About Writing

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.

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.

Beyond the Five-Paragraph Theme

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Author: Glenda Moss

Summary: Having taught the five-paragraph essay early in her career, Glenda Moss describes how she came to believe that it limits students as writers. By sharing her journey as she moved from middle-school teaching into working with college writers, she explores how the five-paragraph essay inhibited students’ 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 for teachers or teacher groups to discuss how to approach writing instruction.

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.

Metaphors, Frames, and Fact (Checks) about the Common Core

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney and Patrick Shannon

Summary: This article offers a critique of the Common Core State Standards by examining its political history and the controlling metaphors on which it is based. It would be of particular interest to a study group or as a resource in a professional development program exploring the politics of mandated curricula as well as the practical and political implications of the Common Core.

Publishing Students’ True Stories

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Author: Rus VanWestervelt

Summary: Creative nonfiction? What better way to engage students in all disciplines than to write real stories about life events that matter to them! And what if there were opportunities to publish these pieces in a journal designed and edited by youth? In telling the story of the creation of a journal that eventually encompassed the state, the author describes types and characteristics of creative nonfiction and shares an example of one student’s narrative that focused on her family’s evacuation from the American compound in Saudi Arabia following terrorist bombings. Even without the goal of publishing a journal, there are excellent suggestions that could be used for creating and supporting collaborative writing spaces (e.g., in classrooms, student writing clubs, supporting Scholastic Awards) or in supporting teacher-writers at writing project sites.

Because Digital Writing Matters: A Conversation with the Authors

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Summary: The NWP book, Because Digital Writing Matters, examines what teachers, administrators, and parents can do to help schools meet the challenges of digital writing and to equip students with the communication skills they need to thrive in an information-rich, high-speed, high-tech culture. It provides a roadmap for teachers and administrators who are implementing digital writing initiatives in their classrooms, schools, and communities. In this interview, the authors look at what educators, parents, and policymakers can do to help equip students with the technology-related communication skills they need to thrive in school and in the global workplace.

How to Build Better Engineers: A Practical Approach to the Mechanics of Text

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Author: Ron E. Smelser

Summary: How do engineers write: in what ways, for what audiences, and for what purposes? How do we, as teachers, support students in understanding that writing clearly to communicate arguments in proposals and presentations is an important skill for college and careers? This article presents a structure that emulates what engineers encounter in a peer-review proposal process. Those planning and leading workshops grounded in real-world practices for aspiring engineers or other related professions will find useful ideas here. This article is also applicable to content-area classrooms at the secondary level. 

Introduction: Why Digital Writing Matters

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Author: National Writing Project, with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks

Summary: What does it mean to write digitally? What does it mean to be a teacher of writing in a digital age? In this introduction to the book, Because Digital Writing Matters, the authors provide an overview in response to these questions. They address historical perspectives on writing, expanding definitions of digital writing, and the impact of the integration of technology on the teaching and learning of writing. In addition, they explore what digital writing might look like in classrooms, including a discussion of the new media literacy tools, strategies, skills, and dispositions that are necessary to operate within our expanding participatory culture. This chapter and related resources may be especially useful for study groups, as well as those planning professional development or developing grant proposals focused on digital literacy.

The Landscape of Digital Writing

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Author: National Writing Project, with Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Troy Hicks

Summary: This first chapter of Because Digital Writing Matters explores the new digital landscape for writing, examining both the complexities and challenges of digital writing for teachers and students, and unpacking what is necessary for educators and policymakers to understand in order to develop and sustain effective digital writing programs and curricula. The authors offer numerous examples of rich and integrated ways educators have found to meet state standards through connected learning and leverage the ability to share ideas, resources, and information across digital spaces. This chapter offers background and perspectives that may be useful in promoting conversations related to the changing roles of teachers and students within a dynamic digital environment.

Community Literacy: Can Writing Make a Difference?

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Author: Linda Flower, Lorraine Higgins, Wayne C. Peck

Summary: This resource describes the process emerging from a Community Literacy Collaborative (CLC) initiative that enabled youth to use inquiry and writing to enter into a policy discussion about increases in school suspension and for their university mentors to enter into the discourse of urban teens. The approach is designed to promote intercultural discourse across race, class, gender, age, and economics barriers. Remarkably current (the school to prison pipeline comes to mind), this piece provides real world examples undergirded by a strong theoretical rationale and would be a useful resource for those framing community-based projects aimed at advocacy and civic engagement.

Inviting Parents in: Expanding Our Community Base to Support Writing

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Author: Cathy Fleischer and Kimberly Coupe Pavlock

Summary: Looking for ideas for ways to reach out to parents to help them understand why we teach writing in the ways we do and to share successful strategies for how they might help their children or teens with writing?  And what about looking for ways to build awareness of the connections between high school and college writing? This article, filled with research-based strategies and examples for those seeking to facilitate such experiences, also makes a case for how successful workshops with parents can help them expand their knowledge beyond what they know from media and legislative mandates to become “informed, knowledgeable readers of educational reform and potential advocates for change.”

Writing and Reading in the Classroom

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Author: James Britton

Summary: Within this foundational piece, Britton describes examples of K-university classroom practice (including the work of some NWP teachers), as well as theory and research supporting learning environments where reading, writing, and talk become catalysts for collaboration and learning. The depth and breadth of this chapter might lead to some intriguing opportunities for study groups to draw parallels and contrasts between 1987 and today; to historically and theoretically situate practices such as dialogue journals, free-writing/free-reading, collaborative learning, and real world learning; and to explore Britton’s suggestions for teachers and administrators.

On the Use of Metawriting to Learn Grammar and Mechanics

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Author: Douglas James Joyce

Summary: In this short article, the author proposes a strategy to support college composition students to develop an awareness of grammatical patterns underlying their writing including their errors. The article includes an assignment and student examples, and may be useful in discussions among high school teachers about editing strategies.

Teacher Discoveries and Connected Learning

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Author: Joe Dillon

Summary: How does digital writing shift our teaching? This blog post describes how multiple NWP teachers have applied Connected Learning principles to their classrooms. Hyperlinks within the piece take readers to additional details about each teacher’s work. From discovering how blogging can inform writing instruction to enacting paperless classrooms, readers can come away with innovative ways to integrate technology. Any site professional development or summer institute session about integrated digital instruction could use this resource to explore new strategies and tools.

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.

Formative Assessment as a Compass: Looking at Student Work as an Intentional Part of Ongoing Professional Development

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Author: Beth Rimer and Terri McAvoy

Summary: This e-book is a practical resource for teachers as they think about formative assessment in relation to writing instruction. Led by questions posed by the authors and links within the text, a study group, individual teacher or professional development program facilitator can use this guide to invite thinking about the role of assessment in teaching writing and approaches that can inform teachers about student writing growth. Available through iTunes as a multi-media iBook for iOS and Mac users, the e-book is also available as a PDF below.

Improving Assignments With the Writing Assignment Framework

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Author: National Writing Project and Mary Ann Smith

Summary: Featuring a range of protocols, tools, and student samples, the Writing Assignment Framework and Overview was designed as a resource for use in planning instruction and professional development. Growing out of work NWP did with the Authentic Intellectual Work framework, these tools aim to support teachers in all disciplines to think critically about the effectiveness of their assignments in supporting intellectual work that “is similar to the type of problem solving that adults face in their everyday lives and helps prepare students to be critical, analytical thinkers.” On page 10 in the document, teachers share designs for professional development sessions using the tools and forms.

The Politics of Correction: How We Can Nurture Students in Their Writing and Help Them Learn the Language of Power

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Author: Linda Christensen

Summary: This brief yet powerful article by Linda Christensen is sure to encourage thoughtful and extended professional dialogue among educators grappling with dilemmas about students’ home and school language. Christensen describes practical strategies for honoring students’ home language while also helping them achieve greater command of the gatekeeping language of power, standard English. This article would work equally well as an introductory reading in an extended professional development institute or as a central focus reading in a shorter workshop.

Know ELLs: Support for Teachers of English Language Learners

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Author: Great Valley Writing Project

Summary: This Ning, a social website/blog developed and maintained by several teacher leaders from the Grand Valley Writing Project in Central California, focuses on issues related to teaching English Language Learners. Sites and teacher leaders looking to maintain momentum after the conclusion of an institute or other extended PD opportunity would be well served looking at this site to see what is possible.

Narrative Writing and the Common Core State Standards, from Helping English Learners to Write

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Authors: Carol Booth Olson, Robin C. Scarcella, Tina Matuchniak

Summary: In this chapter from Helping English Learners to Write, the authors explain the critical role of narrative writing in helping English learners develop their English language skill and succeed in English Language Arts coursework in the secondary grades. Building upon a strong research-based rationale for narrative writing, it provides many specific and effective teaching strategies that would be useful for middle/high school teachers. In addition, this chapter would be of interest to teachers beginning inquiry projects.

Literacy in the Digital Age

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Guests: Natalie Franzi, Steve Figurelli, Paul Oh, and Claire Rivero

Summary: In this webinar representatives from the NWP, the Teaching Channel, and Student Achievement Partners discuss effective uses of digital literacy tools, arguing that our vision must evolve to incorporate a new approach to literacy instruction, one in which technology becomes an accelerator to create and personalize meaningful learning contexts. This video would be a good way to launch a discussion about online tools and out-of-school literacies. The speakers also recommend specific digital tools and strategies.

Writing Across the Hidden Curriculum

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Author: William Strong

Summary: Pushing back against the “hidden curriculum” of school writing as teacher-centered and reductive, Strong asserts a model of student-centered writing to learn. This article explains the importance of writing across disciplines and gives practical examples of authentic content area writing skills. His 12-point description of the features of the “hidden curriculum” can serve as a powerful conversation starter with any group of teachers engaged in a study of school-based writing.

Place-Based Poetry, Modeling One Revision at a Time

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Author: Ann Gardner

Summary: With the goal of helping her students create free-form poetry that engages “the part of their brains that allows them to crawl into deep recesses of memory, shake hidden treasures awake, and write from their souls,” Ann Gardner illustrates each step of the writing process she introduces to her students. Sharing a close look at student writing, she juxtaposes specific revisions made by one student from the Navajo reservation with those created through her modeling with the class. This article would be equally useful in professional development discussions with teachers and team planning for young writers programs.

Literacy in the Digital Age: Nine Great Speaking and Listening Tools

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Author: Natalie Franzi and Steve Figurelli

Summary: This blog post showcases nine different digital tools and links to related resources useful for engaging students and/or teachers in sharing stories or other work through a variety of media and to a variety of audiences. Thoughtful use of digital tools enables both students and teachers to be “active creators of content.” This entire post and the linked resources could be used in professional development offerings focused on digital learning.

Writing Spaces: Expanding the One-Story House

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Author: Elizabeth Leiknes

Summary: Leiknes encourages a fresh perspective on how we approach writing as a process with young authors. Using her own home as an organizing metaphor, she points out ways to clear the cobwebs in prewriting, to try a fresh coat of paint when drafting, to collect tools of the trade for revision, to rid ourselves of sludge in editing, and finally to expand beyond a one-story house when writing for additional audiences. The teacher-author recognizes that these approaches enable her to dig deeper into her own processes of writing as she guides her elementary students. Ideal as a professional study piece to introduce writing as a process, or for an early reading in a summer writing institute.

Using Metaphor to Explore Writing Processes

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Author: Christian Knoeller

Summary: In this article, Christian Knoeller describes a metaphor writing assignment that offers an effective alternative to instructional materials that present writing processes in overly simple and mechanical ways. Knoeller argues that metaphor enables examinations of how we compose and revise, how we go beyond static processes, and how we become more of who we are through writing. The article includes student and teacher excerpts of extended metaphorical writing that illustrate these ideas. Point of use for this resource may include planning/design of a longitudinal professional development partnership or the facilitation of any writing session using Knoeller’s metaphor writing assignment. For teachers of writing, this article provides evidence of the impact of this exercise and the use of metaphor as a mode for analysis for writers from middle school through college and beyond.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pew Report Illustrates Impact of Digital Technologies on Student Writing

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Summary: A well-balanced resource for those planning workshops, studying curriculum and developing grants, this report reviews the results of a 2013 survey of NWP and Advanced Placement teachers that focused on the ways digital technologies and tools are shaping the writing of middle and high school students and the practices of their teachers. The findings note that, while digital tools are facilitating teens’ personal expression and creativity, broadening the audience for written material, and encouraging them to write more often, they also present unique challenges including the “creep” of informal style into formal writing assignments and the need to better educate students about issues such as plagiarism and fair use.

Students Write Tabloid Tabulations in a Math Gossip Magazine

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Author: Joe Bellacero and Tom Murray

Summary: If you are looking for an example of work that integrates mathematics and writing, this one is creative and supported through research related to math. This is a teacher and teacher-consultant’s account of a “writing and math” strategy used in the middle school classroom. Students are asked to connect writing, math, and real-world problems. You may find “nuggets” that appeal to you as a teacher and/or facilitator.

The Concept of a Writing Center

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Author: Muriel Harris

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.

Writing Centers: More Than Remediation

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: A resource for educators interested in establishing writing centers or as a guide to professional conversations about the limits and possibilities of writing centers, this article reports on what one teacher learned from her experience of establishing a high school writing center. Jennifer Wells, a teacher-consultant with the Central California Writing Project, shares both the resources and mentors that helped her in foundational ways along with how she navigated the misconceptions of what writing centers do. This article and Wells’ book can serve as a guide for professional discussions of writing center development.

Bridges: From Personal Writing to the Formal Essay

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Author: James Moffett

Summary: Asserting his belief that “all writing is idea writing,” James Moffett explores the transition from writing personal experience themes to writing formal essays. In the process, he presents a schema that groups different writing types and shows their connections. This essay, and Moffett’s work in general, is a key resource for teachers exploring issues of genre and levels of discourse in writing.

Orientations for the Teaching of Writing: A Legacy of the National Writing Project

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Author: Anne Whitney and Linda Friedrich

Summary: In this comprehensive review and analysis of a qualitative study of twenty years of interviews with NWP Invitational Institute participants, researchers Whitney and Friedrich conclude that NWP’s influence on participating teachers over time and across settings resulted in their adopting a set of orientations toward the purposes of writing; students’ abilities and responsibilities as writers; and the relationships between ideas and form that govern a teacher’s choices about how best to structure writing opportunities for students. A key reading for teachers and program leaders that analyzes the foundations of the National Writing Project’s unique success as a professional development network that inspires improved teaching practice and student performance.

Rural Sites Teachers Inspire Community Connections

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Author: Phip Ross

Summary: This article offers several suggestions for how rural teachers can involve parents in literacy projects that impact student learning and engagement. Successful strategies include “parent-teacher-student journals.” These strategies may spark ideas for inquiry projects or study groups focused on developing family and community engagement.

Writing As a Mode of Thinking

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Author: Danling Fu and Jane Hansen

Summary: What’s missing in writing instruction that focuses on organization, vocabulary and sentence structure? What is the role of thinking in writing, and how can we make thinking visible in writing? This article, which could provide a useful focus for a study group or other professional development session, captures a discussion of writing as a mode of learning and the role that evaluation plays in writing across the disciplines.

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.

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.

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.

C3WP: Extended Research Arguments

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Summary: This resource from NWP’s College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP) 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.

Innovative Writing Program Helps High Schools

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Author: University of Arizona – University Relations

Summary: This news article describes the Wildcat Writers, an innovative service learning and writing program housed in the University of Arizona. By exploring topics like censorship, designing infographics, producing novels, and organizing campus events, the high school writers learned how to promote literacy, creativity and artistic innovation. The grant behind this initiative is explained as well as the university partnership with its NWP site. Takeaways from this resource are the learning outcomes seen in the enthusiastic quotes from student writers, the planning and funding sources for such a partnership, and the collaborative facilitation that provided a unique pathway for youth from high school to the university–all helpful for site leaders and summer writing program organizers who may gain ideas for similar partnerships in their areas.

Striking It Rich: Finding My Digital Story in Northern California

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Author: Corey Harbaugh

Summary: This short piece could be a useful conversation starter or reflective tool in an institute or workshop focused on narrative. Reflecting on his excitement about the allure of new digital storytelling tools, the author reveals his insight that the power of telling our stories and making them public through digital media is also the power of writing itself–for students and for ourselves as teacher-writers.

Students Tell Their Stories Digitally

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Author: Joel Elliott

Summary: When designing a digital storytelling workshop, it may be easy to forget that it’s really about the telling of stories and the writing practices that generate powerful narratives. This piece provides a good conceptual starting point and reminder that in such settings, students are more engaged, willing to work harder and write longer pieces–and all the while quite adept at figuring out the technology. This is important for teachers nervous about not knowing the latest digital tools.

Looking at Student Writing as Part of Professional Development

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Author: Bruce Penniman, Stephanie Joyce, Karen Smith and Julie Webb

Summary: In this NWP webinar, several leaders from the Area3 (UC-Davis) and Western Massachusetts Writing Projects discuss their experiences offering professional development to high needs elementary schools. While the site leaders offer helpful insights and perspectives on the development of the program experience, the primary focus is on the facilitation of the professional development and the resources/protocols used to assist teachers as they look at and discuss student writing. A fantastic set of resources for guiding collaborative review and discussion of student writing, including all of the protocols shared as part of the webinar, are included in the linked Google folders.

Long-Term English Learners Writing Their Stories

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Author: Lynn Jacobs

Summary: Long-term English learners—those who typically have attended school for at least seven years—speak English well but are often considered below grade level. Because they assume many adult responsibilities in their out-of-school lives, including household duties and translating for family and others, they present opportunities for teachers of writing. Secondary classroom teachers and those planning and providing professional development focused on writing for English learners will discover several effective strategies in this article. Jacobs describes the process and outcomes of working with her students to publish a book of stories and poems. The authentic nature of writing about their lives, together with models of published texts, motivated a desire to write well and boosted their confidence as writers.

Love Ties My Shoes: Long-term English Learners as Thoughtful Writers

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Author: Lynn Jacobs

Summary: Students in a high school English Language Development class writing a book? Lynn Jacobs’ story of her students success can inform teacher study groups and inspire professional development sessions. For details about the project, powerful student voices describing the process, and ties to professional literature that help to explain how and why this was a possibility for Jacobs and her students, check out this inspirational article.

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 tech focused workshop, summer institute or with a teacher inquiry group. It’s a personal teaching story of risk-taking and the rewards that come from engaging technology while trusting the process to celebrate the voices and lives of students. 

Getting Real: Authenticity in Writing Prompts

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Author: Patricia Slagle

Summary: Are you excited about the idea of giving your students an authentic audience for their writing? If so, you will find this description of authentic writing prompts in a high school class a valuable resource. While the strategies and examples are drawn directly from a high school classroom, the approach to sharing the students’ writings with the intended audience, as well as the discussion about what happens when the intended audience does or does not respond, is applicable across all grade levels.

Bless, Press, Address: A Formative Response Protocol for Writing Groups

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Summary: A useful resource for a writing group, Bless, Press, Address is a classic NWP formative response protocol designed to guide feedback to a writer on a draft piece of writing or multimedia project. Rather than offering a summative assessment of quality, the protocol invites group members to share how the work was received, felt, and understood. The protocol clearly lays out the purpose of the response, the roles each person plays, and the steps to follow for a productive feedback session.


Peer Review Times Two

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Author: Denise Marchionda

Summary: If you are developing or facilitating a professional development program that includes peer editing as a topic/theme/strand you will want to check out Denise Marchionda’s “two-peer editing system.” Marchionda shares the checklist and specific step-by-step directions she has students follow in her class when editing/reviewing one another’s writing. She also shares specific examples of how the strategy led to improved student writing. The article would be useful as a stand alone discussion piece in a professional development session, but even better if it were read, discussed and followed up with teachers engaging in the process with their own pieces of writing, enacting the NWP core belief that teachers of writing should also be writers themselves.

Teacher Transformation in the National Writing Project

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Author: Anne Elrod Whitney

Summary: Why do teachers so often attribute their personal and professional “transformation” to their writing project experiences? Researcher Anne Whitney considers how participants’ writing time and writing group experience impacts their identity as writers, learners, and instructional leaders. Reading this study could spur an interesting discussion about what writing experiences are transformational and essential when planning learning for new teacher participants.

Students as Writers and Composers: Workshopping in the Digital Age

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Author: Troy Hicks and Franki Sibberson

Summary: In this collaborative conversation between former middle school teacher and current National Writing Project site director Troy Hicks and third-grade teacher Franki Sibberson, they consider a range of teaching and learning practices that “guide students to consider themselves multimodal text-makers who combine words, images, sounds,and gestures” as they compose. In the process, they consider key issues related to writing and technology, including redefining “text” and assessing digital writing. A link to the audio of their conversation is included.

“I’m a Writer Now!” The Who, Where, and When of an ELL Newspaper

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Author: Joe Bellino

Summary: Joe Bellino, a teacher of English language learners, describes the process of publishing “Silver International,” a newspaper written by his EL/International high school students as well as how the paper positively affected readers, writers, and the school. This resource offers inspiration for study groups and teacher leaders planning professional development as well as for classroom teachers planning authentic writing experiences that give voice to the bilingual/bicultural experiences of their students.

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.

Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing

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Summary: Developed collaboratively among representatives from the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project, Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing describes the rhetorical and twenty-first-century skills that are critical for college success based on current research in writing and writing pedagogy. This short introduction includes a list of the habits of mind identified as essential for success in college writing and includes a link to the complete Framework which is of particular interest to study groups and teacher leaders planning and facilitating professional development in the teaching of writing.

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.

The Diversity of Writing

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Author: Charles Bazerman

Summary: In this key reading, Bazerman describes the various things writers do with words, explaining 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. This article can be used as a study text that undergirds teacher inquiry into disciplinary literacy and varied forms and genres of writing.

Subversive Acts of Revision: Writing and Justice

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Author: Heather Bruce

Summary: Bruce explains how revision can be taught as a tool to critique unjust texts. She writes, “We must …speak back to those who would take our power from us and continue a legacy of damage to our students.” Reading this piece could spark powerful conversations about teaching for social justice while supporting students as critically active readers who write as a way to resist and/or advocate.

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.

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.

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. She discovers that 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.

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 teacher transformed the depth of students’ writing responses by transitioning from top-down 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 new teachers, or for anyone looking to invite more student input into writing assignments.

Why I Write: Scientist Timothy Ferris on Writing to Learn

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Author: Timothy Ferris

Summary: Ferris explains that he writes as a way to learn science and describes the vital role that science has played in changing the world for the better. He discusses how writing for general audiences can help scientists to “clarify their own thinking, by obliging them to put specialized ideas into wider contexts and to express them simply.” This short piece could be motivating for science students and teachers to read aloud and discuss before prompting them to write their own ‘why I write’ narratives.

Writing to Transform: Teacher-Consultants Lead Change in Their Schools

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Author: Linda Friedrich

Summary: What do successful teacher leaders do? This short article suggests an emergent framework from a larger study about teacher leadership. Leaders address problems, facilitate collective learning, and celebrate the work of writing. This article could be powerful to read and discuss at a continuity event on taking next leadership steps.

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 used to generate teacher study group topics.

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.

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.

Are You Ready for College Writing?

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Author: Mary Ann Smith

Summary: What is college writing like? This report describes a series of pilot workshops for high school juniors focused on this question. Students in the workshops 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 below along with a small window into developing the workshops. Perhaps this can inspire you during the planning stages of similar workshops on academic discourse for high school students.

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 of 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.

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 both the deficit model (“lack” of skills) and developmental model (“stages” of growth) are incorrect characterizations 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 1980s, 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.

Puny Poetry Meets Its Match

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Author: Gerri Ruckle & Jim Horrell

Summary: What can we do when confronted with the challenge of helping young poets develop an awareness of the expressive power of poetry as opposed to rhyming lines that that often convey little meaning? By sharing a series of scaffolded strategies illustrated with multiple examples of student writing, the authors tell the story of how they changed their teaching and supported students in exploring poetry and creating sophisticated works of self-expression. This resource offers excellent ideas for professional development related to teaching poetry within a reading/writing workshop approach.

Collaborating to Write Dialogue

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Author: Janis Cramer

Summary: By engaging children in a collaborative workshop environment to help them learn to develop characters, consider word choice, and interweave dialogue and description, the author simultaneously helped her students to strengthen social and independent writing skills. Opportunities to perform their dialogues in front of the class were also a component of this authentic experience in writing narratives. This article provides vivid details and examples of student writing and could be a useful resource for professional development related to hands-on approaches to writing as process.

“Let’s Talk”: Building a Bridge Between Home and School

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Author: Catherine Humphrey

Summary: How do we create opportunities for both our students and their parents to be involved in assignments that generate a sense that the writing being done is “real”? The author of this piece provides a window into an initial essay assignment that prompted her high school students and their parents to talk together prior to taking a position on an education-related op ed piece. She also offers tips for generating and sustaining quality verbal interactions. Many examples of reflections from parents and students reveal both positive responses and challenging situations that could spark lively conversations in study groups, school/community professional conversations focused on parent engagement in writing, or in individual classrooms with students.

Helping High School Students “Gear Up” for College

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: This article highlights a program designed to support 9th graders in understanding how to differentiate and act upon revision and editing concerns. The program’s development and implementation reflects a collaboration between area high school writing centers, teachers, and university composition faculty. Since Gear-Up funds programs throughout the country, teacher leaders and site directors might see possibilities for local adaptations.

Improving Students’ Academic Writing: Building a Bridge to Success

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Author: Juliet Wahleithner, Jayne Marlink

Summary: This report would be of interest to teachers engaged in or planning college-preparatory reading/writing initiatives.  It describes the statistically significant impact of a statewide professional development program designed to improve students’ understanding of and ability to write academically in high school, specifically in grades 11 and 12. The authors clearly lay out the study’s purpose, methods, and guiding frameworks, including one for forming sustained professional learning communities.

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.

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 revision 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.

Writing from the Feather Circle

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Author: G. Lynn Nelson

Summary: In this resource, a writing teacher from Arizona applies the Native American feather circle to the teaching of writing and describes her work teaching sections of first-year composition exclusively for Native American students. The feather circle focuses on speaking from the heart; in the classroom this approach involves writing honestly and openly first and worrying about form later. The author shares the writing experiences of her students using a culturally responsive stance, and describes how an emerging group, “Native Images,” has shared their writings and art in community-based settings and at conferences across the country. This resource would be useful in teacher discussions of culturally relevant pedagogies for writing.

Brief Reviews of James Moffett’s Major Works

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Author: John Warnock

Summary: These brief sketches emphasize ideas for classroom practice found in the works of James Moffett, a writer and theorist in the areas of language and literacy and curriculum integration whose work has informed the practice of many NWP teachers. For teachers in any advanced institute or study group who want to do a deep dive into Moffett and his legacy related to student-centered writing experiences, these readings would provide the door.

Honoring Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

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Author: Michelle Crotteau

Summary: As teachers we often struggle to find ways to honor our students’ home dialects while still preparing them to take high-stakes writing tests requiring the use of Standard English. In this piece, the author describes her three-pronged approach within a Writing Strategies class for students who had failed the state test. Students developed linguistic and mechanical fluency by speaking and writing about their interests (e.g., hunting), drawing upon their Appalachian English dialect, and by learning how to recognize audience-appropriate situations for employing both Standard English and their own dialect. Lots of student writing samples, coupled with the author’s own rationales and experience, make this a useful piece for workshops, study groups, or professional development focused on culturally relevant practices within a high-stakes testing environment.

Grammar—Comma—a New Beginning

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Author: Mary Ehrenworth

Summary: Teaching grammar through inquiry and seduction? In this piece, Mary Ehrenworth shares strategies for moving away from direct instruction (which seldom works) to making it possible for students to “have an apprenticeship relation with great authors, even at the sentence structure level.” By honoring diverse dialects and helping students make intentional choices through inquiry (How DO authors choose verb tense?), teaching grammar becomes an integral part of the composing process. Examples of student work illuminate the effectiveness of this approach and make this article useful for workshop leaders and teachers seeking fresh approaches for teaching grammar within the context of student writing.

Grammar, Grammars and the Teaching of Grammar

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Author: Patrick Hartwell

Summary: This article offers a recap of understandings of the concept of grammar: what it is, and when, why, and how it matters. The author, alluding to the relationship between grammar and power, suggests that we should consider how to support students in communicating strategically. This foundational article offers a clear elucidation of the various ways in which people have understood the idea of grammar and would be an important resource for discussion among teachers of writing who invariably must, at some point, address the role of grammar in the teaching of writing.

Radical Revision Strategies: My Road from Fairy Tale to Catharsis

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Author: Juanita Willingham

Summary: A teacher-writer shares her experience using radical revision, a strategy for taking ones writing apart and reassembling it. In the process of illustrating the impact of trying out various revisions of a poignant poem she wrote and shared with a writing group, she includes five clear and useful strategies that encourage writers to experiment with changes in structure, genre, and point of view. Teacher-writers as well as classroom teachers and facilitators of writing-intensive workshops may appreciate this piece.


Paradise Lost: Introducing Students to Climate Change Through Story

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Author: Brady Bennon

Summary: How does a teacher help students understand and care about global warming in a personal, meaningful way? Moving beyond policy and “big-picture” issues, high school teacher Brady Bennon focused on story. He asked his students to write about their own connections between place and identity, then showed them the documentary film “Paradise Lost.” Students’ poems expressed their thinking about the people in the film, and showed a strong sense of identification and caring. The ultimate goal was to help his global studies students “see themselves as truth-tellers and change makers” in response to global warming. With its science and humanities content, this resource may be useful in professional development settings as a way to explore cross-disciplinary themes and projects.

Reading, Writing, and Mentor Texts: Imagining Possibilities (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Mentor texts can support writers and inspire writing in all genres in the classroom and beyond. This NWP Radio show is of particular interest to study groups and teacher leaders designing professional development that explores the use of mentor texts to support writing in academic disciplines. Presenters share resources for identifying and using effective mentor texts. Highlights include: a definition of mentor texts (2:00); a discussion of using picture books as mentor texts (14:01); advice about choosing 15-25 texts as anchors for the year (15:50); a discussion of the concept of “deeper writing” (24:40); and using mentor texts as resources for teacher inquiry (36:43). Also included is a discussion of how a broad definition of “text” can enrich a thematic approach to history along with an example of using texts in a history unit on The “Other” in America. Included links contain valuable resources on mentor texts in general and in history in particular.

Extending the Conversation: Writing as Praxis

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Author: Robert Yagelski

Summary: This essay is a key reading for individuals and study groups looking to understand the “transformation” that teachers say occurs in writing project institutes and other programs when they write, respond as members of writing groups, revise, and publish. Yagelski grounds his exploration in theory as he considers the power of writing as an active (rather than a passive) pursuit that engages teacher writers in reflective practice.

Linking Genre to Standards and Equity

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Author: Tom Fox

Summary: Here is an important article that offers a framework and looks at how genre studies can help writing teachers design meaningful and engaging writing instruction. Fox suggests that standards-based writing curricula do not go far enough when we only teach students about how various genres work. He argues that writing may be construed as “meaningless” and ultimately serve to disenfranchise students if we sidestep the more fundamental question: “Why do people write?” Teachers already familiar with arguments about “authentic” writing will especially appreciate Fox’s call to examine how teachers and students might pursue “urgent” writing situations.

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.

My New Teaching Partner? Using the Grammar Checker in Writing Instruction

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Author: Dorothy Fuller and Reva Potter

Summary: What happens when middle school students are invited to explore grammar check tools in an intentional way as part of a teacher inquiry project that connects to instruction? The authors describe their process and the benefits: students became more informed users of the tools and more confident writers, and they made explicit and intentional connections to grammar concepts. This article could be included as a resource in a professional development program or study group focused on finding authentic ways to incorporate grammar into writing workshop approaches.

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.

Planning for Writing Instruction

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this brief tip from his book, When Writing Workshop Isn’t Working, Mark Overmeyer describes a process of collaborative backward planning that provides a scope and sequence for the year that meets district curriculum requirements, allows for the study of genres connected to various disciplines and units (e.g., research, narrative, memoir, and technical writing), and culminates in a student-generated magazine that draws from strategies learned throughout the year. This would be a useful resource for school-based planning teams as well as for professional development focused on writing workshop and cross-curricular planning and assessment.

Nurturing Middle School Readers through Reviews and Book Trailers

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Author: Jeremy Hyler

Summary: Are you and your students looking for an escape from traditional book reports? Is it time to go digital? Check out this brief description of a strategy for engaging students as book reviewers and producers of 30-second book trailers using Animoto. A side-by-side graphic compares instructions for each, and there are additional links to research support with suggestions to visit YouTube for examples. This resource, an excerpt from Assessing Digital Writing: Protocols for Looking Closely, may also be a useful tool in professional development sessions or professional learning communities focused on multimodal learning. It could inspire teachers to engage as reviewers/video producers to explore their own personal and professional reading as prelude to engaging their students in similar activities to capture what is most exciting in their own reading.

Book Review: Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment

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Author: Meg Petersen

Summary: This review describes the work of high school teacher and author Maja Wilson, whose book examines what assessment without rubrics looks like and where it may take us. The sample chapter, “My Troubles with Rubrics,” advises that instead of reviewing student papers based on prescribed categories, we should engage students as fellow thinkers in our respective fields and have them consider the different ways that others might respond to their work. For teachers who are rethinking rubric use or seeking differentiated or better practices for assessment, this would be a useful book for study.

Teaching Grammar in Context: One Approach

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Author: Harriett Williams

Summary: A secondary teacher describes an approach she calls “pedagogical grammar”—a grammar that enables the teacher to turn linguistic features of the language into tools to improve the competence of student writers. By helping students to incorporate specific grammatical structures into early drafts of their own writing through sentence combining and other strategies, this teacher demonstrates how sentence development is key to producing “richer and more focused prose.” This resource may be useful for professional development focused on student revision and response groups.

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.

What Student Writing Teaches Us

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this short video, Mark Overmeyer, co-director of the Denver Writing Project and author of the book What Student Writing Teaches Us poses the question, “If you read student writing closely enough, will the student’s writing teach you what the student needs to know?” A thoughtful overview of the value of watching and listening to young writers in the process of writing, this video could be useful in launching a conversation about the role of formative assessment in the development of student writing.

Minimal Marking

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Author: Richard H. Haswell

Summary: The author proposes a simple (and fast) system of marking editing errors on student work—checkmarks in the margin next to the line where an error has occurred. This system presupposes two important principles: 1) the teacher will spend time commenting on more important writing issues; and 2) the students will be given the opportunity to correct errors. The data in the article, although limited to the author’s own students, seems to demonstrate that students do successfully correct most errors and leads to mastery of “threshold errors,” or those for which the student is close to competence. For the teacher, this method allows relegating error marking to a minor role, while still providing effective teaching in editing. The article is useful in any context in which teaching of grammar and correctness is a block to moving onto other issues or in which fast, but effective, formative assessment is a need.