About Writing

Looking at Student Writing as Part of Professional Development

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...

A Principled Revolution in the Teaching of Writing

Author: Nicole Boudreau Smith Summary: Despite calls to action, writing pedagogy in the English classroom remains outdated, and caustic partisanship among theorists may be to blame. The author proposes a “principled approach” to the teaching of writing, combining the best elements of verified instructional methods to generate six components ensuring...

Heart and Voice: A Digital Storytelling Journey

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...

Writing Spaces: Expanding the One-Story House

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...

Collaborating to Write Dialogue

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...

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan: Poet as Teacher, Teacher as Poet

Author: Grant Faulkner Summary: U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan has honed the art of simplicity in both her teaching and her writing. Her writing instruction focused on “the miniature arena of the paragraph,” and her poems, which often use cliché in striking, unexpected ways, are both pithy and nuanced.

Billy Collins: A ‘Reader’s Poet’ Reads at NWP’s Annual Meeting

Summary: Two-time Poet Laureate Billy Collins shared his poetry, insights into writing, and many, many humorous asides at the 2009 NWP Annual Meeting’s General Session.

Teachers’ Writing Groups: Collaborative Inquiry and Reflection for Professional Growth (Review)

Author: Caroline Griswold Summary: In this book review, Caroline Griswold describes and recommends Teachers’ Writing Groups: Collaborative Inquiry and Reflection for Professional Growth, a book developed by leaders and teachers at Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project. The book is “like the best writing project work, both practical and personal, and is full of useful ideas for...

Teaching Grammar in Context: One Approach

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...

Why I Write: Scientist Timothy Ferris on Writing to Learn

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...