizona Writing Project provide an overview of teacher research in general along with various approaches and settings (first 16 minutes), followed by stories of how the projects of three teachers impacted their practice, built connections with students and families, and benefited from a shared community of practice (16:00-51:35 total; 16:16 Laurie; 29:05 Denise; 39:11 Leah). Each segment provides unique insights that could inform new and experienced teachers engaged in teacher research and speaks to the power of teachers writing and talking about their work.
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Resources for Teacher Inquiry Communities: An Annotated Bibliography

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Author: Ann Dobie

Summary:  Compiled by NWP’s Teacher Inquiry Community, this annotated bibliography of approximately 50 books offers a wealth of important designs, guides, case studies, and much more. It provides a rich resource for individual teacher researchers and those planning on leading teacher inquiry projects and professional development.
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Language, Identity, and Learning in Talking Appalachian (NWP Radio)

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Author: Amy Clark

Summary: This NWP Radio conversation with Amy Clark, co-editor of Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity & Community, begins with a personal story of how transcribing an oral history interview with her great grandmother revealed the syntax and poetry in her speech. Subsequent segments include discussions of: 1) teachers’ and writers’ essays in Part II of the book that incorporate implications and ideas for instruction (4:38 -19:42); and 2) Amy’s teaching career trajectory that led to her bringing research about dialect to her writing project community; a discussion of contrastive analysis as a tool for helping students use their writing to understand reasons nonstandard grammar patterns exist so they can learn to make choices to switch between home/informal and school/formal languages; results and advice for researchers/study groups interested in this work (20:08 – 39:04).This resource could be useful in planning and/or leading professional development, study groups, or teacher inquiry focused on dialect and empowering student voice.
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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.
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Honoring the Word: Classroom Instructors Find That Students Respond Best to Oral Tradition

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Author: Michael Thompson

Summary: In this award winning essay, Native American teacher and NWP site director Michael Thompson, reflects on his own practice and shares findings from research interviews he conducted with instructors in tribal college and university classrooms to learn how they approach literature and writing. In particular, he wondered if assigned texts represented “the value that Native people have historically given to traditional stories, teachings, speeches, tribal journeys, and accomplishments.” Instructors reported that Native communities typically value the spoken word over the art of writing and described language practices such as collecting personal narratives of elders in documentary films and digitized recordings. Classroom teachers, study groups and professional development leaders interested in exploring resources and practices that support efforts to “reclaim and honor oral traditions” of native peoples may find this article of interest.
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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.
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The National Writing Project: Scaling Up and Scaling Down

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Author: Joseph P. McDonald, Judy Buchanan, and Richard Sterling

Summary: How does the NWP simultaneously impact individuals and school communities? What can local sites learn about strategies for scaling up their work? Teacher leaders and project directors involved in developing grant proposals, partnerships, or research focused on scaling up professional development or school reform efforts may find this chapter a useful resource and rich perspective on NWP’s successful “improvement infrastructure.” The authors describe what is meant by “scaling up by scaling down”: “to succeed in a new environment, a reform that is spreading geographically must also challenge and, eventually, penetrate habitual practice in new contexts.” NWP has promoted both spread and depth of change via three elements: an annual site review process; specialized cross-site networks; and a commitment to both internal, site-based, practitioner-directed research and external, national, and independent research. These elements, separately and together, enable the NWP to generalize from the diverse experiences of local sites and chart new directions for the work.
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